How Long Does Lexapro Take To Work?

Lexapro (escitalopram) is one of the most popular antidepressants, thanks to its  low risk of side effects and high rate of effectiveness compared to other antidepressants.

If you are considering taking Lexapro for your depression or anxiety, you might be wondering: how long does it take for Lexapro to work?

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is a brand name prescription medication that is also sold under the generic name escitalopram. 

It  belongs to a type of antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  SSRIs were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1987; Lexapro was approved l in 2002.

Other common SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), , sertraline (Zoloft), and fluoxetine (Prozac).

Lexapro is commonly used for major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults.It is only the second antidepressant in the United States to be approved for MDD in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.

lexapro pills

How does Lexapro work?

SSRIs like Lexapro help to treat depression and anxiety by acting on the chemistry of the brain.

The medications increase serotonin in your brain,, a chemical thought to affect your mood.

We still aren’t sure exactly how this leads  to improved symptoms of depression and anxiety. But it is common for people using Lexapro to experience a lifted mood, regain interest in old hobbies that they once enjoyed, and feel the physical symptoms of depression diminish.

How long does it take for Lexapro to work?

Like other drugs in its class, Lexapro acts on the chemistry of the brain and increases the amount of neurotransmitters, including serotonin.

 If you are using Lexapro to treat mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, it may not work right away.

Lexapro may start to improve physical symptoms like sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels after about one to two weeks.

This is a good sign  the medication is working, but you likely will not notice a significant change in your mood and emotional symptoms until you’ve been taking Lexapro regularly for up to four to eight weeks.

What are some common side effects of Lexapro?

Lexapro is generally better tolerated than other SSRI antidepressants,  But everyone reacts to medication differently, so you may or may not experience fewer side effects.

The side effects of Lexapro are slightly different for children and adults.

Possible side effects of Lexapro in adults include:

  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Infection
  • Unusual changes in sex drive and other sexual issues like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation 
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleepiness, sleep disturbances or drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Yawning

Children, adolescents, teenagers, and young adults may experience the same possible side effects listed above for adults, but may also experience symptoms including:

Lexapro is also associated with rare but serious side effects, including severe allergic reactions, extremely high blood pressure, seizures or convulsions, low salt levels, serotonin syndrome, manic episodes, and vision problems.

If you experience any side effects that are severe or feel life threatening, seek medical attention immediately.


It can take up to four to eight weeks to experience the full effects of Lexapro .

Physical symptoms associated with depression and anxiety may begin to improve in as little as one to two weeks, while mood-related symptoms take longer.

Certain drugs are at an increased risk of adverse drug interactions such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

If you suffer from major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, you may benefit from Lexapro.

Seek medical advice from your healthcare provider to determine whether Lexapro is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common side effects of Lexapro?

Lexapro is generally better tolerated than other antidepressants in its class, so the side effects associated with Lexapro may be less than the side effects associated with other antidepressants.

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Cipriani A, Santilli C, Furukawa TA, et al. Escitalopram versus other antidepressive agents for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD006532. 2009 Apr 15. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006532.pub2

Kennedy SH, Andersen HF, Lam RW. Efficacy of escitalopram in the treatment of major depressive disorder compared with conventional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and venlafaxine XR: a meta-analysis [published correction appears in J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2006 Jul;31(4):228]. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2006;31(2):122-131.

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Hillhouse TM, Porter JH. A brief history of the development of antidepressant drugs: from monoamines to glutamate. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015;23(1):1-21. doi:10.1037/a0038550

Findling RL, Robb A, Bose A. Escitalopram in the treatment of adolescent depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled extension trial. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2013;23(7):468-480. doi:10.1089/cap.2012.0023

Chu A, Wadhwa R. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; May 1, 2023. Accessed June 22, 2023.

Taylor MJ, Freemantle N, Geddes JR, Bhagwagar Z. Early Onset of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressant Action: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63(11):1217–1223. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.11.1217

Escitalopram. MedlinePlus. January 15, 2022. Accessed June 22, 2023.

Sanchez C, Reines EH, Montgomery SA. A comparative review of escitalopram, paroxetine, and sertraline: Are they all alike?. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2014;29(4):185-196. doi:10.1097/YIC.0000000000000023

Medications and their Effects on Weight. US Department of Veteran Affairs. December 17, 2020. Accessed June 22, 2023.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings

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