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Lexapro Alternatives Therapies

lexapro alternatives therapiesThe first point to really make clear is DO NOT ABRUPTLY STOP TAKING LEXAPRO OR ANY OTHER SSRI MEDICATION.

Alternatives can help transition in a gradual and gentle way to reduce medication over time. Diet is a cornerstone of both physical and mental wellness. The importance of a diet that provides the micro-nutrients for the billions of functions inside a healthy body and functioning central nervous system cannot be overstated. Creating successful Lexapro® alternatives in a treatment plan may be exponentially enhanced by utilizing more than one therapy. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy in combination with upgrading the diet could be even more effective.

Eliminating things that contribute to depression is also a good place to start, such as getting ample sleep every night, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active, and avoiding drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, processed foods, and other sources of toxins. Even certain foods and food allergies can contribute to depression and other unwanted symptoms. Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to depression.

Other Lexapro substitutes include holistic and alternative medicine. There are some powerful natural remedies for depression that may provide workable alternatives to pharmaceutical prescription medications as preventative measures. For transitioning from medication, the use of herbal remedies must be well-monitored by medical professionals who are familiar with drug tapering and understand the mechanics involved during gentle withdrawal and relapse-free recovery. Start with the basics. Upgrade the diet. Improve sleep. Eliminate negative food choices and any recreational use of drugs and alcohol. Test for nutritional deficiencies and correct them. Get your body moving. Have fun with hobbies and learn some new skills or hone some you may have abandoned. Do volunteer work — it’s highly therapeutic! Stop watching the news. Detox (prune) your social contacts and improve the relationships that you treasure. There is so much potential joy in life and so many ways for you to re-discover your love and passion. The following are evidence-based items that can be discussed with your physician or caregiver that may help speed up your journey back to vibrant wellness and energy.

Natural Alternatives for Lexapro Include:
  • CBT and other forms of counseling can be as effective as medication, with results that are longer-lasting, without side effects, and less subject to relapse.13
  • Neurotoxin removal 42
  • Support a healthy microbiome, absolutely essential for mental and physical wellness.41
  • St John’s Wort and Kava have been found better than placebo and equally good as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and insomnia, without cardiac or other side effects associated with pharmaceuticals. These plant extracts may help prevent depression and avoid beginning psychiatric medication, but herb-drug interactions are under-studied, and taking herbals simultaneously with pharmaceutical drugs is not generally recommended. Herbal products such as Passiflora, Piper methysticum, and Ginkgo biloba, have shown efficacy for depression, anxiety, and insomnia, but trials are limited — though promising. Some herbal remedies in moderation may be useful to gradually transition away from medication, but caution is advised since serotonin upregulation and other synergistic effects may occur if overused, and drug withdrawal should always be carefully monitored within a framework of competent medical oversight to avoid such interactions. 16,43,44,47
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can be added to the diet through foods rich in this nutrient (salmon, mackerel, walnuts, flax seeds, eggs from flax-fed chickens) and supplements that are easily obtained at health food stores. Studies showed that a daily dose of 1.5 – 2 gr of EPA contained in Omega-3 supplements proved highly efficient at raising depressed mood.16,48,54
  • Amino acids are naturally produced and food-sourced elements that are important for mental health, and important in the natural production and distribution of mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Choose fruits and vegetables, raw and organic where possible, including squash, spinach, peas, beans, root vegetables, bananas, oranges, apples, leafy greens, and meat and other animal-sourced foods for a rich and vibrant diet full of raw materials for a healthy and robust neurotransmitter system.15,54
  • Test for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, for example, vitamin D, B vitamins including B6, magnesium, and others that can be therapeutic for depression. Research studies by Lakhan et al showed that 125-300 mg magnesium with each meal and again at bedtime relieved major depressive symptoms within 7 days. Folic acid or folate (.8 mg daily) and B12 (.4 mg daily) showed excellent relief from depression where these were deficient in patients.32,33,35,45,54
  • 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a precursor to serotonin and as such, may help with depressive symptoms that are related to low serotonin. Can be obtained in supplement form or from foods like turkey, chicken, pumpkin, turnips, leafy greens, etc. 29,31,40,46,49
  • Acupuncture, massage therapies, meditation, and yoga, are shown in studies to alleviate depressive symptoms and improve overall mood. 4,17-21
  • SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine) available in supplement form, is a substance produced naturally in the body from the amino acid methionine that can help with depression. Food sources of methionine include meat, meat products, milk, and milk products. 16,50-52
  • Valerian is another herbal remedy that has shown significant efficacy for depression as well as lessened insomnia and anxiety symptoms.30
  • Testing to reveal dysfunctional thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, hypothalamus, or other hormonal issues that might be addressed through diet, nutrition, or other holistic treatments.33
  • Exercise even of a mild nature can have life-changing positive effects on mood, energy, sleep, and overall well-being. Sports, Tai Chi, Qigong, walking, swimming, and bicycling, are all excellent and dependable options to consider for improved mental and physical health.34,53
  • Exposure to sunlight has been found to be somewhat dose-related. More sunlight can mean brighter cognitive function and mood. Get out and SHINE! 36
  • Forest bathing (walking in treed areas) and mindfulness — studies show a significant positive correlation with physiological and psychological well-being that is long-lasting and without side effects.37
  • Revamping the diet to omit fast foods, cakes, sweets, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods. Instead, include fish, chicken, fresh fruits, and vegetables, which showed a 41% decrease in depression in research studies.9,38
  • Test for food allergies that can induce symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, and mood dysfunction.34,39

