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Celexa And Lexapro-What's The Difference?

Updated on March 10, 2012

Celexa 10mg. (Citalopram Hydrobromide)


Lexapro (Escitalopram Oxalate) 10mg.


There are many anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications that a few of us may know the names of, but may not know the difference between the two, chemically speaking. And sometimes I even wonder if our own physician knows what the difference is between two similar medications. There are quite a few drugs that are chemically similar to one another and do have basically the same affect. Two drugs that fit into this category and into the vast world of mental health, are the antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro.

You may have heard of either one, or both of these medications and also you may be currently taking one for depression, or a combination for both anxiety and depression. So what exactly is the difference between Lexapro and Celexa, the former of the two, that is generically referred to as (escitalopram Oxalate) and the later-referred to as (Citalopram Hydrobromide).

To answer that question-there is really no difference between the two, except for two important facts that may be valuable to you in the near future. One is that both of these (SSRI's)-Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor's, are both used in the treatment of depression but are chemically different. Number two and probably the most important one is that Celexa can be purchased for about $4.00 at a Walmart pharmacy for example, while Lexapro will cost you a good amount more at the same Walmart pharmacy, upward and closer to $300.00 for the same thirty day supply.

So if you are searching for an antidepressant that has a good safety profile and in addition can treat major depression and to add-save you a good amount of money out of pocket, then it is a no-brainer that Celexa should be the drug of choice, that you would want to speak to your healthcare provider about.

However he or she are not mindreaders, and may not know that you are thinking about this particular drug rather than its close cousin, Lexapro as a substitute. You will have to do your part, not be shy and ask your doctor if this drug would be a good substitution, considering your current level of depression for example.

Did you ever see the commercial on TV about the two car insurance companies. One being 21st Century, comparing themselves to Progressive insurance companie. You've heard their marketing phrase before..."Same two cars, with similar insurance coverage covering the same damage. However with 21st century, you're saving comparatively more money per year then Progressive" Now you all know with car insurance companies especially, that's usually a crock of bull, depending on the situation and whether your car is one that is an older model.

However when it comes to medications that are used to treat really important issues, where your mental health is concerned. You really do not want to experiment and try all different types of medications. But take it from me, I know a little bit about pharmaceuticals and medicines, not just from working within the pharmaceutical industry for a good number of years either.

I have researched these topics and have had success stories relayed to me from friends and family. So you could say I have had first hand experiences from real people as well, telling me their individual stories about each of these two antidepressants and how it helped them overcome the debilitating issues caused by their own depression.

Each medication-Celexa and Lexapro both have their individual advantages and disadvantages, a couple of the more important ones which I had previously mentioned already. Only an Enantiomer-a chemically related molecule separates the two. In other words they are similar but opposites like your right and left foot for example. They are similar but yet opposite from one another.

Celexa contains what is called the S-enantiomer, which means that it is more chemically active and may cause a few more side-effects then its cousin lexapro. However when it comes to side-effect profiles and safety, each individual is different and not everyone experiences the same side-effects if any. Some people in other words may not experience any side-effects from either of these two antidepressants.

Lexapro contains an R-enantiomer which basically means that it contains properties that enable it to be more useful for individuals in being able to cope with a anxiety disorder in addition to major depression. Celexa has also been shown to be more useful for the treatment of associated mood disorders, social anxiety as well as panic disorders.

In addition it has been suggested that Celexa seems to more useful in women who suffer from major depression, while Lexapro seems to work better for men. However this again has only been suggested and not a proven or known fact. Celexa may also be useful to some female users, because it has been known to come to the rescue of women, who on occasion suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or (PMDD). This disorder as many women may know from experiencing its symptoms, comes with the unpleasant upheavels in mood and other emotional swings.

Celexa may also be beneficial in that it comes in tablet strengths of 10, 20 and 40 mg. respectively whereas Lexapro is available in 5, 10 and 20 mgs. Again this all depends how you weigh the differences out between the two chemically equivalent cousins, in terms of dosing option that are available.

