If you or a loved one is on the fence about taking antidepressants like Lexapro to treat their depression, there are a few things that you should know before making your decision. Antidepressants can have side effects that range from annoying to debilitating or even life-threatening.
Luckily, there is a great alternative to traditional depression treatments—TMS therapy. In this article, we will explore the potential side effects of medications like Lexapro and how advanced TMS therapy can be helpful instead. Read on to learn more.
What is Lexapro and What Does it Treat?
Lexapro is a brand name for escitalopram, which is an antidepressant. This medication works by affecting the balance of serotonin in your brain—serotonin being a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation. It’s most often used for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or helpless
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and/or weight (usually loss of appetite and weight)
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping too much
- Trouble concentrating or low energy
- Thoughts of suicide or suicidal behaviors
Generalized anxiety disorder involves excessive worry and tension, even if there’s little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating due to worries
- Sleep disturbances
A doctor typically prescribes a drug based on your medical history, as well as your demographic information (like your gender and age). This information helps them choose the medication that they feel will be most effective for their body. Lexapro
Lexapro Side Effects
When you introduce a new medication into your body, there are some normal side effects you may experience. In many cases, you may experience this because your enzymes metabolize the medication poorly.
If your body cannot break down the medication within the appropriate amount of time, your body will likely react negatively. However, some side effects, like Lexapro weight gain, can be direct or indirect. People who take Lexapro may experience an increase in appetite directly, or they may gain weight as their depression or anxiety lessens.
Other common side effects of Lexapro include:
- Feeling exhausted or fatigued throughout the day
- General difficulty concentrating due to worries
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased sweating
- “Brain zaps” (common during Lexapro withdrawal)
Severe side effects include:
- Fast, irregular, and pounding heartbeat
- Eye pain/swelling or redness
- Blurred vision
- Vomit resembling coffee grounds
- Bloody and black tarry stools
If you experience these types of side effects regularly while taking Lexapro medication for depression, call your doctor immediately.
Black Box Warning
U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black-box warning in October 2004 stating that some antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal behavior and thoughts in individuals 24 and under.
This warning was issued after a study showed that children and teenagers taking antidepressant medication for depression had twice the rate of suicidal behavior or thoughts compared to those receiving placebo. The FDA has not yet been able to identify whether this risk extends into adulthood, but it is important to be aware of the possibility.
What to Watch for
The FDA recommends contacting a healthcare provider if you or someone you care for experiences any of the following:
- Agitation or restlessness
- Anger, aggression, or violence
- New or worsening anxiety or depression
- Signs of mania (extreme increases in talking or activity)
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Suicide attempts
It’s also important to keep in mind that untreated depression is a serious illness. Untreated depression is much more likely to lead to suicide than antidepressants. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives to antidepressants.
TMS Therapy: A Better and Safer Alternative to Antidepressants
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is a safe, painless, and effective treatment for depression. TMS is FDA-approved to treat adults with a major depressive disorder who have failed four or more medications, including Lexapro.
TMS therapy involves using a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, which helps them produce serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that plays an important role in regulating our mood. The effect is almost immediate and can be life-changing for those who are struggling with depression.
The TMS therapy device is FDA-approved as safe and non-invasive because it does not use any medication or surgery. It’s also covered by many insurance plans so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for this alternative treatment option. If your family doctor doesn’t offer TMS therapy, ask about referring you to someone who offers this type of non-invasive depression treatment.
TMS Therapy Side Effects
While TMS therapy works similarly to antidepressants to alleviate depression symptoms, it does not use foreign substances to do so, avoiding side effects commonly associated with medications. The most common TMS therapy side effects are mild and may include:
- Scalp discomfort
While side effects are typically minimal and go away after the session is over, a trained health professional should be consulted prior to starting TMS therapy in order to minimize dangerous complications. To get the best results, you should seek treatment from a reputable provider.
Lexapro vs. TMS Therapy: Pros and Cons
When it comes to TMS and antidepressants like Lexapro, how much do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages? Here are the pros and cons of both:
Pros and cons: covered by most insurance plans, taken at home without needing a daily office visit, side effects, severe withdrawal when stopped
Pros and cons: covered by most insurance plans, daily treatment for 30 consecutive treatments; no serious side effects; no withdrawal after treatment
TMS Hudson Valley: Treating Depression
The side effects of Lexapro are a concern for many people, and for good reason. Thankfully, there is an alternative to this medication that may be better for you – TMS Therapy.
With over 50% efficacy rates for major depressive disorder, it may be time to ask yourself if there’s really any reason to continue taking antidepressants like Lexapro with all its potential risks and side effects.
If you want more information about how this therapy might work for you, contact us today. We’re always happy to answer your questions and help find answers tailored specifically to what will work best for you.