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Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
If you have major depressive disorder (MDD) or an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, your healthcare provider may prescribe the antidepressant Lexapro® (escitalopram) to help you gain more control over your symptoms.
Lexapro can be taken once per day, either in the morning or in the evening. If you currently take your medication in the evening, switching Lexapro from night to morning is usually a simple and straightforward process.
Below, we’ve explained what Lexapro is, as well as how it works as a medication for depression and anxiety.
We’ve also explained how you can switch Lexapro from night to morning usage without causing any unwanted side effects or withdrawal symptoms.
Finally, we’ve shared some things that you should know before switching your Lexapro dosage schedule, as well as a few simple tactics that you can use to get the best results from Lexapro going forward.
Lexapro is an antidepressant that contains the active ingredient escitalopram. It belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants and works by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain and body.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or natural type of chemical, that plays a major role in managing your moods and feelings. It’s involved in regulating your feelings of happiness and anxiety. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior.
By increasing serotonin levels, Lexapro and similar medications can help to reduce the severity of the symptoms of depression, improving your quality of life and letting you focus your attention and efforts on getting better.
Lexapro should be taken once per day. It’s okay to take Lexapro in the morning or at nighttime, as long as you take your medication on a consistent schedule.
There are a few reasons why you may want to change your dosage schedule for Lexapro. One is that some of the potential side effects of Lexapro can have a bigger impact on your quality of life when they occur at night rather than during the day.
Common side effects of Lexapro include:
Several of these side effects can be quite an annoyance at night. For example, if you’re prone to insomnia or sleep disturbances from Lexapro or similar antidepressants, taking your medication at night may have a serious impact on your well-being and general health.
By switching to a morning schedule, you may be able to reduce the impact of Lexapro and other antidepressants on sleep and benefit from improved sleep quality.
Since it’s more common to have sex at night than in the daytime, any sexual dysfunction caused by Lexapro can quickly become an irritating side effect if you usually take your medication in the evening.
Switching to a morning dosage schedule may reduce the severity of these side effects and stop them from having such an impact on your quality of life.
Another reason to switch from a night to a morning dosage schedule with Lexapro is that you find it easier to remember your medication in the morning.
Remembering to take medication at night can be challenging, as it’s easy to slip into “relaxation mode” an hour or two before bedtime. You may find that you miss doses of Lexapro more often if you stick to an evening dosage schedule.
Finally, if you’re prescribed other medication that you need to take in the morning, switching to a morning dosage schedule with Lexapro can help to keep things simple.
Switching Lexapro from night to morning is a simple process. If you normally take your dose of Lexapro before going to bed, simply skip one dose, then take it the next morning following your new dosage schedule.
There’s generally no need to adjust your dosage, take a double dose or do anything else overly complicated during the “switching” process. Instead, you can continue to take the same dosage of Lexapro, just in the morning instead of at night.
If you often forget to take your medication and need help adapting to a new dosage schedule, it may help to set a reminder on your phone letting you know that you need to take Lexapro in the morning.
After a few days, taking your medication in the morning should become a new habit that you can easily stick to.
If you forget to take escitalopram and remember on the same day, take the late dose as soon as you remember. If you forget and only remember the next day, skip the missed dose and take the medication one time per day as normal.
If you accidentally take too much escitalopram and experience symptoms such as an overly fast heart rate, vomiting, dizziness, seizures, sedation or shaking, call 911 for emergency assistance as soon as you can.
Although switching Lexapro from night to morning usually doesn’t cause any issues, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider before you make any changes to the way you take your medication.
Your healthcare provider may give you a specific schedule to follow when switching from night to morning usage of Lexapro or give additional instructions to help you use your medication as safely as possible.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when changing your Lexapro dosage schedule:
There’s no “best time of day to take Lexapro” for every person. The side effects of Lexapro can vary from person to person, meaning there’s no perfect time of day to take this medication.
If you’re prone to insomnia or sexual health issues from Lexapro, taking it in the morning will usually be best for you. However, if you get nausea or fatigue from Lexapro, you may prefer to take Lexapro before you go to bed.
Lexapro may take several weeks to start working. Many antidepressants take several weeks to start working. You may need to take Lexapro for four weeks or more before you notice any improvements in your sleep, appetite, concentration or mood.
Your healthcare provider may suggest waiting for Lexapro to start working before making any changes to your dosage schedule.
Many side effects of Lexapro are temporary. It’s far from uncommon to deal with side effects during the first few weeks or months of taking Lexapro, only to have these issues become less severe over time.
If you’ve just started to use Lexapro, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about side effects before changing your dosage schedule.
Lexapro can cause withdrawal symptoms if it’s stopped abruptly. It’s okay to switch from taking Lexapro at night to in the morning, or vice-versa. However, it’s important not to suddenly stop taking Lexapro, as this may trigger withdrawal symptoms.
If you want to stop taking Lexapro, talk to your healthcare provider first. They’ll give you a special tapered dosage schedule to follow so that you can limit withdrawal symptoms and stop using your medication safely. They may also suggest trying another antidepressant, such as switching from Celexa to Lexapro — or in this case, vice versa.
Changing from a night to morning dosage schedule can make some side effects of Lexapro less severe. However, if you have persistent side effects that don’t improve, or if you simply don’t feel like Lexapro is working for you, then you may need to make further changes.
It’s common to use several antidepressants before finding one that provides the right balance of effectiveness and manageable side effects for you.
If you’ve switched your Lexapro dosage schedule and still have side effects, or if you don’t think that Lexapro is helping you, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know.
In order to better treat your depression or anxiety symptoms, they may adjust your dosage, ask you to wait for longer, switch you to a different type of SSRI or, in some cases, switch you from Lexapro to a different class of antidepressant.
They may also suggest that you make certain changes to your habits and lifestyle to reduce the severity of your depression symptoms. These may include:
Exercising on a regular basis, even if it’s just a short walk or bike ride
Spending more time with your friends, family members and other supportive people
Meeting with a therapist in your area or taking part in online therapy from your home
Limiting the number of major life decisions you make until you’re feeling better
Our guide to dealing with depression goes into more detail about how good habits and therapy can help you to overcome depressive symptoms and improve your life.
Major depression is a serious mood disorder that can have a real impact on your well-being and quality of life. For many people, medications like Lexapro make dealing with depression a much easier process.
If you’re prescribed Lexapro for depression, it’s okay to take your medication during the daytime or at night. It’s also alright to switch between different Lexapro dosage schedules if you often get side effects at night but not in the day, or vice versa.
You can find out more about Lexapro, SSRIs and other types of antidepressant medication with our full list of antidepressants.
If you think you might have major depression or an anxiety disorder and want to seek treatment, you can connect with a provider from home using our online mental health services.
Start your mental wellness journey today.