During the first weeks of taking a new antidepressant, you may experience unpleasant side effects, including nausea, weight gain or sleeping problems. Many people report improvement with side effects after a few weeks, but ongoing drowsiness and fatigue can make it difficult to manage daily responsibilities, such as concentrating at work or school. Does Lexapro make you tired? What can be done to better manage this symptom?
Learn more about how antidepressants affect your body and the steps you can take to combat side effects in a healthy way.
What Are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are prescribed to treat a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia. Their purpose is to improve mood and emotion by increasing neurotransmitters like serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain. Increasing neurotransmitter levels can disrupt the pain signals sent by nerves, which is why they’re sometimes prescribed to treat chronic pain.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common antidepressants because they tend to cause fewer side effects. Examples of SSRIs include:
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Paroxetine (Seroxat)
- Citalopram (Cipramil)
Do SSRIs make you tired? While side effects of antidepressants will vary depending on the person, people do often report experiencing drowsiness and fatigue from the medication, especially during the first few weeks.
Do SSRIs Make You Tired?
SSRIs like Lexapro work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain and impacting a person’s mood, emotions and sleep. After sending a signal, the body will usually reabsorb serotonin into nerve cells through a process referred to as reuptake. However, SSRIs can sometimes be too effective, causing unbalanced levels of serotonin that make it hard to process emotions. While you may not necessarily feel depressed, it may be difficult to feel emotions that cause a high such as enjoyment or motivation, resulting in emotional blunting.
Emotional blunting occurs in many psychiatric disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. It’s characterized by the numbing of positive or negative feelings. People may also experience diminished pleasure or interest in activities. Research suggests that 40% to 60% of patients being treated by SSRIs experience some degree of emotional blunting.
If you or someone you know has recently been prescribed an SSRI like Prozac, you may be wondering: Does Prozac make you tired? Like other antidepressants, there’s a chance it will. With this in mind, some people may wonder whether antidepressants are even worth it — but while SSRIs can cause unpleasant side effects, they are designed to stabilize your day-to-day mood and notably improve emotional turbulence.
Feeling Flat Versus How You Felt Before the Medication
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the United States and the leading cause of disability worldwide. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 14.8 million adult Americans were diagnosed with at least one major depressive episode in 2020. During a depressive episode, a person may experience the following:
- Sadness, irritation or emptiness
- Loss of pleasure or interest in activities
- Poor concentration
- Hopelessness about the future
- Excessive guilt or low self-worth
- Disrupted sleep
- Tiredness or low energy
- Thoughts about death or suicide
If left untreated, depression can become more severe for some people or lead to other mental health conditions such as anxiety. Some symptoms, like thoughts about death or suicide, can also become life-threatening without treatment. Studies reveal that about 40 to 60 people out of 100 who took an antidepressant for moderate to severe depression noticed their symptoms improved within six to eight weeks. Without an antidepressant, symptom improvement dropped, appearing in 20 to 40 out of 100 people.
While symptoms of depression can worsen without treatment, emotional blunting isn’t likely to get worse. Feeling flat can occur from taking an antidepressant like Zoloft, but it isn’t the intended effect. Does Zoloft make you tired (an effect also known as “Zoloft fatigue”)? What about Prozac (or “Prozac fatigue”)? It can at first, but fatigue tends to be an initial side effect that fades once your body adjusts to the medication. In the meantime, there are remedies available to manage it.
Strategies For Reducing Tiredness
On average, it takes about two to four weeks for the full effects of an SSRI to kick in. Emotional bluntness is often reported as a temporary side effect. If you just started your medication and are feeling flat, your doctor may request to see you for a checkup in a few weeks. However, if feeling flat persists for more than four to six weeks, it may be time to explore potential remedies.
You may be tempted to give in to emotional bluntness or drowsiness. Instead of camping out on the couch for extended periods of time, consider these following strategies:
- Take a nap: A brief nap may be enough to increase your energy and leave you feeling refreshed. Try snoozing for about 20 minutes during the day — napping for too long may increase grogginess.
- Exercise: Even if moving is the last thing you feel like doing, working out can actually reduce fatigue. Try engaging in low-intensity exercise, such as a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. You may find that it perks you up just enough to make it through the day.
- Take medications at night: Unless your doctor specifically instructs you to take the medication in the morning or afternoon, wait until bedtime. Taking your antidepressant at night may help you fall asleep more easily and get enough rest to feel more alert during the day.
- Give it time: This may be hard to do, but waiting it out may result in reduced symptoms. Side effects from an antidepressant usually fade over time as your body adjusts to the medication.
There are many SSRIs to choose from, all of which will impact people differently. It may take time to find the perfect match for your condition.
Seek Mental Health Treatment
So, does Lexapro make you tired? If it does, it may be a relief to hear that the effect will likely fade with time. If you’re worried about antidepressant side effects or feel as if the medication isn’t working, professional help is available. Contact us at Restore today to speak with a trained counselor and learn more about the services we offer.