What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is the brand name for the drug escitalopram, which is prescribed to help treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It’s part of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They work by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain.

Lexapro can be taken as an oral tablet or a liquid drinking solution. It’s approved for use by adults and children over 12 years old.

Like most drugs, there are many short and long-term effects associated with Lexapro.

Side effects of Lexapro | Side effects

The side effects of Lexapro may be different in adults and children and may vary from person to person. The most common side effects occur within the first and second weeks and may improve as you continue to take the drug. It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting Lexapro.

Side effects for adults include:

  •        Headache
  •        Nausea
  •        Diarrhea
  •        Dry mouth
  •        Increased sweating
  •        Feeling nervous or restless
  •        Fatigue or insomnia
  •        Dizziness
  •        Sexual problems
  •        Infection
  •        Not feeling hungry

In addition to these side effects, children and teens may also experience:

  •        Problems with urination
  •        Nosebleeds
  •        Heavy menstrual bleeding
  •        Weight change
  •        Possible slowed growth

Your doctor may start you on a low dose and increase it after the first week. It’s important to continue taking Lexapro even if you feel better. Call your doctor if you have unusual problems while taking this medicine.

Changes in weight or appetite

If you’re taking Lexapro as an adult, your doctor may monitor your weight while you’re on the medication. For children and teens over 12, doctors may monitor both height and weight. There have been some reports of both weight loss and weight gain while taking Lexapro. The increase of serotonin may cause loss of appetite.

If you’re concerned about a change in weight while on Lexapro, talk to your doctor about other options.

Boxed warning side effects

It’s important to always talk to your pharmacist and read the label on your medication before taking it. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Lexapro and other antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or actions.

If you have major depressive disorder (MDD), you may experience heightened depression and suicidal behavior while taking Lexapro. The risk in suicidal behavior is higher in younger adults and children than it is in adults.

Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  •      New or heightened depression
  •      New or heightened anxiety
  •      Restlessness or irritability
  •      Other unusual shifts in your mood

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, experiencing dangerous impulsive behavior, or feel that you may be a danger to yourself, call 911. You can also seek support from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. 

You can report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA(332)-1088.

Risks associated with Lexapro

Tell your doctor about existing health conditions or any medicine you take before starting Lexapro. Do not take Lexapro before talking to your doctor.

Existing health conditions

In some instances, Lexapro may cause other existing health conditions to worsen. Your doctor may suggest a different medicine or lower dosage of Lexapro if any of these apply to you:

  •        History of suicidal thoughts
  •        Bipolar disorder
  •        Seizures
  •        Glaucoma

They may also recommend a different medication if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

Interactions with other drugs

Tell your doctor about any other medicine you take. Certain medications can interact with Lexapro. This includes prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements. 

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), Lexapro should not be taken with or within two weeks of taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

What if I forget to take a dose?

If you miss a dose of Lexapro, take it as soon as you remember unless the time is closer to your next scheduled dose. Don’t double your dose or take more than your doctor tells you to.

What if I overdose on Lexapro?

If you overdose on Lexapro, call 911 immediately. Urgent care may be needed. You can also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. 

What should I avoid while taking Lexapro?

Avoid drinking alcohol or taking any illegal drugs while taking Lexapro. Both alcohol and other drugs can increase the side effects of Lexapro and may be dangerous.

You may experience strong fatigue while taking Lexapro. Don’t drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in dangerous activity while taking the medicine.

The takeaway

Lexapro is an antidepressant prescription drug used to treat depression and anxiety. You may experience side effects such as fatigue, diarrhea, or headaches within the first week or two of taking Lexapro. Talk to your doctor to see if Lexapro is right for you.