Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. All medications pose some risk of side effects and some people only experience minor difficulties with their medication. Jaw clenching, gnashing of teeth and muscle spasms are common side effects of escitalopram.
Less-Common Side Effects
Drugs.com reports that there have been occasional reports of jaw clenching (also called "bruxism") from the usage of Lexapro. One possible reason for this is that when initially introduced into your system, Lexapro can cause mild involuntary muscle spasms. In most cases, this symptom disappears after a few days of following the course of treatment as prescribed by your doctor or mental health professional.
In addition to jaw clenching, Lexapro can also cause insomnia, feeling like you have the flu, sinus headache, couching, yawning, sleepiness and nausea. If you're experiencing these symptoms initially, keep in mind that your body (and mind) is adjusting to a new chemical being introduced into your system. Because Lexapro affects the absorption of the neurochemical serotonin, you may experience some physical, psychological and emotional disturbances. Report any changes in behavior or suicidal thoughts to your doctor or mental health professional immediately. Additional information about treatment for these side effects are in the "Treatments" section of this article.
Severe Side Effects
In addition to less-common and less severe side effects of Lexapro, there are more serious side effects that can make usage of the drug difficult. The risk of experiencing severe side effects are increased if you suffer from the following conditions as listed on HealthPlace.com's article "Lexapro Generic Name: Escitalopram Oxalate": kidney conditions, seizures, mania, liver problems, suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant. You should tell your doctor if you have any of those conditions before taking Lexapro. Some of the more severe side effects of Lexapro include: allergic reactions (developing a rash, itching, swelling of the lips or mouth), irregular heartbeat, black or bloody bowel movements, severe tinnitus (ringing of the ears), or seizures. There are a number of additional severe side effects, so be sure to follow up with your doctor about those side effects and any additional warning signs.
If you find that the jaw clenching does not subside within a week, you should contact your doctor or mental health professional about alternatives. In most cases, your doctor will probably adjust your dosage (Lexapro is available in 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg tablets) or prescribe you another medication. Be careful to not abruptly stop taking your medication, even if the jaw clenching becomes persistent. In some cases, abruptly stopping the medication can result in suicidal thoughts and a relapse of major depression or anxiety.