In this guide we will discuss the topic of what is the best time to take lexapro for anxiety. We will also take a closer look at various issues surrounding drug treatments for anxiety such as efficacy, side effects, and risks.
What is the best time to take lexapro for anxiety?
If your doctor prescribes you lexapro to be taken once a day, you can opt for taking it in the morning so as to avoid sleep disturbances as these are common side effects to the medication.
While restlessness and insomnia are observed to be side effects of the medication, it is advisable that you follow the instructions of your doctor as to when to take it.
In case you miss your dose, it should be taken as soon as you remember it unless you remember it close to your next dose timing, in which case you should continue with your normal dose.
Anxiety and drug treatment
Anxiety disorders are mental health disorders that are characterised by excessive worry in the absence of a threat or that the worry is disproportionate to the threat.
They are of various types such as Social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, Agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Each of these disorders has various symptoms that make it difficult for people to go about their daily lives and meet the demands of their social relationships and their occupational responsibilities.
For the purpose of this guide we are going to take a closer look at generalized anxiety disorder as lexapro is mainly prescribed for this type of anxiety disorder.
When a person struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder they experience excessive anxiety and worry about various topics. For adults it might be about their job, family. Finances etc. While for children it might be about their performance and their abilities.
An anxiety is not like any other form of worry, it occurs for most days for at least six months and the worry is excessive compared to the threat or perceived threat.
It is also common for people with this disorder to experience physical and cognitive symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue, inability to focus or concentrate, irritability, muscle sores, poor sleep, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
People with GAD do not experience panic attacks rather this anxiety remains consistent and debilitating over time. It can impact their social relationships and their symptoms also stop them from carrying on their responsibilities efficiently.
This disorder can be treated and it’s symptoms managed. Talk therapy such as Cognitive and behavioural therapy has been found effective to treat GAD. Drug treatments have also been found to be effective.
Drugs that interact with neurochemicals by blocking reuptake such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have been found to alleviate symptoms of GAD.
However, the treatment for GAD and other anxiety disorders which involves a combined treatment strategy of both drug treatment and talk therapy has been found to be most efficient compared to when the treatments are separately administered.
Let us take a look at Lexapro which is also a SSRI drug treatment for GAD.
What is lexapro
Lexapro is the brand name for the drug escitalopram. Lexapro can be administered as an oral tablet or a liquid drinking solution. It’s use has been approved for use by adults and children over 12 years old.
Lexapro or Escitalopram is a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain by inhibiting the uptake of serotonin. The drug reports the levels of serotonin in the brain so that it is balanced and the effects of serotonin lasts longer in the brain.
Lexapro was initially used for the treatment of depression due to its effect on serotonin- a neurotransmitter that impacted a person’s sleep, mood, and other functions.
While the exact mechanisms of lexapro are not clearly known, it does reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is thought that Lexapro restores the balance of serotonin in the brain by inhibiting the uptake of this natural brain chemical.
This process enhances mood and has been found to reduce anxiety symptoms as well in disorders such as Generalized anxiety disorder, Post traumatic stress disorder, and Major depressive disorder.
Side effects and risks
Lexapro like any other drug has potential side effects. The side effects of this drug can vary according to the age group of the population who are taking the drug as well as from person to person.
The most common side effects for adults include:
Headache and Nausea
Feelings of nervousness or restlessness
Fatigue or insomnia
Sexual problems such as decrease in libido
Loss of appetite
These common side effects usually occur within the first and second week and may improve as the medication is continued.
In addition to the side effects mentioned above, children and teens may also experience:
Problems urinating, nosebleeds, heavy menstrual bleeding, weight fluctuation, and possible delay in physical growth.
Because of these side effects it is important to talk to your doctor before starting Lexapro. The administering doctor or physician may start you on a low dose and increase it after the first week.
It is common for people to discontinue taking the drug due to common side effects without informing their doctor and it is also observed that when people taking the drug feel better, they stop without consulting the doctor.
