Xanax vs Lexapro | Alprazolam vs Escitolopam | Mechanism of Action, Pharmacological Effects, Uses, Pharmacokinetics, and Adverse Effects
The drugs names, Xanax and Lexapro, though sound as belong to a same category, they are not. Xanax is the trade name of alprazolam, which is short acting banzodiazepines, and lexapro is the trade name of escitolopam, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Both these categories have differences in mechanism of action, pharmacological effects, uses, pharmacokinetics and adverse effects. Since they are widely used in clinical practice, this article would point out these differences which would help one to differentiate between these two drugs.
Xanax belongs to benzodiazepine group. It acts selectively on GABA receptors and enhances the response of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nerves system, by facilitating the opening of chloride channels.
It has a calming effect that reduces anxiety and aggression; therefore, widely used as an anxiolytic drug. Other effects include sedation and induction of sleep, reduction of muscle tone and coordination, anticonvulsant effect, and anterograde amnesia. In current surgical practice, it is used for minor procedures such as endoscopy.
The drug is well absorbed when given orally, but intravenous and intramuscular forms are also available. It binds strongly to plasma proteins, and their lipid solubility causes them to accumulate gradually in the body fat. It is metabolized and eventually excreted in the urine.
Acute overdose of the drug can cause prolong sleep without serious depression of the respiratory or cardiovascular function, but in the presence of other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol, it can cause severe respiratory depression. Side effects within the therapeutic range include drowsiness, confusion, amnesia, impaired coordination, which affects manual skills like driving performances and enhancement of the depressant effect of the other antidepressant drugs. Short acting alprazplam can cause more abrupt withdrawal effects.
It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). As its name implies, it acts selectively on serotonin receptors. According to the monoamine hypothesis, deficiency of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline, and serotonin in the brain lead to depression. So the drug is widely used as an anti depressant drug.
The drug is available in the tablet form. It is metabolized and eventually excreted in the urine. Adverse effects of the drug include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, increased or decreased appetite, nervousness, urinary retention, insomnia, palpitations, bradycardia, and sexual dysfunction, but less anti cholinergic effects and less dangerous in overdose when comparing with the other anti depressant drugs.
It is not prescribed with MAOI because a dangerous serotonin reaction may occur, which comprise hyperthermia, muscle rigidity and cardiovascular collapse.
What is the difference between xanax and lexapro?
• Xanax is a short acting benzodiazepine but lexapro is a selective serotonin receptor inhibitor.
• Xanax is mainly used as an anxiolytic agent while lexapro is used as an antidepressant.
• Xanax is a short term drug where one can relieve symptoms soon after administration, while lexapro is a long acting drug where it usually takes several weeks to obtain its desired action.
• Xanax is addictive but lexapro is not.
• Xanax does not change the chemistry of the brain, but lexapro would do.