The advantage of taking one 20, or one 40mg. tablet of Celexa all at once means that it can provide more of a benefit in addressing the underlying issue of major depression and address it more quickly. However this all depends and a physician may want to start someone off at a lower 5mg. dose of lexapro, two times per day to see how they react to this particular medication over a period of one to two weeks.

Celexa on the other hand may make you feel a bit more lethargic or tired then Lexapro right from the starting gate. Again this all depends on the individual. A few people who I recently spoke to, told me that their doctor suggested they take 20mg. of Celexa in the evening and these were individuals who were formally taking Lexapro 30mg. once a day. They said even though the Celexa made them feel more tired during the day. When taken during bedtime they felt much better going forward after about a two to three week period.

In this way adjustments can be made accordingly. Lexapro even though indicated at the highest dose of 20 mg. per day has been shown in clinical studies to be effective in as high of a dose as 40mg. (two 20mg. tablet, or 4, 10mg. tablets taken simulataneously. I also know a few people who mentioned to me that their healthcare provider had prescribed a combination of 30 and 40mg. doses of lexapro over a period of time and that they felt good at this dosage level. So as briefly touched upon in the article previously, each individual is chemically and genetically different from one another. Just like any one given medication is chemically different from the other.

On a final closing note-If you do not need medications to treat major depression or a panic disorder and I've quoted this in similar articles before-then I recommend that you do not take any prescription medications for any medical condition including major depression if you can help it. Because as with a majority of prescription medications, including Celexa and Lexapro, there are unwarranted side-effects that can and do develop unexpectedly.

Some prescription medications are more severe then others and then on the other hand the side-effects may be minimal to none. If you can seek out and find natural means of remedying your own individual medical conditon, then I highly recommend you do so.

However that is always easier said than done and for the most part prescription medications that belong to similar classes as Lexapro and Celexa, do promote overall better health and an improved quality of life for individuals who suffer from these often debilitating conditions.


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    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 4 years ago from Long Island, New York


      Thank you for providing feedback on my article. You are pretty much correct when you mention the two drugs are almost identically similar. I do not exactly know who Lundbeck is?

      And forgive me for my naivety. But I can tell you that for some reason, Celexa works much better in female patients than Lexapro for some reason or other

      This is just my experiences from women who I know who tried both. And Celexa is much cheaper by far, than it's newer, and now generic cousin- Escitalopram. But again everyone is genetically made up different. And what works well for one individual, will not always provide the same efficacy for another, or basically - work as well!

      And you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that it has to largely do with marketing efforts. You will see this with almost every pharmaceutical marketing venture. Take for instance the Pfizer Drug - Caduet.

      Pfizer tried to make a bunch of money by putting two generic drugs into one pill combo. Which is a Norvasc and Atorvastatin combination. And this is just one example of many, in which big Pharma companies market an older drug, or a combination of two or more different drugs into what many consumers think is a new magic pill.

      Only to find out tears later, that their individual Copays are a lot higher for some reason? And not only that, but often see the same drug they are currently taking advertised by a law firm on TV, now claiming countless and unexplained deaths and pursuing that Pharma company with multiple lawsuits in the works.

      Not to scare you or anything along those lines, but just to give you these additional facts in a nutshell. Again thank you for stopping by!


    • profile image

      jochen 4 years ago

      Lexapro only contains the S enantiomer and celexa contains S plus R Citalopram.

      They are nearly the same. Lundbeck says that R Citalopram interact with S Citalopram and makes it less efficious and more side effects, but many scientists say this is only marketing to make more money.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi Kelley:

      Thank you for your comments in reference to this article. I am glad that you have found it useful in one way or another. And by writing this, I hope to reach out to additional individuals in my audience who hopefully find this information just as beneficial as you have. Thanks again for the feedback.


    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      very informative. My sister use to sell Lexapro so I'm familiar with that medication. This could be helpful for a lot of people.


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