Difference between Celexa and Lexapro

Updated on February 15, 2018

Celexa and Lexapro are popular anti-depressants. While both medications are used to treat depression, there are a few differences it’s good to know before talking about options with a doctor.



Celexa is a brand name for citalopram, an antidepressant drug. This prescription-only medication has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat major depression. It can be prescribed to treat other conditions (off-label) as long it does not violate any ethical or safety standards. For instance, Celexa is prescribed to treat panic disorder and depressive episodes in the UK, Australia, Germany, Portugal, and most European countries. This off-label drug is also used as medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Celexa is known to cause sexual dysfunctions such as decreased interest in sex and difficulty in getting sexually aroused and achieving orgasm (i.e. anorgasmia). However, one study showed that once a major depression has been cured, an improvement in the patient’s overall sexual functions is possible. This drug is also known to cause increased apathy. Common side effects also include insomnia, weight gain, nausea, drowsiness, diarrhea, a dry mouth, and fatigue. Some less common side effects include fluctuating blood pressure, mood swings, vomiting, anxiety, headaches, and dilated pupils, to name a few.

Abruptly discontinuing Celexa may cause sleeping problems and intense dreams, sweating, palpitations, tremors, eye problems, and more.


Lexapro is a brand name for escitalopram, which is used as a depression medication. It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat adults and children over the age of 12 suffering from major depressive disorders. It is also used to treat adults suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. In Europe and Australia, it is administered for the treatment of certain anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As with other SRRIs, Lexapro is effective in lessening the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Lexapro can cause sexual dysfunctions such as decreased libido, anorgasmia, and delayed ejaculation. Discontinuing the use of Lexapro can induce withdrawal symptoms such as “electric shock-like” sensations, also called “brain zaps” or “brain shivers,” irritability, and acute depression.

Celexa vs Lexapro

So what’s the difference between Celexa and Lexapro? While both drugs work as antidepressants, they differ in several areas. The FDA has recommended against the use of Celexa at a dosage higher than 40 mg/day. Lexapro’s recommended dosage is no greater than 20 mg/day. For elderly patients, the recommended dosage of Celexa is 10-20 mg/day while it is 5-10 mg/day for Lexapro. Both are available in tablet and capsule form; Celexa comes in 10 mg, 20 mg scored and 40 mg scored tablets and capsules. Lexapro tablets and capsules are available in 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg. Celexa can be purchased as an orally disintegrating tablet while Lexapro is not available in this form.

Comparison Chart

Recommended dosage is no higher than 40 mg per dayRecommended dosage is no more than 20 mg per day
Brand name for citalopramBrand name for escitalopram
Withdrawal symptoms may include sleeping problems, intense dreams, sweating, palpitations, tremors, eye problems, and moreWithdrawal symptoms may include “electric shock-like” sensations, also called “brain zaps” or “brain shivers”
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