Give me your Lexapro success stories
June 1, 2021 8:19 PM   Subscribe

I just started taking Lexapro. A week in, it kinda sucks. I should stick with it though...right?

I (F, 39) have never taken any sort of antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. However, I have a fairly extensive history of becoming deeply upset (like staying in bed for several days) by negative events in the world. (And there's been some of those recently, idk if you noticed.) After some recent personal problems, I (and my therapist) thought it would be a good idea to try an antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication. It felt like I was making very slow progress toward feeling better, but also like I was completely emotionally exhausted and overwrought, and just having trouble functioning in normal social settings.

Now I'm completely physically exhausted. I want to nap all day long, and when I don't want to nap, I want to eat prescription-strength Oreos and watch anime on Netflix and that's ALL. And I have so much to do right getting ready to sell our house! and teach a summer class! But right now I'm super wiped out, and kinda just bummed and unmotivated.

I'm on a very low dose, and I'm going to change from taking it at bedtime to taking it in the mid-morning, because I'm having a massively hard time with getting up in the morning; I wake up exhausted and also I'm hit with a big wave of anxiety as soon as I become semi-conscious. I hope this helps.

If you took or take Lexapro, how long did it take until you started feeling better? Did the tiredness get better? Did the time of day you took it make a difference? Am I permanently rewiring my brain? (I don't exactly feel like myself; I'm used to pushing myself along with a sort of high-strung nervous energy and I just don't have it right now. Which I suppose is the point, but it's unsettling.) If you stopped taking Lexapro, did the benefits last after you stopped? How long did it take you to feel "normal"?
posted by daisystomper to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The sleep, at the beginning, was wonderful. In a way.

Think of it as being on 'your first med'. There are others you can try once you've seen how you react to this. Your doctor will know how long to stay on it for a good read.
posted by amtho at 8:33 PM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is something that you should talk to your prescriber about. Even if you decide to stop taking Lexapro, you should speak to your provider, since it can have withdrawal symptoms.

Generally when I first take a medication I give it until the next appointment with my psychiatrist, but if I find that the effects are particularly unpleasant then I call her and see what she says.

(I have taken escitalopram, the generic for Lexapro, but I didn’t have any side effects at the maximum dose. I did have withdrawal symptoms when I went off of it.)

Good luck!
posted by danielparks at 8:52 PM on June 1, 2021

I'm on lexapro and it took me a few weeks to a month to get accustomed to it. At first it disrupted my sleep, made me feel floaty and didn't have an anxiety reducing benefit. After my body got more accustomed to it I noticed that it helped me stay at a more even keel and feel a bit brighter. My personal recommendation, to take or leave, would be to give it 6 weeks and then talk to your provider if you're still not getting benefits by then.
posted by rcraniac at 9:35 PM on June 1, 2021

Stick with it for at least a month. I was on it for depression and anxiety (that was headed into some OCD behavior). It helped, significantly... but I had to give it time.

Pretty much any med like this, you have to give it time. And to try a different med... still more time. So it's worth giving this first one the time due, because even if it turns out that it's not the right one for you, the way your body interacts with it after you given it the time to work is REALLY useful information for your doc(s) to have.

Hang in there. (((hugs)))
posted by stormyteal at 9:55 PM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm on a low dose of Lexapro and I felt like it honestly took 6-12 months before I sort of looked up and noticed that hey, I'm not nearly as mood swing-y as I used to be and seem to be able to deal with things a bit easier. I guess it's hard to attribute it to the meds exactly when it seems to have taken that long, and it's not that I don't go through periods of anxiety or depression still related to whatever is going on in my life, but I do feel at this point like it's made a difference.

