OCD treatment- Lexapro or Paxil?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 10/8/2008 2:17 PM (GMT -7)   
Dear All,

I have been experimenting with my Psychiatrist to find out the best medication for my OCD.
My OCD has really gotten out of hands; once again in my life. I thought I had it controlled without medication for a few years but little did I know that it was going to strike back with a vengeance.
I swore the last time I was on medication that I will not succumb to my OCD but i guess i was wrong and i failed again!
The reason I am posting here is to consult with people and experts on this forum for the best medication for my OCD.

It all started again early this summer when I found myself cleaning my flat too much and over-worrying about my health.
Then the hand washing ritual kicked in again and often I would wake up in the middle of the night to scrub the toilet and put my clean clothes and towels in the washing machine at a cycle with boiling water. I did end up ruining a lot of my clothes, towels and bed linens.

What made me snap at the end and decide to seek help was the fact that I stopped enjoying people's visits to my flat as I would be all worried when they leave about cleaning the furniture/sofas where they sat and the floor where their shoes laid using a whole bunch of detergents and finishing up by wiping the whole surfaces with alcohol!

I know it all sounds crazy and irrational, so if you have read this far, I hope you understand that I have sought help and that I am on my meds now.
I started with Paxil (aka Seroxat, Paroxetine) but it gave me a sore throat and made me sleepless at night. So I asked my doctor to shift me to lexapro ( aka Cipralex, Escitalopram) against his recommendations because I could not deal with the side effects of Paxil.

I have been on Lexapro for almost 2 months but my OCD did not subside, in fact I still engage in my rituals but they are not as severe.
I was just wondering if anyone knows from experience if Lexapro is used for OCD. Most websites say that Lexparo is for depression and anxiety with no mention of OCD.
Do you think I am on the right medication for OCD? any suggestions for a good one?

My doctor has advised me to shift back to Paxil since it is the drug of choice for OCD but I am worried about its side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
Your advice and opinion are highly appreciated.
Thank you so much!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 10/8/2008 6:56 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Dannii,

I suffer from mild OCD (I am blessed it has improved lately) and I'm certainly not an expert but I can empathise with what you are going through. I still have some rituals that I can't stop and I don't think you are crazy or nuts at all..this is just the nature of OCD. The most common medications prescribed for OCD in adults are the antidepressants Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Anafranil. There are a few people on this site with severe OCD and I know one who has great success with Celexa. I haven't heard of Lexapro being a popular form of treatment before so you are right to be questioning this. I believe it is used more for generalised anxiety disorder and depression and not OCD.

It can take some time and experiments with different meds to find the one that works for us. This can mean going through some withdrawal and then side effects when you start new meds, but if you are under the care of a good physician and do it slowly then the effects should be minimal.

My rule of thumb, is that if it is not working, then move on and try the next plan. If the Lexapro isn't working then talking to your pdoc about trying another one would be the best IMHO.

Again, I'm not an expert but I know what devil OCD can be when it gets severe. I'm sure some other member will be along to chime in soon. Stay with us and let us know how you are going. You are certainly not alone in this.


Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
Weekend Warrior Princess

Post Edited (nervymeg) : 10/8/2008 7:59:19 PM (GMT-6)

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/9/2008 6:48 AM (GMT -7)   

Good Morning Dani,

I think Meg is right, there are only certain ADs that help with OCD. I have not seen Lexapro on the list but I have seen Paxil.  Sometimes it is by trial and error that you finally get to the right medication.

Take Care,


Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
& GERD  Forums
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources

Post Edited (stkitt) : 10/12/2008 7:23:44 AM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 10/11/2008 8:50 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi All,

This is just a short update. I will meet my doctor next week hopefully- I am already starting to get anxious about the switch of meds.
Seems my mind and body connection is far too complicated- my body is reacting in a weird way- Itchy legs and thighs and irritated red scalp. I also woke up yesterday with a Cold sore which despite the Acyclovir cream i have been using,has doubled up in size today!

Wish me luck everyone and thank you Meg and Kitt for your quick replies and your advice!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 10/11/2008 8:55 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey, Dannii, hang in there!

I'm glad you're seeing your doctor again soon. I don't have any experience with OCD, but I do take Paxil, and have tried a couple of times to stop taking it. What I learned is that it's not always the withdrawals that are a problem (I had no symptoms at all this past spring), but rather, that it *works* for what I take it for, and that all that stuff just comes back when I don't take it. So if your ultimate plan is not to take meds, then the possible withdrawal symptoms are a concern. If you have enough grounds for comparison to know that it helps and being off it doesn't, then consider taking it again and don't let the "what if"s of withdrawal scare you.

Good luck!


New Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/14/2008 5:53 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi there.  I have OCD too, coupled with slight depression, as a result of the OCD.  I have three kids and after my first is when it started.  That was over 5 years ago.  I have only been on treatment for 6 months.  It took me a while to pinpoint the problem, plus it wasn't bad until recently. 

My symptoms were this constant worrying about my kids health, as well as their health effecting mine or my husbands.  Specifically, stomach viruses.  The catalyst was when my 5 year old, then 4 years old, got hit with it for the first time and was  very very ill.  It was coming out both ends and he was passing out in between...ugly. 


