Psychiatrists prescribe Lexapro to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder 1. Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI 1. Psychiatrists and physicians prescribe these drugs most commonly to treat depression. As with other SSRIs, various side effects can occur when taking Lexapro 12. Some side effects, such as gastrointestinal complaints and headache, are fairly common 2. Others rarely occur. Learning about the rare but possible side effects of Lexapro can help to know what to expect from treatment and what to discuss with a doctor 12.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Autonomic Nervous System Side Effects
In a large clinical trial reported by RxList, a small number of patients taking Lexapro for either depression or anxiety experienced side effects related to the autonomic nervous system 12. One of these side effects was dry mouth, or decreased excretion of saliva 2. Unlike other side effects, dry mouth most often persists throughout treatment rather than subsiding as many other side effects do 2. A small percentage of patients experienced the unusual side effect of hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. People taking Lexapro infrequently experience a burning or tingling sensation, usually in the extremities, called paresthesia, according to EmedTV.com 123. The sensation seems to occur suddenly and can be bothersome for some people.
Psychiatric Side Effects
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Several psychiatric side effects occasionally develop 2. RxList reports a low incidence of patients taking Lexapro experiencing "abnormal dreaming." Dreams may increase or become especially vivid, intense, disturbing or otherwise unusual 1. Certain people experience a decreased appetite while taking Lexapro, which may or may not cause weight loss 1. Another rare side effect during treatment is either insomnia or sleepiness. Patients taking Lexapro for anxiety ran a higher risk of both of these types of sleep disturbances 1.
Respiratory System Side Effects
Some of the rarest reported side effects include respiratory system disturbances 2. These include stuffy nose and sinusitis, reported by 5 percent or less of study participants. A more unusual and rare side effect that arises for some is yawning. People who experience this feel a chronic and compelling urge to yawn, or to make a yawning-like intake of air. Statistically insignificant but possible respiratory side effects also include bronchitis, coughing and sinus headache 2.
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- RxList: Lexapro
- EmedTV: Lexapro Side Effects
- EmedTV: Lexapro and Burning Sensation
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- Landy K, Estevez R. Escitalopram. StatPearls Updated May 6, 2020.
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- Aga VM. When and how to treat agitation in Alzheimer's disease dementia with citalopram and escitalopram. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019;27(10):1099-1107. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2019.04.016
- Li C, Chen L, Huo N, et al. Generic escitalopram initiation and substitution among Medicare beneficiaries: A new user cohort study. PLoS One. 2020;15(4):e0232226. Published 2020 Apr 30. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0232226
- Food and Drug Administration. Lexapro label. Updated January 2017.
- Florio V, Porcelli S, Saria A, Serretti A, Conca A. Escitalopram plasma levels and antidepressant response. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017;27(9):940-944. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.06.009
Hazel Thornstein has been writing and editing since 2003. She writes copy for websites such as LIVESTRONG.COM and marketing materials. Thornstein is a psychotherapist, and her writing focuses on psychology and relationship issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and creative writing from the University of California-Berkeley and a Master of Arts in psychology.