Zoloft vs Lexapro: Which is more effective?

Zoloft vs Lexapro: Which is more effective?

Written by :

Arooj Anjum

Arooj Anjum

Biomedical Engineer


Let’s find out the similarities, differences, benefits, and side effects of Zoloft vs Lexapro. Both are SSRIs, but they work for entirely different mental health conditions.

Zoloft vs Lexapro Is More Effective?


The question: Which Zoloft vs Lexapro is more effective? The mode of action is the same for both, yet they are used entirely for treating different mental health conditions.


With each passing day, mental health disorders are taking a toll. Almost about 1 in 5 people suffer from mental health issues in the US. The two most common medicines prescribed are Zoloft and Lexapro. Both these medicines are SSRIs and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In simple words, both increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. 


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Before we discuss the similarities, differences, side effects, etc., of Zolofot and Lexapro, let’s learn more about the medicines themselves.

What is Lexapro?


Lexapro is an antidepressant used for treating depression and anxiety in adults. SSRIs block the reabsorption of serotonin by nerve cells. By doing this, the serotonin levels increase to relay messages between the nerve cells. High levels of serotonin enhance mood and emotions. Thus, when prescribed by doctors, Lexapro combats depression and anxiety in adults.

  • The generic name for Lexapro is Escitalopram. 
  • It enhances the level of serotonin in the brain
  • Doctors prescribe it for anxiety and depression
  • The medicine is taken by mouth once a day

What Conditions Does Lexapro Help?


For those of you who don’t know, Lexapro is an FDA-approved medicine given for treating major depressive disorder MDD and generalized anxiety disorder GAD. Although, yes, off-label, it is also prescribed for treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, panic disorders, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder. And in rare cases, for the premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


NOTE: Lexapro is not approved to treat bipolar disorder.

What is the Right Lexapro Dose?


The typical dose of Lexapro is 10 mg/day. However, it can be increased to 20mg/day. Some disorders like OCD and panic disorder may require higher doses. However, only medical advice from a professional can select the correct dose. Do not increase the dose yourself; you can experience adverse effects.

Side Effects of Lexapro


Every medicine comes with its own set of side effects. Please consult a doctor if you experience the following symptoms; the most common side effects are;

  • Gastrointestinal problems, abdominal pain, and discomfort
  • upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction

Although rare, some severe side effects of Lexapro are;

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Seizures
  • Mania
  • Weird dreams
  • Pain in the chest
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Hot flashes
  • Dizziness
  • Unbalanced feeling
  • Vomiting and heartburn
  • Sweating 
  • Rigid muscles


  • Any other SSRIs
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors MAO inhibitors.
  • Lithium
  • Amphetamines
  • Tramadol
  • Buspirone
  • ST. John’s Wort

Warning- Before You Use Lexapro


Do not start Lexapro without consulting with your doctor. The medicine contradicts certain disorders, like;

  • People suffering from seizure
  • People with heart problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • People who have low levels of sodium
  • High blood pressure individuals
  • People with a history of stroke
  • People with bleeding issues

Another extreme caution while using Lexapro is it increases serotonin syndrome risk, and that is fatal. Please consult your doctor if you are using any other SSRIs.


In case of the following, call the emergency

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • The rigidity of the muscles and
  • Seizures

If you are pregnant or plan to become soon, DO NOT USE LEXAPRO. Consult with your doctor and give them your complete medical history.

Cost of Lexapro


The generic Lexapro Escitalopram is somewhat cheaper than the others. It costs around $13 for 10mg of medicine for a month’s supply.

The brand Lexapro is expensive, and the cost is as high as $533 for the same dose and exact quantity. So, if you are not financially stable, go for the generic form. If your insurance covers it, buy the brand Lexapro. Although, the majority of the insurance agencies only cover the generic form of Lexapro and not the brand name. For more information, contact your agency. 


Pros of Lexapro

Cons of Lexapro

First line of treatment for depression and anxiety The medicine takes about two months before you can see the complete change
Lesser drug interaction than Zoloft Risk of withdrawal
Lower side effects as compared to paroxetine Causing sexual dysfunction
Suitable for children under 12 years of age- for depression Increases the chance of bleeding
You can take it on an empty stomach as well

What is Anti-depressant Zoloft


Zoloft is also an SSRI, which works by restoring the balance of serotonin in the brain. Low levels of serotonin in the brain lead to different mental health disorders.

