Lexapro or the generic name, escitalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and depression.
Lexapro assists in relieving sadness, insomnia, and changes in appetite all associated with depression. The drug can also help with mental agitation and distress.
As with all antidepressants, they can help depending on the individual, negative side effects can occur resulting in effects that may harm your mental state. Some individuals will then ask, do antidepressants really work?
I suffer from both major depressive disorder and crippling anxiety. Both of these are reduced while I am on the drug.
Artemis then goes onto say that he is afraid of things that mess with his brain as it’s his most positive attribute and believes he is pretty smart.
So it took a LOT to get me to finally start on Lexapro. I do not enjoy messing with my brain chemistry. That being said, my depression and anxiety issues could not be ignored. I was suicidal and was very close to self-harm before I finally decided to try seeing if there was something out there that would help me rather than off myself.
It helped immensely.
So at least we have some anecdotal evidence that Lexapro doesn’t necessarily harm your brain and cognition but can help with reducing depression and anxiety. It’s not known exactly how Lexapro works to reduce the symptoms of these mental illnesses. We do know like any SSRI, that it works on the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin and this improves mood. 1Santarsieri D, Schwartz TL. Antidepressant efficacy and side-effect burden: A quick guide for clinicians. Drugs Context. 2015;4:212290. doi:10.7573/dic.212290
Lexapro Side Effects and Severity
As with any antidepressant, you may experience side effects initially during the first couple of weeks, but subside as your body becomes accustomed to the new medication.
Reddit user Sam1k states:
Common Side Effects (Less Severe Expression)
- Low Energy
- Excessive Sweating
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Dry Mouth
- Problems With Ejaculation
- Orgasm Problems
Less Frequent Side effects (Less Severe Expression)
- A Feeling Of Pins And Needles On Skin
- A Stuffy And Runny Nose
- A Toothache
- Abnormal Sexual Function
- Altered Interest In Having Sexual Intercourse
- Decreased Appetite
- Flu-Like Symptoms
- Inflammation Of The Tissue Lining The Sinuses
- Stomach Cramps
- The Inability To Have An Erection
Serious Rare Side Effects/Allergic reactions
- Stiff muscles
- Fast heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swelling of the face, mouth, or tongue
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
How long did Lexapro’s withdrawal symptoms last for Reddit users?
A survey was conducted on Lexapro’s subreddit in an attempt to gather how long Reddit users suffered from withdrawal after stopping Lexapro. The survey had over 130 respondents and these were the results:
The results are not bad with over 46 individuals voting that the withdrawal effects lasted 1-2 weeks. The sample size is small, but we are able to get a sense of what people go through when stopping the drug.
What about the outliers/long-term users?
Reddit user DalekCats1504 mentions he was on 20mg Lexapro for around 8 years and attempted to taper and stop completely. This triggered severe side effects:
After going 5 mg to nothing, had horrible general anxiety where I was always on edge, terrified bad things were going to happen all of the time, insomnia, exhaustion, hot waves of anxiety. Increasing exercise didn’t help at all. 3 months of that and I decided to go back to 10 mg Lexapro. Now back at 20 mg and recently added on 100 mg Wellbutrin, as my job has gotten super stressful lately.
Due to Lexapro being fast-acting with a more rapid onset of effects, the withdrawals can be worse than other SSRIs.
Some individuals claim these withdrawals can potentially be worse than opiates when going cold-turkey. Reddit user Ann_Fetamine mentions what they went through and the side-effects:
I cut my wrist with a razor and had an 8-hour argument w/ my girlfriend that ended in me spitting in her face. Those are NOT things I’d normally do under any circumstance and have never done them since that one time.
My symptoms included: general aches & pains (flu-like), severe anxiety, irritability, paranoia, noises inside my head when I shifted my eyes from left to right & generally worsening depression. All of this lasted a month, getting less severe as the days went on.
Tapering & Stopping Lexapro
Only discontinue Lexapro with guidance from your doctor. If you stop ‘cold turkey’ without tapering, you may experience various and possibly extreme side effects. These withdrawal side effects include excessive nervousness, flu-like symptoms, dizziness, headaches and brain zaps.
Lexapro and antidepressants may not be for everyone, if Lexapro is no effective, consult your doctor regarding another SSRI, psychotherapy, or possibly treating differences and any underlying health issues.
As with any pharmaceutical, no drug is perfect and there are many outside factors and each individual’s brain chemistry that can impact how you react to Lexapro.
This overview does not cover all possible outcomes of this medication. If you are prescribed this antidepressant, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and consult your doctor regarding any changes with dosages.