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Lexapro Detox, Side Effects, Withdrawal Symptoms, & Treatment

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Lexapro detox withdrawal can be risky without the proper treatment and support. Discover the typical Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms, timeline, & treatment options.

By We Level Up | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: November 23, 2022

Lexapro Detox

One of the most prescribed antidepressants in the US is Lexapro. As a result, it’s critical to understand the effects of Lexapro withdrawal. Lexapro functions as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Lexapro is also used to treat anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and panic disorders in addition to depression.

Most people take Lexapro for several years, either until they feel they no longer require it or until they start to experience side effects and opt to switch prescriptions.

However, stopping Lexapro use should not be done carelessly or without medical supervision. Severe withdrawal symptoms from Lexapro may occur, especially if you try to stop taking it suddenly. Instead, the dosage should be gradually reduced over time while supervised by medical experts who can assist prevent or lessen any withdrawal symptoms. Clinical oversight is especially beneficial in the rare instance of a complication because knowledge is essential for spotting and solving possible issues before they become life-threatening. It would be best if you discussed any worries you have with your doctor before quitting Lexapro.

Lexapro Detox Withdrawal

Some people who take Escitalopram (Lexapro) and feel better may assume they no longer need the prescription drug and stop taking it. Do people abuse Lexapro? and can Lexapro be abused? Quitting Lexapro abruptly is unwise because the drug has an essential relationship with serotonin, the neurotransmitter found in the central nervous system, and blood platelets associated with depression. As a result, when drugs like Lexapro that affect serotonin levels in the brain are suddenly stopped, you may experience serious physical and emotional symptoms. How long till Lexapro is out of your system? Usually, It can take around six days for Lexapro to be eliminated from your body.

Is Lexapro for opiate withdrawal a good idea? And how long do Lexapro withdrawals last? Lexapro detox withdrawal can take a real toll on your life; SSRIs like Lexapro work by increasing serotonin levels in your brain. It takes your brain a while to get used to the drug’s absence when you stop taking them. Unfortunately, the amount of time this takes can vary widely.

How long does withdrawal from Lexapro last? Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms typically arrive one to three days after your last dose. It can start sooner (within hours) or later (more than a week). Symptoms generally resolve within a few weeks, although they can continue longer.

What Is Lexapro?

Lexapro (Escitalopram) is a medication used to manage and treat major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. It belongs to a class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) [1]. Lexapro takes time to build up in the body. As a result, it can take a few weeks before a person notices its effects on the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Lexapro is a prevalent antidepressant, possibly one of the most frequently prescribed in the United States. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the symptoms of Lexapro detox withdrawal. In addition to treating depression, this drug is also prescribed for anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. SSRIs have long been associated with withdrawal symptoms. While medical professionals still refer to these symptoms as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, many believe the name minimizes the seriousness of the problem [2].

However, quitting to take Lexapro should be done under clinical supervision. Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms can be severe, especially if you stop abruptly. Instead, the dosage should be slowly tapered over time and under the recommendation of medical professionals who can help mitigate or prevent any Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms. Clinical supervision is valuable in the rare case of a complication, as expertise is necessary for identifying and effectively addressing potential problems before they become critical. It would be best if you spoke with your doctor about any concerns about stopping this medication.

Side Effects Of Lexapro

Pros and cons of Lexapro? SSRIs, including Lexapro, are tolerated well compared to other antidepressants. You may have more side effects if you take a higher medication dosage. Lexapro is more likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects at a high dosage, such as diarrhea [3].

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Lexapro Fact Sheet

Also Known As Escitalopram

Is Lexapro A Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)?

Yes, Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and it can treat generalized anxiety disorder.


Lexapro Availability

You must obtain a prescription for Lexapro.


Lexapro & Alcohol

Avoid mixing Lexapro and alcohol since they could create dangerous interactions when taken together.

What Is The Generic Name Of Lexapro?

The generic name of Lexapro is Escitalopram.


Lexapro & Pregnancy

Consult a medical professional before taking Lexapro while you are pregnant.

