Life on Lexapro: 15 Weeks

“God gave you this life because He knew you were strong enough to live it.”

I’ve had a few people ask how things have been going since I last posted about life on Lexapro (thank you, I appreciate it) and I must say, I’ve seen some changes.

When I took my first dose on October 29th, 2016, I thought it might change me dramatically right away. Part of me believed I would immediately be calm, collected, and more focused on the important stuff in my life, rather than the small things I’d feel anxious about every day. Over time, I’ve found that this could be true, but I had to be patient.

When I was first prescribed, my doctor said I would see changes between 3 and 4 months of using Lexapro, but it might even take up to 8 months to notice the full effects. I was VERY impatient at first. I wanted to be cured! I didn’t want to feel so upset and on edge all the time. I thought this stuff was going to fix it!

Wrong. Since Lexapro is a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), my body has to get used to it over time, so I don’t see the therapeutic effects of it right away. It’s something I can use long-term without horrible side effects if I choose to stop using it someday. Other drugs, such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, are benzodiazepines (“benzos” for short), which calm you down almost instantly. THIS is the relief I initially wanted, but I realized these aren’t the right kinds of medications for the type of anxiety I was dealing with.

The cool thing about managing anxiety is that there are lots of different options to treat it. If one medication isn’t working for me, there are plenty more medications I can try with the help of my doctor. If one kind of therapy isn’t working, I can try something else, like yoga or art therapy. The possibilities really are endless, so if you’ve been dealing with anxiety and/or depression, always know that there ARE many different options to help you. Don’t be afraid to try new things that might be good for you!

While I was struggling with the test of time until my medicine would take effect, I tried to find some things that could help me focus in the mean time. I started taking time to read, color, journal, paint, or listen to music. I made a daily schedule and to-do lists to keep myself occupied. I set aside specific times to do homework, study, eat, clean, go to club meetings, relax, etc. I slowly began to realize that keeping myself busy and active really alleviated some of my anxiety.

By the time Thanksgiving break rolled around (about 4-6 weeks on Lexapro), I was seeing some very minor changes. Mind you, my doctor said it would probably be 3-4 months before I would notice the positive effects. However, things were changing. I noticed some mood swings, I’d still have good days and bad days, and I started feeling more emotional (my boyfriend can definitely confirm this). I felt a little bit of nausea, but with a few changes in my diet and by taking my medicine in the morning after breakfast, this was easily fixed. I also began feeling VERY tired. This is a pretty common side effect for many people, so I almost had to expect this one. The first month or two was a lot of trial and error and adjustment.

By Christmas (two months on Lexapro), I was starting to feel more adjusted and in control. I’d still feel anxious at times, but I wasn’t having the constant “on-edge” feeling like I used to have. That continuous little voice in my head slowly began to fade away. However, the true test would be when winter break was over and the new semester began. Like most of us, I feel most comfortable and at-ease when I’m home with my family, so during my winter break, I wasn’t sure if my medicine was really working or if this was just the usual relaxed feeling I always had while I was home. At this point, I was excited but also a little anxious to see how I would feel once I moved back to my apartment for spring semester. Things were looking up, but I was remaining patient.

Today, I am approaching 16 weeks on Lexapro, and by the end of February, I’ll be at my 4 month mark. I’m about four weeks into the spring semester and I’m feeling better than ever! Some of the more recent changes I’ve noticed are the positive ones. No more rapid heartbeat and dizziness, no more anxious nausea, better sleep at night, easier to get up in the morning. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack, which makes me one happy camper.

The weirdest part of this is that I still feel anxious at times (more anxious than the average person because that’s how life with GAD goes), but I feel like my brain and body are able to manage it much better. I am still able to recognize what makes me anxious, but it’s almost as if my brain just doesn’t care as much. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, I know that sometimes I feel better when I’m alone, and sometimes I feel better when I’m busy with other people. Lexapro hasn’t cured my anxiety, but it has given me the little 10 milligram daily dose of serotonin that my brain needs to function properly.

Overall, I’m very excited to continue seeing changes in my health and attitude. I’m excited to keep exploring new things and discover more methods of therapy that make me happy (so far, I LOVE journaling and painting). THANK YOU to my friends and family for being so patient and supportive as I handle this adjustment. To those who are struggling with GAD, other types of anxiety, depression, or anything similar, feel free to comment or reach out to me on social media (see my “About Me” tab for information). I’m always happy to offer a helping hand or simply just be an outlet for you share anything without judgement. We’re all in this life together.

Love always,

Jessica

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9 thoughts on “Life on Lexapro: 15 Weeks

  1. I am so glad I came across your article. I am on week 4 of Lexapro and to today woke up with a huge amount of anxiety.

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    • Patricia, I know the feeling. It’s a frustrating process but patience is key! I’m doing much better now and I’ve been on Lexapro for over a year! Be open with your doctor and share all your concerns. They are there to help you feel your best!

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  2. Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for sharing your story! I am suffering from GAD an now approaching month 4 on Lexapro. Overall I’d say I feel better than before I started on the meds but I am not where I would like to be. People and the Pharma industry keep saying that the meds should be fully effective after 6-8 weeks, which is not true for me since I am still quite up and down, better than before but not anxiety free. Did you also experience this up an down roller coaster ride and how long did it take before you really felt better?
    Thank you and all the best!
    Chris

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    • Hi Chris! Thanks for stopping by. I’m in the same boat. I’ve been on Lexapro for well over a year now and I think I really started to feel better around month 6 or 7. However, I still have ups and downs regularly. I do feel much better than I did before I started, though. I’ve considered switching, actually, or even bumping up my dosage. It’s scary to make a change again, but I’ve spoken to many GAD friends who have gone through a few different medications before finding their one. Lexapro is often a starter for many, as it’s very safe to stay on long-term. Definitely speak to your doctor and/or therapist about your own process! Wishing you the best, take care!

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    • Thanks for your prompt response Jessica! I am on Lexapro 2nd time and I just realized that also on my first journey it took me at least 6 months before I kind of felt recovered. Anxious blips happened also after that but they got milder over time and I reached a point where I thought I could try it without meds. Well, I realized I quit too soon and too abruptly. After three months without them I reinstated 4 months ago but I guess need more patience again before I can say that I am fully back to normal xxx Chris

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  3. I recently got bumped up from 10 to 20mg, i was still having panic attacks after 2 months on 10mg. I am in counseling and trying things like yoga. I’ve always been an anxious person but this past January I lost my mom, she was 55 and it it was sudden and i was witness to it, alone. I finally realized i was loosing control in May when i thought i was having a heart attack, but after i trip to the ER… i was having an very bad panic attack. As i said before its been 2 months and I just start the 20mg 3 days ago. I am glad i came across your journey. It gives me hope that i can be in control if not 100% at least more than i am now. I just have to be patient. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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    • I’m so sorry you had to experience the death of your mom. That is not easy for anyone, but it’s so great to hear you’re making yourself a priority! It is a unique journey for everyone. Know you are not alone on this path! Take care.

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  4. Thanks Jessica…I have been on Lexapro for 2 and a bit months and am just finally getting some relief from my GAD. Glad I hung in there…I thought after 4 weeks it would work but it took way longer. Your story is encouraging. Well done. Hope you continue on this positive road. Xx

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    • Hi Rez! Thanks for reading. I’ve been on 10mg for over a year and there are still days where I struggle. Know that you are not alone, and we all have a very different journey and experience. Take care! x

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