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Lexapro vs. Prozac: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 29, 2023
Lexapro (escitalopram) and Prozac (fluoxetine) are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) but have different chemical structures and specific uses.

Key Differences

Lexapro, with its generic name escitalopram, and Prozac, known generically as fluoxetine, are both classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications are commonly prescribed to treat depression and various anxiety disorders.
Lexapro tends to be prescribed primarily for generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Prozac, on the other hand, has a wider range of FDA-approved uses, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, and panic disorder in addition to depression.
While both Lexapro and Prozac affect the serotonin levels in the brain by inhibiting its reuptake, they have different chemical structures. This difference in structure can influence side effects, how the drug is metabolized, and its interaction with other medications.
The onset of action and the duration of effects can vary between Lexapro and Prozac. Typically, Prozac has a longer half-life, which means it remains in the system longer compared to Lexapro.
Both Lexapro and Prozac are considered effective in treating the conditions for which they are prescribed. However, the choice between them usually depends on the specific symptoms, patient’s history, potential drug interactions, and the side effect profile that a healthcare provider considers best for the individual patient.

Comparison Chart

Generic Name


Primary Uses

Depression, Generalized Anxiety
Depression, OCD, Bulimia, Panic Disorder

Chemical Structure

Different from Prozac
Different from Lexapro


Shorter compared to Prozac
Longer compared to Lexapro

FDA Approval Year


Lexapro and Prozac Definitions


An SSRI antidepressant medication.
The doctor prescribed Lexapro to help with her anxiety.


A medicine primarily used for depression.
She felt a noticeable change in her mood after starting Prozac.


A drug influencing serotonin levels in the brain.
Lexapro works by increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain.


A brand name for the drug fluoxetine.
Prozac can be used to treat various conditions, from depression to OCD.


A commonly prescribed medication for mood disorders.
Many patients have found relief from their symptoms with Lexapro.


A drug that modifies serotonin concentrations in the brain.
Prozac aims to balance serotonin levels, alleviating depressive symptoms.


A brand name for the drug escitalopram.
Lexapro is known to effectively treat generalized anxiety disorder.


An SSRI antidepressant medication.
Prozac was one of the first SSRIs on the market.


A medicine used to treat depression and anxiety.
He started feeling better after a few weeks on Lexapro.


A frequently recommended drug for mood and eating disorders.
Doctors often prescribe Prozac for both depressive episodes and bulimia nervosa.


A selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor commonly prescribed as an antidepressant (trade name Prozac)


Which has been on the market longer, Lexapro or Prozac?

Prozac has been available longer, receiving FDA approval in 1987, while Lexapro was approved in 2002.

Are Lexapro and Prozac the same?

No, while both are SSRIs, they have different chemical structures and uses.

Are there side effects associated with Lexapro and Prozac?

Yes, like all medications, both can have side effects which vary from person to person.

Can Lexapro and Prozac cause drowsiness?

Drowsiness can be a side effect, but it doesn't affect everyone.

Is it safe to switch between Lexapro and Prozac?

Any changes to medication should be discussed and supervised by a healthcare professional.

Which is more effective, Lexapro or Prozac?

Effectiveness can vary by individual. Both are considered effective for their approved uses.

Are there withdrawal symptoms from stopping Lexapro or Prozac?

Yes, it's possible to experience withdrawal symptoms, which is why it's important to taper off under a doctor's guidance.

Can Lexapro and Prozac be taken with other medications?

It depends on the medication. Always consult a doctor about potential drug interactions.

How do Lexapro and Prozac work in the brain?

They both increase the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood, in the brain.

Are there any natural alternatives to Lexapro and Prozac?

Some people consider St. John's Wort and other supplements, but always consult a doctor before trying alternatives.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Lexapro or Prozac?

It's generally advised to avoid alcohol when on these medications as it can enhance side effects.

How long should one stay on Lexapro or Prozac?

The duration varies by individual and should be determined in consultation with a healthcare professional.

Are weight changes a side effect of Lexapro and Prozac?

Weight changes can be a side effect of SSRIs, but it's not guaranteed and varies by individual.

How long does it take for Lexapro or Prozac to start working?

It can take several weeks to notice the full effects of these medications.

Can pregnant individuals take Lexapro or Prozac?

Always consult a doctor, but there are considerations to be made regarding the use of SSRIs during pregnancy.

Are Lexapro and Prozac expensive?

Costs can vary, but both are available in generic forms which can be more affordable.

Can both Lexapro and Prozac treat depression?

Yes, both are approved for the treatment of depression.

Is it safe for children to take Lexapro or Prozac?

Both drugs have pediatric indications, but always consult with a pediatrician.

Do Lexapro and Prozac affect libido?

Some people experience changes in libido while on SSRIs.

Can you overdose on Lexapro or Prozac?

Yes, and it's crucial to seek emergency medical attention in the event of a suspected overdose.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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