Lexapro for Depression

Lexapro for Depression: Uses, Dosage, and Side Effects

Lexapro for Depression

Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a common mood disorder that can affect the way you feel, think and handle daily activities.

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To be diagnosed with a depression disorder an individual must have symptoms that are present for at least two weeks or more.

As clinicians have attempted to learn more about this and other types of mood disorders, the medical community discovered that there are several different forms of the disease and that while some individuals have less severe symptoms, there are those who have major life-altering bouts with depression.

Knowing and understanding the type of depression that a person has can help during treatment.  Though there are some similarities between the different types, the disorder can also develop under unique circumstances.

Though the list below is not complete, it does contain some of the most common forms of depression: 

  • Dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder is generally characterized by episodes of major depression as well as having periods of less severe symptoms that last for at least two years
  • Postpartum depression is a critical condition that many women experience after giving birth. They often have extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that inhibits their ability to care for themselves as well as their child. 
  • Psychotic depression occurs when someone who has depression is also plagued with some form of psychosis (delusions and/or hallucinations). The psychosis usually has a depressive theme that may include delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness. 
  • Bipolar depression occurs when someone who is bipolar experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression. They can experience extreme high moods called mania or a less severe form called hypomania. 
  • The seasonal affective disorder occurs during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. In the spring and summer, the symptoms of depression lift only to return once again during late fall and winter. Symptoms may include increased sleep, weight gain, and withdrawal from social situations. 
Lexapro for Depression dosage

Lexapro Dosages

For patients that are living with these or other types of depressive disorders, a series of drugs called antidepressants has been developed to use in conjunction with other therapeutic or psychological treatments such as counseling.

What Is Lexapro?

Escitalopram (Lexapro) is in a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs are the most widely prescribed form of antidepressants in the world.

Classified as being a third-generation antidepressant, they are preferred due to the lower amounts of side effects they cause when compared to older medications. Lexapro is designed to help correct the serotonin imbalance that causes depression or anxiety. 

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What does Lexapro treat?

Lexapro can be used to treat a Major Depressive Disorder in adults and youth who are at least 12 years old as well as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in adults. In the brain, Lexapro acts on a chemical called serotonin, a substance required to send messages from one nerve cell to another.

As messages travel along the nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin and the receptor at the end of the next cell to activate. This process continues from one nerve cell to another.

The first cell absorbs any serotonin that remains behind in the gap between the two cells as the message moves along, a process called reuptake.

If the serotonin levels become unbalanced several conditions, including depression, can be the result. Lexapro is designed to help block the reuptake of serotonin allowing the receptors on the next nerve cell the opportunity to activate and continue the process of transporting the message. 

Lexapro (Escitalopram) Dosage 

Lexapro is taken once a day in either tablet or liquid form.

The dosage will depend on:

  • Age
  • The conditions being treated
  • Other medications that have been prescribed

Lexapro (Escitalopram) Side Effects

Some individuals may experience side effects of using this medication.

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Unusual sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Dry mouth 
  • Increased appetite
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Lethargy 
  • Ejaculation problems
Lexapro for depression side effects

Side Effects of Lexapro

Lexapro is generally well-tolerated, but if the side effects are too much or the medication doesn’t seem to work, the healthcare provider may recommend another medication.

As with all medicines, it is essential that the prescription directions be followed otherwise severe complications can arise such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate or irregular rhythm
  • Renal failure
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Even death

How to Ask Your Doctor for Lexapro?

For some, seeing a doctor can be a very distressing act. If you’re one of the thousands of people who struggle with knowing how to talk to your doctor, you don’t have to worry.

Here are a few steps that you can take before your appointment that will help you get the most out of your visit:

  1. Make a list of the things you need to talk about with them. If you’re like most people, you’ll get home and realize that you didn’t ask the one thing you needed to.
  2. Take the time to be open and honest with your provider. The only way to receive the best treatment for your needs is to be sure they understand how your depression symptoms are affecting your daily life.
  3. Be sure to take all your medications, including over-the-counter and vitamins with you. If you don’t want to carry them at least write down all the information on the bottle including the milligrams in the dosage and how often you take them.
  4. Remember not to feel bad about the amount of time that you are taking with your doctor. They may have a room full of patients waiting on them, but this is your time, and you shouldn’t have to rush so much that you leave out an essential piece of information. After all, it’s your health you’re discussing. 

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 Deciding to take Lexapro or any other medication should be discussed thoroughly. While most patients do well, others do not.

Your doctor should evaluate you and your history to determine if it’s right for you.

Patients should not take Lexapro if they’ve been diagnosed with Manic-Depression or have a history of suicidal thoughts, liver disease, or glaucoma. 

Lexapro can be an effective treatment for depression. Talk to your doctor today to get the most suitable treatment for depression.


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in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.