Lexapro Addiction Statistics

While using Lexapro for anxiety or depression, it is possible to abuse it, which is risky because discontinuation syndrome, which causes moderate to severe physical withdrawal symptoms, affects roughly 20% of people taking SSRIs like Lexapro. Despite the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, Lexapro is not regarded as an addictive substance and is not a regulated substance.


20%

SSRIs like Lexapro cause discontinuation syndrome in 20% of users.

Source: NIH

13.2%

13.2% of adults used antidepressants from 2015 to 2018

Source: CDC

13.8%

Antidepressant use grew from 10.6% to 13.8% between 2009-2010 and 2017-2018.

Source: CDC


Common Side Effects

Lexapro’s side effects seem to be the same in men and women. 

Side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping trouble
  • Sexual problems, such as decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetitive
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Infection
  • Yawning
  • Shaking

People with depression tend to have a low appetite and reduced body weight. Lexapro may cause a small amount of weight gain in adults [4]. However, if you gain weight, your weight may just be evening out because your depression is better managed and your appetite has returned. Other individuals lose weight when they’re taking Lexapro. The increase in serotonin may lead to a loss of appetite. Most of these side effects are mild. They should ultimately fade on their own without treatment. Tell your physician if they’re more serious or don’t go away.

Early identification of prescription antidepressant dependency and early intervention may prevent the problem from turning into abuse and addiction
Early identification of prescription antidepressant dependency and early intervention may prevent the problem from turning into abuse and addiction

Other Serious Side Effects

Lexapro abuse may also cause other serious side effects. Call your physician right away if you have serious side effects. Call local emergency services or 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or you think you have a medical emergency.

Serious allergic reactions

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to its ingredients or the antidepressant Lexapro. Symptoms can include:

  • Swelling of your face, tongue, eyes, or mouth
  • Breathing trouble
  • Severe rash, hives (itchy welts), or blisters that may come on with fever or joint pain

Convulsions or Seizures 

People with a history of seizures are at higher risk. There have been reports of some people having seizures while taking Lexapro.

Serotonin syndrome

This is a severe condition. It occurs when the levels of serotonin in your body increase. It’s more likely to happen if you use other drugs that boost serotonin, such as lithium or antidepressants. Symptoms can include:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real)
  • Coma (loss of consciousness)
  • Coordination problems, overactive reflexes, or muscle twitching
  • Racing heart rate
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Sweating or fever
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Muscle stiffness

Low salt levels

Lexapro can cause low salt levels in your body. This may be more likely to happen in people who take water pills, seniors, or dehydrated people. This side effect may cause:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thinking or memory problems
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness that can lead to falls
  • Seizures

Manic episodes

Lexapro may cause a manic episode if you have bipolar disorder. Taking Lexapro without another drug for bipolar disorder may trigger an attack. Symptoms can include:

  • Greatly increased energy
  • Severe sleeping trouble
  • Racing thoughts
  • Reckless behavior
  • Unusually grand ideas
  • Excessive happiness or irritability
  • Talking quickly or more than normal
Individuals can still develop a physical dependence on antidepressants. People with depression are also more likely to abuse other drugs.
Individuals can still develop a physical dependence on antidepressants. People with depression are also more likely to abuse other drugs.

Vision problems

Lexapro may dilate your pupils. This may trigger a glaucoma attack, even if you don’t have a history of eye problems. Symptoms can include:

  • Eye pain
  • Changes in your vision
  • Swelling or redness in or around your eye

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How Long Does Lexapro Stay In Your System?

Every drug has a “half-life,” which is a term used to indicate how long it takes for the medication’s concentration in the body to drop to half of its initial dose. So, how long to get Lexapro out of system? Lexapro’s half-life varies from 27 to 32 hours, depending on the individual. For instance, if a person took 10 mg of Lexapro, the dosage would be halved to 5 mg within 27 to 32 hours, then to 2.5 mg within another 27 to 32 hours.

