How Long Does Lexapro Stay in Your System?

Understanding how long does Lexapro stay in your system is essential for individuals using this medication. Lexapro, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, affects brain chemistry to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Knowledge of its duration in the body is crucial for several reasons. 

Firstly, it helps patients avoid potential drug interactions, ensuring their safety while on other medications. Secondly, knowing the time it takes to clear Lexapro from the system aids in managing dosage adjustments and prevents accidental overdoses. 

Additionally, this information is vital for individuals planning to discontinue Lexapro, as it allows for proper withdrawal management to avoid uncomfortable side effects. By grasping the dynamics of Lexapro’s presence in the body, patients can make informed decisions and seek appropriate medical advice.

Metabolism and Elimination of Lexapro

Metabolism of Lexapro

Lexapro is metabolized in the liver, where it undergoes chemical changes to become inactive and easily excreted from the body. 

The main enzyme responsible for this process is called CYP3A4. As the liver breaks down Lexapro, it transforms into metabolites that no longer possess the same pharmacological effects as the original drug.

Read More: Weight Gain with Lexapro and Zoloft: Everything You Need to Know

How Long does Lexapro Stay in Your System

Half-Life of Lexapro

Lexapro has a half-life of approximately 27 to 32 hours in adults. The half-life represents the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. 

After this period, around 50% of the initial dose of Lexapro has been cleared from the system.

Complete Clearance Time

To calculate the total time it takes for Lexapro to be entirely eliminated from the body, it typically requires around five to six half-lives. 

Therefore, it can take approximately 5 to 6 days after stopping the medication for Lexapro to be fully cleared from the system.

Individual Variations

It’s important to note that the duration of Lexapro in the system may vary among individuals. Factors like age, liver function, and genetic differences can influence how quickly or slowly the body processes the drug. 

Additionally, other medications being taken simultaneously may interact with Lexapro, affecting its clearance rate.

how long does lexapro stay in your system

Traces in Tests

In routine drug tests, Lexapro itself is usually not detected. However, certain tests may identify some of its metabolites. 

These tests are not commonly employed and are typically reserved for specialized cases, as they are not a standard part of drug screening procedures.

Managing Dosage Adjustments

Understanding the duration of Lexapro in the body is essential for managing dosage adjustments. 

If a patient experiences side effects or requires a change in their treatment plan, knowing how long the drug remains in their system can guide healthcare providers in making appropriate adjustments.

Discontinuation and Withdrawal

When discontinuing Lexapro, it’s crucial to do so under medical supervision. Abruptly stopping the medication may lead to withdrawal symptoms. 

By understanding the drug’s duration in the system, healthcare providers can create a tapering plan, gradually reducing the dosage to minimize potential withdrawal effects.

Factors Affecting Clearance

1. Genetic Differences

Individual genetic makeup can significantly influence the clearance of Lexapro from the body. Variations in specific genes, such as those encoding drug-metabolizing enzymes, can impact how quickly or slowly the medication is processed. 

Some people may possess genetic variants that result in faster drug clearance, while others may have slower clearance rates.

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2. Liver Function

The liver plays a crucial role in clearing Lexapro from the system. The drug is metabolized in the liver by enzymes like CYP3A4. 

If the liver is healthy and functioning optimally, it can efficiently break down Lexapro, leading to faster elimination. However, individuals with impaired liver function may experience a slower clearance of the drug.

3. Other Medications

Concurrent use of other medications can affect the clearance of Lexapro. Some drugs can interact with the enzymes responsible for Lexapro metabolism, either inhibiting or inducing their activity. 

Inhibitors can slow down Lexapro clearance, leading to higher drug levels in the body. On the other hand, inducers can speed up clearance, reducing Lexapro’s effectiveness.

4. Kidney Function

While the liver primarily metabolizes Lexapro, the kidneys play a role in excreting the drug and its metabolites from the body. 

Individuals with impaired kidney function may experience a slower elimination of Lexapro, potentially leading to higher drug levels and a prolonged duration in the system.

how long does lexapro stay in your system

5. Age and Body Weight

Age and body weight can also influence Lexapro clearance. In general, older individuals may have slower metabolism, which could affect drug elimination. 

Additionally, body weight can impact drug distribution and the amount of drug available for metabolism and excretion.

6. Hydration and Urinary pH

Adequate hydration and urinary pH levels can influence drug clearance. Staying hydrated helps maintain proper kidney function and supports drug excretion through urine. Changes in urinary pH can alter the solubility of Lexapro and affect its elimination rate.

7. Smoking and Alcohol Consumption

Smoking and alcohol consumption can impact drug metabolism and clearance. Smoking may induce certain liver enzymes, potentially affecting Lexapro clearance. 

Alcohol can also interfere with liver function and drug metabolism, leading to variations in clearance rates.

Read Related Post: Drawbacks of Smoking on An Empty Stomach

8. Overall Health Status

An individual’s overall health status can affect drug clearance. Chronic medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, may slow down clearance processes. 

