Drug vs Drug

Zoloft vs Celexa:
Find Out Which is Better For You

Make better healthcare decisions by learning more about common antidepressants. In this guide, we’ll compare Zoloft and Celexa, then review how DNA testing can help you choose between them. 
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Zoloft vs Celexa

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to take care of our mental wellness. The mind and body are closely linked — if you feel consistently anxious, depressed or stressed, it can take a toll on your physical well-being.

Thanks to increasing awareness about mental health, more and more people are seeking treatment — in fact, approximately one out of every ten Americans uses antidepressant medications. Although these drugs are mainly used as a treatment of depression, they also have anti-anxiety effects that are useful for treating panic attacks, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Ultimately, antidepressants can be highly effective in preventing and treating mental wellness conditions. Of course, for the best results, you need to find a drug that works well with your body. With so many antidepressant medications out there, this is easier said than done — that’s why we’ve assembled guides comparing common treatment options. In this article, we’ll review two well-known antidepressants (Zoloft and Celexa) and go over their similarities, differences and how DNA testing can help you decide between them.

Compare Zoloft and Celexa

Zoloft (generically called sertraline) and Celexa (generically called citalopram) both belong to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This type of drug works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that may influence the following:

  • Mood and emotions
  • Happiness and satisfaction
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Sleep and mindfulness


Put simply, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) block the reuptake (or reabsorption) of serotonin into neurons, which keeps it in the brain for longer periods of time.

Zoloft vs Celexa For Depression

Considering they’re both antidepressant medications, it’s no surprise that Zoloft and Celexa are commonly prescribed as a treatment of depression. An increase in serotonin can help lower many symptoms associated with major depressive disorder, such as the following:

  • Poor mood
  • Irritability and sadness
  • Loss of interests
  • Bad sleep and appetite habits
  • Trouble concentrating


By improving mood, sleep and digestion, these drugs can assist with mental well-being and encourage a healthier physical lifestyle.

Zoloft vs Celexa For Anxiety

Although Zoloft and Celexa are usually used to treat major depressive disorder, they also have anti-anxiety effects that have proven useful in treating common forms of anxiety. These include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder


It’s worth noting that between these two drugs, only Zoloft is FDA-approved to treat anxiety conditions. While healthcare providers can still prescribe Celexa as an “off-label” anxiety treatment, it’s only officially approved for depression.

Can You Combine Zoloft and Celexa?

In some cases (such as when a patient has severe symptoms or both depression and anxiety), healthcare providers may combine two antidepressants to create a more effective treatment. However, it’s highly advisable to avoid mixing sertraline and citalopram. Because these drugs are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), taking them together can cause dangerously high levels of serotonin. Known as serotonin syndrome, this may cause the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blurred vision


If you’re curious about combining two drugs, always speak to a healthcare provider first.

Zoloft vs Celexa: Dosage Amounts

While they may belong to the same class of antidepressants, Zoloft and Celexa differ in terms of dosage amounts. This is because they have different potencies (or strengths) — Celexa is generally stronger than Zoloft, which is why it’s prescribed at a lower dose. The chart below compares their respective starting doses, absorption rates and available forms:

Recommended starting dose (for depression) Recommended starting dose (for generalized anxiety) Absorption rates Available dosage forms
Zoloft 50 mg/day (max: 200 mg/day) 25 mg/day (max: 200 mg/day) 6 to 8 hours Tablet, oral solution, capsule
Celexa 20 mg/day (max: 40 mg/day) 10 mg/day (max: 40 mg/day) 1 to 4 hours Tablet, oral solution
  It’s important to emphasize that this chart is a general guideline — the precise dosage amounts vary from person to person. Several factors (such as age, lifestyle habits and medication use) can influence your recommended dosage. For example, children or people using other medications may be prescribed lower doses than the average adult. Receiving the right dosage amount for your needs can go a long way in preventing adverse effects.

Zoloft vs Celexa: Side Effects

Starting a new medication always comes with the risk of adverse effects. As your body gets accustomed to the drug, these effects should diminish — it can take up to six or even eight weeks for them to go away entirely. Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms you may experience.

Common Side Effects of Zoloft

Here a few common side effects of Zoloft:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Appetite loss
  • Sleep issues
  • Diarrhea


In rare cases, Zoloft may cause hallucinations, muscle twitches and fever. Certain side effects can be worsened by alcohol or other drugs (such as blood thinners, NSAIDs and MAO inhibitors).

Common Side Effects of Celexa

Here are a few common side effects of Celexa:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep issues
  • Sexual side effects


In severe cases, Celexa can cause fainting, vision problems and irregular heartbeats. Substances like alcohol, marijuana, NSAIDs, opioids and muscle relaxants can exacerbate symptoms.

Can I Prevent Adverse Effects?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to 100% guarantee you won’t experience unwanted side effects. However, you can lower the chances of this happening by finding medications that interact well with your body.

In the past, the only way to discover the best possible drugs was through a game of trial and error. Healthcare providers would prescribe a drug, wait to see the results, then either adjust the dosage or switch to another drug. Now, thanks to the help of modern technology, there’s a quicker, more efficient method: pharmacogenetic testing.

DNA Testing For Medication Responses

Pharmacogenetic testing (more commonly known as DNA testing) uses the information available in your DNA to determine how you may respond to certain medications. It works by examining enzymes, which are responsible for (among other things) metabolizing drugs. More specifically, DNA testing analyzes the cytochrome P450 (CYP 450) enzyme, which breaks down over 70% of clinically used drugs.

What Are The Benefits of DNA Testing?

So, what exactly does DNA testing tell you? Once you complete your test, you’ll discover the following information:

  • Whether you break down certain medications too quickly
  • Whether you break down certain medications too slowly
  • Whether a medication will interact negatively with other drugs you’re taking


If you metabolize drugs too quickly, they’ll be rendered ineffective. On the flip side, if you metabolize them too slowly, they’ll remain in your system for longer than recommended (which leads to unsavory side effects). With this information, you (and your doctor) will know whether you should increase your dosage, decrease it or avoid a medication altogether.

Where Can I Get a DNA Test?

Now that you know the benefits of DNA testing, you might be wondering: where can I get one? At ClarityX, we offer high-quality, comprehensive tests that can accurately predict how you’ll react to a wide variety of FDA-approved drugs. Patients can choose between two test types: the Mindwell test and the MaxRx test.

Mindwell Test

As the name suggests, the Mindwell test focuses on medications designed for mental wellness conditions (such as depressionanxiety and ADHD). It can effectively determine how you’ll respond to the following medication classes:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anxiolytics
  • SSNRIs and SSRIs


If you’re trying to decide between two antidepressants (such as Zoloft and Celexa), the Mindwell test will help.

Max Rx Test

The Max Rx version is an expansive test that covers everything in the Mindwell test, as well as 16 additional therapeutic areas. This includes (but is not limited to) the following:


If you’re looking for a thorough overview of your health needs, the Max Rx test is the way to go.

Get Your Test Today!

Finding the best medications for your body is essential to taking care of your health. Our goal is to help as many people as possible, which is why we make the DNA testing process both easy and efficient. All you have to do is complete the following steps:

  • Request your test: Start by requesting your ClarityX test and completing the check-out process. Then, activate the test online.

  • Perform the test: Once your test is activated, you’ll receive a cheek swab kit in the mail. Simply take a sample, place it in the pre-paid envelope that comes with your kit and send it back to us.

  • Receive your results: After a short waiting period, you’ll receive a personalized report that can be shared with your healthcare provider.

Skip the burdensome trial and error process and make wiser, well-informed healthcare decisions by undergoing a DNA test today.

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