Compare Lexapro vs. Elavil

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

Lexapro
(Escitalopram)

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

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.Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Elavil (Amitriptyline) is an older antidepressant that's sometimes used to treat pain and sleep problems, but it can have more side effects than similar medications.
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Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.89Lexapro
Reviews for Lexapro (Escitalopram)
61%
of people (All ages) say Lexapro (Escitalopram) is worth it
48%
say it works well
15%
say it's a big hassle
1063 reviews
Have you used Lexapro (Escitalopram)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
53%
-8% worse vs. Lexapro (Escitalopram)
36%
-12% worse vs. Lexapro (Escitalopram)
25%
-10% worse vs. Lexapro (Escitalopram)
134 reviews
Have you used Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
LexaproElavil
  • Nausea 8%
  • Ejaculation disorder 9%
  • Sleep difficulty 5%
  • Diarrhea 3%
  • Dry mouth 1%
  • Drowsiness 4%
  • Inflammation inside the nose 1%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Flu-like symptomsa-like symptoms 1%
  • Sweating increased 3%
More Lexapro side effects »

The Elavil FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Elavil side effects »
How it works
LexaproElavil
Lexapro (Escitalopram) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin activity in the brain, which regulates mood.Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). Researchers don't know exactly how it works. It may change serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood and pain perception. It also has sedative effects.
Type of medication
LexaproElavil
Prescription only
Prescription only
Available as
LexaproElavil
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
Used for
LexaproElavil
Risk factors for serious side effects
LexaproElavil
  • 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 »
    • Age 24 years or younger
    • History of bipolar disorder
    • At risk for bipolar disorder
    • History of cardiovascular disease
    • Age 65 years or older
    • Age 65 years or older
    Detailed Elavil (Amitriptyline) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy

    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.

    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.

    Food
    LexaproElavil
    • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
    No food related info.
    Kidneys and liver
    LexaproElavil
    • Not a good option for you if you have heart or liver problems.
    No kidneys and liver related info.
    Pain
    LexaproElavil
    No pain related info.
    • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
    Sex
    LexaproElavil
    • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
    No sex related info.
    Sleep
    LexaproElavil
    No sleep related info.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    Weight
    LexaproElavil
    • More likely to cause minor weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    Upsides and benefits
    LexaproElavil
    • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
    • Lowers relapse rates of depression.
    • Causes less sleepiness than some other antidepressants.
    • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
    • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
    • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
    • Six out of every ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
    Downsides and risks
    LexaproElavil
    • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
    • 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.
    • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people younger than 24.
    • 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.
    • When used for depression, Elavil (Amitriptyline) causes more side effects and has a higher risk of overdose than other antidepressants. It's usually used when other medications haven't worked.
    • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    • People age 65 and older have a higher risk for this medication's side effects.
    • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people age 24 and younger.
    • 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.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    LexaproElavil
    • 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.
    • Take at bedtime to avoid some of its side effects.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    • 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 LexaproSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    Have you used Lexapro (Escitalopram)?
    Worth itNot sureNot worth it
    More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    Have you used Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
    Worth itNot sureNot worth it