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What's the Best Time to Take Lexapro for Anxiety & Depression?

speciality medications

April 1, 2024
Clock beside medications

Lexapro, or generic escitalopram, is a common medication prescribed to help patients manage anxiety or depressive disorders. It’s an SSRI, or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This means it can help boost serotonin levels in the brain, which can, in turn, boost someone’s mood.

While Lexapro can be very effective, figuring out the best way to get the most out of this med can be a very individualized experience.

If you’re considering taking Lexapro, figuring out when to take Lexapro (and the Lexapro dosage best suited for you) is an important question to answer.

Night or Day? The Importance of Timing in Lexapro Dosage

Outside of a certain few medications that require timed dosage—on an empty stomach, for example, or recommended nightly administration, as with statins—many mental health medications stick to a simple once-a-day schedule.

What makes Lexapro any different?

The most important thing is to take your Lexapro at about the same time each day. This will help you remember to take your medication daily, and it’ll also help maintain steady levels of Lexapro in your system.

But should that daily dose be in the morning or in the evening?

The answer lies in your lifestyle (and in your body’s circadian rhythm).

Evaluating the Best Time to Take Lexapro

Depending on the time of day you take your Lexapro, you might have a slightly different experience. Let’s take a quick look at what happens when you take Lexapro first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed.

Morning or Night: Assessing Your Lexapro Dosing Options

Many people like taking Lexapro in the morning. There are several good reasons backing up this choice.

  • Incorporating medication into your morning routine makes taking that medication easier and more seamless.
  • Taking Lexapro, specifically in the morning, can reduce any effects the medication has on your sleep schedule. (Sometimes, taking SSRIs immediately before bed can disrupt your ability to fall asleep easily.)
  • Finally, by taking Lexapro as you kick off your day, you may be able to take better advantage of Lexapro’s antidepressant, mood-stabilizing effects as you navigate any challenges that come your way.

Unfortunately, there are downsides that may come with taking Lexapro in the morning.

Sometimes, people who take Lexapro experience side effects like dizziness and nausea immediately after taking it—which can be very disruptive to their planned activities for the day. There’s also the possibility that, as your body metabolizes your Lexapro, you can become drowsy later on in the day.

As you might expect, this depends heavily on you, your body, and the demands of your unique lifestyle. If taking Lexapro in the morning doesn’t seem like a tenable solution, you may be able to experiment and use it successfully in the evening.

What About Taking Lexapro in the Evening?

If taking Lexapro in the morning leads to a day full of side effects you’d rather avoid, a good strategy might be to take Lexapro around dinnertime or even just before you go to sleep.

Of course, this can come with its own set of potential obstacles:

  • If individuals take Lexapro before going to bed, they will likely sidestep the issue of being drowsy in the daytime. However, taking Lexapro in the evening can also make it more difficult for some people to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • While Lexapro does have a sedative effect, some users report waking up feeling particularly rested, while others experience vivid dreams or insomnia.
  • Other people find that incorporating Lexapro into a nighttime routine is far harder than incorporating it into their morning routine, since nighttime routines tend to vary a little more than morning ones. This can lead to missed doses, which is not helpful and can even be dangerous.

If you’re looking for the best time to take Lexapro for yourself, specifically, talk to your doctor—then, get ready to do a little (safe, supervised) experiment.

Get yourself a notebook, take your Lexapro in either the morning or the evening, and then write down any side effects you may experience.

Don’t assume you’ll remember—you won’t—and, regardless, if you have your symptoms and experiences written down, you’ll be able to determine patterns easily. Talk over what you find with your doctor, and then, as you establish best dosage practices for yourself, stick with them until they become an inherent, unmissable part of your daily routine.

Specific Personal Factors to Consider

As you start to determine what type of dosage schedule works for you, personally, you may realize that some of your lifestyle factors weigh heavily on your choice. For example, the following attributes of your daily routine are definitely worth thinking about carefully as you determine your best dosage schedule:

  • Your work schedule. If you’re a shift worker, work night hours, or work irregular hours, it may be difficult to determine when to time your medication to align with your sleep patterns. Since it’s important to avoid inadvertent nonadherence and also avoid an overconcentration of medication in your system, talk to your doctor about the best way to stay consistent with your Lexapro dosage and optimize your schedule for your working requirements.
  • Your lifestyle. Are you a very active person? Does your current life demand a lot of you, and do you find yourself overstressed on a regular basis? It may make sense to time taking Lexapro so you can benefit as much as possible from its mood-stabilizing effects—e.g., taking your Lexapro before a time of the day when you find yourself consistently agitated.
  • Your preferred meal schedule. Lexapro can be taken with or without food. If it works for you, aligning your Lexapro dosage with a meal time can help you form a more consistent routine. Some believe that taking Lexapro along with a meal can improve medication effectiveness, but you’ll have to see what works best for you.
Person with medication dosage in hand

Lexapro Dosage: Finding the Right Balance

We’ve talked so far about the right time of day to take your Lexapro.

Is there a specific dosage of Lexapro that works well for most adults?

