Lexapro is an SSRI antidepressant that is FDA approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is one of the antidepressants most commonly prescribed for treatment of anxiety disorders.
Short-term vs. Long-term Use
Short-term studies have shown that Lexapro improves anxiety symptoms, but there have been few studies looking at anxiety treatment with Lexapro for more than 8 weeks.
One study that did look at the extended use of Lexapro, published in 2005, compared the effectiveness of Lexapro vs. Paxil over the course of 24 weeks. The researchers found that both drugs resulted in less anxiety and greater overall life satisfaction, and those taking Lexapro reported being slightly happier with fewer medication-related side effects. The researchers concluded that Lexapro should be considered a good first-line treatment option for GAD.
Use and Side Effects
Like other SSRIs, Lexapro can begin to improve symptoms in 1-2 weeks, but it can take up to 6 weeks to experience the full effects of treatment. The medication must be taken consistently to be effective.
Commonly reported side effects of Lexapro include nausea, insomnia, ejaculation disorder (primarily ejaculation delay), fatigue and drowsiness, increased sweating, decreased libido, and anorgasmia (difficulty achieving orgasm).
Some people report problems when they discontinue use of Lexapro and other SSRIs. To avoid these potential symptoms, such as irritability, mood changes, insomnia, it is recommended that discontinuation of Lexapro be done by gradually reducing the dose of the drug, rather than stopping abruptly.