Lexapro is a brand-name prescription medication that’s used to treat the following conditions in adults:
The drug is also approved to treat depression in children ages 12 years and older.
Lexapro comes as an oral tablet in the following strengths: 5 milligrams (mg), 10 mg, and 20 mg.
For information about the effectiveness of Lexapro, see the “Lexapro uses” section below.
Lexapro is a brand-name drug that contains the active drug escitalopram. This active drug is also available as a generic medication. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.
The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.
If you’re interested in taking the generic version of Lexapro, talk with your doctor. They can tell you whether it comes in forms and strengths that can be used for your condition.
Lexapro can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Lexapro. These lists do not include all possible side effects.
For more information about the possible side effects of Lexapro, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to manage any side effects that may be concerning or bothersome.
Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Lexapro, you can do so through MedWatch.
Mild side effects
Below is a partial list of mild side effects of Lexapro. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or view Lexapro’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Lexapro can include:
- sexual side effects,* such as delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, and trouble reaching orgasm
- reduced appetite
- low energy
- increased sweating
- abdominal pain
- dry mouth
- mild allergic reaction†
Most of these side effects may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. However, if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more details about these side effects, see “Side effects in men vs. women” below.
† For more information about allergic reaction and Lexapro, see “Allergic reaction” below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Lexapro aren’t common. However, they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.
Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:
- Mania (period of high energy that severely affects your mood and behavior). Symptoms can include:
- severe trouble sleeping
- racing thoughts
- talking more or faster than is typical
- excessive levels of excitement, happiness, or activity
- impulsive or reckless behavior
- Serotonin syndrome (a dangerous condition caused by a buildup of the chemical serotonin in your body). Symptoms can include:
- fast heart rate
- sweating or flushing
- increased body temperature
- tremor or twitching
- diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- agitation (feelings of distress)
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real)
- Hyponatremia (low level of sodium in your blood). Symptoms can include:
- concentration or memory problems
- Increased risk of bleeding. Symptoms can include:
- bruising easily
- bleeding gums
- vomiting blood or a substance that looks similar to coffee grounds
- passing bloody, black, or tar-like stools
- Closed-angle glaucoma (sudden increased pressure in your eye). Symptoms can include:
- eye pain or redness
- seeing haloes around lights
- blurred vision
- sudden, severe headache
- Seizures. Symptoms can include:
- falling to the floor and shaking
- repetitive jerking movements
- loss of consciousness
- Risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in certain people.*
- Severe allergic reaction.†
* Lexapro has a
† For details about allergic reaction and Lexapro, see “Allergic reaction” below.
Side effects in children
Lexapro is used to treat depression in children ages 12 years and older.
Side effects of Lexapro in children are generally similar to side effects reported in adults taking the medication. Examples of these are listed above. Other side effects reported in children who took Lexapro in clinical trials include:
- back pain
- urinary tract infection (UTI)
- nasal congestion
It’s important to note that one of Lexapro’s side effects is reduced appetite. In children, this side effect could affect the child’s growth. Your child’s doctor will monitor your child’s height and weight regularly.
Rarely, Lexapro treatment can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors* in children. This risk may be highest in the first few months of treatment or after dosage changes.
If your child has been prescribed Lexapro and you’re concerned about their risk of side effects, talk with your child’s doctor. They can give advice on how to manage side effects. They can also explain what side effects would need following up with a doctor’s visit.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Side effects in men vs. women
In general, Lexapro can cause similar side effects in males* and females.* It can also cause sexual side effects, which can differ slightly between males and females.
In clinical trials, males reported:
- ejaculation problems, such as delayed ejaculation or being unable to ejaculate
- reduced sex drive
- erectile dysfunction
- reduced sex drive
- trouble reaching orgasm or being unable to orgasm
Sexual side effects were more common in males than in females taking the drug. In fact, ejaculation problems were among the most common side effects reported with Lexapro.
Note that sexual problems such as those mentioned above may also be associated with the mental health conditions that Lexapro treats. (To learn more about these conditions, see the “Lexapro uses” section below.)
If you have new or worsened sexual problems while taking Lexapro, talk with your doctor. They may recommend ways to manage these problems. Or they may suggest switching to a different treatment for your condition.
