Lexapro and sertraline have much in common, they are both prescribed for depression and anxiety, and they are both SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. This means they work by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. However, there are a few key differentiators between these two medications that might cause a doctor or psychiatrist to prescribe one or the other. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing one of these common anti-depression or anti-anxiety medications.
Lexapro is stronger.
Lexapro and sertraline are both effective medications. In an analysis published in The Lancet, a medical journal from the UK, both escitalopram (generic Lexapro) and sertraline were shown to be more efficacious than duloxetine, fluoxetine and paroxetine (Cymbalta, Prozac and Paxil). Many studies have indicated that Lexapro is the most effective of the SSRIs analyzed for the treatment of depression. According to Sanchez et al., escitalopram binds to both primary and allosteric binding sites on serotonin receptors which causes a more complete and sustained inhibition of serotonin uptake. In other words, Lexapro increases the availability of serotonin even more and for longer periods than does sertraline. Several studies also indicate that Lexapro has a faster onset than other SSRIs.
Lexapro may have fewer drug interactions.
Sertraline and Lexapro have very similar side effects. These include loss of libido and sexual dysfunction, nausea, fatigue, sleepiness, inability to reach orgasm, dry mouth, increased sweating, insomnia, and diarrhea. However, in the case of sertraline clinical trials, most of these side effects occurred at a greater rate in patients with OCD, panic disorder and PTSD than in patients with depression. Some studies have indicated that Lexapro has a lower likelihood of causing drug-drug interactions than sertraline because it has less of an inhibitory effect on enzymes that metabolize most medications.
Sertraline is prescribed to treat other conditions.
Sertraline is the better option for those suffering from specific types of depression or anxiety disorders. In addition to major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), sertraline is approved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD, OCD, social anxiety, panic disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Lexapro is only approved to treat MDD and GAD.
Costs and Discounts
Because Lexapro/escitalopram is a newer drug, the prescription cost is higher. Even though generic escitalopram is available, the price is still higher than sertraline, or generic Zoloft. Escitalopram costs around $100 per month for the 10mg tablets, and sertraline costs around $30 for a month’s supply of 100mg tablets. Prices vary greatly by pharmacy. Be sure to check out our coupons for sertraline and escitalopram to see how much you can save in your local pharmacy.