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How Long Does It Take for Lexapro to Work?

Lexapro for anxiety

How Long Does It Take for Lexapro to Work?

Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.

Lexapro is an FDA-approved [1*] and widely used antidepressant medication known as escitalopram. It belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in promoting feelings of happiness and relaxation. Given that mental conditions such as depression are associated with low serotonin levels, Lexapro helps in maintaining a balance in brain chemistry and can provide relief.

Lexapro doesn’t bring instant effects because it takes a while for the medication to build up in your system. So, how long does it take for Lexapro to work? Keep reading as we define how long it may take and why Lexapro may take longer than expected to start working.

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Signs Showing Lexapro Is Working

According to studies [2*] , escitalopram tends to show significant symptom improvement compared to a placebo group within the first and second weeks of treatment. Aside from recognized efficacy, it also means that the effects are not immediate. When taking Lexapro, you may not observe improvement for a week or two. In case of a delay, do not double the dose but consult your healthcare provider. They will tell you if you still have to wait for the effect or adjust your treatment plan.

When Lexapro starts working, you can feel a sense of gradual relief from your symptoms. These include a more positive mood, reduced sadness, decreased pessimistic and suicidal thoughts, improved sleep quality, enhanced concentration, and more. It may take a while for you to get used to the new mental state as serotonin gets released in the brain.

How Long Does it Take for Lexapro to Impact Different Symptoms and Conditions?

Lexapro can be a part of a treatment plan for depression and anxiety disorders, promoting better concentration and overall cognitive performance. The time it takes for Lexapro to impart its therapeutic effects may vary across different mental conditions:

  • Anxiety: Lexapro typically takes about two to four weeks to address anxiety symptoms.
  • Depression: improvements in appetite, energy, and sleep patterns can often be observed within the first or second week [3*] of treatment.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Lexapro is occasionally prescribed for OCD. Studies [4*] show that its impact on OCD symptoms may become evident around the fourth week.
  • Panic disorder: studies [5*] suggest significant symptom improvement for panic disorder from the fourth week of Lexapro treatment. It focuses on reducing excessive anxiety, a key factor in panic attacks.

Note that these time spans may differ from person to person. Consult your healthcare provider if you think your treatment plan should be modified.

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How Long Does It Take for Lexapro to Show Peak Therapeutic Efficacy?

Like any other antidepressant, Lexapro takes time to achieve its complete therapeutic efficacy due to its action on a molecular level in the brain. This involves intricate processes that need time to unfold and stabilize. Therefore, individuals are advised to remain patient and adhere consistently to their prescribed medication regimen, in order to attain the intended therapeutic outcomes. It may take about 6-8 weeks to get the full benefits of a Lexapro treatment.

In addition, there are other factors why Lexapro might work faster or slower than usual. Possible reasons revolve around:

  • Individual body chemistry.
  • Other related medical conditions.
  • Drug interactions.

Always consult with your healthcare provider on pre-existing conditions to get appropriate answers and treatments.

Side Effects of Lexapro

Take time to learn about the long-term and short-term implications of taking escitalopram. It will help you monitor your state and see a healthcare provider if any concerns occur.

Lexapro, like any medication, can lead to side effects, but these effects are not universal, and their severity also varies between individuals. Patients most commonly complain of:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess sweating
  • Restlessness

The symptoms usually improve within the first or second week. However, if they do not subside or if you experience severe side effects, seek medical attention immediately.

Lexapro side effects


Lexapro can be effective in managing anxiety and depression. Since its effects are not immediate, and it may cause side effects, it is important to follow the given instructions and be in touch with your prescriber.

At MEDvidi, you can get a personalized treatment plan for depression or anxiety online. A qualified healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and health history and offer treatment tailored to your circumstances.


+5 sources
  1. Lexapro®
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  2. Escitalopram 10 mg/day is effective and well tolerated in a placebo-controlled study in depression in primary care. (2002)
    Source link
  3. Escitalopram for the management of major depressive disorder: a review of its efficacy, safety, and patient acceptability. (2012)
    Source link
  4. Escitalopram in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a randomized, placebo-controlled, paroxetine-referenced, fixed-dose, 24-week study. (2007)
    Source link
  5. The therapeutic potential of escitalopram in the treatment of panic disorder. (2007)
    Source link
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.