This can cause symptoms to recur and your disorder to aggravate, thus it is important to consult with your doctor on a daily basis and continue your intake of the drug.
Cautions and concerns
While lexapro is commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders and depression, it is not safe for everyone. It is only to be administered and used under the supervision of a physician after testing and diagnosis.
Lexapro should not be used if:
You have allergies:
Lexapro is not advised for people who have allergies or if you’re hypersensitive to escitalopram oxalate.
If you have a known allergy to the medication and experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, mouth, or tongue which are signs of an allergic reaction, it is best for you to let your doctor know so that you and your doctor can work out another treatment plan.
There is a gap in research regarding the effectiveness of Lexapro in children younger than 18 years of age. It is very important that you consult with the doctor before considering lexapro for your child as it is not generally recommended for kids under the age of 12.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding use Lexapro with caution as the medication can be passed to your child. It is important and necessary for you to consult with your doctor about taking the drug even when you plan to conceive.
In this case, your doctor should monitor your dose and adjust as necessary to reduce the severity of side effects as it might prove to be more harmful for older adults. A study on the efficacy of lexapro on older adults highlighted that side effects included fatigue or somnolence, sleep disturbance, and urinary symptoms.
Lexapro is also risky if you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin as it increases the likelihood of bleeding.
According to the strictest warning for prescription drugs issued by the FDA, called the ‘black box warning’, taking Lexapro can result in an increased risk of suicidal ideation and suicidal; behaviors, particularly in teens and young adults.
Numerous studies done on the drug Lexapro or Escitalopram show significant improvements and alleviation of anxiety related symptoms across age groups.
A dose of 10-20 mg/d has been observed to be effective and well-tolerated as a first in line treatment for numerous anxiety disorders such as GAD, panic disorder. It has also been found to be effective for OCD.
Another study found that Escitalopram is also effective for social anxiety disorder and highlighted that all doses, under 20 mg/d, showed significant superiority in efficacy versus placebo in the treatment of patients.
Lexapro use in older adults with GAD were also found to have a higher response rate of improvements in symptoms versus placebo. A 12 week study found that the use of the drug was observed to alleviate anxiety symptoms in older adults, improve role and social functioning.
Beyond efficacy of the drug in these disorders, several controlled relapse-prevention studies showed that it is necessary for people to continue the use of the drug even after remission to prevent relapse.
The usual recommended daily dosage of Lexapro is 10 mg, but your doctor may let you begin at a lower dose and increase slowly if needed.
Increases in doses usually happen after a week of observation and recommended by your doctor from 10 mgs to 20 mgs per day.
If you are experiencing your first episode of depression or anxiety, your doctor may ask you to take Lexapro for a defined period such as between six months and one year.
However, for individuals experiencing a chronic mental health condition or recurring anxiety and depression, your doctor may deem it necessary to take Lexapro for an extended period over many years.
Frequently asked questions related to “Use of lexapro for anxiety: Efficacy, Risks, time, and dosage”
Does Lexapro make you calm?
Lexapro or Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Taking this drug may help improve your level of energy and feelings of well-being.
It can also reduce symptoms of anxiety such as restlessness and nervousness and help you feel calmer.
What happens if you take Lexapro at night?
Lexapro and other antidepressants may cause you to experience insomnia or restlessness at night which can cause disturbances in your sleep routine.
Does Lexapro make you sleepy?
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like escitalopram (Lexapro) taken for depression or anxiety, can make you feel sleepy and might cause sleep related disturbances as well.
Does Lexapro make you feel happy?
Lexapro won’t change how you feel nor will it make you extremely happy. It is simply designed to help you feel like yourself again.
However, improvements of symptoms occur after extended and continuous use of the drug. Don’t expect to feel better overnight.
Does Lexapro make you more anxious at first?
In the early days of drug treatment, lexapro can lead to the manifestations of various side effects. One of them includes an increased level of fear and anxiety and even suicidal thinking in some younger people.
It is important to continue with treatment and inform your doctor of any symptoms and side effects.