How Does Lexapro Work for Anxiety?

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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) [4*] anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health issue affecting people worldwide. Approximately 31.1% [5*]  of American adults suffer from them at some point in their lives, and women are more likely to be diagnosed compared to men.

Among anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorder is the most widespread. There are three major options to treat and manage it: psychotherapy, medication, or both combined together. A doctor chooses an approach depending on the severity of one’s condition and other factors. If pharmacological treatment seems suitable, the clinician may prescribe Lexapro to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Lexapro is good for anxiety disorders and is an effective treatment for psychiatric conditions such as depression and panic attacks, among others.

Want to know what medication will work best for you? Consult EZCare doctors today.

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro’s generic name is Escitalopram, is in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), just like Zoloft, Prozac, and Celexa. The medication was introduced in the early 2000s and is available in liquid and pill form.

Escitalopram is the active component in Lexapro. Unlike Xanax and other benzodiazepines, Escitalopram is better for some patients since it is not habit-forming. Also, Lexapro has fewer side effects compared to other antidepressants, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

How Does Lexapro Work for Anxiety?

An imbalance of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is one of the causes of anxiety disorders. Serotonin regulates many body functions, including cognitive processes, digestion, memory, blood circulation, sleep, and mood. Neurons usually release the neurotransmitter, but the released serotonin is reabsorbed back after some time to the neurons in a reuptake process.

Serotonin reuptake can cause a neurotransmitter imbalance and consequently triggers anxiety disorders. To help manage that process, Escitalopram works to prevent the reuptake of serotonin after release. The suppression of the reuptake increases or balances the production and reuptake of serotonin.

Lexapro Dosage for Anxiety

Lexapro is an oral medication that is used daily. The best time to take Lexapro is either in the morning or evening. The usual daily dosage is 10 mg. Still, Lexapro dosage depends on the disorder, the patient’s age, and the response to the treatment.

At first, the doctor prescribes small doses of Lexapro and continues to increase the dosage as the patient adjusts to the medication. The maximum dose of Lexapro for anxiety treatment is 20 mg per day.

The medication can be taken with or without food. To prevent severe side effects, a patient should take medicine consistently and as instructed by the clinician

A patient should only discontinue the treatment with a doctor’s approval. It takes approximately one to two weeks for Lexapro to have any effects and about four to six weeks to experience the full benefits of the treatment [6*] . To notice significant changes, a patient should use Lexapro for at least six to twelve months before discontinuation.

Lexapro Side Effects and Withdrawal

Like most medications, Escitalopram also has side effects, such as the following:

  • An increase or decrease in appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Gastrointestinal dysfunctions such as diarrhea or nausea
  • Headache
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight fluctuations

Most Escitalopram side effects are dose-dependent, so a patient can consult the doctor to review the dosage. The effects also reduce gradually as a person continues with treatment.

Rarely, Lexapro has severe effects:

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Low blood sodium levels in older adults
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Serotonin syndrome. The rare and potentially fatal condition includes excessive sweating, muscle spasms, shivering, altered consciousness levels, and incoordination.

A patient should consult a doctor when he / she experiences any severe side effects.

If Lexapro is suddenly discontinued, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disorders

Lexapro Precautions and Contraindications

Escitalopram has many precautions and contraindications; hence not a safe treatment for everyone. Lexapro should be prescribed with precaution in the following cases:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding. The medication can pass to the child and cause side effects.
  • Adolescents and adults aged between 12 and 25. It may cause suicidal thoughts and increase suicide risk in this age group.
  • Older people. Older persons may experience severe Lexapro side effects, such as a serious decrease in blood sodium levels.
  • Severe liver and kidney impairment.
  • Patients with angle closure glaucoma.
  • Patients with a history of mania.

Lexapro is contraindicated and should not be used under any circumstances in the following cases:

  • Allergy or hypersensitivity to Escitalopram. Lexapro can cause severe symptoms like a swollen face, tongue, and eyes.
  • Age below 12.
  • Alongside certain medications like monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), linezolid, intravenous methyl blue, and pimozide.
  • Patients with long QT syndrome (heart rhythm disorder).

Escitalopram Black Box Warning

Lexapro has an FDA black box warning due to the associated risks. The drug can increase suicidal thoughts and attempts, especially in teens and adolescents. A patient requires close monitoring when on medication.


Lexapro, an SSRI antidepressant, is an efficient treatment for mental conditions such as anxiety disorders. The medication has minimal side effects and is not addictive. In case of severe symptoms, it is advisable to contact a doctor immediately. It is also important to note Lexapro has an FDA black box warning since it increases suicidal ideations. To know more about the most suitable medicine for your anxiety treatment, contact EZCare Clinic and get personalized care.


+6 sources
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  2. Any Anxiety Disorder
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  3. Efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram in anxiety disorders: a review. (2008)
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  4. Mental disorders
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  5. Any Anxiety Disorder
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  6. Efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram in anxiety disorders: a review. (2008)
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