Lexapro is the brand name for Escitalopram, a type of medication used to treat depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
As with any medication, it’s important to know the possible side effects to help you know what to expect when taking Lexapro. This guide will explain some of the first-week side effects of Lexapro, helping you understand what to expect if you or a loved one starts taking this medication.
Table of Contents
- What Is Lexapro?
- Common Lexapro Side Effects in the First Week
- Serious Side Effects of Lexapro
- What Can You Do to Deal With Lexapro Side Effects?
- Other Lexapro Warnings
- How to Take Lexapro?
- When To See a Doctor?
What Is Lexapro?
Lexapro is a brand of prescription drug Escitalopram that is used to treat anxiety and depression in adults. It is a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which are a group of antidepressants that help to boost serotonin levels.
Some of the conditions Lexapro can help treat include:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic attacks
Lexapro is prescribed to adults, but it can also be prescribed to adolescents over 12 years of age to treat conditions such as depression.
There have been several studies into the effectiveness of Lexapro in the treatment of anxiety and depression disorders, with findings showing that Escitalopram is one of the most effective medications for the long-term management of these conditions.
Common Lexapro Side Effects in the First Week
Like most medications, Lexapro has its side effects. Most antidepressants take time to become effective, causing some side effects when they are first used. These side effects tend to ease or disappear over time.
Some of the symptoms that may be experienced during the first week of taking Lexapro include:
- Constipation and other digestive issues
- Decreased sexual desire
- Dry mouth
- Feeling dizzy
- Increased sweating
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Low appetite
Lexapro may present additional symptoms in adolescents, including:
- Increase in muscle movement
- Changes in weight or slowed growth
- Difficulty urinating
- Heavy periods
- Increased thirst
Some people may experience a range of symptoms in the first week of taking Lexapro, while others may not have any symptoms at all.
If, after the first week, your symptoms continue, or they get worse, it’s important to consult a doctor so that they can evaluate your dosage and make some changes to your prescription. Your doctor may decide that Lexapro isn’t suitable for you and prescribe an alternative antidepressant.
Serious Side Effects of Lexapro
Lexapro may also present some serious side effects, which include:
Some people can experience a severe allergic reaction to Lexapro, developing symptoms such as a rash, difficulty breathing, swelling and pain in the joints or muscles.
Bruising or Bleeding
If you’re taking other types of medication, such as non-steroid-based anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or blood-thinning medication, this may increase the risk of bleeding.
Lexapro may cause episodes of mania, and should be prescribed with caution in those who have a history of mania or bipolar disorder.
You may experience panic attacks while taking Lexapro. Some of the main signs of a panic attack include shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, chest pain, nausea and shaking. If you experience a panic attack while taking Lexapro, it’s important to consult your doctor straight away to discuss your symptoms.
Serotonin syndrome occurs when the body’s serotonin levels become too high. The main symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, shaking, diarrhea, nausea, muscle spasms, sweating, and high/low blood pressure. This is a serious possible side effect of taking Lexapro which could lead to seizures or even a coma. Serotonin syndrome should be considered a medical emergency, so call 911 for advice if you begin to display these symptoms.
Sexual Side Effects
Lexapro may affect your sex drive, delay ejaculation or make it difficult to reach orgasm. These side effects can have a significant impact on the sufferer and should be discussed with a doctor to make sure Lexapro is the right medication for the patient.
Another significant side effect of Lexapro is that it can lead to thoughts of suicide. This is more common in younger patients. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal tendencies while taking Lexapro, seek medical help. You should call 911 if you believe there is an immediate risk or changes in behavior. These symptoms generally ease after the first two months of taking Lexapro.
Lexapro can interact with other medications and medical conditions, making it all the more important that you discuss your full medical history with your doctor before you’re prescribed it.
What Can You Do to Deal With Lexapro Side Effects?
Many of the side effects that come from taking Lexapro will ease after the first week of taking the drug. Some of the things you can do to help you cope with the side effects include:
- Changing the time of your dose to help combat different side effects. If, for example, you suffer from insomnia as a result of Lexapro, consider taking it before bed. Try different timings to help you find the most suitable time to take the medication.
- Try exercise such as walking or going to the gym to help you burn off excess energy and help you sleep better at night.
- Try meditation such as yoga or guided meditation to help you calm feelings of anxiety while helping you to relax.
