Experiences with Lexapro anti-anxiety medication.
July 28, 2005 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experiences with the anti-anxiety medication Lexapro that they may be able to share?

I've been given a prescription today, but before I start taking it, I would be interested in hearing of other people's experiences concerning what to expect and any side-effects. I've talked with my doctor and read a a good amount of information, but when it comes to medication, I'm more interested in first-hand experience from someone who doesn't talk all scientific-like.
posted by punkrockrat to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've been on it several times. I like it - it works very fast and I don't need to take it very long before things are generally better. I took it originally 2 weeks every month for severe PMS and then took it about a year later for several months for depression. It's also not hard to stop taking: no nasty withdrawal/ramping down.

I never had any physical side effects at all but I did notice, after about 2 months, that I got a lot spacier and my memory was worse. Other people I know have mentioned the memory thing but of course YMMV. This was one reason I quit taking it but then on the other hand I wasn't depressed anymore either. It was well worth it.

You may find you only need half the dose too - the dr. told me to double the dosage after a week or so but when I tried it the spaciness thing got worse, so I went back to one pill a day and it worked fine.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:44 PM on July 28, 2005

I took Lexapro for awhile, and for me, it worked too well. Instead of anxious, I became apathetic. Really apathetic. It became a problem, especially at work.

posted by luneray at 4:06 PM on July 28, 2005

I was prescribed it for depression, took a half, and it was just like being on ecstacy - dry mouth, dilated pupils, jaw clenching, inability to focus, strong need to smoke cigarettes etc etc. Then my friend was visiting and tried one - called me up at work and said it was just like being on ecstacy. Which is all very well and good should you want to be on ecstacy, but personally I find it impinges on my ability to do my job and then drive home safely at night....
posted by forallmankind at 4:10 PM on July 28, 2005

It made both of my boyfriends not be able to have sex. Sux0r. Made me kinda depressed.
posted by chota at 4:13 PM on July 28, 2005

I'm on Lexapro for depression and anxiety. It hasn't "cured" either illness, but I'd say it's still been pretty stellar. I've been taking antidepressants for years, and it's easy to lose perspective after so long, but I realized how much it's helping me when I went down 5 mg and my anxieties came zooming back. I'm not shiny happy skipping through wildflowers or anything though.

I have a girlfriend who also takes it and a guy friend who used to. Girlfriend and I have both gained a little bit of weight, but as far as I can tell that's the only side effect for either of us (though it might be the dealbreaker if you're a vain female), unless you count the brain fizzies you get if you forget to take it. I haven't talked to my guy friend about side effects - he never mentioned any specific ones, so I assume if he had them they were hardly severe. On the other hand, he DID tell me that after he'd been on it, his GPA rose from a 2.0 to a 4.0 and he'd go to class whistling Kylie Minogue songs (and he's straight!), and it also inspired him to alter his life philosophy to biological determinism. Make of that what you will.

Of course, as with any antidepressant, reactions totally vary by individual, but it does seem that Lexapro is the least intimidating of all the SSRIs.
posted by granted at 4:45 PM on July 28, 2005

I was prescribed Lexapro once to see if it would help with the two weeks of PMS I get every month. I do remember a lot of annoying side effects, like dry mouth, but some of the side effects I can also attribute to what drugs like Lexapro do to bipolar people like me. So I won't report on those.

From what I remember, side effects take a little while to leave, and the medicine takes a little while to be effective. You'll probably find a range of reactions from others depending on why they're taking it (PMS, depression, anxiety, etc.) since that will affect their dosage.

This was probably not a huge help :( but I figured I'd throw in my two cents.
posted by Jenesta at 4:46 PM on July 28, 2005

I'm sorry, make that "SOME side effects take a little while to leave" since they may or may not all go away.
posted by Jenesta at 4:48 PM on July 28, 2005

YMWV (your mileage WILL vary), but I'm been on it for mild anxiety and it seems to be working well. The drop in libido sucks big time, though. In the beginning, I experienced some anxiousness and not-so-restful nights, but that lasted maybe 2-3 weeks.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:55 PM on July 28, 2005

FYI, that's a 10mg dose I'm on.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:56 PM on July 28, 2005

I've been on it for 2+ years and haven't had any problems. No side effects that I can remember, at least none mentioned here. I have to say, I like it a lot. It's helped me quite a bit. The best advice I could give you is not to worry about it, thats what got you here in the first place, right? :) kidding
posted by puke & cry at 5:32 PM on July 28, 2005

Commenting as an occassional user of lexapro and a mental health provider--tends to have fewest side effects of similar drugs--side effects usually go away 10-14 days (I had none)--may have decreased libido but also may have delayed ejaculation which may not be all bad (and can be quite fine)--dosage is extremely important and small changes can make a big difference--may need to do fine tuning--if it is not helping work with your doctor to modify dosages before getting discouraged--can be very effective when combined with wellbutrin which works on the neurotransmitters not affected by lexapro--good luck
posted by rmhsinc at 6:28 PM on July 28, 2005

it's the bomb. no side effects unless i miss a dose.
posted by keswick at 8:03 PM on July 28, 2005

I was on it for about 6 months earlier this year. 2 weeks of nausea at first. I started feeling a little better (emotionally) after less than a week. We bumped up the dose because it wasn't helping the depression enough and I got the horrible jaw-clenching side-effect. (Supposedly this is rare, but I'm hearing of more & more people who have it.) I felt less depressed, but the constant jaw pain & headaches were too much. While it worked, though, I called it "candy for the soul." I had absolutely no interest in sex for about a month, but that came back.

Now I'm on prozac, which doesn't make me feel nearly as good as Lexapro did, but doesn't seem to have any bad side-effects. (The jaw clenching didn't go away for almost 3 weeks after I stopped taking the Lexapro.)
posted by belladonna at 8:07 PM on July 28, 2005

Thanks for all the information everyone.