* Sex and gender exist on spectrums. Use of the terms “male” and “female” in this article refers to sex assigned at birth.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
The risk of a more severe allergic reaction is rare. However, it is possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:
- swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
- swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
- trouble breathing
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Lexapro, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.
The Lexapro dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re taking Lexapro to treat
- your age
- your liver function
- other medical conditions you may have
Typically, your doctor will start your treatment with a low dosage. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Lexapro comes as an oral tablet.
Drug strengths (5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg)
Lexapro comes in three strengths:
- 5 milligrams (mg)
- 10 mg
- 20 mg
Dosage for major depressive disorder
The typical dosage of Lexapro for major depressive disorder (also called depression) in adults is 10 mg once per day.
In some cases, your doctor may increase your dosage to 20 mg once per day. This is the maximum dosage recommended for depression. If your doctor increases your dosage, they’ll likely do so after you’ve been taking Lexapro for at least 1 week.
What to expect when increasing your Lexapro dosage
If your doctor increases your Lexapro dosage, you may have an increased risk of side effects.
In a clinical trial, certain side effects were about twice as common in people who took a 20-mg dose than in people who took a 10-mg dose. These side effects included trouble sleeping, diarrhea, dry mouth, sleepiness, dizziness, and increased sweating. Most of these side effects may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. However, if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you’re under 25 years old, dosage increases may increase your risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Lexapro has a
It’s important to note that in one clinical trial, a 20-mg dose was not found to be more effective than a 10-mg dose for treating depression in adults.
Do not increase your Lexapro dosage unless your doctor recommends it. If your doctor increases your dosage, talk with them about whether this is right for you.
Dosage for generalized anxiety disorder
The typical dosage of Lexapro for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults is 10 mg once per day.
In some cases, your doctor may increase your dosage to 20 mg once per day. This is the maximum dosage recommended for GAD. If your doctor increases your dosage, they’ll likely do so after you’ve been taking Lexapro for at least 1 week.
Lexapro is approved to treat major depressive disorder in children ages 12 years and older.
The typical dosage of Lexapro for this use is 10 mg once per day.
In some cases, your child’s doctor may increase their dosage to 20 mg once per day. This is the maximum dosage recommended for depression. If your child’s doctor increases their dosage, they’ll likely do so after your child has taken Lexapro for at least 3 weeks.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as possible unless it’s nearly time for your next dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as scheduled.
Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose. And do not take extra doses to make up for missed doses.
Will I need to take this drug long term?
Lexapro is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Lexapro is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term to manage your mental health condition.
Continuing Lexapro treatment after your symptoms ease can help prevent them from returning. For example, if you have depression, current guidelines recommend you continue taking your antidepressant for at least 6 months after your symptoms ease. This decreases the risk of your depression symptoms coming back.
If you have GAD, current guidelines recommend you continue to take your antidepressant for at least 6 to 12 months after your symptoms ease. This reduces the risk of your GAD symptoms returning.
If you have questions about how long you’ll need to take Lexapro, talk with your doctor.
Lexapro is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Lexapro, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.
Note: Some of the drugs listed here are used off-label to treat these specific conditions. Off-label drug use is when a drug that’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Alternatives for major depressive disorder
Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat major depressive disorder (also called depression) include:
- other SSRI antidepressants, such as:
- serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressants, such as:
- tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as:
- clomipramine (Anafranil)
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- other antidepressants, such as:
- bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- mirtazapine (Remeron)
- vilazodone (Viibryd)
- antipsychotics, such as:
- olanzapine and fluoxetine (Symbyax)
Alternatives for generalized anxiety disorder
Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder include:
- other SSRI antidepressants, such as:
- citalopram (Celexa)
- fluoxetine (Prozac)
- paroxetine (Paxil)
- sertraline (Zoloft)
- SNRI antidepressants, such as:
- duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- venlafaxine (Effexor)
- TCAs, such as:
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- benzodiazepines, such as
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- diazepam (Valium)
- buspirone (Buspar)
- pregabalin (Lyrica)
- quetiapine (Seroquel)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Lexapro to treat certain conditions. Lexapro may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Lexapro for major depressive disorder (depression)
Lexapro is FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder (also called depression) in adults and children ages 12 years and older.
Major depressive disorder explained
Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that causes ongoing feelings of extreme sadness and despair. It can affect your thoughts and behavior and also cause physical symptoms. These include sleep problems and low energy. The condition can significantly affect your daily life and personal relationships.
Symptoms of major depressive disorder may include:
- feelings of sadness, gloom, or hopelessness that don’t go away
- trouble concentrating
- low energy
- loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- eating more or less than is typical
- sleep problems, such as problems falling asleep, or waking earlier than is typical
- suicidal thoughts*
Common treatments for major depressive disorder include psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Lexapro is one such medication. It’s meant to ease or relieve the symptoms of depression.
Effectiveness for major depressive disorder
Lexapro is an effective treatment for major depressive disorder. To find out how the drug performed in clinical trials, see Lexapro’s prescribing information.
Lexapro for generalized anxiety disorder
Lexapro is FDA-approved to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults.
Generalized anxiety disorder explained
GAD is a mental health condition that causes disproportionate worries or fears. These worries are difficult to manage and often cause physical symptoms. The condition can have a significant effect on your daily life and personal relationships.
Symptoms of GAD may include:
- excessive worries or fears that don’t go away
- unwanted thoughts
- feeling tense, restless, or on edge
- sleep problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unrefreshing sleep
- low energy
- trouble concentrating
- heart palpitations
Treatment for GAD may include psychotherapy and an SSRI or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant medication. Lexapro is an SSRI antidepressant. It’s meant to ease or relieve the symptoms of GAD.
To learn more about generalized anxiety disorder, visit our anxiety hub.
Effectiveness for GAD
Lexapro is an effective treatment for GAD. To find out how the drug performed in clinical trials, see Lexapro’s prescribing information.
Guidelines recommend SSRI antidepressants as one of the first drug treatment options for GAD. Lexapro is an SSRI.
Lexapro and children
Lexapro is FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder in children ages 12 years and older. To learn more about this use, see “Lexapro for major depressive disorder (depression)” just above.
Lexapro is not approved to treat GAD in children.
Your doctor may sometimes prescribe Lexapro with other drugs to treat your condition. For example, if you have severe sleep problems or anxiety, your doctor may recommend taking a benzodiazepine. This would be for a short period of time to help relieve these symptoms.
Examples of benzodiazepines include:
If you have questions about taking Lexapro with other drugs, talk with your doctor.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Lexapro.
Is Lexapro prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Possibly. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved Lexapro for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, doctors may sometimes prescribe it off-label for this use. Off-label drug use is when a drug that’s approved by the FDA is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Lexapro is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Guidelines recommend SSRI as a first drug treatment option for OCD. The FDA has approved certain other SSRIs for treating OCD. Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). However, if your doctor advises that one of these isn’t right for you, they may recommend Lexapro instead.
To learn more about taking Lexapro for OCD, talk with your doctor.
What can I expect when stopping or “coming off” Lexapro?
When stopping Lexapro, it’s possible to have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the medication. With withdrawal symptoms, you experience uncomfortable side effects after you stop taking a drug.
Examples of withdrawal symptoms can include:
- trouble sleeping
- tingling, burning, or electric shock sensations
- agitation (feelings of distress)
- mood swings
To help avoid withdrawal symptoms, do not suddenly stop taking Lexapro. If you and your doctor agree you should stop treatment with this medication, you’ll stop taking the drug gradually. Your doctor will explain how to do this.
For example, they may slowly reduce your daily dosage. Then, when you’re taking the lowest possible daily dosage, they may recommend taking a dose every other day instead of every day. (For details about dosage, see the “Lexapro dosage” section above.)
If you have withdrawal symptoms when stopping Lexapro, talk with your doctor. They may recommend increasing your dosage again. And then they’ll reduce it more slowly.
Is Lexapro addictive?
No, Lexapro is not addictive when it’s taken as prescribed to treat a mental health condition. It’s possible to have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. (For more information, see just above.) However, this isn’t because the drug is addictive. Withdrawal symptoms aren’t always related to addiction.
If you become addicted to a drug, you feel unable to cope without it. You may go out of your way to seek a supply of it. And you may take higher and higher doses.
As with many drugs that act in your brain, it’s possible that misusing Lexapro may cause addiction. Misuse refers to taking a drug in a way or for a purpose not prescribed by a doctor. However, Lexapro does not have a high potential for misuse. And taking it doesn’t make you feel “high.”
If you have questions about what to expect during your Lexapro treatment, talk with your doctor.
Is Lexapro a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or an antidepressant?
MAOIs are a class of drugs that work in a different way than Lexapro. Some MAOIs are used to treat depression. Lexapro belongs to a class of antidepressants called SSRIs. (To learn more, see the “How Lexapro works” section below.)
It’s important to note that you should not take MAOIs with Lexapro. Taking these two drugs together could cause drug interactions. For more details, see the “Lexapro interactions” section below.
If you have questions about MAOIs or other antidepressants, talk with your doctor.
Does Lexapro interact with Benadryl?
No, it’s not likely. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a medication that’s commonly used to treat allergies. It’s a type of drug called a sedating antihistamine. Lexapro has not been reported to interact with diphenhydramine.
However, diphenhydramine can cause sleepiness. Lexapro may also cause sleepiness. So if you feel sleepy while taking Lexapro, taking diphenhydramine as well could make you feel sleepier.
To learn more about drugs that can interact with Lexapro, see the “Lexapro interactions” section below.
Lexapro can interact with several other medications. It can also interact with certain herbs and supplements.
Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe. Drug-condition interactions can also cause certain effects. For information about these interactions, see the “Lexapro precautions” section below.
Lexapro and other medications
Below is a list of medications that can interact with Lexapro. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with Lexapro.
Before taking Lexapro, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also, tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.
If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Drugs you should not take with Lexapro
Doctors typically will not prescribe Lexapro with:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Taking Lexapro with MAOIs can cause serotonin syndrome.* Examples of MAOI drugs include:
- MAOI antidepressants† such as phenelzine (Nardil), isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and selegiline (Emsam)
- linezolid (Zyvox), which is an antibiotic
- methylene blue (ProvayBlue), which is a blood disorder treatment
- Pimozide. This drug is an antipsychotic. Pimozide is associated with an increased risk of a serious heart condition called long QT syndrome when taken with citalopram. This drug is very similar to Lexapro. However, it isn’t known whether taking Lexapro with pimozide can cause this condition. So doctors typically won’t prescribe Lexapro with pimozide.
Other types of drugs that can interact with Lexapro
Drugs that can interact with Lexapro include:
- Serotonergic drugs. These drugs increase the level of a chemical called serotonin in your body. Taking Lexapro with these drugs can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome.* Examples of serotonergic drugs include:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants other than Lexapro, such as paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), fluoxetine (Prozac), or citalopram (Celexa)
- serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), or venlafaxine (Effexor)
- tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, clomipramine (Anafranil), or imipramine (Tofranil)
- triptan medications for migraine, such as eletriptan (Relpax), rizatriptan (Maxalt), or sumatriptan (Imitrex)
- certain opioid pain medications, such as tramadol (Conzip, Ultram) or fentanyl (Duragesic, Subsys, Actiq, others)
- amphetamine or stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Mydayis), methylphenidate (Ritalin), or lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- Blood thinners. Blood thinners are drugs used to treat and help prevent blood clots. Taking Lexapro with blood thinners can raise your risk of bleeding.* Examples of blood thinners include:
- apixaban (Eliquis)
- dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- warfarin (Jantoven)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are drugs that reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Taking Lexapro with NSAIDs can increase your risk of bleeding.* Examples of NSAIDs include:
- diclofenac (Zorvolex, Zipsor)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Ibu-tab, Motrin)
- naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Diuretics. Diuretics are drugs used to treat fluid retention, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Taking Lexapro with diuretics can raise your risk of hyponatremia (low level of sodium in your blood).* Examples of diuretic drugs include:
- furosemide (Lasix)
- CYP2D6 substrates. These are drugs that are broken down by an enzyme (a type of protein) in your liver called CYP2D6. Lexapro may decrease the activity of CYP2D6. So taking Lexapro with these drugs could make them build up in your body. This could increase your risk of side effects from CYP2D6 substrates. Examples include:
- aripiprazole (Abilify)
- desipramine (Norpramin)
- metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, others)
- propafenone (Rythmol SR)
- Gabapentin (Neurontin). Gabapentin is a drug used for seizures and certain types of nerve pain. Taking Lexapro with gabapentin could increase your risk of side effects from both drugs. It could also make gabapentin less effective at treating seizures.
