Escitalopram Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term (2024)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 25, 2024.

Applies to escitalopram: oral solution, oral tablet.


Oral route (Tablet; Solution)

Suicidal Thoughts and BehaviorsAntidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in pediatric and young adult patients in short-term studies. Closely monitor all antidepressant-treated patients for clinical worsening, and for emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Escitalopram oxalate is not approved for use in pediatric patients less than 7 years of age.

Serious side effects of Escitalopram

Along with its needed effects, escitalopram may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking escitalopram:

Less common

  • Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • delayed or inability to have an org*sm
  • inability to have or keep an erection
  • loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • not able to have an org*sm


  • Coma
  • confusion
  • decreased urine output
  • dizziness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • headache
  • increased thirst
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nausea or vomiting
  • seizures
  • swelling of the face, ankles, or hands
  • trouble breathing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Incidence not known

  • Bigger, dilated, or enlarged pupils (black part of the eye)
  • black, tarry stools
  • bloating
  • blood in the urine
  • bloody nose
  • burning while urinating
  • changes in skin color
  • chest pain, discomfort, or tightness
  • chills
  • constipation
  • cough
  • dark-colored urine
  • eye pain and blurred vision
  • fainting
  • fever
  • heavier menstrual periods
  • hives, itching, skin rash
  • increased sensitivity of the eyes to light
  • indigestion
  • irregular or slow heart rate
  • pain, redness, or swelling in the arm or leg
  • pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back or neck
  • pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
  • painful or difficult urination
  • palpitations
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • stomach pain, continuing
  • sweating
  • swelling of the breasts or unusual milk production
  • swelling of the foot or leg
  • swollen or painful glands
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • yellow eyes or skin

Other side effects of Escitalopram

Some side effects of escitalopram may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • heartburn
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • trouble sleeping

Less common

  • Bloated or full feeling
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • decreased appetite
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or bowels
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • increased sweating
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches and pains
  • pain in the neck or shoulders
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • passing gas
  • runny nose
  • shivering
  • sneezing
  • stuffy nose
  • tooth problems
  • unusual dreams
  • unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness or feeling of sluggishness
  • yawning

Incidence not known

  • Blistering, peeling, loosening of the skin
  • change in walking and balance
  • clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • decrease in smell
  • hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss of sense of smell
  • red irritated eyes
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • redness or other discoloration of the skin
  • severe sunburn

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to escitalopram: oral solution, oral tablet.


Side effects have been reported to be generally mild and transient. They are most common during the first 2 weeks of treatment and decrease in intensity and frequency with continued treatment. They generally do not lead to treatment cessation.

The overall incidence of rates of side effects in trials with patients treated with escitalopram 10 mg per day (66%) was similar to placebo-treated patients (61%); the incidence rate in the group treated with escitalopram 20 mg per day was greater (86%). Common side effects that occurred in the 20 mg per day group with an incidence approximately twice that of the 10 mg group and approximately twice that of the placebo group included insomnia, diarrhea, dry mouth, somnolence, dizziness, increased sweating, constipation, fatigue, and indigestion.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (up to 14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Abnormal dreams, agitation, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal thinking, aggravated depression, aggression/aggressive reaction, aggravated restlessness, alcohol problem, apathy, bruxism, confusion, confusional state, depersonalization, depression, emotional lability, excitability, feeling unreal, forgetfulness, visual/auditory hallucination, hypomania, irritability, jitteriness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attack/reaction, paranoia/paroniria, sleep disorder, suicide attempt, tics

Frequency not reported: Mania, suicidal ideation/behavior

Postmarketing reports: Acute psychosis, anger, completed suicide, delirium, delusion, disorientation, non-accidental overdose, mood swings, nightmare, psychotic disorder, withdrawal syndrome[Ref]

Antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. An increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults (aged 18 to 24 years) with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders has been reported with short-term use of antidepressant drugs.

Adult and pediatric patients receiving antidepressants for MDD, as well as for psychiatric and nonpsychiatric indications, have reported symptoms that may be precursors to emerging suicidality, including anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania, and mania. Causality has not been established.[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (up to 24%), somnolence (up to 13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Dizziness, lethargy, paresthesia, tremor

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Amnesia, ataxia, carpal tunnel syndrome, cerebrovascular disorder, concentration impairment, dysesthesia, disequilibrium, dysgeusia, dystonia, hyperkinesia, hyperreflexia, hypertonia, hypoesthesia, lightheadedness, migraine, nerve root lesion, neuralgia, neuropathy, paralysis, sedation, syncope, taste alteration/perversion

Rare (less than 0.1%): Serotonin syndrome

Frequency not reported: Abnormal gait, cerebrovascular accident, choreoathetosis, convulsions/seizure, dyskinesia, extrapyramidal disorder, grand mal convulsions/seizures, myoclonus, movement disorder, psychom*otor restlessness/akathisia

Postmarketing reports: Dysarthria, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, nystagmus, parkinsonism, restless legs, tardive dyskinesia[Ref]

Convulsions (including grand mal convulsions) have been reported with racemic citalopram.

Potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SSRIs and SNRIs as monotherapy, but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs and drugs that impair the metabolism of serotonin. Serotonin syndrome has been reported with racemic citalopram.

At least one case of escitalopram-induced paroxysmal dystonia has been reported in the literature. A 44-year-old woman developed paroxysmal cervical-cranial dystonia after receiving several days of treatment with escitalopram. The paroxysmal movement disorders were characterized by cervical and oral contracture with sustained and painful laterocollis and twisting tongue movements. The episodes occurred several times a day lasting for several minutes and would resolve spontaneously. The day after escitalopram was discontinued, the paroxysmal symptoms resolved without recurrence.[Ref]


Cases of QT interval prolongation and ventricular arrhythmias reported in postmarketing experience were predominantly in females, with hypokalemia, or with pre-existing QT interval prolongation or other cardiac diseases.

Postural hypotension has been reported with other SSRIs.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Palpitation

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal ECG, aggravated hypertension, angina pectoris, bradycardia, chest tightness, chest pain, flushing, hematoma, hot flush, hypertension, hypotension, myocardial infarction, myocardial ischemia, myocarditis, edema, edema of extremities, peripheral edema, peripheral ischemia, tachycardia, traumatic hematoma, varicose vein, vein disorder, vein distended

Frequency not reported: Orthostatic hypotension, prolonged QT, torsades de pointes

Postmarketing reports: Abnormal bleeding, atrial fibrillation, cardiac failure, deep vein thrombosis, hypertensive crisis, phlebitis, postural hypotension, thrombosis, ventricular arrhythmia, ventricular tachycardia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (up to 18.3%), diarrhea (up to 14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Abdominal pain, constipation, dry mouth, dyspepsia, flatulence, indigestion, toothache, vomiting

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abdominal cramp, abdominal discomfort, belching, bloating, change in bowel habit, colitis, enteritis, epigastric discomfort, gastritis, gastrointestinal bleeding, gastrointestinal hemorrhage (including rectal hemorrhage), gastroesophageal reflux, hemorrhoids, heartburn, increased stool frequency, irritable bowel syndrome, melena, periodontal destruction, tooth disorder, ulcerative colitis, ulcerative stomatitis

Frequency not reported: Gastroenteritis

Postmarketing reports: Dysphagia, pancreatitis, stomatitis[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Decreased appetite, increased appetite, weight increased

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal glucose tolerance, anorexia, carbohydrate craving, diabetes mellitus, gout, hypercholesterolemia, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, thirst, weight decreased

Frequency not reported: Hyponatremia

Postmarketing reports: Hypoglycemia, hypokalemia[Ref]

Numerous cases of hyponatremia have been reported following treatment with an SSRI. Risk factors for the development of SSRI- associated hyponatremia including advanced age, female gender, concomitant use of diuretics, low body weight, and lower baseline serum sodium levels have been identified. Hyponatremia tends to develop within the first few weeks of treatment (range 3 to 120 days) and typically resolves within 2 weeks (range 48 hours to 6 weeks) after therapy has been discontinued with some patients requiring treatment. The proposed mechanism for the development of hyponatremia involves SIADH via release of antidiuretic hormone.

A 62-year-old woman developed hyponatremia approximately 3- weeks after initiating treatment with escitalopram. Following discontinuation of the drug and administration of intravenous normal saline solution, the patient's serum sodium and serum and urine osmolality returned to normal levels.

In a similar case, hyponatremia developed in a 75-year-old woman five days after initiating treatment with escitalopram. Following discontinuation of escitalopram serum sodium levels returned to normal values over a period of 5 days. The authors suggest that the risk of hyponatremia is highest during the initial weeks of treatment and is higher in women than in men, in patients 65 years of age or older, and in patients receiving multiple drugs that may also cause hyponatremia.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Fatigue, pyrexia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abscess, accidental injury, asthenia, bite, burn, deafness, earache, ear disorder, ear infection not otherwise specified, facial edema, fall, food poisoning, fractured neck of femur, hernia, inflicted injury (unintended injury), malaise, otitis externa, otosalpingitis, rigors, sting, surgical intervention, tinnitus, traumatic hematoma, vertigo

Postmarketing reports: Injury not otherwise specified, spontaneous abortion[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): ejacul*tion disorder (up to 14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Anorg*smia, decreased libido, ejacul*tion failure, impotence, menstrual disorder, vagin*l bleeding

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Amenorrhea, atrophic vaginitis, breast pain, cystitis, delayed ejacul*tion, dysmenorrhea, dysuria, genital infection, genital moniliasis, intermenstrual bleeding, loss of libido, menopausal symptoms, menorrhagia, menstrual cramps, metrorrhagia, micturition disorder, micturition frequency, nocturia, polyuria, postmenopausal bleeding, premenstrual tension, prostatic disorder, sexual function abnormality, unintended pregnancy, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, urinary retention, urinary tract infection, uterine fibroid, vagin*l candidiasis, vagin*l hemorrhage, vaginitis

Frequency not reported: Galactorrhea, priapism[Ref]

Urinary retention and galactorrhea have been reported with other SSRIs. The estimates of the incidence of untoward sexual experience and performance may underestimate their actual incidence, partly because patients and physicians may be reluctant to discuss this issue.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Increased sweating

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Acne, aggravated psoriasis, alopecia, cellulitis, dry skin, eczema, erythematous rash, fungal dermatitis, furunculosis, hematomas, lichenoid dermatitis, onychomycosis, pruritus, purpura, pustular rash, rash, scar, skin disorder, urticaria, verruca

Frequency not reported: Angioedema, ecchymosis

Postmarketing reports: Epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, Stevens Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis[Ref]

Angioedema has been reported with racemic citalopram.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)

Postmarketing reports: Hyperprolactinemia[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anemia, hypochromic anemia, leucopenia

Frequency not reported: Thrombocytopenia

Postmarketing reports: Agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, decreased prothrombin, hemolytic anemia, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, increased INR[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Bilirubinemia, hepatic enzymes increased

Postmarketing reports: Abnormal liver function tests, fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis, hepatitis, increased bilirubin[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Aggravated allergy, allergic reactions

Rare (less than 0.1%): Anaphylaxis/anaphylactic reaction

Postmarketing reports: Hypersensitivity not otherwise specified, photosensitivity reaction[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Influenza-like symptoms

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Bacterial infection, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, infection, moniliasis, parasitic infection, tuberculosis[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Arthralgia, back pain, myalgia, neck/shoulder pain

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Arthritis, arthropathy, arthrosis, bursitis, costochondritis, fibromyalgia, ischial neuralgia, jaw stiffness, leg pain, limb pain, leg cramps, lumbar disc lesion, muscle contractions, muscle cramp, muscle spasms, muscle stiffness, muscle tightness, muscle weakness, myopathy, osteoporosis, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, tenosynovitis, tetany, twitching

Postmarketing reports: Rhabdomyolysis[Ref]

Epidemiological studies, primarily in patients aged 50 years or older, have shown an increased risk of bone fractures in patients receiving SSRIs or TCAs.[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal accommodation, abnormal vision, blepharospasm, blurred vision, dry eyes, eye infection, eye irritation, eye pain, mydriasis, ocular hemorrhage, visual disturbance, xerophthalmia

Postmarketing reports: Angle closure glaucoma, diplopia[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cyst, female breast neoplasm, ovarian cyst[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pyelonephritis, renal calculus

Postmarketing reports: Acute renal failure[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Pharyngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infection, yawning

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Asthma, bronchitis, coughing, dyspnea, epistaxis, laryngitis, nasal congestion, nasopharyngitis, pneumonia, respiratory tract infection, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, sinus headache, sleep apnea, snoring, tracheitis, throat tightness

Postmarketing reports: Pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension of the newborn[Ref]

Frequently asked questions

  • SSRI’s vs SNRI’s - What's the difference between them?
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  • When is the best time to take Lexapro?
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  • What are some common side effects of antidepressants?

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1. Product Information. Lexapro (escitalopram). Forest Pharmaceuticals. 2002.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. UK Summary of Product Characteristics.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. Australian Product Information.

4. Covyeou JA, Jackson CW. Hyponatremia associated with escitalopram. N Engl J Med. 2007;356:94-5.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circ*mstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.

