Lexapro vs. Celexa

Many people wonder, "What is the difference between Lexapro vs. Celexa?" Although both medications are licensed to treat depression and are very similar chemically, they are actually quite different. Lexapro and Celexa are not interchangeable; only Lexapro is approved to treat anxiety, and only Celexa is available as a generic.

Comparing Lexapro to Celexa: An Overview

Lexapro® (escitalopram oxalate) and Celexa® (citalopram hydrobromide) are both prescription medications classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are very similar medications, although there are some important differences between the two.

Lexapro Versus Celexa -- The Chemical Differences

Lexapro and Celexa are very similar molecules. Celexa was available first and is a mixture of R and S enantiomers of citalopram. Lexapro is just the S enantiomer of citalopram. Enantiomers are forms of molecules that are almost exactly the same but are "opposites." You might think of your right and left hands as being enantiomers. They are very similar to each other, but they are opposites (although they are mirror images of each other, if you put one hand on top of the other, they are different).
Depression research has shown that the S enantiomer of citalopram is much more active as an antidepressant than the R enantiomer, which is why Lexapro (just the S enantiomer) was developed.

Lexapro vs. Celexa -- The Practical Differences

Both Lexapro and Celexa are approved for the treatment of depression. However, only Lexapro is approved to treat anxiety. This does not mean that Celexa will not work for anxiety or that your healthcare provider cannot prescribe Celexa for anxiety; it just means that Celexa has not been adequately studied for anxiety treatment.
Another difference between Celexa and Lexapro is that Celexa is available as a generic, while Lexapro is not. 
Regarding the effectiveness of the two medicines, some studies have suggested that Lexapro may be more effective than Celexa for depression treatment, while others have not found significant differences between these two medications.
Finally, many people find that Lexapro works for them when Celexa does not (or the other way around). If Lexapro works for you, this does not necessarily mean that Celexa will also work for you (and the opposite is true).
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Celexa Drug Information

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