Lexapro (escitalopram) is an antidepressant, or more specifically a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat depression and anxiety. This works by restoring serotonin balances in the brain. Furthermore, this medication may improve your energy level and feelings of well-being, as well as decrease nervousness.

Use and Dosage

You should take Lexapro by mouth with or without food (but as instructed by your doctor) typically once daily, either in the morning or evening. The exact dosage will depend on a few factors: the medical condition being treated, your age, other medications you’re taking, and your initial response to treatment. It is important you tell your doctor about all of the products you use, whether they be prescription or nonprescription drugs, so he can safely administer Lexapro.

In order to avoid potential side effects, you may first be prescribed a low dose to see how your body reacts. Then, the dose may be gradually increased. Regardless, it is important you listen to and follow your doctor’s careful instructions, as increasing your dose or overusing this medication will not improve your condition any faster; it will, instead, increase your risk of experiencing harmful side effects. So, take this medication regularly and as prescribed, in order to get the most benefit from it and to prevent a higher risk of unwanted side effects.

It is essential that you continue taking Lexapro, even if you feel your condition or symptoms have improved or subsided, unless otherwise instructed by your health care practitioner. Doing so can worsen conditions, as well as worsen or induce symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, sleep changes, tiredness, and feelings related to electric shock. To prevent this from happening, simply have a conversation with your doctor who will then gradually reduce your dose. You should also consult your doctor any time you experience new or worsening symptoms of the medication.

Side Effects of Lexapro

As with many antidepressants, Lexapro may produce some unwanted side effects. These side effects, however, do not typically outweigh the benefits of the medication. And if they persist or worsen, a simple discussion with your doctor may lead to an easy solution. Still, it is important to be aware of possible mild, more serious, and severe effects that may result from the medication:

    Mild Side Effects

    • Drowsiness
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    • Dry mouth
    • Constipation
    • Difficult sleeping
    • Increased sweating

    Serious Side Effects

    • Changes in sexual ability
    • Decreased interest in sex
    • Easy bruising or bleeding

    Severe Side Effects

    • Fainting
    • Fast/irregular heartbeat
    • Seizures
    • Vomit (that resembles coffee grounds)
    • Black or bloody stools
    • Eye pain, swelling, or redness
    • Widened pupils
    • Vision changes (e.g., blurred vision)

Patients very rarely experience serious or severe side effects. But if you do, you should tell your doctor right away and seek out medical treatment immediately if you experience any of the more severe effects. It is also possible (but rare) for Lexapro to increase serotonin and cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. This risk of developing this condition increases if you take other drugs that increase your serotonin levels. Therefore, it is important you tell your doctor about all of the drugs you take before being prescribed Lexapro.

You can also have a very serious allergic reaction to this drug—though it is rare, you should be aware of the symptoms, which include a rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and severe dizziness. And if you do experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help right away.

Before Taking Lexapro

It’s important you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication. Before you start taking Ambien, you should first…

  • Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, especially to escitalopram or citalopram, as this product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Discuss your medical history, especially if you have a personal or family history of bipolar or manic-depressive disorder, suicide attempts, liver disease, seizures, intestinal ulcers/bleeding, glaucoma, or hyponatremia.
  • Consider your age, which may increase sensitivity to certain side effects. Children, for example, may be more sensitive to certain effects like loss of appetite and weight loss, while older adults may be more sensitive to hyponatremia, loss of coordination, or bleeding.
  • Understand all of the drug’s effects and risks, as Lexapro can cause the aforementioned side effects and conditions, as well as another condition that affects heart rhythm—this particular condition can then (though rarely) cause a fast or irregular heartbeat and other severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention.