Lexapro is a commonly prescribed mental health medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Many people wonder how long does Lexapro take to work when it is prescribed as part of their personalized treatment plan. Learning more about this medication, its potential side effects, and how long it takes to improve mental health symptoms can help determine when this drug could be beneficial. 

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What Is Lexapro?

Lexapro belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Lexapro is also known by its generic name, escitalopram. Serotonin plays a key role in regulating mood and emotions. Lexapro helps alleviate symptoms such as persistent sadness, irritability, excessive worry, and panic attacks.

What Does Lexapro Treat?

Lexapro is commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders, including:

  • Major Depressive Disorder: Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by excessive worry or anxiety about everyday events and situations.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This condition, also known as social phobia, involves extreme fear or avoidance of social situations due to perceived judgment or scrutiny from others. 
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression that usually occurs during the fall and winter from a lack of natural sunlight.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is another type of anxiety disorder with sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort, which are usually called panic attacks.

Lexapro may also be used to treat the following conditions:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Lexapro may help treat PTSD and trauma to alleviate severe anxiety and related symptoms associated with this disorder. 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Lexapro may be used to help manage the symptoms of OCD, which is the presence of unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors that cause distress.
  • Eating Disorders: Some mental health providers may prescribe Lexapro to help treat eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

How Does Lexapro Work?

Lexapro increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. This SSRI works by blocking the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. By inhibiting the reuptake process, Lexapro helps increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. This increased level leads to improvements in nerve cells and helps regulate mood-related symptoms.

How Long Does It Take Lexapro to Work?

The time it takes for Lexapro to start working and provide noticeable symptom improvement will vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience improvements in mood and anxiety within the first few weeks of starting Lexapro, it could take between four and six weeks for the full effects to be realized when treating depression and anxiety disorders

Some people may notice improvements for other disorders within a few weeks of starting Lexapro. However, it could take longer. During this period, it is essential to continue taking Lexapro as prescribed and follow the healthcare provider’s instructions. 

Consistent use is necessary in order to determine whether the drug is helping alleviate symptoms. In addition, it is worth noting that it is common for some people to need adjustments in their dosage level when they do not notice any changes in symptoms. When adjustments are made, additional time will be required to see if the new dosage brings symptom relief.

Lexapro Side Effects

Like any medication, Lexapro can cause side effects, which may include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Weight gain

Many of these side effects will diminish over the first few weeks of taking Lexapro. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on potential side effects related to taking Lexapro or when side effects persist.

How Do I Know I Need Lexapro?

Determining whether you may need Lexapro or any other medication for a mental health condition should be done with a consultation with a healthcare provider such as a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. Some common signs that could indicate you might benefit from including Lexapro as part of a personalized care plan are: 

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Excessive worry, anxiety, or stress that impairs daily functioning
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks and making decisions
  • Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Experiencing frequent irritability or mood swings
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, and muscle tension

If you consistently experience these symptoms where they interfere with your ability to function, work, attend school, or other daily routines, or they are impacting your relationships, discuss with your healthcare provider whether Lexapro could potentially help.

Find Out If You Could Benefit from Lexapro Today

Discover if Lexapro could be the right treatment for your mental health needs by scheduling a consultation at Peachtree Wellness Solutions in Atlanta today. Our experienced healthcare professionals can assess your symptoms and discuss personalized treatment options, including medications like Lexapro. Contact us now to take the first step toward improving your mental health and overall well-being.

Contact us immediately. In the case of a medical emergency, contact 911 or visit your local emergency department.

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