Escitalopram (Lexapro): How Long Does It Stay In Your System?

Lexapro is a medication that is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It can help restore neurotransmitters in a person’s blood and central nervous system, which influences their mood. While Lexapro can remain in your system for approximately a week, it is critical that a person not stop “cold turkey,” which can result in very serious side effects. This article will review some of the important details that you should know about taking Lexapro to decrease the risk of any side effects occurring due to use of the medication. There is no universal answer to how long escitalopram (Lexapro) would remain in a person’s system after discontinuing the drug. Instead, the exact length of time that escitalopram (Lexapro) remains in a person’s system depends on a variety of factors, including the dosage taken. For a person taking a 10-mg dose of escitalopram, based on the half-life of escitalopram, substantial traces of the drug would remain in a person’s system for a little over a week.

Lexapro (Escitalopram) How Long Does It Stay In Your System?

Available as a tablet or liquid solution, the drug is often taken daily with or without food. Physicians will likely start a person at a low dose of escitalopram, which is then increased after one week.

Many people do not experience the full effect of escitalopram until one to four weeks have passed. It is imperative that a person continues to take the medication, even if they do not feel well. It is also important to never stop taking the medication without first consulting with a physician.

Escitalopram is classified as a Schedule 5 drug, which means the drug has a low potential for misuse in relation to other available drugs, and there is currently an accepted medical use for the drug. A charge of possessing escitalopram without a lawful prescription, however, can result in a person facing several thousand dollars in fines and even time in jail.

There are a number of antidepressants on the market that contain escitalopram, including Cipralex and Lexapro. Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety disorders by increasing the amount of serotonin. The medication is also occasionally prescribed for other uses including body dysmorphic disorders, borderline personality disorder, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and trichotillomania.

Lexapro (Escitalopram) How Long Does It Stay In Your System?

As this article has already mentioned, serotonin is the neurotransmitter in the brain and central nervous system responsible for creating feelings of well-being and happiness. The human body naturally produces serotonin, but some people produce an insufficient level of the chemical. SSRIs block serotonin from being reabsorbed by the nerve cells from which they are released, resulting in an increased amount of serotonin between the two communicating cells.

Medical researchers believe that this increased amount of serotonin strengthens communication between nerve cells responsible for mood regulation. The exact way in which SSRIs help to stimulate nerve cell growth, however, is still an ongoing research topic.

SSRIs have a “half-life,” which is a term used to describe how long the medication remains in a person’s body. While medications with a short half-life can leave a person’s body within two days, medications with a longer half-life can take up to four weeks to leave a person’s body.

Lexapro’s half-life is 27 to 32 hours. For example, if a person took a single dose of 10 mg of Lexapro, within 27 to 32 hours, the dosage would be halved to 5 mg, and 27 to 32 hours from that point, the dosage would be halved to 2.5 mg and will continue to halve until the medication is out of a person’s bloodstream.

The largest factor that influences how long escitalopram remains in a person’s system is the dose that a person takes. The effective dose of Lexapro ranges from 10 to 20 mg daily. As a result, people who discontinue escitalopram and only take 10 mg a day are likely to withdraw from the drug without any significant problems and can sometimes even quit cold turkey.

People who take large doses of the drug (20 mg, for example) are likely to experience a number of complications while withdrawing from the medication. In many cases, physicians will slowly wean patients who take larger doses of escitalopram and might even prescribe a secondary medication for the patient to temporarily take instead of escitalopram.

Other factors that influence how long escitalopram (Lexapro) stays in a person’s system include the length of time for which the person takes the medication and their weight.

Lexapro takes 4.5 to 5 days for the medication to return to undetectable levels in a person’s bloodstream. While some antidepressants like Wellbutrin, Prozac, Desyrel, and Serzone can show up on urine screening tests, Lexapro is not typically a drug that is measured in this way.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.