- If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort during sex, try using lubrication to make things more comfortable.
- Keep a diary of your symptoms to help you discuss them with your doctor when reviewing your medication.
If you have concerns about side effects from taking Lexapro, you should discuss these with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage or consider alternative medications for you to try instead.
Other Lexapro Warnings
Lexapro contains a black box warning to highlight the increased risk of suicidal thoughts. It reads:
Increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults taking antidepressants for major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Lexapro is not approved for use in pediatric patients less than 12 years of age.
You should always read the label of any medication you take carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
How to Take Lexapro?
Your doctor will outline your recommended dosage of Lexapro (usually 10mg at first) – you should not exceed this. You can take Lexapro at any time of the day, with or without meals. It’s recommended that you stick to the same time each day.
When To See a Doctor?
If you experience any serious side effects while taking Lexapro, it’s important to contact your doctor immediately. This could include an increase in anxiety, changes in your mood, thoughts of suicide, or any other symptoms mentioned above!
You should also contact your doctor if you find that the medication is not working for you after a couple of weeks. It may be that they need to adjust your dosage or try a different medication altogether.
If you have any questions about Lexapro or its side effects you can also use our online doctor service. With DrHouse you can see a licensed clinician on-demand and 24/7.
How Does Lexapro Make You Feel the First Week?
Taking Lexapro can take some getting used to, especially in the first week. You may have trouble sleeping, have changes to your appetite and may feel more tired than usual. Many people experience side effects, and most are nothing to be concerned about. However, if you’re concerned about the side effects or you’re displaying some of the serious side effects of Lexapro, talk to your doctor immediately.
How Long Do the Initial Side Effects of Lexapro Last?
Most of the initial side effects of Lexapro last around a week, although some, including changes to your sex drive, could last for as long as you take the medication. If you experience prolonged side effects, or the side effects are affecting your quality of life, consult your doctor to discuss your prescription.
How Do I Make My Lexapro Side Effects Go Away?
Most Lexapro side effects will go away on their own. You must continue to take your medication as directed by your doctor, unless you start experiencing some of the more serious side effects of taking the drug.
How Long Does It Take To Adjust to Taking Lexapro?
Most antidepressant medication takes time to get used to, and Lexapro is no different. While most of the common side effects will begin to ease after a week, it could take around a month for you to fully adjust to taking Lexapro.
Does Lexapro Cause an Increase in Anxiety in the First Weeks?
One of the side effects of Lexapro is an increase in anxiety in the first couple of weeks. It could heighten your feelings of anxiety, making it worse before it gets better. By continuing with the medication, you should see an improvement in your symptoms.
How Long Does Lexapro Insomnia Last?
Insomnia caused by Lexapro should only last a couple of weeks, with most people finding it eases off after a week. If, however, you experience continued feelings of insomnia, you should consult your doctor for advice. They may recommend taking your Lexapro at different times of the day to help you sleep better at night.
Lexapro is a common type of antidepressant drug that can help people with their mental health. But as with most medications, there are some possible side effects. Most of the common side effects of Lexapro, such as insomnia and changes to appetite, will ease after a week. If you experience some of the more severe side effects or your symptoms don’t ease after a couple of weeks, you should consult your doctor for advice.
- Jiang K, Li L, Wang X, Fang M, Shi J, Cao Q, He J, Wang J, Tan W, Hu C. Efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram in treatment of major depressive disorder with anxiety symptoms: a 24-week, open-label, prospective study in Chinese population. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017 Feb 17;13:515-526. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S120190. PMID: 28255239; PMCID: PMC5322850.
- Parker S, Nagarsekar BB. Escitalopram induced mania. Indian J Psychiatry. 2007 Apr;49(2):121-2. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.33260. PMID: 20711395; PMCID: PMC2917077.
- Khan F, Bernadt M. Intense suicidal thoughts and self-harm following escitalopram treatment. Indian J Psychol Med. 2011 Jan;33(1):74-6. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.85400. PMID: 22021958; PMCID: PMC3195160.
- Highlights of prescribing information of Lexapro. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/021323s047lbl.pdf
- Lorenz T, Rullo J, Faubion S. Antidepressant-Induced Female Sexual Dysfunction. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016 Sep;91(9):1280-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.04.033. PMID: 27594188; PMCID: PMC6711470.
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.