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Celexa vs Zoloft: Main Differences and Similarities

Celexa and Zoloft are two brand name medications that are commonly prescribed to treat depression. They are both grouped in a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain. While both medications work in similar ways and carry similar side effects, there are some important differences between these two drugs.

Celexa

Celexa is also known by its generic or chemical name, citalopram. It is FDA approved to treat depression. Like other common SSRIs, Celexa primarily undergoes metabolism in the liver and has an average half-life of approximately 35 hours. It achieves consistent concentrations in the blood after about 1 week of initial use.

Celexa comes in 10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg oral tablets as well as a generic 10 mg/5 mL oral solution. It is typically dosed as 20 mg per day in the morning or evening. This dose can then be increased to 40 mg per day after no less than week.

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Zoloft

Zoloft is known by its generic name, sertraline. It also treats depression like Celexa. However, unlike Celexa, it also treats Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder (PD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD). Therefore, it treats a wider range of psychiatric conditions.

Zoloft is also metabolized in the liver with an average half-life of 26 hours. With a shorter half-life than Celexa, Zoloft may cause less side effects such as drowsiness. Like Celexa, consistent concentrations are reached in the body after about 1 week with maximum therapeutic potential reached after several weeks.

Oral tablets are available in strengths of 25 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg taken once daily. A 20 mg/1 mL oral solution is also available.

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Celexa vs Zoloft Side by Side Comparison

Celexa and Zoloft share many similarities and differences as SSRI medications. These details can be explored in the comparison table below.

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Celexa Zoloft
Prescribed For
  • Depression
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder (PD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD)
Drug Classification
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)
Manufacturer
Common Side Effects
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Somnolence
  • Decreased libido
  • Ejaculation Disorder
  • Anorgasmia
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Somnolence
  • Decreased libido
  • Ejaculation Disorder
  • Anorgasmia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
  • Diarrhea
Is there a generic?
Is it covered by insurance?
  • Varies according to your provider
  • Varies according to your provider
Dosage Forms
  • Oral tablet
  • Oral tablet
  • Oral solution
Average Cash Price
  • $325 (per 30 tablets)
  • $365 (per 30 tablets)
SingleCare Discount Price
Drug Interactions
  • MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, tranylcypromine)
  • Pimozide
  • Other SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • Amiodarone
  • Triptans
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, nortriptyline, imipramine)
  • Fentanyl
  • Lithium
  • Tramadol
  • Buspirone
  • Amphetamines
  • St. John’s Wort
  • NSAIDs
  • Aspirin
  • Warfarin
  • Cimetidine
  • Ginkgo
  • Lamotrigine
  • Phenytoin
  • Carbamazepine
  • Zolpidem
  • Propafenone
  • Atomoxetine
  • Metoprolol
  • Nebivolol
Can I use while planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding?
  • Celexa is Pregnancy Category C. Animal studies have shown adverse effects to the fetus. Adequate studies have not been performed in humans. Celexa is not expected to harm breastfed infants. Consult a doctor regarding steps to take while pregnant and breastfeeding.
  • Zoloft is Pregnancy Category C. Animal studies have shown adverse effects to the fetus. Adequate studies have not been performed in humans. Zoloft is not expected to harm breastfed infants. Consult a doctor regarding steps to take while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Summary

Both Celexa and Zoloft are structurally and chemically similar medications used to treat depression. While treating depression, Zoloft also treats Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder (PD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD). These indications alone may be reason enough to choose Zoloft over Celexa.

Both medications come in similar formulations with similar dosing instructions. It may take up to several weeks to feel the effects of either medication. Because both medications are metabolized in the liver, dose adjustments may need to be made in individuals with liver impairment. Both medications also have several drug interactions which may increase the risk of adverse effects such as serotonin syndrome. It is important to discuss these treatment options with your physician to determine which medication may be best for you.