Please continue reading about other alternatives to Lexapro that are discussed below, including psychotherapy and others.

*Studies (Kofler et al.) have shown evidence that amino acids play an important role in treating and preventing depression.

Little, if any, consideration is given to the potentially superior efficacy of natural Lexapro alternatives. Antidepressants such as Lexapro, are commonly administered prior to any substantial medical or lifestyle interventions.6

There are many possible causes of depression. These may include impaired hormonal states, deficiency of vitamin D or other essential nutrients, substandard diet, neurochemistry dysfunction, lack of sleep, and failed life aspirations.7,8,9

Do Your Symptoms Require Lexapro?

successful lexapro alternatives
Alternative to Meds has focused on antidepressant alternatives for mental health for over 15 years. Our published evidence demonstrates up to 87.5% success rate in clients that we have treated at our lovely retreat-style center. This means that over the long term, clients feel better than they did while medicated, suffering fewer symptoms, and continue to do so long after their program has been completed.
This video is certain to give you hope for your situation. We take on some truly dire cases. This woman was barely able to walk and was unable to function professionally. She put her trust in us to help get her off of antidepressants and benzodiazepines even though it looked impossible for her to gain her life back. She was rewarded by becoming medication-free, regained her ability to walk, and as a bonus, went back to work as a very potent therapist.
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Why Natural Lexapro Alternatives Can Help

lexapro depression alternativesUsers of Lexapro (generic escitalopram) commonly seek out Lexapro alternatives to help eliminate the many associated problems with this antidepressant medication. This medication is classed as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is prescribed to treat depression (major depression or clinical depression) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).10 Natural Lexapro alternatives are often sought after when drug side effects become too bothersome or if the medication is not adequately controlling the symptoms it is being used to treat.11 Among the alternatives to Lexapro are many therapies and alternative treatments. Other medications may be recommended as traditional Lexapro antidepressant alternatives whether antidepressants or antipsychotic medications but substitute drugs are very likely to cause any or all of the same problems as Lexapro.12

Natural (non-drug-based) Lexapro alternative treatments do not bring on the same adverse reactions, nor are they addictive. Effective relief can be found without resorting to drugs alone.9

Psychotherapy as a Lexapro Alternative

alternatives to lexaproCounseling, psychotherapy, talk therapy, life coaching, and other forms of therapy greatly help people with depression or GAD who are seeking natural Lexapro alternatives.13 Therapy can be all that it takes to alleviate depression for some people, especially acute treatment of mild to moderate depression. Various forms of psychotherapy including short-term therapy (10-20 weeks) allow patients to gain insight and resolve their depression through a verbal exchange. The therapist will often assign homework to work on between sessions. Behavioral therapists focus on helping patients to learn how they can obtain more satisfaction from their own actions and how they can unlearn behavioral patterns that are contributing to or resulting from their depression.

