Escitalopram for anxiety & depression.

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Is escitalopram (lexapro) right for you?

There are many different types of antidepressant medications, and it’s important to find the one that’s right for you. At Brightside, we’re here to help. Our providers are knowledgeable about each type of medication for anxiety and depression and specialize in finding the best fit for your individual needs. As part of your treatment, your provider may recommend an antidepressant called escitalopram to help you feel better.

Escitalopram is a commonly used medication that is often well tolerated and effective for treating depression and other conditions. Below, we offer some helpful information about escitalopram so you can work with your provider to determine if it’s right for you and make an informed decision about your care.

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Mimi Winsberg, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Stanford-trained Psychiatrist with 25 years of practice

Get a escitalopram prescription and ongoing anxiety & depression care for only $95 / month.

What’s included in a Brightside Medication Membership:

  • Ongoing support from an expert psychiatric provider
  • Unlimited daily messaging & video follow-ups
  • Regular progress tracking

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Getting started is simple.

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Step 1

Fill out our free mental health assessment.

Start with a clinically-proven set of questions to shed light on how you’re feeling. We’ll help you understand your symptoms, then recommend the best treatment plan for you–including medication, therapy, or both.

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Step 2

Connect with your provider for a personalized treatment plan.

Get matched with an expert provider for an online video consultation. Share how you’re feeling and then decide on next steps–together.

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Step 3

Make progress and start feeling better.

Stay in touch with with unlimited messaging, plus monthly video sessions with your Therapist and unlimited video consults with your Psychiatric Provider.

Then measure your progress with regular check-ins to monitor your symptoms and make adjustments until your treatment is right for you.

Everything you need to know about escitalopram

What is escitalopram, and how does it work?

Escitalopram, commonly sold under the name lexapro, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) often used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. SSRIs are antidepressants that increase levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that helps maintain mental balance—in your brain. Increasing serotonin can improve your mood and reduce your symptoms.

Your brain is constantly changing based on your environment, behaviors, diet, and medications. SSRIs change your brain by stimulating the growth of new cells and creating stronger connections, particularly in an area of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). New cell growth in the DLPFC can regulate areas of your brain that control anger, fear, memories, and mood.

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What conditions does escitalopram treat?

Escitalopram is most commonly used to treat different types of depression, such as major depressive disorder (MDD). It can also help treat generalized anxiety disorder.

Escitalopram can also be prescribed to treat:

  • Eating disorders such as binge eating or bulimia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

At Brightside, our psychiatric providers specialize in personalizing treatment for each person. We give you personal attention and expert advice you can count on—we explain all your options and use our expertise to find the medication that’s right for you. We make sure you understand how medications work and what to expect so that your treatment is worry-free.

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What symptoms can escitalopram help reduce?

Escitalopram works well for treating depression, low energy, and anxiety.

At Brightside, we use escitalopram to treat many depression and anxiety-related symptoms, such as:

  • Changes in sleep habits, including difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or worthless
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in your regular activities
  • Muscle tension
  • Seasonal fluctuations in mood
  • Self-harm or thoughts of suicide
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Will escitalopram work for me?

Many things can affect how you respond to escitalopram, including your age, sex, underlying health conditions, and genetics. That’s why it’s so important you work with a qualified healthcare provider. At Brightside, our psychiatric providers offer personalized guidance to ensure you receive medication that provides the best possible results. We consider your symptoms, previous experiences, family history, and other personal details to help you decide what’s right for you.

It may take up to three or four weeks for escitalopram to take effect, so it’s important to continue taking it even if you don’t notice an improvement in your symptoms right away. Your provider may need to adjust your dosage to make sure you get the best results. Our expert providers will keep an eye on your progress to ensure the medication and dosage are right for you.

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How long do people generally take escitalopram?

The length of time you take escitalopram depends on your needs. Many people take escitalopram for years, while others may take it for less. Your provider will keep an eye on your health and progress to make sure you’re getting the most from your treatment.

You should continue taking escitalopram until your provider determines it’s time to stop—even if you start to feel better. If you have concerns or questions about taking the medication, talk to your provider.

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How effective is escitalopram?

Studies have shown that antidepressants relieve symptoms of depression about 40-60% of the time and additional treatments (such as therapy and lifestyle improvements) on top of medication often lead to the best outcomes.

To get the best results with medication, it’s important to consistently measure progress during treatment. This is known as Measurement Based Care, and it’s the approach we use at Brightside. It’s common to adjust the dose and/or medication when starting antidepressants until you find just the right fit.

One study found that escitalopram was more effective than other antidepressants. Another study showed escitalopram was notably more effective than a placebo when treating major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

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Does escitalopram change my personality?

Escitalopram won’t affect your personality—it doesn’t change who you are. The goal of antidepressant medication is to help you feel like your best self again. Be patient with yourself. Symptoms don’t improve overnight and remember we’re here to support you and answer your questions.

Are there side effects associated with escitalopram?

Our goal is to help you find the right treatment that provides the most benefit with the fewest side effects.

Escitalopram is a well-tolerated antidepressant. But, as with any medication, you may experience side effects. It’s essential to review the FDA’s warnings before starting a new medication.

Since there are serotonin receptors in the brain, gut, and genitals, typical side effects may include nausea or temporary changes in sex drive. Other side effects that are typically mild and short-term may include:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss

Usually, side effects go away within a week or two after your body adjusts to the medication. If they don’t go away or you’re concerned about them, talk with your provider. We may simply need to adjust your dose.

At Brightside, your health and safety are our highest priorities. We make sure you get individual attention and guidance to make sure you feel your best.

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Does escitalopram have withdrawal symptoms?

Escitalopram can help make you feel better. And when it does, some people think they’re ready to stop taking it. But, in most cases, escitalopram is part of what’s causing those good feelings—stopping your medication could bring symptoms back. That’s why it’s necessary to continue taking it. If you’re concerned about continuing to take it or you want to make any changes, talk to your provider first.

Antidepressants are not physiologically or psychologically addictive, but they can cause discontinuation syndrome if stopped abruptly. 

Discontinuation syndrome is a consequence of abruptly stopping certain types of antidepressants––particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). 

It can include a range of symptoms that may occur in patients who suddenly stop their SSRIs or SNRIs. These are the most common symptoms of discontinuation syndrome: 

  • Feeling anxious
  • Feelings of vertigo
  • Odd sensory symptoms, such as tingling feelings in the skin or what some people describe as a “zapping” sensation in the brain
  • Trouble sleeping

Talk to your provider before stopping or changing how you take your medication so that they can create a plan that gives your body enough time to adjust. This will keep you feeling well and prevent symptoms from returning.

At Brightside, your health and safety are our highest priorities. We make sure you get individual attention and guidance to make sure you feel your best.

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Can I take escitalopram during pregnancy or while nursing?

If you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, let your provider know. While escitalopram is safe to take while pregnant or nursing, you and your provider should discuss the risks and benefits of taking the medication.

Is escitalopram addictive?

Escitalopram is not considered addictive, but it can cause withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. Please talk to your provider first before you make any changes to your medication.

What does the FDA say about escitalopram?

You can view the FDA black box warning for escitalopram here. If you have questions about whether the black box warning for escitalopram applies to you, please talk to your doctor.

Conditions we treat with escitalopram

Brightside Psychiatric Providers prescribe escitalopram alongside other medicines to treat conditions including:
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