Lexapro, also known as Escitalopram, is a common medication prescribed for depression and generalized anxiety disorder. However, figuring out the best time to take this medication can be confusing. In this blog post, we explore the best time to take Lexapro, how it interacts with your daily routines, and tips to maximize its effectiveness.
The Basics You Need to Know
Lexapro (Escitalopram) is a type of antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, in the brain. Lexapro is primarily used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder but may also be prescribed for other conditions as determined by your healthcare provider.
However, like all medications, Lexapro must be taken correctly to ensure its effectiveness. Timing is one crucial aspect that can impact how well the drug works for you.
How does Lexapro work?
Before discussing the best time to take this medication, it’s essential to understand how the drug works. After ingestion, Lexapro is absorbed into your bloodstream, where it blocks the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons. This increases the amount of serotonin available in your brain, thereby helping to restore your brain’s chemical balance and promote a better mood.
Remember, the effects of Lexapro are not immediate. It usually takes several weeks for the full benefits of the medication to be felt. This is why it’s important to adhere to your prescribed schedule and dosage.
Best Time to Take Lexapro
Morning or Night: What’s The Best Time?
The best time to take this medication depends on your personal routine, lifestyle, and the specific side effects you experience. Some people may find it beneficial to take Lexapro in the morning with breakfast, while others may prefer to take it in the evening before bed.
- If you find that Lexapro makes you feel sleepy or lethargic, it may be best to take it in the evening before bedtime.
- Conversely, if this medication makes you feel energized or jittery, taking it in the morning may be a better option.
Does It Affect Sleep?
While some people find that Lexapro makes them feel drowsy, others may experience insomnia. If you find it difficult to sleep after starting Lexapro, it may be beneficial to take your dose in the morning rather than at night. However, if Lexapro makes you drowsy, taking it at night may promote better sleep. Always discuss these side effects with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re taking the medication in a way that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
Why is Consistency Crucial?
Consistency is critical when taking Lexapro. This is because maintaining a steady level of the medication in your body can help to minimize side effects and maximize benefits.
- Try to take Lexapro at the same time every day. This routine can help ensure that the drug’s levels remain steady in your body, promoting better symptom control.
- Consistency also aids in habit formation, making it less likely that you’ll forget a dose.
What if I Miss a Dose?
If you miss a dose of Lexapro, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s near the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Do not take two doses at once to make up for the missed dose. If you find that you’re often forgetting doses, discuss this with your healthcare provider, who can provide you with strategies to help you remember.
Should I Take Lexapro With Food?
Lexapro can be taken with or without food. Some people find that taking it with a meal can help minimize certain side effects, such as nausea. Ultimately, the choice depends on what works best for you.
- If Lexapro upsets your stomach, consider taking it with a meal or a small snack.
- If you find that taking it with food doesn’t make a difference, then it’s okay to take it on an empty stomach.
Alcohol and Lexapro
It’s generally advised to avoid alcohol while taking this medication. Alcohol can increase the nervous system side effects of Lexapro, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. If you drink alcohol, it’s crucial to discuss this with your healthcare provider to understand the potential risks and make an informed decision.
Dealing with Side Effects
Common Side Effects
Like all medications, Lexapro can have side effects. Common ones include drowsiness, dizziness, sleep problems, nausea, and sweating.
- While some of these side effects can be uncomfortable, they usually improve within a few days or a couple of weeks as your body adjusts to the medication.
- If they persist or worsen, it’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider.
Managing Side Effects
There are several strategies for managing side effects. If you’re experiencing insomnia, consider taking Lexapro in the morning. If you’re feeling drowsy during the day, you might find it beneficial to take your dose in the evening.
- Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep hygiene can also help manage side effects.
- Remember, do not stop taking Lexapro without talking to your healthcare provider, even if you feel well or have side effects.
Factors Influencing the Effectiveness
The effectiveness of Lexapro can be influenced by individual differences, including age, overall health, the presence of other mental or physical health conditions, and genetic factors that can affect how your body metabolizes the medication.
- Age and overall health: Older adults may process the medication more slowly, and those with liver problems may need a lower dose.
- Other health conditions: Certain conditions, like bipolar disorder or a history of drug abuse, may make Lexapro less suitable or require extra monitoring by your healthcare provider.
- Genetics: Some people may metabolize Lexapro faster or slower due to their genetic makeup.