  • The chemical name of Zolofot is Sertraline
  • Both Zoloft and Lexapro are prescription drugs.
  • It restores the level of serotonin in the brain
  • Used for PTSD, OCD, and many more
  • Usually taken once a day after dilution, at the same time of the day

What Condition Does Zolofot Treat?


Sertraline is prescribed for mood disorders like the treatment of major depressive disorder, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety. At times, your doctor will prescribe it to treat premenstrual syndrome. The off-label use is GAD, binge eating, bulimia nervosa, and premature ejaculation.


Do not take Zoloft and Lexapro together. It can lead to serotonin syndrome, which is life-threatening. In case of an emergency, contact your nearest healthcare professional.

What is the Correct Zoloft Dose?


The starting dose is 50mg/day. However, if required, it can be increased to a maximum dosage of 200mg/day. Just like Lexapro, a higher dose may be needed to treat panic attacks, OCD, and major depressive disorder.

Zoloft Side Effects


Some potential side effects are mentioned below;

  • Sweating
  • Emotional flattening
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Tremors,
  • Sexual dysfunction

Some rare can be serious side effects are;

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Low blood pressure
  • Mania
  • Seizures 
  • Risk of Suicidal thoughts in young adults
  • Blood work abnormalities


  • Pimozide
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Thioridazine


  • Aspirin/or any other blood thinners.
  • NSAIDs
  • Another SSRIs
  • Warfarin

Cost of Zoloft


The generic version of sertraline is cheaper than the brand name, just like Lexapro. The average cost is only $10 for 100mg, 30 tablets. The brand name Zoloft costs around $510 for the same amount of sertraline.


Both are equally effective, and the insurance coverage is probably only for the generic version.


To know more, call your doctor and discuss your history so that they can provide the best medicine. If you are allergic to Zoloft, discuss it again. Do not the following information from your practitioner;

  • If you have bipolar disorder
  • Or have liver disease
  • Bleeding issues
  • Suffer from seizures
  • Have thyroid imbalance and
  • Angle-closure glaucoma.

Note: Call your doctor if you experience a behavior change after taking medicine. Ensure you are not deficient in magnesium and potassium, as their deficiency can increase the chances of arrhythmic heart disease.


Pros of Zoloft

Cons of Zoloft

Fewer side effects It takes two months for a complete meltdown of the disorder
Taken by mouth Causes headache
Safe during pregnancy The liquid form of Zoloft contains alcohol
Less chance of gaining weight If you stop it abruptly, it can cause withdrawal symptoms

What is the Difference Between Zoloft and Lexapro?


As we have already seen, Lexapro and Zoloft are given for entirely different conditions. For example, Lexapro is approved by the FDA to treat major depressive disorder and GAD. At the same time, Zoloft is not FDA-approved for GAD. Still, it has FDA approval to treat major depressive disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, social phobia, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


Another difference is the dosage between the two. Zoloft dose starts at 50mg, although the therapeutic level is more or less nearer to 150mg. Your doctor can adjust the therapeutic dose after some trials.


Depending on the condition, the therapeutic dose of Lexapro can be increased from 10mg/day to 20mg. So, a person taking 10mg/day of Lexapro will start responding to the medicine; as for Zoloft, the response dose is around 150mg/day.

Zoloft vs Lexapro: Potential Drug Interactions


Since both of these medicines are SSRIs, they will lower the clot formation ability of the body, thus increasing the risk of bleeding.


If your doctor prescribes you Lexapro or Zoloft, ensure you know this. Please discuss this with your doctor if you use blood thinner or anticoagulants. 


Do not, in any case, stop the medicine out of the blue. It can lead to some severe side effects, like;

  • Sweating
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Irritability
  • Nausea

All medicines reach the others at some point. The same is true for Lexapro vs Zoloft. Do not keep your medical history from your doctor. Always list down the medicines you are already using.

Zoloft vs Lexapro- Mode of Action


Both Lexapro and Zoloft belong to a class of medicines called SSRIs. They work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. As we know, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that conveys signals to and from the brain nerve cells. Using these medicines blocks the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, thereby increasing serotonin content in the brain.

Lexapro vs Zoloft- Which is Better for Adolescents?


