Mar 21, 2023
What You Need To Know About The Alternatives to Lexapro
While Lexapro is one of the top antidepressants prescribed for depression and anxiety, it's not necessarily the right drug for everyone. Some may find it ineffective, while others might not be able to tolerate the side effects or experience worsening symptoms.
Whatever the case, there are different medications and treatment options other than Lexapro. We put together this guide to provide an overview of these alternative treatments so that you can make an informed decision about which treatment plan is best for you.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting or stopping any medication.
What is Lexapro?
Lexapro (Escitalopram) is a prescription drug that belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of medications. Lexapro helps regulate mood and anxiety by balancing the levels of serotonin in the body.
While Lexapro is FDA-approved to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it's often used "off-label" for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and certain eating disorders, like binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa.
Side effects of Lexapro
As with most antidepressants, some side effects may occur, especially when first taking it. These side effects include insomnia, nausea, dry mouth, sexual problems, and fatigue.
Though rare, severe side effects are also possible. You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience unexplained weight loss, weight gain, or changes to your menstrual cycle.
Call 911 or seek medical attention right away if have any of the following side effects:
Suicidal thoughts or actions
Severe allergic reaction (wheezing, trouble breathing, swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, itching, blisters on the skin, rashes, or hives)
Manic or hypomanic episodes
Alternative options to Lexapro
Other medication options
Several other antidepressants are available to treat anxiety and depression. These prescription medications include other SSRIs, Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), and Atypical antidepressants.
Sometimes only one type may be needed to work. Other times, a combination of medicines may be a better option.
Other SSRIs commonly prescribed include:
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs):
Often combining an antidepressant with therapy is more effective than taking medication alone. Psychotherapy, known as talk therapy, is used to treat various mental health issues.
Commonly used types of Psychotherapy for depression include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Psychodynamic therapy (psychoanalytic therapy)
It's important to remember the right type of therapy will differ from person to person. Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations if you need help deciding where to start.
Switching from Lexapro to an alternative medication
Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, especially if you stop abruptly. Never stop taking Lexapro without consulting your healthcare provider, as they can help you slowly taper down to minimize any adverse reactions.
While the risk of complications is reduced when gradually decreasing Lexapro and with clinical oversight, you still may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Reach out to your doctor if you are tapering down and experiencing any of these.
Lexapro is a common medication used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Sometimes adding in therapy can make it much more effective. However, it's not for everyone.
With the guidance of your doctor, exploring other medications and therapy options is the best way to find the best alternative for your mental health needs.
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