How long does Lexapro stay in your system?

Lexapro is a category of drugs called a sedative serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is often used to treat co-occurring mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Approved by the FDA in 2002, Lexapro works by balancing out the levels of serotonin in the brain and the nerves. Antidepressants like Lexapro are the most commonly prescribed substances in the United States with more than 40 million people taking these medications.

How long does Lexapro stay in your system? Lexapro and other SSRI medications will often linger in the body for about six days. However, many contributing factors can determine how long the drug will stay in your body including how often you take it, how fast your body can metabolize the substance and other unique biological factors.

A small box of prescription Lexapro medication and two blister packs are stacked on top of one another next to the packaging.

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These prescription medications are also some of the most highly addictive with reports of substance withdrawal or other associated symptoms to reduction or elimination of the drug. In fact, more than half of the people who take SSRIs and quit experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are known by doctors as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome and can develop as soon as a few days after you’ve stopped taking the medication. Lexapro withdrawal side effects can last anywhere from one to three weeks.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms – chills and muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering things

For those who are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, feelings of anxiety and depression could relapse as a part of the Lexapro withdrawal side effects. For those who have been taking this drug for a while, it can take time for the brain to readjust to its absence and begin to take a toll on the body physically and emotionally. Another common side effect is what researchers and doctors call Lexapro withdrawal brain zaps.

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This phenomenon still baffles doctors as to why it happens and what causes it, despite a high volume of incidents. Brain zaps or brain shakes are the sensations of jolts of electricity that feel like they are moving through the head, neck and down the spine. These sensations are often experienced by those who have stopped taking medications such as SSRIs or other types of antidepressant drugs. Those who stop taking illicit drugs such as cocaine after a long period of bingeing can also experience brain zaps.  Those who have reported this symptom say it isn’t painful necessarily, but it can be uncomfortable as feelings of electricity or brain shivers travel through the body.

At drug and alcohol addiction centers such as Hotel California by the Sea, prescription medications that fall under the category of SSRIs are one of the most common types of addictions treated. Through medically managed detox and rigorous substance abuse therapies such as CBT, DBT and EMDR therapy, Hotel California by the Sea creates individualized treatment plans for men, women and young adults. Individuals suffering from prescription medication addiction have a multitude of options when it comes to recovery. By addressing both the emotional and physical aspects of addiction, individuals suffering from prescription medication abuse will have a more successful chance for sobriety.