Long-Term Lexapro Side Effects

Lexapro, known generically as escitalopram, is a drug doctors use to treat anxiety in adults and major depressive disorder in both adults and adolescents ages 12 and over. Drugs.com explains that this medication belongs to the family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These drugs help restore balance to the chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced, resulting in either depression or anxiety.

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Sexual Problems

Patients taking Lexapro may suffer from long-term sexual problems, according to both Arthur Schoenstadt, M.D., of eMedTV.com, and Drugs.com. This drug can affect a person's sex life in a number of ways. Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, affects men taking Lexapro and is a condition resulting in the inability to achieve or maintain an erection either before or during sexual intercourse. Schoenstadt states that 3 percent of men taking Lexapro in clinical trials experienced this side effect. Both genders can suffer from a decrease in sex drive, occurring in up to 7 percent of patients taking Lexapro for generalized anxiety disorder during clinical studies. It was not, however, as prevalent in those taking this drug for depression; only 3 percent of patients taking it for this reason experienced a lower libido. Another sexual side effect affecting male patients is ejaculation problems. In most cases, men experienced a delay in ejaculation rather than a complete inability to perform. The highest incidence during clinical studies took place in men taking Lexapro for generalized anxiety disorder, occurring in 14 percent of men. Only 9 percent of men taking the drug for depression had this problem.

Dry Mouth

Both Drugs.com and Schoenstadt agree that dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of Lexapro. While not serious, it is one that is not likely to subside. It occurs in 9 percent of those taking Lexapro, whether they are taking it for anxiety or depression. Schoenstadt recommends sipping water through the day and avoiding tobacco and alcohol use. Both of these products tend to worsen this side effect. Patients can also sip water while eating, as this makes chewing and swallowing easier. Sucking on cinnamon or mint-flavored hard candies can increase saliva flow.

Problems Sleeping

Sleeping difficulties, otherwise known as insomnia, occurs in 12 percent of patients, according to Schoenstadt. The most common signs of insomnia include difficulty falling or staying asleep and waking up too early in the morning. To help relieve these symptoms, patients should try going to sleep at the same time and waking at the same time each day. Exercise five or six hours before bed rather than two hours before. Take a nap no later than 3 p.m., and sleep in a dark room set at a comfortable temperature.

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