Lexapro is the brand name for a medication called escitalopram 3. It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Lexapro acts by increasing serotonin levels, a chemical released by nerve cells in the brain and other parts of the body. It belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Negative effects may occur when Lexapro is stopped. These withdrawal symptoms -- also called discontinuation syndrome -- are caused by a drop in serotonin levels, according to WebMD 2. Withdrawal symptoms primarily occur when the medication is stopped suddenly. They are also more likely to occur in people who have been taking Lexapro for a prolonged period -- about 6 weeks or longer. Discontinuation syndrome is not unique to Lexapro 1. It can occur with any type of antidepressant.
Mood and Sleep Effects
People who stop taking Lexapro may experience several mood effects. According to the FDA-approved prescribing information, these symptoms include:
- mood swings
- feelings of uneasiness
Aggression and rebound depression may also develop. Sleep problems are another potential effect. They include both nightmares and insomnia -- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- People who stop taking Lexapro may experience several mood effects.
- According to the FDA-approved prescribing information, these symptoms include: * irritability
* mood swings
* feelings of uneasiness Aggression and rebound depression may also develop.
Lexapro Pros & Cons
A number of neurological symptoms may occur when Lexapro is stopped. According to a review article published in the August 2006 issue of “American Family Physician,” these symptoms can include:
- electric shock-like sensations
- blurred vision
Movement abnormalities, such as tremors, restlessness and Parkinson disease-like symptoms, may also occur.
Gastrointestinal and Other Effects
Headaches, tiredness, lack of energy and flu-like symptoms may also occur.
Weight Loss or Gain With Celexa
If you're taking Lexapro, don't discontinue it without first talking with your doctor. Unless you have severe side effects, such as an allergic reaction to Lexapro, your doctor will likely set up a dose reduction schedule to gradually discontinue the medication over about 6 to 8 weeks.
If withdrawal symptoms develop, they usually begin within 3 days of abruptly stopping Lexapro. The symptoms are generally mild and resolve without treatment in 1 to 2 weeks, according to the 2006 "American Family Physician" article. If treatment is desired, the previous dose of Lexapro can be resumed temporarily and then slowly decreased.
Reviewed and revised by Mary D. Daley, M.D.
- If you're taking Lexapro, don't discontinue it without first talking with your doctor.
- If treatment is desired, the previous dose of Lexapro can be resumed temporarily and then slowly decreased.
Lexapro Pros & Cons
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- American Family Physician: Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome
- WebMD: Stopping Antidepressants -- Is It Withdrawal?
- Daily Med: Lexapro -- Escitalopram Oxalate Tablet
- Steyn SF, Harvey BH, Brink CB. Immediate and long-term antidepressive-like effects of pre-pubertal escitalopram and omega-3 supplementation combination in young adult stress-sensitive rats. Behav Brain Res. 2018;351:49-62. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.05.021
- Landy K, Estevez R. Escitalopram. StatPearls Updated May 6, 2020.
- Guzman F. Citalopram and escitalopram. Psychopharmacology Institute.
- Freeman EW, Guthrie KA, Caan B, et al. Efficacy of escitalopram for hot flashes in healthy menopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2011;305(3):267-274. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.2016
- 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
Boyd Bergeson has been writing since 2000 and has contributed to published research with the National Institute of Health and The Indian Health Board. Bergeson is currently a mental health professional and has worked as a university instructor, senior medical research assistant, textbook editor, and bicycle shop owner. He has a Master of Science in sociology from Portland State University.