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Zoloft vs. Celexa: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Zoloft and Celexa are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) prescribed for depression; Zoloft's generic name is sertraline, while Celexa's is citalopram.

Key Differences

Zoloft and Celexa are both medications primarily used to treat major depressive disorders. Zoloft, with the generic name sertraline, and Celexa, known by its generic name citalopram, belong to the same class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
The working mechanism for both Zoloft and Celexa involves the brain neurotransmitter serotonin. By inhibiting its reuptake, both medications increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which can enhance mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
Despite belonging to the same class, Zoloft and Celexa have distinct chemical structures. This can lead to differences in side effects, effectiveness, and patient response. While both can be effective, one might work better for a particular individual based on their unique biochemistry.
In terms of approved uses, Zoloft is not only prescribed for major depressive disorder but also for conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder. Celexa, on the other hand, is primarily approved for treating depression.
Both Zoloft and Celexa are oral medications. However, dosages, length of treatment, and potential drug interactions can vary. It's essential for patients to consult with their doctors to determine the best treatment option.

Comparison Chart

Generic Name


Drug Class

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)

Primary Use

Major depressive disorder, OCD, PTSD, etc.
Major depressive disorder

Chemical Structure

Unique to Zoloft
Unique to Celexa

Common Side Effects

Nausea, insomnia, diarrhea
Dry mouth, nausea, drowsiness

Zoloft and Celexa Definitions


Used to treat various mood disorders.
Zoloft can be effective for conditions beyond just depression.


Primarily used to treat major depressive disorder.
He started taking Celexa to manage his depressive episodes.


A medication that affects serotonin levels in the brain.
Zoloft works by increasing the availability of serotonin.


An SSRI antidepressant medication.
Celexa is one of the options to treat depressive symptoms.


An SSRI antidepressant medication.
The doctor prescribed Zoloft to help manage her depression.


A commonly prescribed drug for depression.
Doctors often recommend Celexa for its efficacy in treating depression.


A brand name for the drug sertraline.
Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft.


A medication affecting serotonin levels in the brain.
Like other SSRIs, Celexa balances serotonin levels.


A commonly prescribed medication for depression and anxiety.
Many patients have benefited from taking Zoloft for their anxiety.


The brand name for the drug citalopram.
Citalopram is sold under the brand name Celexa.


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


Can Zoloft and Celexa cause side effects?

Yes, both can cause side effects, which vary by individual.

What is the generic name for Zoloft?

The generic name for Zoloft is sertraline.

Are Zoloft and Celexa used to treat the same conditions?

Both are primarily used for depression, but Zoloft has additional approved uses like OCD and PTSD.

Is Celexa approved for pediatric use?

Only under a doctor's discretion; there are age-related considerations.

Do Zoloft and Celexa interact with other drugs?

Yes, both can interact with certain drugs; always inform your doctor of all medications.

Which is more effective: Zoloft or Celexa?

Effectiveness can vary by individual; consult with a physician.

Can Zoloft help with panic attacks?

Yes, Zoloft is approved to treat panic disorder.

Can I drink alcohol while on Zoloft or Celexa?

It's generally advised to avoid alcohol as it can amplify side effects.

How do I store Zoloft and Celexa?

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What is the generic name for Celexa?

The generic name for Celexa is citalopram.

Are Zoloft and Celexa safe for pregnant women?

Always consult a doctor, as there are potential risks.

Are Zoloft and Celexa addictive?

Neither is considered addictive, but discontinuation should be gradual.

How do Zoloft and Celexa affect sleep?

Both can affect sleep; some experience insomnia, others drowsiness.

What class of medication are Zoloft and Celexa?

Both Zoloft and Celexa are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Is weight gain a side effect of Celexa?

Some people experience weight changes on Celexa.

Can I take Zoloft or Celexa if I have liver problems?

Always consult a doctor as there might be dosage adjustments.

Is it safe to abruptly stop taking Zoloft or Celexa?

Discontinuing should be gradual and under a doctor's guidance.

Can Zoloft treat anxiety?

Yes, Zoloft is approved to treat certain types of anxiety disorders.

Can I take Zoloft or Celexa with over-the-counter medicines?

Some OTC medicines might interact; always consult a physician.

How long does it take for Zoloft or Celexa to work?

It can take several weeks to notice therapeutic effects.
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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