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Lexapro vs. Zoloft: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 27, 2023
Lexapro (escitalopram) and Zoloft (sertraline) are both SSRIs used to treat depression and anxiety, but they differ in molecular structure and side effects.

Key Differences

Lexapro, also known as escitalopram, and Zoloft, known as sertraline, are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They are commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders.
Lexapro is known for its efficacy in treating generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Zoloft is also effective in these areas but has additional FDA approvals for conditions like PTSD and OCD.
Both Lexapro and Zoloft work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, but they differ slightly in their chemical structure, which can affect how individuals respond to each medication.
Side effects of Lexapro can include nausea, sleepiness, and sexual dysfunction. Zoloft shares similar side effects, with the addition of possible weight gain and diarrhea in some cases.
Lexapro is often considered to have a faster onset of action compared to Zoloft. However, individual responses can vary, and some may find Zoloft more effective for their symptoms.

Comparison Chart

Generic Name


FDA Approved Uses

Depression, Anxiety
Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD

Onset of Action

Faster onset
Slower onset

Molecular Structure

Slightly different
Slightly different

Lexapro and Zoloft Definitions


Lexapro is used to manage anxiety disorders.
His anxiety was better managed after starting Lexapro.


Zoloft works by affecting serotonin levels.
Zoloft helped regulate her serotonin levels, improving her mood.


Lexapro is an SSRI, a type of antidepressant.
After trying different treatments, they found Lexapro, an SSRI, worked best.


Zoloft is also used to treat anxiety and PTSD.
Zoloft helped him cope with his PTSD symptoms.


Lexapro is a medication used to treat depression.
The doctor prescribed Lexapro to help with her depressive symptoms.


Zoloft belongs to the SSRI drug class.
His doctor recommended Zoloft, an SSRI, for his depression.


Lexapro requires a prescription.
You'll need a prescription to get Lexapro from the pharmacy.


Zoloft is a commonly prescribed antidepressant.
She was feeling better after taking Zoloft for a few weeks.


Lexapro can help in balancing brain chemicals.
Lexapro was effective in balancing her brain's serotonin levels.


Zoloft requires medical supervision.
Regular check-ups are important when taking Zoloft.


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


What is Zoloft?

A medication that belongs to the SSRI class, used for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD.

Does Zoloft lead to weight gain?

Some individuals may experience weight gain on Zoloft.

Are there any common side effects of Lexapro?

Common side effects include nausea, sleepiness, and sexual dysfunction.

How quickly does Lexapro work?

Lexapro may start to work in 1-2 weeks, with full effects in 4-6 weeks.

Does Zoloft cause sleep problems?

It can, but it varies from person to person.

What is Lexapro?

An antidepressant medication used to treat depression and anxiety.

Can Lexapro be used for anxiety?

Yes, Lexapro is effective in treating anxiety disorders.

What makes Zoloft different from other SSRIs?

Its broader range of FDA approvals and side effect profile distinguishes it.

Can Zoloft lead to dependency?

It's not addictive, but sudden cessation can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Can Lexapro cause weight gain?

Weight gain is not a common side effect of Lexapro.

What's the onset time for Zoloft's effectiveness?

Zoloft may take several weeks to show its full effect.

What are Zoloft's common side effects?

They include nausea, diarrhea, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction.

Is Zoloft safe during pregnancy?

Zoloft should only be used if the benefits outweigh the risks; consult a healthcare provider.

Can alcohol be consumed with Lexapro?

Alcohol should be avoided as it can increase side effects.

Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking Zoloft?

Alcohol is not recommended as it can worsen side effects.

Is Lexapro addictive?

Lexapro is not considered addictive, but discontinuation should be gradual.

Is Zoloft effective for PTSD?

Yes, Zoloft is FDA-approved for treating PTSD.

Can Lexapro be taken during pregnancy?

It's important to consult a doctor as Lexapro can carry risks during pregnancy.

How is Lexapro different from other SSRIs?

Lexapro has a slightly different chemical structure and side effect profile.

Can Lexapro cause insomnia?

Some people may experience insomnia as a side effect.
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
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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