Adherence to Medication
Adherence to the prescribed regimen, including taking the correct dose at the correct time, is critical to the effectiveness of Lexapro. Nonadherence can lead to worse health outcomes, increased hospitalizations, and higher healthcare costs.
- Use strategies such as setting reminders, using a pillbox, or linking taking your medication with a daily routine to help improve adherence.
- Discuss any barriers to taking your medication with your healthcare provider, who can provide further assistance and suggestions.
Combinations With Other Medications
Lexapro can interact with other medications, potentially affecting its effectiveness or causing unwanted side effects. Always inform your healthcare provider of any other medications or supplements you’re taking.
- Certain medications should not be used concurrently with Lexapro, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), certain pain medications, and some other types of antidepressants.
- Over-the-counter medications and supplements, like St. John’s Wort or aspirin, can also interact with Lexapro.
Switching from Another Antidepressant
If you’re switching to Lexapro from another antidepressant, the process can be complex. This is known as “cross-tapering,” and it must be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider to avoid withdrawal symptoms or relapse.
- You’ll usually start by gradually decreasing the dose of your current medication while slowly increasing Lexapro.
- It’s crucial to communicate with your healthcare provider throughout this process to manage any side effects and monitor your response to the new medication.
What to Expect When Starting Lexapro
Initial Side Effects
When you first start taking it, you may experience some side effects, such as nausea, increased anxiety, or difficulty sleeping. These usually improve within a few weeks as your body adjusts to the medication.
- Be patient with your body as it adjusts, and remember that these side effects are usually temporary.
- Keep an open line of communication with your healthcare provider to report any persisting side effects.
Most people will see an improvement in their symptoms within 1 to 4 weeks of starting Lexapro. However, it can take up to 8 weeks to feel the full effect.
- Do not be discouraged if you do not see immediate improvement. SSRIs, like Lexapro, can take time to work.
- Regular follow-ups with your healthcare provider are crucial during this period to assess your response to the medication and adjust the dose if necessary.
Can I Take Lexapro During Pregnancy?
The use of Lexapro during pregnancy is a decision that should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. There are potential risks associated with taking it while pregnant. It is classified as a Category C drug by the FDA, which means that risk cannot be ruled out.
- Studies have shown that taking Lexapro during pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, may cause complications in newborns, such as feeding difficulties, breathing problems, and seizures.
- Conversely, untreated depression and anxiety during pregnancy can also have risks for both the mother and the baby. Therefore, it’s important to discuss all potential benefits and risks with your healthcare provider.
Can I Breastfeed While Taking Lexapro?
If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider. Lexapro does pass into breast milk in small amounts, which could potentially affect a nursing infant.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics classifies Lexapro as a drug “whose effect on nursing infants is unknown but may be of concern”.
- If you and your healthcare provider decide to continue with Lexapro while breastfeeding, monitor the infant for possible side effects like excessive sleepiness or difficulty feeding.
Can I Drive or Operate Machinery While Taking Lexapro?
Lexapro may cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, or problems with concentration and coordination, particularly when you first start taking the medication or when your dose is changed. If you experience these side effects, avoid driving or operating machinery until you understand how the medication affects you.
- This is especially important when you first start your medication or if your dosage has been altered, as these side effects can be more pronounced during these periods.
- Always err on the side of caution. If you’re unsure how Lexapro impacts your ability to drive or operate machinery, speak with your healthcare provider.
Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Lexapro?
It’s generally recommended to avoid drinking alcohol while taking it. Alcohol can increase the nervous system side effects of Lexapro, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating.
- Moreover, alcohol can also exacerbate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, potentially counteracting the benefits of the medication.
- If you choose to drink alcohol while taking this medication, it should be in moderation and only after discussing it with your healthcare provider.
What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose of Lexapro?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s near the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule.
- Do not take two doses at once to make up for the missed dose.
- Regularly missing doses can reduce the effectiveness of the medication. If you’re having trouble remembering to take your medication, consider setting reminders or linking your medication schedule to a consistent part of your daily routine.
Determining the best time to take Lexapro can involve some trial and error, and what works best for one person may not work best for another. Consistency, understanding potential side effects, and communication with your healthcare provider are key to finding the optimal timing for your Lexapro dose. Always consult with a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your unique circumstances.
While taking Lexapro can be a critical component in managing depression and anxiety, it’s also important to incorporate other healthy habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and good sleep hygiene, into your wellness routine. Mental health is multifaceted, and finding a comprehensive treatment approach that works for you is crucial.