Conversely, a healthy individual with no significant health issues is likely to experience more efficient Lexapro clearance.

Withdrawal and Tapering

Withdrawal Symptoms

When discontinuing Lexapro, some individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary in type and intensity and may include:

1. Dizziness

A sensation of lightheadedness or unsteadiness that may occur during Lexapro withdrawal.

2. Nausea and Vomiting

Feeling queasy or experiencing vomiting as the body adjusts to the absence of Lexapro.

3. Headache

Headaches are common during the withdrawal process and can range from mild to severe.

4. Irritability and Mood Changes

Emotional changes, such as irritability, mood swings, or heightened anxiety, may occur.

5. Sleep Disturbances

Disruptions in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or vivid dreams, might be observed.

6. Flu-like Symptoms

Some individuals may experience flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and fatigue.

Importance of Tapering

Abruptly stopping Lexapro can trigger more severe withdrawal symptoms. Tapering, a gradual reduction in the dosage of the medication, can help minimize these effects. 

Tapering allows the body to adapt slowly to the decreasing drug levels, making the transition smoother.

Tapering Process

Tapering is typically done under the supervision of a healthcare provider. The process involves reducing the Lexapro dosage over several weeks or months, depending on individual needs. 

The exact tapering schedule can vary based on factors such as the dosage being taken, how long the medication has been used, and an individual’s response to the tapering process.

Customized Tapering Plans

Each patient’s tapering plan should be tailored to their specific circumstances. Factors such as medical history, any existing medical conditions, and other medications being taken must be considered. 

An appropriate tapering plan ensures that Lexapro is gradually withdrawn while minimizing the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.

Monitoring During Tapering

During the tapering process, healthcare providers may closely monitor patients for any adverse effects or changes in symptoms. 

Open communication between the patient and healthcare professional is crucial to adjust the tapering schedule if necessary.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Patients should never attempt to taper off Lexapro on their own. Abrupt discontinuation or improper tapering can lead to uncomfortable and potentially severe withdrawal effects. 

It is essential to seek guidance from a healthcare provider to create a safe and effective tapering plan.


Understanding how long Lexapro stays in your system is crucial for managing its effects and potential interactions with other medications. 

The half-life of Lexapro is approximately 27 to 32 hours in adults, and it takes about 5 to 6 days for the drug to be completely cleared from the body. 

However, individual factors, such as genetic differences, liver and kidney function, age, and other medications, can influence the clearance rate.

When discontinuing Lexapro, it’s essential to do so under medical supervision to avoid potential withdrawal symptoms. 

Gradual tapering of the medication over several weeks or months can help minimize withdrawal effects. 

Customized tapering plans, monitored by healthcare professionals, ensure a safe and comfortable transition.

Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your Lexapro treatment. They can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and specific needs, ensuring safe and effective medication use.


1. How long does Lexapro stay in my system after I stop taking it?

Lexapro’s complete clearance from your system usually takes about 5 to 6 days after discontinuation.

2. Can the duration of Lexapro in my system vary from person to person?

Yes, factors such as genetics, liver and kidney function, age, and other medications can influence how quickly Lexapro is cleared from the body, leading to individual variations.

3. What are the common withdrawal symptoms when stopping Lexapro?

Common withdrawal symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, headaches, irritability, sleep disturbances, and flu-like symptoms.

4. Is it safe to abruptly stop taking Lexapro?

Abruptly stopping Lexapro can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms. It is recommended to taper off the medication under medical supervision.

5. How is tapering of Lexapro done?

Tapering involves gradually reducing the Lexapro dosage over several weeks or months to help the body adapt to decreasing drug levels.

6. Can I create my own tapering plan for Lexapro?

No, it is essential to work with a healthcare provider to create a customized tapering plan based on your individual needs and medical history.

7. Can other medications affect Lexapro clearance?

Yes, some medications can interact with enzymes responsible for Lexapro metabolism, affecting its clearance rate.

8. How does age influence Lexapro clearance?

Older individuals may experience slower metabolism, potentially affecting the clearance of Lexapro.

9. Should I inform my healthcare provider about all the medications I am taking while on Lexapro?

Yes, it is crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, or medical conditions you have to ensure safe and effective use of Lexapro.

Medical References

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2020). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Stahl, S. M. (2014). Prescriber’s Guide: Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology (5th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) [Prescribing Information]. (2021). Allergan USA, Inc.
  • Cipriani, A., Furukawa, T. A., Salanti, G., et al. (2009). Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 12 new-generation antidepressants: a multiple-treatments meta-analysis. The Lancet, 373(9665), 746-758.
  • Baumann, P. (2007). Pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of citalopram and other SSRIs. International Clinical Psychopharmacology, 22(6), 309-316.
  • DeVane, C. L. (2003). Clinical pharmacokinetics of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 42(15), 1141-1160.

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