Drug vs Drug

Prozac vs. Lexapro:
Which Is Better for Me?

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Are you trying to decide whether Prozac or Lexapro is the better antidepressant for you? Read our guide to learn more about choosing the right medications. 
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Differences between Lexapro and Prozac

Recently, doctors have been placing a higher emphasis on taking care of mental wellness. While mental health conditions have been around for ages, they’ve seen an increase since the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to social distancing and quarantine regulations, an increasing number of people have reported experiencing things like stress, anxiety and major depressive disorder.

If you’re going through one of these mental health conditions, it’s important not to suffer in silence. When left unaddressed, they’ll likely worsen and begin to negatively impact all elements of life, from school and work to personal interests and social relationships.

The good news is, there are treatments available — along with therapy, many people rely on antidepressant medications. In this guide, we’ll review two well-known drugs: Prozac and Lexapro. Read on to learn more about their functions, potential side effects and how to choose between them.

Prozac vs Lexapro

Prozac and Lexapro are antidepressants that are commonly used as a treatment of major depressive disorder and anxiety. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how both these drugs work.

Prozac

Prozac is a branded version of a drug known as fluoxetine. It belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Commonly known as the “happiness molecule,” serotonin may affect the following:

  • Mood and emotions
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Sleep and restfulness

 

By increasing satisfaction levels and encouraging better physical health, Prozac can serve as a treatment of major depressive disorder. It’s also FDA-approved to treat certain anxiety disorders (such as obsessive-compulsive and panic disorders). Although Prozac is not officially validated as a generalized anxiety treatment, it’s often prescribed off-label.

Lexapro

Lexapro is a branded version of a drug called escitalopram. Like Prozac, it’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and common treatment of major depressive disorder. By boosting serotonin levels, it can help lower these depression symptoms:

  • Loss of interests
  • Persistent sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritable mood

 

Not only does Lexapro treat depression, but it’s also FDA-approved to treat generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some doctors may even prescribe it off-label to patients with panic disorders.

Prozac vs. Lexapro: Dosage Amounts

When prescribing either Prozac or Lexapro, the first thing doctors will consider is the dosage amount. There are several factors that may influence your prescribed dosage amount, such as the following:
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Medical conditions
  • Other medications being used
  • The condition being treated
  In the chart below, you’ll find information regarding the different dosage requirements for Prozac and Lexapro (including recommended starting dosages, the available dosage forms and the amount of time it takes for the drug to work). Keep in mind that this is a general outline, and the real amounts vary depending on each individual.

Recommended starting dosage for major depressive disorder Recommended starting dosage for anxiety Amount of time for drug to absorb in bloodstream Amount of time for drug to become effective Available dosage forms
Prozac 20 mg/day (up to 80 mg/day) 20 mg/day (for OCD); 10mg/day (for panic disorders) 4 to 8 hours 4 to 6 weeks Tablet, delayed-release tablet, oral solution
Lexapro 10 mg/day (up to 20 mg/day) 10 mg/day (for OCD and generalized anxiety) 3 to 4 hours 4 to 6 weeks Tablet, liquid solution

Prozac vs. Lexapro: Side Effects

Since selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) influence the neurotransmitters in your brain, there’s always the risk of side effects. Ideally, they should diminish over the course of a few weeks. Let’s go over some adverse effects you may experience while taking these drugs.

Common Side Effects of Prozac

Here are some common side effects of Prozac:

  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Drowsiness and yawning
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased sweating
  • Sexual side effects

 

In rare cases, Prozac may increase your heartbeat or cause hallucinations.

Common Side Effects of Lexapro

Here are some common side effects of Lexapro:

  • Nausea and dry mouth
  • Constipation and stomach problems
  • Drowsiness and trouble sleeping
  • Increased sweating
  • Sexual side effects

 

In rare cases, Lexapro can lead to seizures and vision problems.

Prozac vs. Lexapro: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Prozac and Lexapro.

