June 30, 2022
4 min. read

Is Lexapro Right For Me? What to Know Before Taking This Antidepressant

Medly

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with depression, know that you’re not alone—and that there are many treatment options available. In addition to psychotherapy, residential treatment, and lifestyle support, there are also a number of antidepressant medications available that can provide you with much sought-after relief. 

One such medication used for treating depression and anxiety is Lexapro, a brand name version of an antidepressant called escitalopram. In the United States, nearly 26 million Americans take this medication daily. It’s a generally well-tolerated drug that has fewer side effects than other antidepressants. To learn more about this drug and if it may be right for you, check out our article below. 

Why is Lexapro prescribed? 

Lexapro is used to treat depression in adults and children and teenagers 12 years of age or older, as well as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults. Lexapro is part of a ​​class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants. 

According to one theory, an imbalance of serotonin in the brain may play a role in causing depression symptoms. SSRIs address this imbalance by decreasing serotonin reuptake in the brain, leaving more serotonin in the bloodstream and available for use by your brain. 

SSRIs are called “selective” because they mainly seem to affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters. They are also known to typically carry fewer side effects than other antidepressants. 

How should I take Lexapro? 

Lexapro comes both as a tablet taken by mouth and as a liquid solution. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Most people take it around the same time every day, in the morning or evening, as this can help you remember to take your medication every day. 

As with all medications, you should take Lexapro exactly as your doctor prescribes—follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. In most cases, your doctor will start you on a low dose of Lexapro, and increase your dose until you experience relief. 

How long will it take Lexapro to work? 

When you take Lexapro, your body metabolizes the medication immediately, and you may experience changes and psychological effects very quickly. However, different people notice results at different times. While most people report that they feel the effects of their medication after 4 weeks of consistent treatment, it can take longer for the medication to take full effect, up to 6 weeks or more. 

If you feel worse after taking Lexapro or notice no change at all after this time, talk with your doctor about the next steps or switching medications. 

What are the side effects of Lexapro? 

You may experience certain side effects from taking Lexapro, though they often go away after a few weeks. Side effects include: 

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches

If these side effects do not go away and begin to interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. 

Some common issues that prevent some from using Lexapro as a treatment include weight gain, reduced sex drive, and sexual dysfunction. These changes may stop after you stop taking Lexapro, so talk to your doctor if you feel these side effects are affecting you. 

What should I do before taking Lexapro? 

Let your doctor know if you are allergic to Lexapro, and tell them about what prescription and nonprescription medications and vitamins you are taking or plan to take. 

Combining Lexapro with other medications or substances can also increase risks. Do not take Lexapro if you are currently taking pimozide (Orap), or if you have a known allergy or hypersensitivity to escitalopram or citalopram (Celexa).  

Medications known to interact with Lexapro include but aren’t limited to: 

  • Stimulant medicines
  • Blood thinners
  • Opioid medicines
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Medications for migraine headaches
  • Medications for serious infections
  • Medications preventing nausea and vomiting

Always talk to your doctor about all your medications and allergies before beginning any new medication. 

What should I do if I miss a dose of Lexapro? 

If you miss a dose of Lexapro, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. 

Lexapro can be a life-saving medication for those battling depression or anxiety. If you feel that you may benefit from an antidepressant, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about Lexapro. They will be able to talk to you about the benefits and risks of each medication, and together you can find a solution for your distress. 

Sources 

  • Escitalopram (Oral Route). (2022, May 2). Mayo Clinic.
  • Yocum, A., MD. (2022, March 17). How Long Does It Take For Lexapro To Work? K Health.
  • NHS website. (2022, February 18). Overview – Antidepressants. NHS.
  • Serotonin: What Is It, Function & Levels. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic.

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