This will keep splitting until the medication is eliminated from the person’s bloodstream. How long for Lexapro to leave your system? It can take up to 160 hours, or around six days, for Lexapro to be eliminated from your body because a drug must pass through five half-lives to be eliminated from your system. In addition, since Lexapro is not a restricted substance, it is rarely detected in urine screening tests.

How long does it take Lexapro to leave your system?

It can take up to 160 hours for Lexapro to be eliminated from your body because a drug must pass through five half-lives to be eliminated from your system.

Can You Get Addicted to Lexapro?

For those who take Lexapro as directed, long-term use may not be of issue. However, even if someone is taking the recommended dose every day, they probably still depend on the SSRI. If someone stops taking Lexapro, they will experience withdrawal symptoms regardless of whether they are misusing it or as directed. As a result, doctors gradually taper Lexapro dosage for their patients to minimize adverse effects.

Is Lexapro Addictive?

Once a person has become physically dependent upon Lexapro, they may develop Lexapro addiction or dependence symptoms; whether you call it addiction or dependence, stopping the drug will generate withdrawal side effects.

Side Effects Of Stopping Lexapro

Can you get addicted to Lexapro? Side effects of suddenly stopping Lexapro or missing a dose can include any, some, or all of the following: irritability, headache, dizziness, problems sleeping, grogginess, sweating, sudden feelings of gloom and doom, a strange burning sensation, tingling in the body and confusion. It’s never a good idea to stop your medication abruptly. Stopping Lexapro may cause some withdrawal symptoms. If withdrawal from Lexapro develops, they usually begin within three days of abruptly stopping Lexapro. The symptoms are generally mild and resolve without treatment in one to two weeks.

Can you abuse Lexapro? Like with most substances, it is possible to abuse them; it is important to be mindful and follow a medical professional’s guidance. Also, it is not recommended to mix medications like cocaine and Lexapro. Lexapro and cocaine have their specific effects and use cases.

Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms

The immediate withdrawal period from Lexapro can contain a combination of both new symptoms and the intensification of symptoms that a person notices before taking the drug. Some of the signs that are most commonly noticed during this period include:

  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • “Zaps” or the sensation of electrical jolts that course through a person’s body

The second phase of Lexapro withdrawal happens weeks after using the drug. Unfortunately, many conditions that are noticed during this time fail to disappear. Lexapro Symptoms that arise during this time can be so difficult that many people feel the temptation to stay on the medication for the rest of their life rather than continue the Lexapro detox withdrawal period. Some of the emotional symptoms that arise during the second phase include:

  • Anxiety. This results from the low levels of serotonin in the brain.
  • Concentration problems. This is partly due to the adverse effects of the other Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms and is also related to imbalanced neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
  • Depersonalization. This is a sort of inexplicable sensation where a person does not feel quite like their natural self. They may feel emotionless or listless. 
  • Depression. Since the drug is often used to treat depression, once a person stops taking it, the depression may return or worsen without other treatments that can provide adequate emotional support in place of Lexapro.
  • Irritability or mood swings. Some people may experience bouts of unexplained anger and irritability, and mood swings, either when taking or when quitting Lexapro.
  • Suicidal thoughts. These thoughts can increase or intensify during Lexpro detox withdrawal. If this occurs, it is essential to seek medical support as soon as possible.

Many of these effects can be difficult enough to deal with independently. However, the results of Lexipro withdrawal are not limited to the psychological—there may be physical effects.

Other Serious Side Effects Of Lexapro Withdrawal

Lexapro Restless Leg

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sensorimotor disorder characterized by distressing sensations deep inside the limbs, typically occurring at bedtime or rest. The pathophysiology of RLS has been related to dopaminergic pathway dysfunction, thereby aligning it closely with depression from both pathophysiologic and treatment perspectives. 

Certain antidepressant drugs may induce or exacerbate RLS, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). In several studies, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, bupropion, venlafaxine, duloxetine, and mirtazapine was reported to increase the risk of RLS.

Can coming off antidepressants cause restless legs? You can have tremors, restless legs, an unsteady walk, and trouble synchronizing your speaking and chewing motions. Explained emotions Mood fluctuations, agitation, nervousness, manic, depression, irritation, or bewilderment are all possible, as can paranoia and suicidal thoughts.

