Depression and anxiety are pervasive mental health conditions affecting millions of people worldwide. Escitalopram, commonly known as Lexapro, is a medication that has proven effective in treating these conditions.
However, like any medication, it may cause side effects. While most of them are mild and temporary, some can be severe and long-lasting. In this article, we explore the common and rare side effects of Lexapro in detail, so that you can be better informed about not only the benefits but also the potential risks of this medication. Whether you are taking Lexapro or considering it as a treatment option, read on to discover what you need to know about its possible side effects.
Contact a mental healthcare provider today to discuss your concerns and explore your treatment options.
Common Lexapro Side Effects
It is possible to experience mild and temporary side effects that do not typically require medical attention. These may include:
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Feeling restless
- Delayed orgasm or inability to achieve it
- Decrease in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- Influenza-like symptoms
These side effects usually improve after the first week as your body acclimates to the medication. Most patients can tolerate them without serious complications, but your doctor can also provide recommendations on preventing or alleviating them.
If you experience any persistent side effects that cause discomfort or any concerns, it is advisable to seek guidance from your healthcare professional.
Receive professional advice on how to manage Lexapro side effects and get your treatment adjusted if needed.
Warnings and Precautions
There are some severe side effects of Lexapro that you should look out for and if they occur discuss them with your doctor.
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior in adolescents and young adults. Lexapro can worsen suicidal ideation and lead to self-destructive behaviors in adults up to 24 years old, hence needing close monitoring of treatment in this age group.
- Serotonin syndrome. It is a potentially dangerous condition that has been linked to the use of SNRIs and SSRIs, including Lexapro. This risk is further increased when Lexapro is taken in combination with other serotonergic agents such as tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, triptans, tryptophan, tramadol, buspirone, St. John’s Wort, and amphetamines. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome (raised temperature, hypertension, increased heart rate, dizziness, flushing) and to discontinue Lexapro immediately and seek medical attention if they occur.
- Discontinuation of treatment with Lexapro. Withdrawal symptoms (restlessness, insomnia, dizziness, sweating irritation, confusion, and stomach problems) can be prevented by slowly reducing the dosage of Lexapro when discontinuing treatment. It’s best to do this under the guidance of a doctor.
- Activation of mania/hypomania. Patients with bipolar disorder should be screened before being prescribed Lexapro so as to prevent the potential risk of mania or hypomania activation.
- Seizures. Patients with a history of seizures should be cautiously prescribed Lexapro to avoid the potential risk of seizure activity.
- Abnormal bleeding. Caution should be exercised for patients taking Lexapro who also take warfarin, aspirin, NSAIDs, or other medications that affect blood clotting.
- Angle-closure glaucoma. Patients with increased eye pressure due to untreated narrow anterior chamber angles are at risk of angle-closure glaucoma when treated with Lexapro.
- Hyponatremia or low sodium levels. It can occur in association with the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) secretion, particularly in elderly patients.
- Effects on cognitive and motor performance. Be careful when driving or operating machinery when on Lexapro.
- Having concomitant illness. Patients with certain medical conditions or disorders that can affect metabolism or cardiovascular function should be cautious when using Lexapro.
- Sexual dysfunction. This can occur when the patient is taking Lexapro.
- Use in pregnancy. Treatment with Lexapro can cause lung problems and feeding difficulties in the newborn, especially when used later in pregnancy.
Do not suffer in silence trying to manage your symptoms alone. Prioritize your mental health and seek the support you need.
Lexapro should not be used in the following situations:
- Recent use of MAOIs. Avoid using MAOIs with Lexapro or within 14 days before or after stopping Lexapro as it increases the risk of serotonin syndrome. Also, do not start Lexapro if currently using linezolid or intravenous methylene blue.
- Having hypersensitivity to escitalopram, citalopram, or any of the medication’s inactive ingredients.
- Pimozide (an antipsychotic medication). Avoid using it concurrently.
Factors that Affect the Duration of Escitalopram Side Effects
How long do Lexapro side effects last? It can vary depending on several factors:
- Dosage. The dosage of Lexapro can significantly affect the occurrence and severity of side effects. Higher doses may increase the likelihood and intensity of adverse effects.
- Duration of treatment. Long-term use of Lexapro may cause more or different side effects than short-term use.
- Individual differences. Every person is different, so their body may respond differently to medications. Some individuals may be more susceptible to certain side effects than others.
- Age. Age can be a significant factor in the likelihood and intensity of side effects experienced with Lexapro. Older individuals may experience more side effects than younger individuals.
- Underlying health conditions. Individuals with certain underlying health conditions may experience more side effects than others. It is important to discuss your medical history with your healthcare provider before starting Lexapro.
- Other medications. Concurrent use of other medicines that can interact with Lexapro may lead to more or fewer side effects. It is essential to disclose all medications, including over-the-counter medications, to your healthcare provider to avoid harmful drug interactions.
- Withdrawal. Stopping Lexapro abruptly can result in withdrawal symptoms, including dizziness, headache, and nausea. Do not quit taking this medication without professional assistance.
It is crucial to discuss any concerns or side effects experienced while taking Lexapro with your healthcare provider, so they can determine the appropriate course of action.
While Lexapro can be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, it may cause a range of common and rare side effects. By being informed about the potential risks of Lexapro, you can better understand what to expect and what steps to take to manage any side effects that may arise. If you experience significant side effects or have concerns about taking Lexapro, it is essential to discuss them with your provider.
If you seek depression or anxiety treatment, schedule a video appointment with our qualified healthcare providers at MEDvidi. They will assess your condition and offer you an individualized treatment plan. You will be provided with an online prescription for your mental health if deemed medically necessary.