Today is Monday, which means Medication Monday, the new series where I explore mental health medication and the stigma surrounding them. For today’s post I will be focusing on Lexipro (Escitalopram), which I am plenty familiar with given that it is what I take.
Lexapro is typically prescribed in either 10 or 20 mg doses. I started at 10 before being increased to 20. Starting low is common to reduce the risk of side effects. It is taken once a day, with food. If you take it without food you’ll likely have an upset stomach, which I’ve experienced a couple times. So the long story short of it is that if your doctor and pharmacist tell you to take medication with food, you should probably listen.
Another side effect of Lexapro is typically trouble sleeping, because Lexapro serves as an “activator” within the brain. However, some individuals, myself included, have the opposite reaction and it makes them drowsy, which is why I take it at night instead of in the morning as is usually recommended.
Other side effects of Lexapro can include headaches, nausea, dry mouth, and increased sweating, although I can’t speak to those as much because I haven’t experienced them. The doctor’s office did warn me when they increased my dose that I might experience headaches, which makes me think it is one of the more common side effects along with stomach issues.
I keep making a point to discuss my experiences with the medication because mental health medication, like mental illness itself, can be a different experience for everyone depending on how your body reacts to the medication. Indeed, it can seem like a side effects Russian Roulette taking mental health medication. And sometimes it doesn’t even work, and you’ll have to start all over with a new medication.
Yet despite all the frustrating realities that comes with mental health medication, it is nevertheless completely worth it. I’ve heard from many who take meds that it has made such a difference in their day-to-day lives, in some cases even pulling them back from the edge. For me, Lexapro has helped me manage my anxiety some and reduced the frequency of my major depressive episodes. And although I sometimes wish it would do more, that shouldn’t take away from the success it has had. Because another frustrating reality of mental health medication is that it may never completely alleviate the symptoms, but may merely dial it down a bit. Yet in the midst of a battle with mental illnesses, dialing it down can make all the difference.
So, if you have questions about Lexapro, or any other mental health medication, be sure to ask your doctor. And join me next Monday for the next Medication Monday post.