* For more details about this side effect, see the “Lexapro side effects” section above.
† Your doctor typically won’t prescribe Lexapro if you’ve taken an MAOI antidepressant in the last 14 days. And they typically won’t prescribe an MAOI antidepressant until at least 14 days after you’ve stopped taking Lexapro.
Lexapro and herbs and supplements
Taking certain herbs and supplements with Lexapro can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome. Due to this risk, your doctor will likely recommend you don’t take these herbs and supplements with Lexapro. Examples include:
If you’re interested in taking other herbs or supplements with Lexapro, first talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Lexapro and foods
There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Lexapro. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Lexapro, talk with your doctor.
Lexapro is used to treat:
For more details about these uses, see the “Lexapro uses” section above.
What happens with depression and anxiety disorders
Doctors don’t fully understand what causes depression or anxiety disorders. These mental health conditions likely result from a complex interaction between various psychological, physical, inherited, and social factors. These factors may cause changes in the different nerve pathways in your brain. These include pathways that typically help manage your emotions, mood, thoughts, and behavior.
What Lexapro does
Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your body that pass messages between nerve cells. Serotonin passes messages in various nerve pathways. These include pathways that affect your emotions, mood, thoughts, behavior, and sleep patterns.
It’s not fully understood why increasing serotonin in the brain may help to treat depression and anxiety disorders. However, doctors think it may help to improve the function of nerve pathways that are involved in managing your mood, emotions, thoughts, and behavior.
How long does Lexapro take to work?
As with all antidepressants, it can take a while for Lexapro to work. The drug may start working in the first couple of weeks. During this time, you may experience improvements in your sleep, appetite, or energy levels. However, it may take at least 2 to 4 weeks before Lexapro starts improving your mood or easing anxiety symptoms.
It’s important to keep taking Lexapro as prescribed, even if it doesn’t seem to ease your symptoms at first. If you feel as though your condition is getting worse in the first few weeks of treatment, talk with your doctor right away.
It’s important that you do not make any changes to your Lexapro dosage or stop taking the drug without your doctor’s recommendation. This is because the drug can cause withdrawal symptoms.* With withdrawal symptoms, you experience uncomfortable side effects after you stop taking a drug.
If you’re concerned about whether Lexapro is working for you, talk with your doctor.
* For more information, see “What can I expect when stopping or “coming off” Lexapro?” in the “Common questions about Lexapro” section above.
What is Lexapro’s half-life?
Lexapro has a half-life of 27 to 32 hours. A drug’s half-life is the length of time it takes for your body to remove half a dose of the drug.
It typically takes about five half-lives for your body to fully remove a drug from your system. So after you stop taking Lexapro, it may take 5 to 7 days before the drug is fully removed from your system. The exact time it takes will depend on factors such as your age, liver function, and kidney function.
If you have questions about Lexapro’s half-life, talk with your doctor.
Taking more than the recommended dosage of Lexapro can lead to serious side effects. This includes accidentally taking too much. Do not take more Lexapro than your doctor recommends.*
Symptoms of an overdose can include:
- serotonin syndrome (a dangerous condition caused by a buildup of the chemical serotonin in your body)†
- irregular heart rhythm
- reduced consciousness
What to do in case of overdose
If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
Lexapro isn’t known to interact with alcohol.
However, your doctor may recommend avoiding alcohol while you’re taking Lexapro. Alcohol and Lexapro can each cause sleepiness as a side effect. Combining them could make this side effect worse. (To learn about the side effects of Lexapro, see the “Lexapro side effects” section above.)
Additionally, drinking alcohol can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much, if any, is safe to drink while you’re taking Lexapro.
Lexapro may cause harmful effects in a child if taken during pregnancy.