The only difference between the two is the age of use, which the FDA approves. Zoloft cannot be used in adolescents to treat depression, while Lexapro can be used to treat depression in people above 12 years of age. Zoloft, on the other hand, can be used for OCD in people of 6 years of age.

Lexapro vs Zoloft- Cost and Coverage


The good news is that Lexapro is covered by insurance and Medicare Part D. The generic has a lower copay, while the brand name has a high copay or might not be covered by insurance. You can find Lexapro in 5, 10, and 20 mg tablets, both brand and generic, or in the form of a liquid in 5mg/5ml oral solution, only for generic. The brand Lexapro, as mentioned, is expensive.

Either way, do not use medicines in pregnancy as it’s risky for the baby. Do not stop the medicine immediately if you were already taking it before pregnancy. Discuss with your doctor for a complete evaluation. If you have been given Zoloft, check with the insurance company to review the policy. Learning more will help you know more about copayments, deductibles, limitations, and coverage levels. Just like Lexapro, Zoloft’s brand name is expensive. Check for the generic name, which is as effective as the brand name. If the insurance agency covers Zoloft, you might be asked to pay a copayment/coinsurance for every prescription.

Lexapro vs Zoloft: Questions You Need to Ask


Although Zoloft vs. Lexapro is in high demand, you need to explore the complete pros and cons of the medicine before starting treatment. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor about every symptom so that they can give you the best medicine.

  • Make sure you ask your doctor about the possible side effects of the medicine.
  • Ask about the time it will take for the condition to get better.
  • Tell them about any other medicine you are taking.
  • Ask them if you need to alter your lifestyle while taking medicine, for example, driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • About any possible upcoming checkups
  • Check the different treatment options.
  • Discuss the specific conditions you want to get medicine attention for

 Lexapro vs Zoloft- Which is Better?


Lexapro showed better results than placebo for treating Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. On the other hand, Zoloft showed better results than a placebo for treating major depressive disorder, panic disorder, OCD, SAD, PTSD, and PMDD.


A study published in 2014 by International Clinical Psychopharmacology suggests that Lexapro is better tolerated and might be more efficient than Zoloft or Paxil because of the different sites of binding interactions. Yet, in a different study, Zoloft was found to have better outcomes than Lexapro and Celexa in terms of medical spending and overall cost.


In conclusion, if you are confused about Lexapro vs. Zoloft, it is best to talk with your doctor. Although both have similar benefits and modes of action, each person’s reaction will differ.

How Does Therapy Fleet Help You?


We know how anxiety and depression feel. It drains the energy from the body. No one wants to beat the bush, finding what medicine suits them. Contact us now. We consist of certified healthcare provider who can offer their expert advice for anxiety and depression. So You don’t have to suffer alone!

Medical Disclaimer:


At TherapyFleet, we strive to enhance the quality of life for those dealing with mental health issues. Our licensed medical professionals meticulously research, edit, and review all content before publication. Nonetheless, this information should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical guidance, please consult your physician or reach out to TherapyFleet’s qualified staff.


Both Zoloft and Lexapro are effective for treating depression and anxiety. However, individual responses can vary, so it’s important to consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Zoloft Vs Lexapro- Which Has Lesser Side Effects?


Both have similar side effects, and the level of symptoms experienced by each individual varies.

Which One is More Effective?


Zoloft treats more mental disorders than Lexapro. But that does not make it any better. Your doctor can offer more advice.

I Am Using Lexapro. Can I Switch to Zoloft?


Do not change medicine before discussing it with your doctor first. Only your doctor can guide you better. Do not stop taking any of these abruptly. You can experience withdrawal effects.

Zoloft Vs Lexapro- Are They the Same?


Although both are SSRIs, their mode of action is similar. Both these are given for entirely different disorders. While you can take Lexapro for depression for people over the age of 12, Zoloft can be taken for OCD for people over the age of 6 and above. Know that both are FDA-approved

Do Both Treat Depression?


Yes. However, generally, Lexapro is more relevant for GAD and Zoloft for OCD. But both work well for depression. Only a doctor can prescribe you the better one after the evaluation.


Lexapro was approved by the FDA in 2002, while Zoloft in 1991. Store both the medicine at room temperature, without light and moisture. The shelf life of Lexapro is 3-years, and 5-years for Zoloft. Do not flush the medicine under any circumstances.

Do Lexapro and Zoloft cause weight gain?


Yes, like the other antidepressants, these two can increase weight.


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