Difference between Escitalopram and Citalopram

Both Citalopram and Escitalopram are antidepressants of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. The mechanism of action of both these drugs is the same, but the two differ in their chemical composition.

Escitalopram belongs to the escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro) family of generic drugs, while Citalopram belongs to citalopram hydrobromide (Celexa). Lexapro is a yellowish white powder, while Celexa is a fine, off-white powder. Both Citalopram and Escitalopram are insoluble in water, but the former is more soluble in ethanol (alcohol) than the latter.

Both escitalopram and citalopram help treat major depression, but the former has the additional quality of treating generalized anxiety disorder, which the latter lacks. Escitalopram lacks the inactive components found in citalopram, and this is the reason why its usage is more selective as compared to the latter. According to the 2010 Mosby’s Nursing Drug Reference, unlabeled uses for both these drugs include social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Other off-label uses of citalopram include treatment for hot flashes, impulsive aggression in children, obsessive-compulsive disorder in teenagers, menopause, and premenstrual disorder.

Though Escitalopram works more effectively in the treatment of depression than Citalopram does, the effectiveness of these two drugs can vary from person to person. This means that the patients responding well to the Citalopram therapy may not respond that significantly to Escitalopram therapy.

Escitalopram is available at drug stores as an oral solution of 5mg/5mL, as well as  in the form of tablets of 5, 10 and 20mg. In contrast, the available forms of Citalopram include 10mg/5mL (10 milligrams per 5 milliliters) solutions, and 10, 20 or 40mg (milligrams) tablets.

Every antidepressant drug has a half life, the time period after which the concentration of a drug falls by half. In simple words, half life is an indicator of a drug’s duration of action. Escitalopram has a half life ranging from 27 to 32 hours, while Citalopram has a half life of 35 hours.

As far as comparing the cost of the two drugs is concerned, Citalopram is cheaper than Escitalopram; thus, it is recommended that you stick to the former if you are paying for your medication. However, make sure that the therapy you are undergoing is bearing positive results.


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    Escitalopram is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in adults and children over 12 years of age.

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    Citalopram (Celexa) is also an antidepressant belonging to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is primarily used to treat major depression, but there are several off-label uses as well, including anxiety, panic disorder, PMDD, body dysmorphic disorder, and OCD.

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