Switching from Celexa to Lexapro (notice the difference?) 

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In this blog post, we are going to discuss what one should expect when switching from celexa to lexapro. Both of these drugs are antidepressants and they can be used for a number of mental health illnesses. 

This blog will cover the major differences between these two and what circumstances lead to the discontinuation of celexa. 

How long does it usually take to notice differences after switching from Celexa to Lexapro? 

It usually takes 3-4 weeks to start noticing differences after switching from celexa to lexapro. However, this time duration can vary from person to person. 

Some people get started on a low dose, as one of the most commonly used switching strategies is to taper off the old drug and start the new one from the lowest possible dose. 

This low dose is slowly increased while the old dose is tapered off completely. Experts suggest that some people are sensitive to antidepressants as compared to other people and might take up to 12 weeks to adjust to the new antidepressant. 

Your doctor might shift you from celexa to lexapro if you’re not getting enough therapeutic response, especially in the case of major depressive disorder (MDD). 

One study compared the effects of celexa 40 mg and lexapro 20 mg in the treatment of MDD. The study concluded that escitalopram was found more effective in managing the symptoms associated with MDD and significantly enhanced mood as compared to citalopram. 

Both of these drugs are closely related as escitalopram is derived from citalopram, and is considered a newer and better antidepressant. 

Celexa Vs Lexapro: What’s the difference? 

Both celexa (Citalopram) and lexapro (Escitalopram) belong to the same class of antidepressants, that is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs inhibit the reuptake of serotonin from the synaptic cleft (space between a neuron and its target cell). 

When the neurons release serotonin, oftentimes there’s some leftover within the synaptic cleft that is retaken by transporters. Celexa and lexapro basically inhibit these serotonin transporters (SERT) and increase the availability of active serotonin in the body. 

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical) released by our brain which is responsible for modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and various other psychological processes. 

Both of these meds are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in the treatment of mild to severe episodes of depression, including major depressive disorder (MDD). They are used for other mental health conditions as well. These include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) 
  • Eating disorders
  • Dementia
  • Panic attacks 
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Social anxiety disorder or social phobia
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Both of these drugs are either approved or used off-label for the treatment of above-mentioned illnesses. Off-label use indicates that the drug does possess some beneficial effects against the disease but is not approved by the FDA yet. 

Lexapro (escitalopram) is available in tablet and liquid forms:

Lexapro tablet

Table is available in following strengths:

  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg
  • 20 mg

Lexapro liquid

  • 1 mg/ml

The starting dose for lexapro is 10mg, taken once a day, as recommended by your healthcare provider. Deciding an appropriate dose is necessary to achieve therapeutic response of the drug. If your dose is too low, your med will not provide enough support. 

If your dose is too high, your med will produce unwanted effects and might make you even more restless. It is extremely important to match your dose with the severity of your symptoms, in order to avoid therapeutic failure.

What are the circumstances which lead to the switching of Celexa? 

It is not easy to switch antidepressants. Infact, they should be switched only when necessary. Your doctor might recommend another antidepressant for one of the following reasons:

Inadequate therapeutic response 

If your celexa, or any other antidepressant you might use, is not living up to the expectations and it fails to provide relief from depression symptoms, your doctor might think of increasing the dose of the same antidepressant. 

However, it’s not wise to blame the drug right away and jump to conclusions. Sometimes, it’s the dose that’s not working out for you. If celexa fails to give an adequate therapeutic response even at high doses (even highest), now it’s time to switch.

Your doctor will prescribe another antidepressant and follow proper switching strategy. 

Note: Dose escalation is a tricky process and should be done only by your doctor. You are not authorised to reduce or escalate your dose on your own. Make sure you ask your healthcare provider if you think your dose is too high or too low.

Drug interactions

If your celexa is interfering with the effects or metabolism of some other medicines that you are taking along with it, it’s best to switch to another antidepressant, like lexapro, that’s safe to use with your other prescribed medications. 

Side effects 

If your celexa is producing side effects which are not going away, even after 3 to 4 weeks of your treatment, you might need to change it. Your antidepressant should be well tolerated as you have to live with it everyday, for several months or even longer. 

What are the side effects associated with these drugs? 

