Lexapro (Escitalopram) Medication Information
Your doctor may prescribe Lexapro to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or major depressive disorder (MDD). Lexapro contains the drug escitalopram, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Patients with GAD or MDD have an imbalance of serotonin and or chemical messengers in their brain. Lexapro helps to restore the balance of these chemical messengers.
Your doctor will prescribe the dose that’s appropriate for your condition.
For GAD, the starting dose is 10 mg by mouth once daily. Lexapro may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg by mouth once daily.
People with anxiety that are sensitive to overstimulation may need to start with 5 mg and increase as needed.
The starting dose for MDD is 10 mg by mouth once daily. It may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg by mouth once daily.
Older adults and people with liver problems should start with 5-10 mg once daily.
The common side effects of Lexapro include:
- Dry mouth
- Ejaculatory disorder
Lexapro and other antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions during the first few months of treatment. This effect is more likely in children, teenagers, and young adults.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of bleeding problems.
Lexapro can prolong the QT-interval of the heart. Use caution if taking other medications that affect heart rhythm.
Do not drive a vehicle or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
Lexapro can decrease libido.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a full list of precautions before taking Lexapro.
Common drug interactions with Lexapro may include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- QT-prolonging agents
- Rifampin (rifampicin)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Store Lexapro at room temperature in the bottle in which it was dispensed.
- Speak with your doctor before stopping Lexapro. If you have been taking it for more than three weeks, you may need to slowly taper the medication to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
- Lexapro can be taken safely during most of a pregnancy but may need to be stopped in the third trimester.
- Lexapro and similar medications can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children and teenagers. Ask your doctor what to watch for.
How long does it take Lexapro to start working?
For most people, Lexapro begins working in 2-4 weeks. Some people can take as long as 4-8 weeks to start working. If you have taken the medication for longer than eight weeks with no effects, call your doctor.
Does Lexapro need to be taken with food?
No. Lexapro can be taken with or without food.
How long do I need to take Lexapro?
It depends on why you are taking it. Usually, the first time it’s prescribed, the course is 9-12 months. If it is needed again, then the prescription may continue lifelong.
- Lexapro [package insert]. St. Louis, MO: Forest Pharmaceuticals; 2009.
Author: Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Dr. Sheehy is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. He has worked in multiple practice settings, including retail and hospital pharmacies, and in medical clinics. He specializes in anticoagulation, psychiatric medications, and diabetes medications. He strives to empower his patients to understand their medications and improve their overall medical care.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.