Lexapro Seizures

When taken with other medications, Lexapro increases the risk of seizures in those who already have them. Lexapro may result in a prolonged QT interval, meaning it takes the heart longer to recharge between beats. It is unwise to stop taking Lexapro suddenly because it affects serotonin levels in the brain. An antidepressant rehab center can help people recover from the side effects of Lexapro withdrawal.

 Lexapro Sleep Issues

Unfortunately, taking Lexapro or similar antidepressants may result in sleeplessness. You might observe that it takes you longer to fall asleep than it should or that you have trouble dozing off even when you feel weary. Unfortunately, taking Lexapro or similar antidepressants may result in sleeplessness. Sleep problems such as nightmares, unusual dreams, excessive/vivid dreams, or insomnia are some less common symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal.

Lexapro Lightheadedness 

Stopping antidepressants like escitalopram (Lexapro) suddenly can trigger a “discontinuation syndrome.” such Symptoms may include dizziness, vertigo, anxiety, amnesia, headaches, trouble concentrating, brain zaps (electric shock-like sensations in the head), tremor, fatigue, insomnia, and digestive upset.  

Lexapro and Nightmares

Nightmares are found among people who take Lexapro, especially for people who are female, 60+ old, and have been taking the drug for 2 – 5 years. This can mean violent or gory dreams, ultra-vivid or highly emotional dreams, more prolonged or intense dreams, or more general nightmares.

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Complete Symptoms of SSRI withdrawal

The following is a complete list of symptoms linked with SSRI withdrawal:

  • Changes in motor control: Muscle tension, tremors, restless legs, or unsteady gait, difficulty controlling speech and chewing movements
  • Digestive issues: Nausea, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, or appetite loss
  • Flu-like symptoms: Headache, weakness, muscle pain, and tiredness.
  • Instability: Dizziness, difficulty walking, lightheadedness
  • Mood changes: Anxiety, panic, agitation, suicidal ideation, depression, irritability, anger, mania, or mood swings
  • Sleep problems: Nightmares, unusual dreams, vivid and excessive dreams, or insomnia
  • Unique sensations: Brain zaps (like an electrical shock or shiver in your brain), pins and needles, strange tastes, ringing in the ears, or hypersensitivity to sound
Lexapro detox and withdrawal can lead to rebound depression or symptoms returning stronger.
Lexapro detox and withdrawal can lead to rebound depression or symptoms returning stronger.

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What Happens During Lexapro Detox?

What Happens When You Stop Taking Lexapro?

Stopping escitalopram abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, feeling dizzy, vomiting, nightmares, headache, and paresthesias (prickling, tingling sensation on the skin).

How To Stop Taking Lexapro?

Getting off of Lexapro can sound scary, but if you work with your doctor to develop a tapering schedule that works for you, you can significantly reduce the chance of experiencing side effects. It is dangerous to stop drugs on your own, it is possible you can experience Lexapro withdrawal. Can 2 days without Lexapro cause withdrawal? And how long is Lexapro withdrawal? Missing doses can increase your risk for withdrawal symptoms. They usually start in one to three days and resolve within a few weeks, although they can continue longer.

Quitting Lexapro Cold Turkey

Don’t stop taking Lexapro cold turkey. Work with your doctor to come up with a tapering plan. Wean yourself off of Lexapro per your doctor’s instructions by taking increasingly lower and lower doses.

Lexapro Medical Detox Treatment

You may hear the term “detox” used in a typical way to describe cleansing the body of unhealthy and harmful food. However, what is medical detox, and how does it differ from our familiar understanding of the term?

Medical detox refers to freeing the body of toxic, addictive substances under the supervision of a team of licensed medical professionals. This team is usually headed by a doctor and consists of clinical staff, nurses, and therapists. In addition, some facilities employ advanced practice staff like physician assistants or nurse practitioners to deliver medical care during detoxification.