However, if Lexapro is taken in the last 3 months of pregnancy, it may increase the risk of certain problems in the child after birth. For some of these problems, the child may need to stay in the hospital for treatment. Examples of these problems include:
- feeding problems
- breathing problems
- problems regulating body temperature
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- floppy or stiff muscles
- crying more than is typical
- persistent pulmonary hypertension (a serious heart and lung condition)
Keep in mind that stopping Lexapro because you’re pregnant could make your depression or anxiety symptoms get worse or come back. Sometimes, this may pose more of a risk to a child than continuing Lexapro treatment during pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits of taking Lexapro. They can help you determine whether Lexapro is right for you.
If you become pregnant while taking Lexapro, do not suddenly stop taking the drug. Doing so can cause withdrawal symptoms.* (With withdrawal symptoms, you experience uncomfortable side effects after you stop taking a drug.) Instead, talk with your doctor right away about the possible risks and benefits of continuing Lexapro during your pregnancy. If you and your doctor agree you should stop Lexapro, your doctor will explain how to do so gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
If you decide to take Lexapro during pregnancy, talk with your doctor about enrolling in the National Pregnancy Registry for Antidepressants. This registry records health information about pregnant people who take antidepressants and what effects the drugs may have on their children. It aims to gather information about the safety of antidepressants during pregnancy.
* For more information, see “What can I expect when stopping or “coming off” Lexapro?” in the “Common questions about Lexapro” section above.
Lexapro may cause harmful effects in a child if taken during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re taking Lexapro.
For more information about taking Lexapro during pregnancy, see the “Lexapro and pregnancy” section above.
It’s not known whether Lexapro is safe to take while breastfeeding. The drug can pass into breast milk. In some reports, children exposed to the drug through breast milk developed side effects, including:
- excessive sleepiness
- restlessness or agitation (feelings of distress)
- trouble feeding
- reduced weight gain
If you’re breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about the best way to feed your child while taking Lexapro.
If you decide to breastfeed during Lexapro treatment, be sure to watch your child for possible side effects. Talk with your doctor if your child develops any of the symptoms listed above.
As with all medications, the cost of Lexapro can vary. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.
Keep in mind that you may be able to get a 90-day supply of Lexapro. If approved by your insurance company, getting a 90-day supply of the drug could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.
Before approving coverage for Lexapro, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide whether the drug will be covered.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll need to get prior authorization for Lexapro, contact your insurance company.
Financial and insurance assistance
If you need financial support to pay for Lexapro, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.
A patient assistance program is available for Lexapro. For more information and to find out whether you’re eligible for support, call 800-222-6885 or visit the program website.
To learn more about saving money on prescriptions, check out this article.
Lexapro may be available through a mail-order pharmacy. Using this service may help lower the drug’s cost and allow you to get your medication without leaving home.
If recommended by your doctor, you may be able to receive a 90-day supply of Lexapro, so there’s less concern about running out of the medication. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company. Some Medicare plans may help cover the cost of mail-order medications.
If you don’t have insurance, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about online pharmacy options.
Lexapro is available in a generic version called escitalopram. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs. To find out how the cost of escitalopram compares with the cost of Lexapro, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
If your doctor has prescribed Lexapro and you’re interested in taking escitalopram instead, talk with your doctor. They may have a preference for one version or the other. You’ll also need to check your insurance plan, as it may only cover one or the other.
You should take Lexapro according to the instructions your doctor gives you.
Lexapro comes as a tablet that you swallow.
When to take
You’ll take Lexapro once per day. You can take it in the morning or evening. Try to be consistent with the time you choose. Taking the medication around the same time of day helps keep a steady level of the drug in your body, which helps Lexapro work effectively.
Accessible labels and containers
If your prescription label is hard to read, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels that have large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to direct you to one that does.
If you have trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist whether they can put Lexapro in an easy-open container. They also may be able to recommend tools that can make it simpler to open lids.
Taking Lexapro with food
You can take Lexapro either with or without food.
Can Lexapro be crushed, split, or chewed?
You may be able to split Lexapro tablets. The 10-milligram (mg) and 20-mg tablets are made so that it’s easy to split them in half. You’ll do this with your doctor’s recommendation. The 5-mg tablets are not designed to be split.
