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Depression: Celexa vs Paxil

Person suffering from depression
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Depression: Celexa vs Paxil, which is the better treatment? It's best to weigh all the options before making a decision. When it comes down to it, there is no single medication that is best for treating depression - each person is an individual.

Basic Facts about Celexa

Celexa is the brand name of Citalopram; a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Celexa is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder. Side effects of Celexa include dry mouth, nausea, sexual dysfunction and insomnia.

Basic Facts about Paxil

Paxil is the brand name of Parpxetine HCI and, like Celexa, is an SSRI. Paxil is used to treat depression and OCD, but it's not usually prescribed for panic disorders. Paxil side effects include insomnia, dizziness, dry mouth, tremors, headaches and hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure).

Basic Facts about SSRIs

More important than which drug is best for depression: Celexa vs Paxil is the question of which drug category is best. Most of the time drugs in the SSRI category are the first line of defense for treating depression because they have a lower side-effect profile than say Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). SSRIs basically work by blocking the reuptake of Serotonin, and while they have fewer side effects than other lines of treatments for depression, they can also be pricey.

Most of the time SSRIs are used to treat major unipolar depression. Major depression is classified by the DSM-IV as depression that lasts for at least two weeks but usually longer (up to years), impairs work or personal lives and is not caused by an outside mechanism like another medication. Obviously there is more to the diagnosis of major depression as many individuals with major depression also suffer from anxiety.

The major cautions surrounding SSRIs is that they cannot under any circumstance be combined with or used too soon after MAOIs.

Which Is Better for Treating Depression: Celexa vs Paxil

As with any medication, it's difficult to know how individuals will respond to antidepressant treatment until they're taking it. Paxil has some obvious drawbacks such as more weight gain, and some people feel especially poor when weaning off of Paxil. However, Paxil may be a better choice for some people in spite of these issues.

Even Doctors Are Unclear

To confuse the issue, the prescribing doctors aren't even sure which drug is better for treating depression: Celexa vs Paxil. There was an excellent article that came out in a 2006 issue of Psychology Today. The writer of the article asked three prominent psychopharmacologists one question, "Which antidepressant is best for whom?" Not one of the specialists offered a conclusive one-size fits all answer. Note that these specialists are the best in the nation; they are specialists who teach about antidepressants at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

If you're considering taking antidepressants the entire article is well worth a read (maybe two reads). Some of the interesting points examined include:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all antidepressant. There are no rules other than one will probably work for you; the challenge is to find which one.
  • Sometimes doctors will prescribe one of these medication rather than the other for arbitrary reasons. Since they don't know which drug will work, they'll prescribe by cost or simply take an estimated guess.
  • One of the specialists noted that what is perhaps more important is that a doctor has a plan of action in case the first drug prescribed fails to work, such as the next best drug to try.
  • Lastly, the article pointed out that it takes very few tries to fit an individual with the antidepressant that works for that person - usually two or three at the most.

Where Does this Leave You

Since an individual cannot know which depression medication is best for treating personal depression, (Celexa, Paxil or maybe even another medication), the best thing to do is to become an informed consumer. Both Celexa and Paxil have low side-effects, but both are especially noted for treating anxiety as well as depression. As stated above, many people have anxiety issues along side of depression. A downside of both Celexa and Paxil is that they can take a while to take effect. It may take up to four weeks before the individual notices any relief from symptoms. To learn more about Celexa and Paxil, please talk to your doctor. When depression is too much to handle alone, it's a good idea to see a counselor as you begin treatments. This can provide a good back-up system if a drug takes a long time to work or you have to try another type of medication. Remember going in that antidepressants work differently, and try to stay positive because one will work for you.

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Depression: Celexa vs Paxil