Like asthma, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, addiction is a chronic condition that sparks up occasionally but can be managed. Medical detoxification recreates a similar role in addiction to a hospital emergency department driving long-term medical conditions. Identical to an ER visit for an asthma attack, medical detox for addiction stabilizes an acute flare-up of a chronic illness. Still, it does not change the long-term course of the condition.

For most individuals who seek inpatient or residential drug and alcohol treatment, Lexapro medical detox is the priority, and Lexapro detox occurs at the beginning of treatment. While detox is not considered complete addiction treatment, those who finish medical detox are more likely to stay in treatment longer and have long stretches of sobriety.

There are a few methods that doctors have developed to manage Lexapro detox withdrawal. First, because sudden withdrawal from the drug also results in more severe conditions, doctors usually slowly taper the person off the medication. In cases where even tapering off the medication results in Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms, some doctors help the person switch to another antidepressant with a shorter half-life, which is then slowly discontinued.

Antidepressants change the brain’s chemical makeup to treat mood disorders like depression. Those who abuse antidepressants might be struggling with an addiction to another substance.
Antidepressants change the brain’s chemical makeup to treat mood disorders like depression. Those who abuse antidepressants might be struggling with an addiction to another substance.

Find The Right Lexapro Detox Treatment At We Level Up NJ

There are a few methods that doctors have developed to manage Lexapro detox withdrawal. First, because sudden withdrawal from the drug also results in more severe conditions, doctors usually slowly taper the person off the medication. In cases where even tapering off the medication results in Lexapro detox withdrawal symptoms, some doctors help the person switch to another antidepressant with a shorter half-life, which is then slowly discontinued.

Someone dependent on or addicted to an antidepressant such as Lexapro should seek professional help. Prescription drug treatment programs are designed to support drug-dependent individuals who detox and experience Lexapro withdrawal detox withdrawal symptoms medically.

During your rehabilitation, the We Level Up NJ treatment facility staff will help you identify what caused your dependency and abuse and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. 

We Level Up NJ provides proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our medically-assisted Detox Program. So, reclaim your life. Call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

6 Most Popular Lexapro Detox FAQ’s

  1. Can You Take Xanax with Lexapro?

    It is usually safe to use Xanax and Lexapro together. Although both drugs relieve anxiety, they do so via different mechanisms in the brain and do not have a drug interaction. Possible side effects of taking Lexapro and Xanax include extreme sedation, dizziness, poor coordination, inability to concentrate, and impaired judgment. 

  2. Can You Take Lexapro and Adderall?

    Combining these medications can also increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, and blurred vision.

  3. Is Lexapro a Narcotic?

    Escitalopram is not a controlled substance. It has a low potential for misuse with other available drugs, and there is currently accepted medical use for the drug. However, possessing escitalopram without a lawful prescription is against Federal law.

  4. Is Lexapro an Opioid?

    No. Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain.

  5. Does Lexapro Dilate Pupils?

    Lexapro may dilate your pupils. This may trigger a glaucoma attack, even if you don’t have a history of eye problems. Symptoms can include eye pain.

  6. Can Lexapro cause restless leg syndrome?

    Yes, several studies suggest that Lexapro can likely cause restless leg syndrome.

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Sources:

[1] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557734/
[2] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a603005.html
[3] FDA – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a603005.html
[4] WHO -https://www.who.int/selection_medicines/committees/expert/22/applications/s24.2.1_escitalopram.pdf
[5] We Level UpDual Diagnosis Treatment
[6] Risks In Mixing Lexapro And Alcohol │ Effective Treatment Option (welevelup.com)

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Yasui-Furukori N, Hashimoto K, Tsuchimine S, et al. Characteristics of escitalopram discontinuation syndrome: a preliminary study. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2016;39(3):125-7. doi:10.1097/WNF.0000000000000139

Fava GA, Gatti A, Belaise C, Guidi J, Offidani E. Withdrawal symptoms after selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor discontinuation: A systematic review. Psychother Psychosom. 2015;84(2):72-81. doi:10.1159/000370338