Both celexa and lexapro are associated with some side effects. These include:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Sexual issues
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Vertigo 
  • Decreased salivation or dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety 
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Weakness
  • Sleepiness and fatigue
  • Weight gain 

These meds can also cause some rare and serious side effects. These include:

  • Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 
  • Angle-closure glaucoma causes symptoms like eye pain, vision changes, or swelling or redness in your eyes.
  • It could cause low sodium levels which can result in psychological symptoms like confusion, agitation, inability to understand surroundings, memory loss etc.
  • It can cause elongation of QT interval, causing increased heartbeat or arrhythmia
  • Teeth grinding

The use of either celexa or lexapro may also put you at an increased risk for dangerous bleeding, especially when taken with medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), warfarin (an anticoagulant medication), or other anticoagulants. 

Make sure your prescription medications are compatible with one another. 

What should you expect when you switch your antidepressant? 

There are few things you need to understand before you switch from celexa to lexapro, or switch to any other antidepressant. These include:

  • Your new antidepressant might take a few weeks to work. The new drug will not start working overnight. Your body will take its time to adapt to lexapro. 
  • Lexapro may produce some unwanted side effects at first, but as your body gets used to it, they will begin to subside. 
  • You may experience withdrawal symptoms, if your dose is not balanced. 

Is there any way to find the perfect antidepressant for you? 

Finding the perfect antidepressant is one hell of a task. Some meds just don’t work for you. 

No matter how many times you try to increase the dose or take it in the best possible way, they just don’t work for you. This process takes a while. 

When you start an antidepressant, you need to give it a few weeks because these meds don’t work overnight, like analgesics which provide pain relief in an hour or two. Antidepressants usually take 3 – 4 weeks to start making changes in your system. 

They require proper adherence, or else they might not work the way you want them to. The medication itself is not solely responsible, as your body’s reaction to it plays a major role as well. 

So yes, there’s only one way to find the perfect antidepressant. You’ve got to try them! There’s no way to set a standard here, as your perfect antidepressant might not be so perfect for someone else. Stick to the one your doctor recommends.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we have discussed how much time is usually taken to start seeing noticeable beneficial effects after switching from celexa to lexapro. Usually, it takes 3 to 4 weeks for your new antidepressant to kick in. However, this time duration can vary from person to person. 

Experts suggest that some people are sensitive to antidepressants as compared to other people and might take up to 12 weeks to adjust to the new antidepressant. 

Both celexa (Citalopram) and lexapro (Escitalopram) belong to the same class of antidepressants, that is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They increase the amount of active serotonin in your body. 

They can be used to treat a number of mental illnesses other than depression. However, studies reveal that lexapro is more effective as compared to celexa, which might be one of the reasons behind the switch.

 Make sure you properly follow your doctor’s advice and do not switch, alter the dose or stop using any medication without your doctor’s approval. 

FAQs: switching from celexa to lexapro how long to notice difference 

Can you just switch from Celexa to Lexapro?

The best switching strategy is recommended by your doctor. In usual practice, direct switch is preferred only after a short duration of treatment with celexa and it doesn’t seem to work that well for you. 

If you are switching after months or years of taking celexa, it is not recommended to just stop and switch. You need to taper celexa down and start lexapro from the lowest effective dose. 

When switching antidepressants How long does it take to work?

Your new antidepressant might take up to 4 weeks to start producing noticeable therapeutic results. However, this time duration can vary from person to person. 

How long does it take to feel the effects of Lexapro?

Lexapro usually takes 3-4 weeks to start making changes in your system. It might take longer for some people. 

How long should you wait between switching antidepressants?

It depends on the antidepressant you’re willing to drop. There are 4 common switching strategies which are recommended by your healthcare provider according to your condition and the choice of antidepressant. These strategies include:

  • Direct switch: You stop one antidepressant and directly switch to another.
  • Cross taper: You taper off one antidepressant while gradually increasing the dose of the next one, over a few weeks period.
  • Taper and switch right away: You gradually taper off your current drug. As soon as you have completely stopped the first drug, you start taking the next one. 
  • Taper and switch, after washing out the first drug completely: You gradually taper off the first drug and wait a couple of weeks, usually 1-6 weeks, for your body to completely wash out the drug from your system, even traces.

Is Celexa stronger than Lexapro?

Both of these agents belong to the same class of antidepressants and can be used to treat multiple mental health conditions. However, studies have indicated that lexapro is more effective than celexa, especially in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).

How do you know when to switch antidepressants?

Your healthcare provider may switch your antidepressant if your current antidepressant:

  • Doesn’t suit you
  • Cause side effects 
  • Fails to provide adequate therapeutic response. 

References 

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