Best time to take lexapro for anxiety?

Anxiety can be a debilitating condition, impacting one’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. Finding the right treatment can be life-changing, and for many people, Lexapro (escitalopram) has proven to be an effective solution. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Lexapro helps to regulate mood by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. But when is the best time to take Lexapro for anxiety? In this article, we will delve into the optimal timing for taking this medication, as well as considerations to help you make the most of its benefits and minimize potential side effects. Remember, always consult your healthcare professional before making any changes to your treatment plan.

What is Lexapro?

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Lexapro, also known by its generic name escitalopram, is a prescription medication belonging to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is primarily used to treat depression and various anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

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How does it work?

Lexapro (escitalopram) works by affecting the balance of chemicals in the brain, specifically targeting serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in mood regulation, emotional well-being, and anxiety reduction. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Lexapro helps to maintain higher levels of serotonin by blocking its reabsorption (reuptake) into the presynaptic neuron.

Under normal circumstances, once serotonin has been released into the synaptic gap (the space between two neurons), it is reabsorbed by the presynaptic neuron to be reused or broken down. Lexapro prevents this reabsorption process, allowing more serotonin to remain in the synaptic gap. This increased availability of serotonin enhances neurotransmission and leads to improvements in mood and a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

Best time to take lexapro

The best time to take Lexapro (escitalopram) for anxiety can vary from person to person, depending on individual factors and preferences. However, there are some general guidelines that can be helpful:


It is essential to take Lexapro at the same time each day to maintain consistent levels of the medication in your system. This helps to ensure its effectiveness and minimise the potential for side effects.

Morning or evening 

Some people find it beneficial to take Lexapro in the morning, as it may provide relief from anxiety symptoms throughout the day. Others may prefer taking it in the evening to minimise potential side effects such as drowsiness, which can occur in some individuals. It’s crucial to find the time that works best for you, and you may need to experiment with different times to determine the optimal schedule.

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With or without food 

Lexapro can be taken with or without food. However, if you experience gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea or upset stomach, taking the medication with food may help reduce these symptoms.

Consider side effects 

Pay attention to how Lexapro affects your energy levels, sleep, and daily routine. If you experience drowsiness or insomnia, adjust the time you take the medication accordingly.

What is the typical dosage of Lexapro for anxiety?

Here is a general guideline for Lexapro dosages based on age and the type of anxiety disorder:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

  • Adults (18 years and older): The initial dose is usually 10 mg once daily, which can be increased to a maximum of 20 mg per day, depending on the patient’s response to the medication and tolerance.
  • Adolescents (12 to 17 years old): The initial dose is typically 10 mg once daily, which may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg per day, depending on the patient’s response and tolerance.

Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and other anxiety disorders:

  • Adults (18 years and older): The initial dose is generally 10 mg once daily, which can be increased to a maximum of 20 mg per day, based on the patient’s response and tolerance.
  • Adolescents (12 to 17 years old): The initial dose is typically 10 mg once daily, which may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg per day, depending on the patient’s response and tolerance.

How long does it take for Lexapro to start working for anxiety?

Lexapro (escitalopram) generally takes some time to start showing its effects on anxiety. While some individuals may notice improvements within the first week or two, it often takes 4 to 6 weeks for the medication to reach its full effectiveness. 

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Are there any side effects of taking Lexapro?

Some common side effects of Lexapro include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Weight changes (gain or loss)
  • Sexual side effects, such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, or difficulty reaching orgasm

Less common but more serious side effects may include:

  • Serotonin syndrome 

This is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition caused by an excess of serotonin in the body. Symptoms include agitation, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, muscle stiffness, fever, and seizures. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors 

In some cases, especially in younger individuals, antidepressants like Lexapro may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. If you or a loved one experiences suicidal thoughts or a sudden worsening of mood while taking Lexapro, contact your healthcare professional right away.

  • Severe allergic reactions

Although rare, some people may experience a severe allergic reaction to Lexapro, with symptoms such as rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical help.


Q1: How long should I take Lexapro?

Ans: The duration of Lexapro treatment depends on individual factors and the specific anxiety disorder. Generally, it is recommended for at least 6-12 months.

Q2: Can I take Lexapro during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Ans: The safety of Lexapro during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not fully established. Consult your healthcare professional to discuss the risks and benefits and determine the best course of action.

Q3: How does Lexapro interact with other medications?

Ans: Best time to take lexapro for anxiety with various medications, including other antidepressants, blood thinners, pain relievers, and herbal supplements like St. John’s wort. Inform your healthcare provider about all medications and supplements you take to avoid potential interactions.

Q4: Can Lexapro cause weight gain or loss?

Ans: Weight changes, including gain or loss, can be a side effect of Lexapro. However, this varies among individuals. Monitor your weight, and if concerned, discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Q5: How do I taper off Lexapro safely?

Ans: To avoid withdrawal symptoms, it is important to taper off Lexapro gradually under your healthcare professional’s guidance. They will provide a tailored plan to reduce your dosage safely over time.

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