Compare Effexor vs. Lexapro

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Effexor
(Venlafaxine)

Lexapro
(Escitalopram)

Improves mood and helps you relax. Effexor (Venlafaxine) is good for treating depression and anxiety. May work when other antidepressants haven't, it's but more likely to cause side effects and withdrawal symptoms than other antidepressants.Improves mood and helps you relax. Lexapro (Escitalopram) is good for treating depression and anxiety. Might be less likely to cause side effects than some antidepressants, but not the best choice for people with heart or liver problems.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.041304347826087Effexor
Reviews for Effexor (Venlafaxine)
61%
of people say Effexor (Venlafaxine) is worth it
50%
say it works well
22%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Lexapro (Escitalopram)
59%
2% vs. Effexor (Venlafaxine)
46%
4% vs. Effexor (Venlafaxine)
15%
+7% vs. Effexor (Venlafaxine)
Side effects
EffexorLexapro
  • Nausea 42%
  • Drowsiness 22%
  • Dizziness 20%
  • Nervousness 17%
  • Sleep difficulty 16%
  • Loss of appetite 15%
  • Sweating 14%
  • Dry mouth 13%
  • Dry mouth 11%
  • Muscle weakness 10%
More Effexor side effects »
  • Ejaculation disorder 12%
  • Ejaculation disorder (primarily ejaculatory delay) 11%
  • Sleep difficulty 10%
  • Nausea 10%
  • Diarrhea 9%
  • Headache 7%
  • Drowsiness 6%
  • Fatigue 6%
  • Dizziness 5%
  • Lower sex drive 5%
More Lexapro side effects »
How it works
EffexorLexapro
Effexor (Venlafaxine) is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulate mood.Lexapro (Escitalopram) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin activity in the brain, which regulates mood.
Type of medication
EffexorLexapro
Antidepressant
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
Prescription only
Antidepressant
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Prescription only
Available as
EffexorLexapro
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
EffexorLexapro
How well it works for depression
The free Iodine Start program helps people track how well they are improving, and find the right antidepressant faster.

After 4 weeks using Start and Effexor (Venlafaxine), here’s how much better people feel.

After 4 weeks using Start and Lexapro (Escitalopram), here’s how much better people feel.

Risk factors for serious side effects
EffexorLexapro
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • Stopping Effexor (Venlafaxine) suddenly
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking other blood-thinning drugs
    • History of bipolar disorder
    • At risk for bipolar disorder
    Detailed Effexor (Venlafaxine) risks & warnings »
    • Age 24 years or younger
    • Using other medications that affect serotonin
    • Stopping Lexapro (Escitalopram) suddenly
    • Higher dose
    • History of heart problems
    • History of liver problems
    • Taking other blood-thinning drugs
      • History of bipolar disorder
      • At risk for bipolar disorder
      Detailed Lexapro (Escitalopram) risks & warnings »
      Pregnancy category
      EffexorLexapro
      CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      Alcohol
      No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
      Food
      • You can take the extended-release form once a day with food either in the morning or in the evening at about the same time each day.
      • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
      Kidneys and liver
      No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      Sex
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      • Effexor (Venlafaxine) can cause lower sex drive or difficulty having an orgasm. If the problem persists after the first 2 to 3 months, you can talk to your doctor about alternative antidepressants or performance-enhancing medications.
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      • Lexapro (Escitalopram) can cause lower sex drive or difficulty having an orgasm. If the problem persists after the first 2 to 3 months, you can talk to your doctor about alternative antidepressants or performance-enhancing medications.
      Sleep
      • Causes more sleepiness than other antidepressants, so it's good for people who have trouble sleeping.
      • Stopping Effexor (Venlafaxine) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 3 days of stopping the medication, and go away within 1 to 2 weeks. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
      • Stopping Lexapro (Escitalopram) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 3 days of stopping the medication, and go away within 1 to 2 weeks. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
      Weight
      No specific weight-related info.
      • More likely to cause minor weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
      Upsides and benefits
      EffexorLexapro
      • Causes more sleepiness than other antidepressants, so it's good for people who have trouble sleeping.
      • Might work when other antidepressants haven't worked since it affects two chemicals in the brain that impact your mood. Many other antidepressants affect only serotonin, but not norepinephrine too.
      • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
      • Lowers relapse rates of depression.
      • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
      • Causes less sleepiness than some other antidepressants.
      • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
      • Lowers relapse rates of depression.
      • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
      Downsides and risks
      EffexorLexapro
      • Not the best option for people with high blood pressure.
      • Overdosing on this medication could be fatal.
      • It's more likely to cause nausea and vomiting or make you feel sick if you miss a dose than other antidepressants. Also causes more sleepiness than others.
      • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people younger than 24.
      • More likely to cause minor weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
      • Can cause an irregular heartbeat if you take a high dose (20 mg a day, or more).
      • Not a good option for you if you have heart or liver problems.
      • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work, and might have side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medicines until you find one that works for you and that you can tolerate.
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people younger than 24.
      Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
      EffexorLexapro
      • You can take the extended-release form once a day with food either in the morning or in the evening at about the same time each day.
      • Extended-release capsules should be swallowed whole. If you can’t swallow pills, open the capsule, sprinkle it on a spoonful of applesauce and then swallow it without chewing.
      • Takes about 8 to 12 weeks to see the medication's full effects on your mood.
      • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
      • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
      • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
      • Takes about 8 to 12 weeks to see the medication's full effects on your mood.
      • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
      • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
      Learn more
      More about EffexorSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about LexaproSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert