Published on 23 November 2021

Venlafaxine Vs Lexapro: Know The Difference?

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Depression is a common but serious mental health disorder associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. Patients of all ages who started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and closely for suicidality, clinical worsening, or unusual changes in behavior. 

A new study finds that nearly 10% of Americans suffer from depression, with the mood disorder rising fastest among teens and young adults. Between 2015 and 2020, the incidence of depression reached 9% among Americans 12 and older.

Venlafaxine and Lexapro are medications used to treat mental health problems, such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Both of these medications are widely used in dealing with depression and helping to overcome it. 

Most people assume that Venlafaxine and lexapro are the same medicine as they work to overcome depression. Deep down, there are some differences between them. Let us know more about the efficacy and dissimilarity between these two antidepressants,i.e., Venlafaxine and Lexapro

What Is Venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant drug and is a part of the drug class named Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSNRI). Venlafaxine hydrochloride is the active ingredient present in Venlafaxine. Along with being used as a medication for depression, Venlafaxine is also used to treat other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and panic disorder. Experts suggest that a person can take venlafaxine for 6 months to 1 year. 

How Does Venlafaxine Work?

Venlafaxine is a part of the SNRI drug class in which the drugs affect the chemicals present in the brain to eradicate mental problems. Venlafaxine helps promote the rise of chemical substances such as Serotonin and Norepinephrine by blocking their reuptake, which decreases depression symptoms. It helps to cheer up the mood and restrict the mind from getting into the loop of negative thoughts. 

What Is Lexapro?

Similar to Venlafaxine, Lexapro is also an antidepressant. Escitalopram is the generic name of Lexapro. It is a member of the drug group Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). It has Escitalopram oxalate as its active ingredient.

Lexapro is an approved medicine for treating Major Depressive Disorder(MDD) in adults and children above 12. It is also used for anxiety problems like Generalized Anxiety Disorder(GAD) in adults. Usually, a person can take Lexapro for 6 months and more as directed by the doctor.

How Does Lexapro Work?

Lexapro affects the neurotransmitters and eliminates their imbalance by preventing reuptake. This balance in chemicals helps maintain proper mental health and decreases the chance of a person getting depressed or anxious. It usually increases the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that carries signals between brain nerve cells and control mood. It is also known as the happy chemical.  

Frequently asked questions

There are no known problems associated with the long-term use of venlafaxine. It is an effective and safe medication when used as directed.
Lexapro is detectable in your body for up to 6.1 days, at which point nearly 99% of the medication is out of your body.
The peak of a drug is its highest concentration in your bloodstream. Lexapro peaks in your bloodstream at about 5 hours after usage.

Dosages For Venlafaxine

Venlafaxine is an oral medication, and it is available in the form of tablets, capsules, and extended-release capsules. It can be taken with food daily at the same time without crushing the capsules and tablets.

Treatment of GAD

  • Initial dose: 75 mg daily 
  • Maximum dose: 225 mg per day. 

The dosages should be taken under the guidance of a doctor and should not exceed that to prevent further negative consequences.

Treatment of depression,

Adult Dosage

  • Initial dose: 75 mg per day (can be distributed in two doses of 37.5 mg each or 3 doses of 25 mg each) 
  • Maximum dose: 225 mg per day (moderate depression), 375 mg per day (severe depression)

Dosages for Lexapro

Lexapro is an oral medication available as tablets, capsules, and liquid. A proper dose-measuring device should be used while taking liquid Lexapro. For GAD and Depression, the amount of dosage is the same.

Common Dosage (Aged 12 and above)

  • Initial dose: 10 mg daily
  • Continuation Dose: Can be taken to 20 mg as the treatment proceeds.
  • Maximum dosage: 20 mg and should not exceed the limit.

Control Substance: Venlafaxine VS Lexapro

Control substance refers to a drug or other substance managed by the Government as it may cause addiction or get abuse. Mainly control substances categorize into one of five schedules. 

Venlafaxine is a class of medications known as SNRI, which works by increasing the serotonin and norepinephrine, natural substances in the brain to maintain a mental balance. Mainly, venlafaxine is not considered a control substance as it doesn’t have a significant ability to cause abuse or addiction. 

Lexapro is a class of medication knowns as SSRI, which increases the amount of serotonin in the brain. It is not a controlled substance, but the FDA has stated that it is physically non-addictive but can create a psychological addiction.

Who Should Not Take Venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine is a prescription-based medicine that a doctor can only give. Many conditions exist in which a person should not take Venlafaxine if they have:
  1. Allergy to Venlafaxine
  2. Consumed MAO in last 14 days
  3. Liver and kidney disease
  4. Diabetes
  5. Glaucoma
  6. Thyroid
  7. Seizure
  8. Bleeding problems
  9. Below the age of 18,
  10. Breastfeeding women. 

Venlafaxine can be taken during pregnancy only if recommended by the doctor. As per some studies, the use of venlafaxine during pregnancy has reported mixed results; some users suggested that it may increase other complications. But untreated depression may also impact the mother and baby. That’s why it is essential to discuss the risks and benefits of venlafaxine during pregnancy.  

Who Should Not Take Lexapro?

Similar to venlafaxine, Lexapro also requires a prescription to treat anxiety and depression-based disorders. Before taking Lexapro, always take guidance from the doctors if you have the following conditions.

  1. Medication of Citalopram or Pimozide
  2. Consumption of herbal products
  3. Used MAO inhibitors recently
  4. Liver or kidney issues
  5. Heart problems and stroke
  6. Bleeding problems
  7. Deficiency of sodium in the blood
  8. Below the age of 12,

Pregnant and breastfeeding ladies can consult doctors before taking Lexapro, as it is not proven. It has mixed reactions. Some studies say that it can have less impact on the baby, whereas others don’t recommend it during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Possible Side Effects Of Venlafaxine

Some people also experience some side effects while taking venlafaxine. Following are some severe side effects that can be experienced after consumption of Venlafaxine and need emergency medical help:

Common Side Effects 

Severe Side Effects 

Nausea and vomiting

Allergic reactions such as skin rash

Sleep problems 


Dry mouth 


Blurred vision 

Fast heart rate

Sexual problems 

Stiffness of muscles 

These above are the few common side effects. If you want the full list, kindly contact your doctor to get detailed information about venlafaxine and also if these side effects get worse. Then contact your healthcare provider. 

Possible Side Effects Of Lexapro

There are some severe side effects linked to the consumption of Lexapro, which might need emergency doctor help and termination of medication.

Common Side Effects 

Severe Side Effects


Skin Rashes 


Continuous and racing thoughts






Behavior changes  

Feeling Shaky 

Suicidal thoughts 

If these side effects frequently occurunnecessary while taking Lexapro, instantly contact your doctor. Mainly a side effect occurs according to your condition. It is not necessary that a person experience nausea, others might also experience the same effect.

Venlafaxine v/s Lexapro: A Study Of Comparision

This is the study comparing venlafaxine and Lexapro conducted by Robert J Bielski. Et al. The experimentation was conducted by gathering the subjects diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The speculation was done throughout the 8th week, and results were procured in the 8th week. 

The study was conducted based on surveying the subjects through the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) on the dosage of venlafaxine (20mg) and Lexapro (225mg), respectively.

The results found on the MADRS scale were as follows; for venlafaxine, the result found was N= 97, and in the case of Lexapro, the result found was N= 98. The venlafaxine XR group had a higher incidence than the Lexapro group of treatment-emergent adverse events (85.0% vs. 68.4%), and many discontinued due to adverse events.

Conclusion: Lexapro is at least as effective as venlafaxine XR and significantly potent. These results do not support the meta-analysis that nonselective SRIs have greater efficacy than selective SRIs.

Which Is Better Venlafaxine Or Lexapro?

Both Venlafaxine and Lexapro are used as a medication for the same problem- Depression. The effectiveness of both these drugs is similar and much higher than other antidepressants. But, due to the side effects of Venlafaxine, which can cause more trouble, doctors may shift towards prescribing Lexapro. But both these drugs are equally effective and can be prescribed depending upon the medical health and doctor

Withdrawal Symptoms: Venlafaxine Vs Lexapro 

When a person stops to take a medicine abruptly with the permission of the doctor, then they may have a chance to experience side effects. These effects are considered withdrawal symptoms. 







Impaired coordination 

Feeling Dizzy 





Mostly the withdrawal symptoms can last for 3 to 4 weeks. If you experience these slide effects or uneasiness, contact your doctor as soon as possible.  

Drug Interactions: Venlafaxine and Lexapro

While taking venlafaxine or Lexapro, it is advisable not to take other drugs. Combining medicine with alcohol can increase the risk of having severe side effects. The following table shows some common drug interactions between Venlafaxine and Lexapro.













These above drugs are just a few examples, not the complete list. If you want more brief about it, then contact your doctor. 

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Venlafaxine and Lexapro are antidepressant drugs commonly used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Anxiety disorders, and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults/children. But, due to the side effects of Venlafaxine, which can cause more trouble, doctors may shift towards prescribing Lexapro.

The dosages of medications also differ according to a patient’s medical history, so patients should consult their doctors or pharmacists before taking medication. Although Venlafaxine and Lexapro have similar differences, it is best to consult your doctor before consuming either.

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