I wonder if some of the symptoms you're describing aren't related to the medication but are actually related to the medication not really having kicked in and your just being depressed and anxious still? I think sleeping a lot is a symptom of depression. Or maybe you need to be on a higher dose. Good luck in any case! Hope it can make a difference.
posted by knownfossils at 10:05 PM on June 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As other say, one week would be very fast to notice any improvement. There can actually be a period with anti depressants were you feel worse in the first few weeks because of how the chemistry works out. But, it's a good idea to experiment with what time of day to take your meds, I've always been much better taking my antidepressants in the morning and everyone is different.
posted by JZig at 11:19 PM on June 1, 2021

Random study saying antidepressants begin to work within hours. How are your thought patterns?
posted by stoneandstar at 11:22 PM on June 1, 2021

Lexapro worked well for me. But I did nap a lot. I stayed on it for about a year, but eventually I switched to Prozac, which doesn’t work quite as well but I nap less. I would give it a month and see how it is going.
posted by kerf at 12:03 AM on June 2, 2021

Best answer: A week in I called my psychiatrist and told him it was horrible and that I wanted to come off it. He told me to stick with it. Five years later I'm still on it and functioning better than ever before with symptoms having been completely under control for most of the last 5 years.
posted by thereader at 12:07 AM on June 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

This may be a dumb question but do you take it in the morning? I switched to an evening dose after my first check in with my psych (probably just shy of a month.) I was very very sleepy for I want to say 6 weeks, then it improved as I got used to it and got the timing right. I stopped taking for other reasons. It helped, miraculously, with PMS/PMDD.
posted by kapers at 12:09 AM on June 2, 2021

Best answer: I’ve taken a few different antidepressants over the years, and while the exact side effects have varied, it’s always been true that the first few weeks involved some sort of energy level side effect that was temporary. (Prozac made me jittery; Celexa made me absolutely exhausted.) That stuff goes away within a couple of weeks to a month, and then you have a better sense of what your long term response will be.

Time of day is definitely worth messing around with, but mostly I would try to just be gentle with yourself for a few weeks while your response to the meds shake out, and then go from there.
posted by Stacey at 3:27 AM on June 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Give it a few weeks: I vaguely remember it being around 2-3 weeks before the side effects of exhaustion wore off. I got the Lexapro yawns badly - when they went away, I knew that it was stabilising itself.

Bear in mind, that wanting to sleep all day was a sign of my anxiety before my medication. I still fight (and lose against) the urge to nap for 2 hours every day, even still on the dose 5 years later. But my overall energy levels are better, and it stabilised the panic attacks; I had to increase the dose when I got a bout of depression, but now I’m back on the lowest dose as a stabiliser. Apart from the side effects of excessive sweat, I wouldn’t ditch it at all.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:13 AM on June 2, 2021

Best answer: I'm so sorry you're having a rough time. You deserve to feel better.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 22; I've been on lexapro (plus/minus lamictal, plus/minus some other meds temporarily) since age 24 (and I am now 37). I remember the first week being rough, as in I took a few days off work because I didn't feel good. I don't remember when it finally started working. My doctors picked lexapro because my brother was successfully on celexa.

It isn't the be-all, end-all, though. I had some times where I needed to bump up the lexapro dose, and some times where I needed some extra help (intensive outpatient programs), and some times where I needed some additional meds. Now enough of my life has changed that I am slowly (over several years) tapering off the lexapro.

The exhaustion and the "hit with a massive wave of anxiety" tell me that it hasn't kicked in yet.

Please talk to your prescriber about this. They may tell you to give it a few weeks, they may change the dose, they may change or add a new medicine.

You are doing a good thing to take care of yourself. This internet stranger is proud of you.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:27 AM on June 2, 2021

It took me a month to feel like myself when I started taking Lexapro. I had the other problem-- I had trouble sleeping. But it balanced itself out.
posted by frumiousb at 6:18 AM on June 2, 2021

I was on escitalopram for....gosh, three years or so I guess? I went off it a couple of years to try to conceive. I've been on a LOT of different classes of drugs, including a number of SSRIs, over the years. You definitely have to give most SSRIs a little time to smooth out, the rule of thumb is usually in the neighborhood of 4-6 weeks. And I've never had one where I just, like, woke up feeling great - it was more that I could tell it was working when I was like, wow, I was really putting up with a lousy level of functioning before and now there is the absence of shittiness. I continued needing a lot of sleep, and I think it became a habit because my early bedtime has persisted even after no longer taking it. But I definitely got past the period of intense brain fog and constant exhaustion.

