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. It is less likely to cause side effects than and has fewer drug interactions. However, it might not be a good choice if you have liver or heart 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.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.89Lexapro
Reviews for Lexapro
61%
of people (All ages) say Lexapro 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
53%
+8% better vs. Lexapro
36%
+12% better vs. Lexapro
25%
+10% better vs. Lexapro
134 reviews
Have you used Elavil (amitriptyline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
LexaproElavil
  • Nausea 8%
  • Sleep difficulty 5%
  • Problems with ejaculation 9%
  • Diarrhea 3%
  • Dry mouth 1%
  • Drowsiness 4%
  • Runny nose 1%
  • Fatigue 3%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Flu-like symptoms 1%
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 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 onlyPrescription 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
  • Taking blood thinners
  • 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
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.

Interactions
LexaproElavil
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) has less drug interactions than other similar antidepressants and might cause fewer side effects.
No interactions 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.
Sleep
LexaproElavil
No sleep related info.
  • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
Weight
LexaproElavil
  • Can cause a small weight gain of 1-5 pounds.
  • 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 the likelihood that your depression will come back.
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) has less drug interactions than other similar antidepressants and might cause fewer side effects.
  • 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 a small weight gain of 1-5 pounds.
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) is not a good option if you have heart or liver problems.
  • The first antidepressant you try might not always work, so you may need to try a few different medicines until you find one that works for you.
  • 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
  • Don't suddenly stop taking DRUG NAME. Talk to your doctor about how to slowly go down in your dose to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
  • Like other SSRI medications, it could take up to 8 weeks to see the full effects of Lexapro (escitalopram).
  • Take Lexapro (escitalopram) in the morning since it can keep you up if you take it at night.
  • 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