LEXAPRO FAQS: Treatment Effectiveness of Lexapro

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How to tell if Lexapro is effective for treatment of your depression. Plus treatment expectations for Lexapro.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the SSRI antidepressant LEXAPRO (escitalopram oxalate). The answers are provided by HealthyPlace.com Medical Director, Harry Croft, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist.

As you are reading these answers, please remember these are "general answers" and not meant to apply to your specific situation or condition. Keep in mind that editorial content is never a substitute for advice from your health care professional.

Q: How does one know if LEXAPRO is effective or not? What changes should I, as a patient, be looking for and how soon after I start taking it?

A: There are nine major ("core") symptoms of depression. In the successful treatment of depression, these symptoms should be gone or almost gone. In general, we are looking for a disappearance of the symptoms of sadness, despondency, and despair, and a return of energy, excitement, and enjoyment of life's events.

In my patients, I look for a return of pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction from previously enjoyed life events such as interaction with family and friends, job, hobbies, charity or church work. It is the participation in life events and the return of satisfaction and pleasure that is usually my indicator that the depressive episode has concluded. Your doctor may prescribe LEXAPRO even after you feel better. This is very important because it can reduce the risk of relapse. There are several rating scales, like the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS), Burns, Beck, and Zung which can also be used and are sometimes helpful to patients when scores are compared with depression "baselines."

LEXAPRO significantly improved depression within the first 1 to 2 weeks but full antidepressant effect may take 4 to 6 weeks or even longer to achieve remission of symptoms.

Q: What are reasonable treatment expectations when it comes to LEXAPRO?

A: The hope when using any antidepressant is that it will relieve the sufferer of the symptoms of depression and return him or her to premorbid (pre-depression) functioning. That is called remission and is the goal of depression treatment. Not only do we aim for remission, but for complete and prolonged recovery from the symptoms of depression.

Q: Can treatment with SSRIs increase the risk of suicide in some patients?

A: LEXAPRO is indicated for the treatment of major depression and prevention of relapse in adults. Adult and pediatric depressed patients can experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality), whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications. This risk may last until the depression goes away. Although no role for antidepressants in causing such behaviors has been established, healthcare professionals should observe their patients closely for clinical worsening and suicidality, especially at the beginning of a course of drug therapy, or at the time of dose changes, either increases or decreases.

Important note: If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, seek professional help immediately through your healthcare provider, or call 411 to get the phone number for the nearest local suicide hotline.

next: LEXAPRO FAQS: Side-Effects of LEXAPRO