Interested in starting your healing journey? Speak with an admissions counselor now
We're Hiring!
Apply for Jobs Now

Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Lexapro is the brand name for an antidepressant medication known as escitalopram. It is considered a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which means it increases serotonin levels in the brain.[1] Medical professionals might prescribe Lexapro to treat depression or anxiety disorders.

Lexapro is not considered habit-forming and is safe to take long-term, but you need to be careful when discontinuing Lexapro. Abruptly stopping Lexapro could lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Lexapro withdrawal might include flu-like symptoms, mood swings, brain zaps, and suicidal thoughts You should always consult a healthcare professional before quitting escitalopram or any other antidepressant medication.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Whether it is safe to quit taking Lexapro cold turkey
  • What are the symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal
  • How long Lexapro withdrawal lasts

Can You Quit Lexapro Cold Turkey?

Most people assume withdrawal is only caused by drug addiction. While withdrawal is heavily associated with substance use disorders, it can occur among people who take certain daily medications that are prescribed by their doctor.

When you take antidepressants like Lexapro, your body gets used to the extra serotonin they provide. If you stop taking Lexapro suddenly, your brain will no longer have that extra serotonin, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

You should never stop taking Lexapro altogether. Instead, you should work with your doctor to slowly taper it off over time. Tapering will prevent you from experiencing uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Lexapro Withdrawal?

Lexapro withdrawal can also be referred to as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome or antidepressant withdrawal. According to a study about antidepressant withdrawal, it occurs in “approximately 20 percent of patients after abrupt discontinuation of an antidepressant medication that was taken for at least six weeks.”[2]

The symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal might include:[3]

  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Muscle tension
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Brain zaps (sensations of electrical shocks in the brain)
  • Nausea
  • Appetite and weight changes

If you are experiencing Lexapro withdrawal, you should seek medical assistance. Your doctor can help you get back on a tapering schedule to alleviate your symptoms while you slowly get off of the medication. Additionally, they can help you find an alternative to Lexapro to manage your anxiety or depression if needed.

The Lexapro Withdrawal Timeline

If you have been taking Lexapro for at least a week at once daily, the half-life is between 27 to 33 hours.[4] The symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal usually begin within 1 to 3 days of discontinuing it.

Understanding the withdrawal timeline might motivate you to stick to a tapering schedule instead of quitting cold turkey.

1 to 3 Days

The initial symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal might include headaches, slight nausea, brain zaps, and low mood. They tend to remain mild for the first day, worsening over time. If you notice that you are experiencing the initial symptoms of withdrawal, you should take your medication as soon as possible without double-dosing yourself.

3 Days to 1 Week

Between 3 days to 1 week, your symptoms will increase in severity. This is known as “peak” withdrawal. During this time, you might experience frequent brain zaps, which is a nickname for feeling electrical shocks in your brain. While they are not dangerous, they can be incredibly uncomfortable and distressing.

You will also experience a wide range of physical symptoms, including nausea, sweating, changes in appetite, and more. The most concerning symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal are the re-emergence of depression or anxiety. You could deal with suicidal thoughts, which a mental health professional must treat.

1 to 2 Weeks

Sometime between the first and second week of Lexapro withdrawal, your symptoms will begin to lessen. Most people overcome withdrawal after two weeks, however, it is possible to continue experiencing side effects for several months. Of course, you should be in contact with a healthcare professional who can assist you with your symptoms and ensure you remain physically and mentally stable.

Because of how long Lexapro withdrawal can last, you should always consult your doctor before you stop taking it. They will help you taper off of the medication safely, preventing you from experiencing withdrawal and ensuring your mental health remains intact. It typically takes two to four weeks to taper off Lexapro safely.[5]

Find Help for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. Addiction can impact every area of your life, leading to physical health concerns, increased mental health issues, strained relationships, and even legal or financial troubles. Thankfully, addiction treatment centers can help you overcome the effects of addiction and achieve long-term sobriety.

At the Mandala Healing Center, we offer evidence-based treatments for depression and substance use disorders. You will undergo behavioral therapy, and medical detox, and learn vital relapse prevention techniques. Additionally, we take a compassionate approach to addiction treatment, ensuring you feel comfortable opening up about your struggles.

Contact us today to learn more about our highly-rated drug and alcohol rehab center.


  1. Escitalopram
  2. American Family Physician (AAFP): Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome
  3. Characteristics of Escitalopram Discontinuation Syndrome
  4. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): The clinical pharmacokinetics of escitalopram
  5. Tapering of SSRI treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms