Actress Amanda Seyfried admitted not long ago on a podcast that she’s been taking the antidepressant Lexapro for “years and years and years.” She even continued taking the drug while pregnant with her first child.
Must be pretty harmless, right? For the most part, that assumption would be correct—however, there are some notable side effects associated with the drug.
For some people, those effects are worse than others: “Like all medications, Lexapro does have a long list of side effects,” says Susan Anderson, M.D., a psychiatrist with NorthShore University HealthSystem. “I’ve had patients say they don’t even want to look at the long list [of potential side effects] because they feel they have everything described,” she says.
Still, that’s no reason not to take it: One study in 2014 noted that about of patients say they had at least one side effect when taking an antidepressant. The good news? The research also pointed out that Lexapro (the generic name is escitalopram) was among the most tolerable SSRIs.
Whether you’re starting treatment or have been taking the medication for a while, talk to your physician about potential side effects and what you should do if you notice them. “Also ask: ‘what should I do if I have questions after I leave the visit?’” she advises.
These are the side effects of Lexapro you should be on the lookout for:
SSRIs in general have the potential to cause sexual side effects, like taking longer to reach orgasm and decreased desire, explains Anderson. “What a combo, right! They can happen at any time in treatment—even weeks or months after starting,” she says.
That said, Anderson also adds that depression itself can decrease sexual functioning, too, so it’s important to know what’s normal for you. The best option is to talk to your doctor about what you can do if you notice your sex life has tanked.
At first, you may notice that your bathroom habits are a bit…different. Anderson talks to her patients about GI side effects that may feel like a mild “stomach flu” with nausea and diarrhea. “It’s usually really mild and lasts a week or less,” she says. To soothe your stomach, take Lexapro with food. If your stomach issues just won’t quit, you know the drill: talk to your doc.
Suddenly find yourself up ’til 3 a.m. cruising Facebook? As the Mayo Clinic points out, trouble sleeping is one of the more common side effects of Lexapro as your body learns to adjust to the medication. Happily, it’s only short-term, they note.
Among the potential side effects, dry mouth isn’t that big of a deal. But feeling like you ate a bunch of sand can really be a drag. of patients who taking Lexapro for major depressive disorder experience dry mouth, the FDA reports. The likelihood of this (and other side effects) rises as you increase the dose. may moisten things up, the Mayo Clinic advises.
Weight gain is frequently talked about as a side effect of many antidepressants. However, you may notice the opposite at first. “Many SSRI’s, including Lexapro, can cause a temporary decrease in appetite that lasts only for a short time,” says Anderson.
Because weight fluctuations are a possibility, this is the time to take stock of your eating and exercise habits. “If you notice an increase in weight, address it early,” she advises. One thing you don’t want to do is stop taking the medication all together without doctor supervision because of unwanted weight gain.
The last thing you want is for a medication to put you in a weird head space. But Lexapro can cause dizziness or drowsiness. The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) recommends that you don’t drive until you know how you feel on the medication.
This side effect is most likely to hit during your first few weeks of taking the med. Mayo Clinic advises.and finding time for physical activity can help you shake off the sleepy feeling, the
You went on this medication for relief from depression or anxiety—but the strange truth is that sometimes, it can make these things worse. The NLM notes some serious side effects are possible, like thoughts of hurting yourself or unusual behavior, anxiety, or seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. Any of these warrant a call to your doctor.