From the information I have gathered, it appears that most folks either have side effects and don't like it, or don't get side effects and love it.

My main concern is that I start a new job this Wednesday. I have enough things on my plate already without worrying about dealing with a new medication the same week. I may put this off for two weeks until I get a groove at work. I'd be afraid that some side effects can kick in on my first day of work, and that could leave a horrible first-impression. (Ha.. Here's my anxiety creeping into my mefi post!)

On topic with my original question, I've heard that there is a good chance of weight-gain with Lexapro too. Anyone have anything to say about that?
posted by punkrockrat at 10:22 PM on July 28, 2005

I took Lexapro for two days and it totally fucked me up. I couldn't sleep and the jaw clenching and general weird feelings lasted for a few days after I stopped it.

As far as taking it when you start this new job--you could wait, or you could try breaking it in half and take that for a while. When you're taking these drugs for anxiety, they can definitely make those anxiety symptoms worse during the first few weeks. A lot of times, doctors will prescribe a benzo (like Klonopin or Xanax) along with the antidepressant for a couple of weeks, to combat these initial side effects. After a while, you'll notice you don't need the benzo anymore.

I'm on Celexa right now, which is just like Lexapro, but comes in smaller doses. Basically, Lexapro is the "active only" part of Celexa, times four. This is probably making no sense. I'm sure someone will come on here and say this more elegantly than I just did. Anyhow, my doctor told me that in trials of the two medications, there is no difference in terms of side effects.

Anyway, if you have trouble with Lexapro increasing your anxiety at first, which is common with any SSRI, you might want to ask to try something that can be broken down into smaller doses, to gradually wean yourself on. That's what I did with Celexa, and now I take it with absolutely zero bad effects. I started off taking about 5mg at first, which is basically nothing, and worked my way up to 20 mg, which is a modest but effective dose.

As for weight gain, my psychiatrist said that most weight gain from these drugs happens from increased appetite, which I do notice on Celexa. If it happens to you, just pay attention to it and try to control it.

Finally, I will say that being on Celexa has GREATLY improved my quality of life. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I might need medication--I was opposed for a long time. If Lexapro doesn't work for you, you can always try something else.

Good luck! I know trying these drugs can be a little scary! Just know that if you have bad side effects, you can always stop taking it.
posted by fabesfaves at 6:08 AM on July 29, 2005

I've heard that there is a good chance of weight-gain with Lexapro too. Anyone have anything to say about that?

I don't think I gained any weight in the 6 months or so I took Lexapro. My doc said it was less likely than with some of the other antidepressants out there. Really, though, you can't know until you take it. Everyone reacts so differently. I've had no problems with prozac, but a friend gained over 40 pounds in just a few months.
posted by belladonna at 7:41 AM on July 29, 2005

Lexapro is supposed to be the most "weight-neutral" antidepressant currently prescribed. Often, people who gain weight on it were eating too little due to their anxiety or depression, and resume "normal" eating when that's alleviated.

At any rate, all antidepressant have possible side effects, and they are usually highly variable on a person-to-person basis. The only way to know is to try it, although if you've had an immediate family member who's had either a good or a bad experience with it, you're likely to follow suit. The experiences of random people on the internet that may or may not be actual effects of the drug are not all that pertinent to your situation.

Good luck!
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:21 AM on July 29, 2005

Not sure about my pal, but my appetite didn't increase - if anything, it decreased - so I'm not sure what to attribute the weight gain to. It's not drastic for either of us, but it bothered her enough that she started taking Wellbutrin to counteract it, but hated it and now is solely on Lexapro again. For me, it's not a big deal, I can still fit into my clothes and stuff, but my mom commented on it last time I visited (stupid tactless parents), so I guess it's noticeable to other people. Incidentally, that's why I went down the 5 mg that caused the resurrection of my anxieties. I decided FAST what my priorities are and immediately started taking the full 20 mg again.

I was on Zoloft before and it didn't make me gain weight at all, but I've heard it's had that effect on others. I guess it just totally varies by individual.
posted by granted at 1:39 PM on July 29, 2005

To clear things up a bit, Lexapro is the "chemical opposite" of Celexa, and statistically patients have fewer adverse reactions and generally tolerate the drug better.

Med-nerdiness aside, I've been on Lexapro for 18 months and am very grateful for it. No drug is going to completely rid you of your anxiety, but it's quelled the anxiety enough to where I can actually deal with the cause of the anxiety rather than be so overwhelmed with feeling anxious.

For the first week or so you'll probably feel kinda loopy - I don't know how else to describe it. I highly recommend tapering up your doses for the first week.

I'm on 10mg (1 pill) and that seems to be the right amount for me. Many insurance providers won't cover more than that. I have some dry mouth but it's not too bad. I have gained ten pounds or so but I am a college student and am prone to eat terribly during exams and such.

If after a month or so you don't like Lexapro, don't give up. Talk to your doc about a different drug. Different meds affect each of us differently. If anyone else in your family takes an SSRI (the fancy name for anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds) find out what they're taking because that may work for you as well.
posted by radioamy at 2:01 PM on July 30, 2005

I was on it for about 8 months, moving from 4 months of 10 mg to 4 months of 20, and it didn't improve my depression at all. I'm on Cymbalta now and it works much better for my neurochemistry. I know a lot of people who've done wonderfully on it.

I actually lost weight on Lexapro, probably because my depression wasn't getting any better and my appetite was still lousy. I had no sexual side effects, but found that I got sweaty more easily, which I've also heard from other patients. Good luck with it.
posted by honeydew at 7:26 PM on July 30, 2005

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