Can I take Prozac and Lexapro together?

Oftentimes, depression and anxiety occur simultaneously. If you’re struggling with both conditions at once, you might be wondering: can I take Prozac (fluoxetine) and Lexapro (escitalopram) together? While doctors may sometimes prescribe multiple antidepressant medications, Prozac and Lexapro are almost never taken together.

Because they’re both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), combining Prozac and Lexapro can cause an excessive amount of serotonin. This condition (called serotonin syndrome) can cause the following symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Muscle twitching
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate

 

Even at low dosages, taking these two drugs simultaneously may have severe consequences.

Are there any substances I should avoid when taking Prozac or Lexapro?

When taking Prozac or Lexapro, you should avoid using antiplatelet drugs like NSAIDs, blood thinners and warfarin. This combination can cause serious bleeding and bruising. You should also avoid MAO inhibitors, which can be fatal when combined with fluoxetine or escitalopram.

Keep in mind that both Prozac and Lexapro can last in your system for a few weeks, even after you’ve stopped taking them. Always consult a doctor before adding a new drug to your regimen.

How do I decide between Prozac and Lexapro?

To decide between Prozac and Lexapro, the first factor to consider is the condition you’re treating. If you have generalized anxiety disorder, then only Lexapro is FDA-approved to treat it. Conversely, if you have panic disorder, Prozac is the more appropriate treatment.

Of course, there are certain conditions that Prozac and Lexapro are both approved to treat (namely, depression and OCD). In these cases, the best way to determine which drug is better for you is through DNA testing.

DNA Testing for Prozac and Lexapro

In past years, the only definitive way to decide between Prozac and Lexapro was to take one of the drugs, then wait to see the results. If it proved ineffective, the doctor might choose to increase the dosage — if it caused severe side effects, they might decrease the dosage or switch to the other drug.

DNA testing (or pharmacogenetic testing) lets you skip this time-consuming trial and error process by immediately identifying which drug works better for your body. Not only will it help you decide between medications, but it can also determine the optimal dosages.

So, how exactly does a DNA test work? It starts by analyzing the genetic material available in your DNA molecules. More specifically, it examines the cytochrome P450 enzyme, which metabolizes the majority of clinically used drugs. If your test results reveal that you break down certain drugs too slowly or quickly, your healthcare provider will know whether to adjust your dosage (or avoid a medication altogether).

Where Can I Get a DNA Test?

Are you ready to learn more about your unique metabolism rates and medication responses? If so, you’ll have to start by getting a DNA test. At ClarityX, we offer two high-quality, comprehensive test options: the Mindwell test and the Max Rx test.

Mindwell Test

The Mindwell test predicts how you’ll react to mental wellness medications, including both antidepressants and SSRIs. It’s especially designed for people struggling with one of the following conditions:

Through the Mindwell test, you can effectively determine whether Prozac or Lexapro is better for you.

Max Rx Test

While the Mindwell test is great for mental wellness conditions, it won’t tell you how you’ll respond to other drug types. If you’d like a more comprehensive overview of your medication needs, then the Max Rx test is the way to go. It covers everything included in the Mindwell test, as well as 16 extra therapeutic areas. These include, but are not limited to:

 

The Max Rx test is for those who would like to know how they respond to multiple medication types (as opposed to just antidepressants).

Get a Test Kit Today!

Nobody wants to go through a game of trial and error just to discover which medication works for them. Whether you’re trying to decide between Prozac and Lexapro or are just looking for an effective treatment solution, DNA testing can help. You can get a testing kit from ClarirtyX by following these simple steps:

  • Visit our site
  • Request your desired ClarityX test
  • Complete the checkout process

 

After purchasing your test, you’ll receive an at-home cheek swab kit. Simply perform the sample, send it back in the pre-paid envelope and wait for your results. Once we’ve finished analyzing your sample, you’ll receive a thorough, personalized report in your patient portal. By taking this step, you can make smarter, more effective healthcare decisions for years to come.

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