Our answer here will continue a running theme: To figure out what works best for you, you’ll need to pay attention to how your first few doses of Lexapro feel in your day-to-day life. Your doctor will also be able to provide advice and even run tests to help you understand how well Lexapro is working for you, and, if needed, what your other options are.

That said, the average dose of Lexapro for adults who are battling depression is one dose of 10mg Lexapro once daily. If needed, adults may increase their dosage to 20mg once daily.

For adults dealing with anxiety, a starting dose is about 10mg of Lexapro once daily.

If you find this works for you, great!

If you realize that this amount of Lexapro is not working for you, don’t double up on doses or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval. Though these strategies may seem intuitive, implementing either one can lead to dangerous situations for you.

Side Effects and How Timing Might Affect Them

Is there a way you can take Lexapro to minimize any unwanted side effects you may be experiencing?

The most common side effects of Lexapro include nausea, sleep disturbances, dry mouth, and fatigue. (Some of these, like sleep disturbances and fatigue, may seem at odds. It depends on your lifestyle and how you react to the medication!)

If you’re able to adjust your Lexapro timing, you may be able to mitigate these effects—again, depending on which side effects you experience.

For example, if Lexapro disturbs your sleep, try taking it in the morning. If Lexapro makes you sleepy, try taking it before you sleep. And if it gives you both of these side effects, talk to your doctor about alternative timing options or additional strategies you can take.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still wondering about the best time to take Lexapro and other best practices as you get used to taking this anxiety and depression med?

Here are some of the more common questions we hear about Lexapro:

Can I change the time I take Lexapro on a day-to-day basis?

You technically can—but you risk accidental nonadherence (or forgetting to take your medication) or having an inconsistent level of Lexapro in your system, which can make any side effects you’re experiencing more intense, not less. Whenever possible, it’s best to take your Lexapro at the same time each day. If you need to change the time you’re taking your Lexapro, talk to your doctor about your options.

What if I miss a dose of Lexapro?

If you miss one of your doses of Lexapro, take it as soon as you remember you’ve missed it.

The exception? If, when you remember that you’ve missed a dose, it's almost time for your next dose, skip it—and then just take your next dose at its regularly scheduled time. Don’t take two doses at once. If this happens on a regular basis, talk to your doctor about ways to incorporate Lexapro into your routine a bit more memorably and seamlessly.

How long does it take to see the effects of Lexapro?

Depending on your dosage and symptoms, you should be able to see the beneficial effects of Lexapro within one to four weeks of beginning treatment. It can take far longer to experience the full benefits of your medication.

Even if you’re not seeing the full benefits you’d like, don’t double up or stop taking your Lexapro. In particular, stopping a medication with no tapering-down process can be very dangerous. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have before making decisions about your medication.

Can Lexapro be taken with or without food?

Lexapro can be taken with or without food. Some people may find that taking Lexapro with food helps to reduce stomach upset. Experiment with taking Lexapro at different times of the day, with and without food, to determine what works best for you, and consult with your healthcare provider if you have any specific concerns or questions.

Does the time of day I take Lexapro affect its side effects?

The specific time of day you take your Lexapro can certainly affect the side effects you experience.

For example, if you take Lexapro in the morning, you’ll have a lower chance of experiencing insomnia. But if you take it in the evening, you may experience reduced daytime drowsiness. It’s a good idea to monitor your own symptoms very closely, and then determine any timing shifts that you need to implement to get the experience you want out of your Lexapro dosage.

Is it better to take Lexapro in the morning or at night?

Unfortunately, there’s not an overarching, concrete answer to this question—but that’s actually a good thing!

If you feel better when you take Lexapro in the morning, take it in the morning; if you experience fewer side effects when you take Lexapro at night, keep doing that. And, if you need help determining what the best time to take Lexapro is for you, personally, talk to your doctor. They may be able to provide some objective insights about your daily routine or symptoms that are more difficult for you to see.

How can I adjust my Lexapro dose if the side effects are too strong?

If you’re finding that the side effects of Lexapro are a little too strong, talk to your doctor about it.

Do not try to adjust your dose of Lexapro on your own. It may seem like a relatively simple thing to do, but you don’t want to accidentally interfere with your care plan or unintentionally cause further side effects.

Your healthcare provider will be able to recommend alternative options or help you gradually increase or decrease your dose to help you feel better.

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Asking “When to Take Lexapro?” We’ve Got Answers—And Low Prices

Is it time to see for yourself how seamless it can be to find the best time to take Lexapro for anxiety and depression? Once your doctor has written you a valid, updated prescription for this medication, browse the online aisles in our international and online Canadian drugs store.

Already have an idea of what you want? Check out our informative medication pages for Lexapro or other prescription meds, or chat with our friendly, experienced patient care representatives for more information.

The team at looks forward to supporting you and your health journey.

The information provided on the website is intended to facilitate awareness about healthcare products and medical conditions generally but it is not a substitute for professional medical attention or advice. You should always speak with a qualified healthcare practitioner before taking any prescription or non-prescription drug.
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