Difference Between Escitalopram & Citalopram

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As antidepressants with the same mechanism of action, escitalopram and citalopram have very similar profiles. Their differences, however, can influence treatment decisions.

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Escitalopram and citalopram refer to the generic drugs escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro) and citalopram hydrobromide (Celexa). Rx List notes that escitalopram and citalopram both help treat major depression, but escitalopram has additional utility in general anxiety disorder.


According to Rx List, citalopram hydrobromide is a fine, white to off-white powder, while escitalopram oxalate appears white to slightly yellow. Both drugs are barely soluble in water, while citalopram is more soluble in ethanol (alcohol) than escitalopram.

Unlabeled Uses

According to the 2010 Mosby's Nursing Drug Reference, off-label uses for both escitalopram and citalopram include panic disorder and social phobia. Citalopram, however, has additional unlabeled uses, such as: hot flushes, menopause, premenstrual disorder, anxiety, impulsive aggression in children and obsessive-compulsive disorder in teenagers.

Dosage Forms

The 2010 Mosby's Nursing Drug Reference notes that citalopram is available as oral solution of 10mg/5mL (10 milligrams per 5 millilitres), as well as tablets of 10, 20 or 40mg (milligrams). In contrast, the available forms of escitalopram include the following: 5mg/5mL oral solution; 5, 10 and 20mg tablets.


According to the 2010 Mosby's Nursing Drug Guide, citalopram has a half-life of 35 hours in adults, while escitalopram's half-life ranges from 27 to 32 hours. The half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time required for its concentration to fall by half and is an indicator of its duration of action.

Drug-Herb Interactions

The 2010 Mosby's Nursing Drug Reference notes that taking escitalopram with yohimbe increases hypertension, while citalopram increases the stimulatory effects of yohimbe on the brain. Unlike citalopram, escitalopram interacts with the following herbs: corkwood, jimsonweed, kava, hops and lavender.

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