Anyway, I would constantly "check in" with my husband just to hear him say he was feeling fine or the kids were fine.  I would "check in" with my mother in law, who babysits our kids while we work, during the day a few times and would have done it more if I didn't think she would get angry.  I would always have this pit in my stomach that one of them were ill or going to get ill.  It was more of a anticipatory type anxiety, but because I perseverated on the specific illness, they called it OCD.  I did have handwashing issues but I excused them by saying that I only washed my hands when I used the bathroom.  Only, I realized after being on meds that I used the bathroom more to be able to wash without it seeming like a problem- subconsciously of course. 

I was prescribed 20mg of Lexapro off the bat and was officially diagnosed by a PhD with OCD and my PCP said it was OCD as well.  The 20mg knocked me on my ass, sorry.  It was too much for a first timer.  I would have these hot chills...I could feel this burning going through my entire body, I felt anxious, hopped up...it was bad.  I only took it for one day.  I stopped for 2 days to get it out of my system and then went back on 5mg.  Silly, I know, but I needed a slower start.  I noticed improvement in my symptoms right away, since it has an antidepressant factor, I think that having an elevated mood lifted the anxiety too.  I eventually went up to 10mg and have been on that for about 5 months.  I have a whole new life.  I do not worry anymore other than what a normal person would worry about, I can actually say the words vomit and stomach without going into a frenzy of thoughts and worries, I enjoy my kids again instead of seeing them as germy things and I'm just generally happier. 


With that said, I plan to talk to my PCP end of this month to talk about upping me to 20mg.  This is my very first winter, which is a huge trigger for me, on the meds and over the last 2 weeks, I've noticed some anxiety coming back about illness.  I don't perseverate on the thoughts and they are not racing thoughts or anything, but I definitely notice it sneaking in.  So, I think 20mg would be a good choice for me. 


I love Lexapro.  I have had no adverse reactions, since I've been on a good dosage regime, and I just feel normal. I love it!!!!


Good luck.


Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 12/14/2008 8:28 AM (GMT -7)   


Welcome to HealingWell.  We have a new member thread you might like to sign in to  :-)   if your comfortable telling everyone a bit about yourself.

I am glad you are liking Lexapro.  We have many threads on OCD and members that have this very problem.

I brought the OCD thread to the top................if you woulld like to post in that thread you will get to know our members that have this very problem.  :-)

Again a warm welcome



Kitt, Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
& GERD  Forums
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources

Post Edited (stkitt) : 12/14/2008 8:31:31 AM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 1/8/2009 9:36 AM (GMT -7)   
How long did you stay at 5mgs of lexapro before going up to 10mgs?

Green Grove
Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2424
   Posted 1/8/2009 4:12 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Dannii and Melissa!

Welcome to HealingWell :) There is a great bunch here on the A/P Forum and many resources also.

I only have mild OCD and when it comes to the meds you already have received great advice and you should ask you physician :) I agree about if one thing doesn't work you must move on because most of these meds take awhile to taper off and then you have the issue of several weeks for a new med to fully kick in. It can be a long cycle but well worth it in the end.

Nice to meet you all!
Take care and have a wonderful day! . . . Your Bro . . . Sam :)
 ~Co-Moderator Anxiety & Panic Forum~
  "When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
~Franklin D. Roosevelt~
Not a professional.  Seek your physician's advice before making changes to your meds or lifestyle.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 8/11/2011 12:17 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm moderately horrified by what I'm seeing on this thread regarding Lexapro vs Paxil for OCD. Lexapro is approved for depressive & anxiety disorders as of today. NOT OCD. You should know that when prescribing SSRI's, it must be done by a Psychiatrist. Not a Pharmacy Rep, Psychologist, family doctor, therapist, pharmacist, nurse, Oprah or hear-say recommendations on the internet. The possibility of an error could result in, amongst other things, suicide. Read the literature. I'm an RN with 30 years experience in a University Medical Center, A Psyche Nurse and have done SSRI research amongst other things. Paxil is the drug of choice. If you get a sore throat...take throat lozenges. Chances are the symptoms will pass. Paxil is started at a low dose and titrated up in accordance with your relief of symptoms. For sleep a drug such as Trazadone is recommended with Atarax for anxiety break through and/or an add on for sleep. One drug doesn't usually do it. The literature says SSRI's will take full effect with in 1-3 weeks, 2-3 is more like it. Any early effects are most likely a sedative effect not necessarily the SSRI's theraputic effect on the synaptic cleft of the neurons in your brain. Theraputic effect takes a while, don't give up. Recently I was able to witness a patient(not one of mine) mis-prescribed Lexapro in place of Paxil. The results were to say the least...a nightmare. She was tapered off Lexapro switched back to Paxil with plans to increase the dosage as soon as she reached baseline. The difference was like night & day. Mental illness requiring SSRIs is not well understood by those without direct clinical evaluating experience. In the case I described Lexapro was prescribed by an old ER Doctor trying family practice who insisted on the advice from a non-doctor therapist. Why? ER Docs never deal with mental health issues, they always call Psyche to deal with it. The therapist was practicing medicine without a license and experimenting with an FDA unapproved drug. If you need an SSRI you need to see a psyciatrist, attend therapy with an experienced therapist such as specializing in schizophrenia, bipolar and/or major depressive disorders. And routine follow-up with a family doctor. Many healthcare professionals mistake major depression for, "just a bad day". If you've had depression, tearfulness, recurrent anxiety and problems sleeping for 6months and longer then you probably need an SSRI. Good luck I hope this has been helpful.
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