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Depression is a prevalent mental health condition the CDC estimates affects 1 in 6 adults at some point in their life and approximately 16 million Americans each year. In severe cases, treating depression with medication can improve symptoms and help people pursue healing in a safe, effective way.

Lexapro (escitalopram) and Prozac are two commonly prescribed medications to treat depression. While both medications are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that can treat depression, the two differ in other ways, including the additional mental health conditions each can treat.

What’s the difference between Lexapro and Prozac?

There are multiple differences between the two medications. One of the main differences, however, is the various and differing mental health conditions each medication can treat.

In general, physicians prescribe Lexapro to treat:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Depression, including depression related to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

In comparison, physicians generally prescribe Prozac to treat:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Depression, particularly related to Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic disorder

Please note that this list is not complete. Further, it is critical to talk with your doctor about which medication is right for you, based on your individual needs. Side effects of each medication may differ from one individual to another, so always communicate any that you experience with your prescribing physician.

Is Lexapro more effective than Prozac?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone, and it is a complex answer. Some factors that may determine which medication would work better for you include but are not limited to:

  • The mental health/medical condition(s) you are being treated for. Lexapro and Prozac can both treat depression, but the two treat different additional mental health conditions.
  • Your medical history and individual health profile. Talk with your doctor about the potential side effects for each medication to make the safest choice for your individual needs. Both Lexapro and Prozac present various health conditions, as well as medications, they interact with, so it is critical to be fully aware of potential interactions before starting treatment with either of these medications.
  • Your age. Again, speak with your doctor about potential side effects these medications could have on you, particularly in relation to your age. Lexapro is known to affect children and adolescents differently than adults in some cases, so you must talk with your doctor about potential risks of taking Lexapro or Prozac.

The Bottom Line

To say that one medication is more effective than the other is limited here. The effectiveness of each medication will depend entirely on the individual and the mental health condition(s) it intends to treat.

Always talk with your physician about the symptoms you are experiencing before starting treatment with medication. This way, they will be able to properly diagnose you and determine which medication is right for you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that both medications can take up to 6 weeks to reach full effect. So it is important to take the medication as prescribed. If one doesn’t work after a few months reach back out to your physician for tapering off and switching to an alternative agent or dose adjustment.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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