Many people find that they go through a time where they need an anti-depressant medication at some point during their lives, and deciding which medicine to take can be a very confusing and daunting decision. Zoloft and Lexapro are two popular anti-depressant options, and when patients begin treatment with medication, they are often started on one of these two drugs. I have personal experience with both of these medicines, and in this article I’ll compare the pros and cons of both Zoloft and Lexapro.
When I was 16 years old, I experienced my first bout of depression and was prescribed Zoloft by a child psychiatrist. I didn’t really know what to expect, and for a few weeks after starting the medicine, I couldn’t feel much of an effect at all. After about 4 weeks of taking Zoloft, however, I noticed things were getting better. I moved to a new high school, and soon my depression began to lift. After about 6 months of treatment, I was well enough to stop taking the Zoloft and I figured my problems with depression were behind me.
A few years later, however, I started my freshman year at college and my depression began to return, worse than before. I sought help at the college counseling canter, and after a few sessions with a psychologist, I was referred to the school medical clinic to get a prescription for anti-depressants. Since I had done well on Zoloft when I was younger, the doctor decided I should give it another try, and I immediately resumed taking a daily dose of Zoloft.
Again, I didn’t notice much of an effect at first, but within a few weeks my depression began to lift. As I continued my treatment with Zoloft however, I began to experience some strange side effects. The first thing I noticed was that I began to feel emotionally numb. Although I was happy that I wasn’t hopelessly depressed, I noticed that nothing really seemed to upset me anymore–even things that it would be perfectly normal & healthy to get upset about. I also wasn’t feeling particularly happy about anything, even things that were really exciting going on in my life. I really did just feel numb to the world.
The other troubling side effect I experienced with Zoloft was sexual in nature. (Note to readers: if you don’t want the details, please skip ahead to the next paragraph.) Before starting Zoloft, I was your typical 18 year old guy with my fair share of partners, and I never had any trouble having a fulfilling sex life. Shortly after starting Zoloft, however I began to have the frustrating experience of being unable to have an orgasm. No matter how hard I tried (and believe me, I tried), I could not reach a climax. At first, I began to think something was seriously wrong with me and I got scared. I started searching around on the internet, and discovered sexual side effects like I had been experiencing were actually quite common with Zoloft. In fact, Zoloft causes sexual side effects more frequently than many other anti-depressants that are currently on the market. At least I knew it wasn’t a problem only affecting me.
After a few more months of taking Zoloft, I decided that the side effects weren’t worth it and I soon stopped taking it. I was actually okay for almost two years, but then the intense depression returned and I new it was once again time to seek medical help. I went to a psychiatrist, and after sharing with her my experience with Zoloft, she decided she would start me on a different anti-depressant called Lexapro. I was nervous about Lexapro since the information the pharmacist gave me said it could potentially cause the same side effects, but I needed help, so I decided I would at least give it a chance.
The first thing I noticed about the Lexapro was how quickly I began to feel better. Within a few days of starting treatment, that all too familiar ”cloud of depression” definitely started to lift. This surprised me since it was always several weeks before I started to feel better on Zoloft. Encouraged, I decided to keep talking Lexapro, but I was still worried that unpleasant side effects could start at any time.
So I waited… then I waited some more. But as the weeks and months went by, no side effects emerged. I kept feeling good and the Lexapro definitely seemed to keep my depression at bay. After doing some research, I learned that Lexapro has a very low incidence of side effects and is very well-tolerated by the majority of individuals. My doctor has recommended that I keep taking Lexapro indefinitely, and while I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of having to take a pill every day for the rest of my life, Lexapro seems to have great efficacy with minimal-to-no side effects, which helps to set my mind at ease.
While only your doctor can decide which medication is appropriate to treat your depression, I have found Lexapro to be a far superior choice to Zoloft. Lexapro seems to work better and much faster than Zoloft, and it also seems to cause far fewer side effects. If you’ve experienced side effects while taking Zoloft, you should take the time to ask your doctor if a switch to Lexapro might be right for you. If you’re anything like me, your quality of life will improve so much that you’ll be disappointed you didn’t make the switch from Zoloft sooner.