This Is How Long It Takes For Lexapro To Start Working

Filling a prescription for a new medication can be a bit intimidating with the long pages of drug warnings, interactions, and lists of possible side effects. If your doctor has recently prescribed Lexapro, you may be wondering just what to expect from your new medication.

Lexapro, with the generic brand name of escitalopram, is a prescription medication commonly used to treat the symptoms of depression and some anxiety disorders (via WebMD). It is in a class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs target a brain chemical known as serotonin, with the intention of improving mood, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

KHealth states that this medication is particularly popular in the US because of its relatively low cost. While the medication is primarily prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders, it has also been used to treat other mental health conditions like eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The drug can be used in both short-term and long-term treatment plans.

Overview of Lexapro

Lexapro (escitalopram) is typically prescribed in a tablet form in either 10 or 20 mg. As with other antidepressants, your doctor will determine the best dosage for you to begin. Lexapro dosage may start small and be increased over several weeks until the dosage appropriately provides relief from symptoms, according to NAMI. Typically, the medication is taken once per day. In some cases, a liquid solution is prescribed.

Alcohol and other recreational drugs should be avoided while on the medication to reduce the risk of negative effects and interactions. According to NAMI, some of the side effects commonly associated with Lexapro include headache, restlessness, dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and trouble sleeping.

NAMI reports that most side effects tend to be temporary and begin to diminish after the first couple of weeks. However, side effects that affect sexual performance have been reported and do not diminish over time. Once beginning Lexapro, it is important to continue taking the medication as directed. Discuss any side effects with your doctor.

How long before it kicks in?

Most antidepressants and medications used to treat depression and anxiety disorders can take some time before the individual begins to feel the effects of the drug taking place. However, Lexapro begins to interact with the central nervous system on the first day, according to Mental Health Daily. In fact, some individuals may experience positive effects after only a few days of taking the drug, though it may take some individuals a bit longer to feel the effects.

With Lexapro, people can begin to show improvement in certain areas within one to two weeks. These areas include sleep patterns, energy, and appetite (via NAMI). According to MedlinePlus, after one to four weeks of taking the medication, many people will notice a marked difference in their state of being, with reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is important to note, however, that some individuals may require a full eight weeks before feeling the full effects of the drug, according to NAMI. 

If you are taking Lexapro for longer than eight weeks with no improvement, you may need to speak with your physician about alternative options.