Lexapro can be crushed or chewed, though the medication may taste bitter.
If you have trouble swallowing Lexapro tablets, talk with your doctor. They may switch you to escitalopram solution, a generic drug.* (Lexapro is a brand-name medication that contains the active drug escitalopram. Lexapro comes as an oral tablet, while escitalopram comes in two oral forms: a tablet and a solution.)
* For details about generic versions of Lexapro, see the “Lexapro generic” section above.
This drug comes with several precautions. These are known as drug-condition interactions.
FDA warning: Risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in certain people
This drug has a
Clinical trials show that antidepressants such as Lexapro can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some people under 25 years old. The risk is highest in the first few weeks of treatment and after changes in dosage. Lexapro is not approved for use in children under 12 years old.
While taking Lexapro, you should watch for changes in your mood, emotions, thoughts, and behavior. It may be helpful for your family or friends to watch you for these changes as well. If your child takes Lexapro, you should watch for these changes in your child.
Call a doctor right away if you or a child taking Lexapro have:
- new or worse depression or anxiety
- new or worse irritability or aggressiveness
- agitation (feelings of distress), restlessness, or feeling unable to be still
- new or worse trouble sleeping
- extreme levels of excitement and activity, or talking very fast
- impulsive or dangerous behavior
- new or increased thoughts about suicide
- any other changes in mood, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors
Before taking Lexapro, talk with your doctor about your health history. Lexapro may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Lexapro, any of its ingredients, or the related antidepressant citalopram (Celexa), your doctor will likely not prescribe Lexapro. Ask your doctor what other medications may be better options for you.
Bipolar disorder or mania. Lexapro can sometimes cause manic episodes. If you have bipolar disorder, taking Lexapro could increase your risk of having a manic episode. Before starting Lexapro treatment, talk with your doctor about mental health problems that you or your family have had in the past. This will help your doctor determine whether Lexapro is safe for you.
Seizure disorders. Lexapro can sometimes cause seizures. If you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy, Lexapro could make your condition worse. Talk with your doctor about whether Lexapro is right for you.
Low sodium level. Lexapro can sometimes lower the level of sodium in your blood. If you already have low sodium, Lexapro could make this worse. You may have an increased risk of a low sodium level with Lexapro if you’re over 65 years old.
Your risk may also increase if you become dehydrated while taking Lexapro. Vomiting, diarrhea, taking diuretic medications, and not drinking enough water can all increase your risk of dehydration and low sodium. If you have an increased risk of low sodium, your doctor may order blood tests to monitor your sodium level while you take Lexapro.
Bleeding problems. Lexapro can increase your risk of bleeding. If you have bleeding problems, such as problems with blood clotting or a bleeding stomach ulcer (sore) taking Lexapro could worsen your bleeding problems. Talk with your doctor about whether Lexapro is right for you.
Liver problems. Your liver is responsible for breaking down Lexapro. If you have liver problems, Lexapro could build up in your body. This could increase your risk of side effects. Due to this risk, your doctor will likely prescribe a dosage of Lexapro that’s lower than is typical.*
Risk of closed-angle glaucoma. Lexapro can sometimes cause closed-angle glaucoma (sudden increased pressure in your eye). You may have an increased risk of this side effect if you were born with eye angles that are narrower than is typical. If you’re unsure whether you have narrow eye angles, talk with your doctor. They may recommend getting an eye exam before starting Lexapro.
Heart problems. In rare cases, Lexapro may cause a type of irregular heart rhythm called long QT syndrome. If you have a heart problem, talk with your doctor about whether Lexapro is safe for you.
Pregnancy. Lexapro may have harmful effects on a child if taken during pregnancy. For more information, see the “Lexapro and pregnancy” section above.
Breastfeeding. Lexapro can pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who’s breastfed. For more details, see the “Lexapro and breastfeeding” section above.
Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Lexapro, see the “Lexapro side effects” section above.
* To learn about the dosages of Lexapro, see the “Lexapro dosage” section above.
When you get Lexapro from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the bottle. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.
The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The
How long a medication remains good to use can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.
Lexapro tablets should be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container. Avoid storing this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms.
If you no longer need to take Lexapro and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.
This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information about how to dispose of your medication.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.