Depression Home > 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.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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