I would definitely encourage you to talk to a pharmacist about managing side effects. Your doctor can be helpful too, but often pharmacists have a much better idea of how to time doses to reduce side effects, or troubleshoot if there's something else in your life that's interacting poorly with your medication, or whether you should talk to your prescriber about alternates. And don't stop cold turkey; it's been my experience that even the tapers recommended by doctors are not slow enough for me to avoid discontinuation syndrome and I have to go about twice as slow as that. Also, don't be surprised if you have to try a few things. Psychiatric medication is still pretty close to throwing random shit at a wall and seeing what sticks. I always had side effects from escitalopram the whole time I took it, but decided it wasn't worth the bother to switch out for something else. Only you can really judge where the line in the sand is for side effects you are or aren't able to tolerate and it's different for everyone.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 7:59 AM on June 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

For me, SSRIs reduce my motivation to nil for as long as I am on them. I am less BOTHERED by this than by unmedicated depression, but it doesn't give me the life I want so they aren't good for me.

That said, if you want to give it a fair try, I think you should wait at least a month and ideally six weeks. Lots of people who DO find it helpful take that long to see positive effects.
posted by metasarah at 8:01 AM on June 2, 2021

You definitely have to give most SSRIs a little time to smooth out, the rule of thumb is usually in the neighborhood of 4-6 weeks. And I've never had one where I just, like, woke up feeling great - it was more that I could tell it was working when I was like, wow, I was really putting up with a lousy level of functioning before and now there is the absence of shittiness.

This was my experience too. In fact, I just checked my journal history and found comments indicating I could feel the earliest flickers of the Lexapro working as expected exactly at the four-week mark. I knew it was working because this was a month or so into the pandemic in the US and I could read the news and not immediately start spiraling all day as I had been doing previously. I stayed on it for almost a year and only switched to buspirone because Lexapro was unkind to my sex drive, and had no issues with going off it and onto something else. But I did notice that I felt really awful on days I accidentally missed a dose which leads me to believe that the positive effects wouldn't have lasted on their own.

I hope things get better very soon!
posted by anderjen at 8:45 AM on June 2, 2021

Best answer: The thing with this entire class of drugs is that the effect you take them for isn't so much a direct effect of the drug as an adaptation your central nervous system does in order to build up a tolerance to them. So yeah, the first few weeks on them can be pretty gnarly, as can the first few weeks after coming off them unless you taper down nice and slowly.

If the immediate effects are too disruptive, talk to your prescriber about ramping up from an even lower initial dose.
posted by flabdablet at 10:15 AM on June 2, 2021

I'll just nth what everyone else has been saying. If you can push through these next few weeks, you'll have a better idea if this will work for you. If it gets too hard, get in touch with your doc.

FWIW, I have had various energy reactions to various SSRIs. Prozac gave me horrible insomnia to the point I became suicidal. Citalopram (Lexapro's older cousin) made me pretty sleepy at first.
posted by kathrynm at 3:51 PM on June 2, 2021

Hope you find the benefit in the next couple weeks. But my anecdata is that my psychiatrist decided I was not getting the benefit I should, that it was outweighed by the side effects I was experiencing. He had me take a genetic assay test (was around $300 and apparently is covered by insurance often enough that he said he would eat the cost if my insurer didn't). The report highlighted results that might play a role in medication reactions, and revealed that SSRIs weren't gonna do much for me. The report also suggested a potential culprit to him; he prescribed me a different class of med and I've had success with it. Might be worth asking about; I think I did give Lexapro about a month first.
posted by troywestfield at 12:54 PM on June 3, 2021

Response by poster: Cool thanks everyone. I switched to taking it in the morning so we'll see if getting up gets easier. My doctor said what everyone else here is basically saying: stick with it for a month and we'll see how it goes. Today was a little better so we'll see if things continue to improve.
posted by daisystomper at 6:19 PM on June 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also needed to switch to taking Lexapro in the morning. I only realized it about a month ago, but I'm already feeling better sleep-wise, and I've been taking it since 2016. Sending good thoughts for smoother sailing.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:53 AM on June 14, 2021

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