Medical Disclaimer

Escitalopram Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term (2024)


Escitalopram Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term? ›

Adult and pediatric patients receiving antidepressants for MDD, as well as for psychiatric and nonpsychiatric indications, have reported symptoms that may be precursors to emerging suicidality, including anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, ...

Does escitalopram have long-term effects? ›

Speak to your doctor if you are worried. Otherwise there do not seem to be any lasting harmful effects from taking escitalopram for many months or years.

What are life threatening considerations for escitalopram? ›

People with heart problems: Taking this drug may cause a prolonged QT interval. This is a heart rhythm issue that may cause your heartbeat to be abnormal. Your risk for QT interval prolongation is greater if you have heart disease. Talk with your doctor before taking this drug.

What is the biggest side effect of Lexapro? ›

Common side effects of Lexapro include nausea, sexual side effects, and insomnia. For some people, these go away as your body gets used to the medication. More serious side effects of Lexapro are rare. These include suicidal thoughts or behaviors, abnormal bleeding, and serotonin syndrome.

What are the negative long-term effects of antidepressants? ›

During long-term SSRI therapy, the most troubling adverse effects are sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and sleep disturbance.

What does escitalopram do to the brain? ›

Experts are unsure exactly how escitalopram works, although historically it was believed that escitalopram's effects were due to its ability to rebalance chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, that were thought to be imbalanced in people with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

When are Lexapro side effects the worst? ›

Lexapro side effects are similar to those associated with other SSRIs and antidepressants. In many cases, symptoms are most prominent for the first 1-2 weeks of treatment. After that, typically many symptoms subside.

Is escitalopram a high risk medication? ›

Escitalopram may cause some teenagers and young adults to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed.

What is the FDA warning for escitalopram? ›

Known hypersensitivity to escitalopram or citalopram or any of the inactive ingredients (4.3). Clinical Worsening/Suicide Risk: Monitor for clinical worsening, suicidality and unusual change in behavior, especially, during the initial few months of therapy or at times of dose changes (5.1).

Is escitalopram bad for the heart? ›

Regarding secondary outcomes, escitalopram use in patients with underlying heart diseases did not significantly increase the risk of all-cause mortality or acute coronary syndrome. Two studies specifically evaluated the incidence of cardiac death and reported no cases of cardiac death.

Is Lexapro hard on your body? ›

SSRIs, including Lexapro, are tolerated well compared to other types of antidepressants. In general, you may have more side effects if you take a higher dosage of the drug. At a high dosage, Lexapro is more likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea.

How long should you stay on Lexapro for anxiety? ›

If you are experiencing your first episode of depression or anxiety, you may take Lexapro for a defined period—such as between six months and one year. For individuals with a chronic mental health condition, it may be necessary to take Lexapro for an extended period (over many years).

Why is Lexapro making my anxiety worse? ›

SSRIs are thought to improve mood by boosting serotonin activity in the brain. But serotonin is not always a bed of roses. In the early days of treatment, it can increase levels of fear and anxiety and even suicidal thinking in some younger people. As a result, patients may stop using the treatment after a few weeks.

What happens if you take antidepressants for years? ›

As we've learned more about the long-term effects of antidepressants, some of the top concerns that have emerged have to do with weight gain and diabetes. However, many other side effects can continue long term and can have a negative impact on your quality of life.

What are the long-term dangers of SSRI? ›

Two recent reviews of research in this area concluded that discontinuation effects, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and sleep disturbance (multiple long-wake periods) are adverse effects of long-term SSRI use.

Can antidepressants cause permanent issues? ›

Antidepressants can cause unpleasant side effects. Signs and symptoms such as nausea, weight gain or sleep problems can be common initially. For many people, these improve within weeks of starting an antidepressant. In some cases, however, antidepressants cause side effects that don't go away.

Does escitalopram lose effectiveness over time? ›

No one knows for sure why these medications lose their effectiveness the longer you take them, but one theory is that the receptors in the brain become less sensitive to the medication. Other common SSRIs prescribed for depression that can “poop out” on you include: Celexa (citalopram) Lexapro (escitalopram)

Is escitalopram safe for heart? ›

Regarding secondary outcomes, escitalopram use in patients with underlying heart diseases did not significantly increase the risk of all-cause mortality or acute coronary syndrome. Two studies specifically evaluated the incidence of cardiac death and reported no cases of cardiac death.

Can Lexapro cause health problems? ›

Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness.

Does escitalopram affect short term memory? ›

There were no significant group differences for any of the 'cold' cognitive tests, therefore escitalopram had no effect on the measures of attention, memory, cognitive flexibility and response inhibition.


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