Prozac vs Lexapro

Prozac vs Lexapro will be very familiar to you if you suffer from depression or other mental conditions. They are both used to treat depression and other mental conditions but only used on prescription. While one is brand name for fluoxetine, the other is a brand name for escitalopram.

Prozac and Lexapro do almost the same work in the brain but they are different. These differences should be known to you before you start taking any of them. Their uses and side effect slightly differs. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between Prozac and Lexapro so that you will know the best for you.


Prozac is a prescription drug used in treating major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. Prozac also known by its generic name, fluoxetine is classified under the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Since this drug first appeared in the United States in 1988, it has been one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants. It is still popular even with the introduction of new antidepressants. Prozac can be used for both adults and in some children who are above the age of 10. 


Lexapro is a prescription drug used in treating depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Lexapro or escitalopram (its generic name) is classified under a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Lexapro is well tolerated by the body and it has fewer interactions with other drugs. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in adults and children who are 12 years and above. 


Some of the similarities of these drugs are:

  • They are classified under the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
  • Prozac and Lexapro works in the brain to treat depression and other mental conditions.
  • They can both be used for either short-term or long-term 
  • They mist be prescribed by a doctor before use.
  • Prozac and Lexapro should not be used if you have liver, heart and kidney problems, seizures or convulsions, high blood pressure, history of stroke, bleeding problems, pregnancy or planning to become pregnant, breastfeeding or plans to breastfeed.
Prozac vs Lexapro
Prozac vs Lexapro


Uses of Prozac

Prozac works by blocking how the neutrotransmitter known as serotonin is absorbed in the brain. This causes the the brain to be in a stable and good mood. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the drug to be used in maintaining and treating 

Depression: Adults and children can go into depression, Prozac can be used for both adults and children (but from the age of 10 with persistent and severe depression). However, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have warned that there should be caution when used in children and adolescents as there may be tendencies of suicidal thoughts or actions after using it.

A review by the National Library of Medicine compared the effectiveness of Prozac and other antidepressants, the results showed that Prozac is effective and better tolerated. However, the authors of the reviews concluded that more research needs to be done as there are some factors that made the comparison difficult. 

Panic Disorder: A study by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 1999 suggested that Prozac can reduce the number of times people with panic disorder have panic attacks. In one study, about 7 percent of patients have increased anxiety after few weeks of using Prozac as compared to the 9 percent who took a placebo. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2001 found out that about 20 to 60 milligram (mg) dose of Prozac was effective in treating children and adolescents with OCD. However, patients who have OCD will have to use Prozac and other SSRI drugs for at least a year depending on the severity of the disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa: A study by the The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2000 showed that patients with this mental condition who are unresponsive to other psychological treatment can use Prozac as it is useful in treating bulimia if taken for up to a year.

Other off-label uses of Prozac are:

  • Binge eating disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety disorder  

Lexapro is used to treat the following:

Depression: This is an insidious condition, it does not just affect your mood but also your thoughts, feelings, and ability to function. Depression shuts out your sense of pleasure, connectedness, creativity and suppresses your hope. It causes a deep sense of pain for the victim and everyone around.

Depressive Psychosic: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimated 20 percent of people to also have psychotic symptoms, the combination of these conditions are known as depressive psychosis. Depressive psychosis causes victims to see, hear, smell and believe thing that are not real. This condition is very dangerous because it can lead to delusions and suicidal thoughts.

Arteriosclerotic Dementia with Depressive Features: This is a condition that causes loss of brain function. This loss affects the thoughts, memory, language, behavior and judgement caused by the hardening of the blood vessels with depression.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 2.7 percent of the United States adults are affected by this condition. People with this mental condition have worries that consume everything about them. They worry too much about everyday things when when there is no cause for concern.

Dementia with Depressive Features: People with this mental condition have the feeling of desperation but they are unable to express their sadness. There is also depression and delusional thoughts.

Lexapro is also used for off-label purposes like:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Eating disorders (including binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Forms and dosage of Prozac:

Prozac comes in tablets, capsules, weekly capsules and liquid. The typical starting dose for Prozac is 20 mg, it can only be increased only by your doctor if there is need for it. The maximum daily dose is 80 mg, it can increase if there is need as well.

  • Tablets : 10 mg, 20 mg and 60 mg
  • Capsules : 10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg
  • Weekly capsules : 90 mg
  • Liquid : 20 mg /5 ml

Forms and dosage of Lexapro:

There is tablet and liquid form of Lexapro. Lexapro typical starting dose is 10 mg which should be once a day. This dosage can be increased by a doctor if there is need to. The recommended daily dosage is 20 mg although in special cases, there may be increase. 

  • Tablets : 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg
  • Liquid : 1 mg /1 ml


Both Prozac and Lexapro are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). However, a study published by the National Institute of Health in 2014 showed that Lexapro is more effective in treating severe periods of depression than Prozac. 10Nevertheless, the study also found out that there was no difference in how effective these drugs were during the first two weeks. This is to say, any of these medications can be useful.


You should know that Lexapro is approved to be used in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Prozac on the other hand, can treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) but as off-label prescription. Comparing the effectiveness of both drugs in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), some studies considered Prozac to be more effective in treating anxiety while other studies claim Lexapro to be more effective. 


Both Prozac and Lexapro can be prescribed to be used in treating social anxiety but there are comparisons on the most effective between these drugs. An 2012 article in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment considered several available studies and concluded that although both drugs are effective in treating anxiety, Lexapro is more effective than Prozac. 


People who take antidepressants may gain weight, not necessarily because of the drug. Depression and most mental conditions can lead to loss of appetite which results to weight loss. When they start their treatment, they regain their appetite and weight as well. So, the drug may or be the direct cause of the weight gain but the ease from depression. 

There has been comparisons of Prozac and Lexapro weight gain, studies have shown that these drugs can cause weight gain. A study published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011 showed that those who took Lexapro for 8 months gained an average of 4 pounds. A 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine discovered that those who took Prozac for 2 years (long-term use) gained an average of 4.2 pounds. 


These drugs are antidepressants, they are classified under the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They are used to treat almost same mental conditions including off-label purposes like binge eating disorder.

However, there are differences in many features like their dosage. Prozac comes tablets (10 mg, 20 mg and 60 mg), capsule (10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg), weekly capsules (90 mg) and liquid (20 mg/5 ml). Lexapro comes tablet (5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg) and liquid (1 mg/1 ml) while Zoloft comes in tablet (25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg) and liquid (20 mg/ml).

There are diseases or medical conditions that does not permit taking drugs, these conditions differ in these antidepressants. Zoloft can be taken by people with kidney disease but Prozac and Lexapro cannot be taken by these people. 


Prozac vs Lexapro does almost the same function but they differ in many features including dosage, forms, uses and how much weight the body gains while using them. Telling which is better depends on the mental condition you are treating and how you use the drug. 

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