Several different types of therapy have proven to be effective in confronting and overcoming severe depressive and anxious symptoms as antidepressant alternatives. Out of all the different therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy,13 interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy14 have been found effective and helpful. Each type of these therapies focuses on addressing different expressions of depressive problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is aimed at helping the patient to develop skills and coping mechanisms, as well as become aware of and rid of destructive and negative thoughts and behavior patterns. Interpersonal therapy focuses on maintaining healthy relationships and establishing a system of support. Psychodynamic therapy looks at the real underlying cause(s) of anxiety or depression, such as traumatizing events, repressed emotions, or social problems.

acupuncture lexapro alternativeTherapeutic Interventions

Acupuncture is another alternative treatment that has shown to be effective for depression.4 Medical acupuncture relieves pain, physically17 and emotionally.18 A weekly acupuncture treatment could be helpful to relieve stress, tension, and depression. Acupuncture and acupressure use direct pressure points that are believed to tap into the inner workings of your body. The acupuncturist uses the outside surface of the body to heal deep within. Massage therapy is a complementary alternative worth trying; where many people get a weekly massage to reduce stress, tension, and depression.19 Meditation and yoga are two healing therapies that can be practiced at home and meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime and these Lexapro alternatives can provide relief for depression and other symptoms.20,21 While the number of prescriptions written continues to rise, antidepressants do not cure depression. And their overuse may actually worsen psychiatric symptoms.22 At Alternative to Meds, we believe that holistic and psychotherapeutic interventions have a better chance to resolve what is causing the symptoms. These effective alternatives to Lexapro can allow constant growth and progress towards the desired level of mental health for life.

Uncovering the Causes of Depression

uncovering depression causesIndividuals are often given Lexapro and other antidepressants prior to any investigation into why they are suffering from depression.6 The low-serotonin theory has limited diagnostic value and has never been substantiated, according to research published in the Journal of World Psychiatry. 23 There are many other factors contributing to depression that could have been checked. What about looking for environmental neurotoxins that destroy energy metabolism? 5 What about food allergies in which internal swelling may cause a slow metabolism? 24 Were these tested? Thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, and other hormonal issues may also be well worth investigating.25 And so on. Even in the common instance of an individual not ever being low serotonin in the first place, the medication itself can cause downregulation to develop.26 SSRI meds block the reuptake of serotonin, and serotonin is supposed for reuptake to be used again by the nerve cell. When serotonin is forced into the synapse it can cause receptors like the presynaptic 5-HT1a serotonergic receptors and the postsynaptic 5-HT2 serotonergic receptors to become less sensitive to the effects of serotonin.26

Integrative Lexapro Alternatives Approach

Sedona drug rehabWhen a person stops taking Lexapro they may encounter Lexapro withdrawal and may suffer symptoms of anxiousness, sleeplessness, brain zaps, overstimulation, or even Tourette’s-like and OCD symptoms.28 This may occur because the body could be trying to readapt to neuroplastic changes that may have occurred in response to the drug.27 Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center aims to discover any medical reasons why an individual may be depressed. Our rehab program also includes lab testing, stabilization of neurochemistry through the use of natural substances, use of supplements that actually help create serotonin,29 careful Lexapro tapering, and withdrawal techniques, and targeted nutritional treatments such as amino therapy, yoga, massage, peer support, personal training, elimination of environmentally accumulated toxins, healthy microbiome support through cleansing and diet, and many other natural therapies for effectively combating depression. Please take time to review the amazing roster of treatments available at the center on our services overview page.

We invite you to give us a call and talk, so you can get an understanding of the comprehensive array of resources for Lexapro alternatives that are the backbone of our programs for natural mental health.


1. Dinsmore, Reuben BScH, ND, “The Top 5 Medications You Shouldn’t Take Without Trying a Natural Alternative First,” British Columbia Naturopathic Association [Internet] 2016 Jul [cited 2022 June 13]

2. Chand SP, Arif H. Depression. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. A reduced concentration of brain interstitial amino acids is associated with depression in subarachnoid hemmorhage patients.” Sci Rep 9, 2811 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39569-5 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

4. Sniezek, D. P., & Siddiqui, I. J. (2013). Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review. Medical acupuncture, 25(3), 164–172. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2012.0900 [cited 2022 June 13]

5. Bakke MJ, Horsberg TE. “Effects of algal-produced neurotoxins on metabolic activity in telencephalon, optic tectum and cerebellum of Atlantic salmon.” (Salmo salar). Aquat Toxicol. 2007 Nov 30;85(2):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2007.08.003. Epub 2007 Aug 14. PMID: 17870190. [cited 2022 June 13]

6. NHS Health Letter, “Clinical depression – Causes – NHS.” National Health Services UK [2019 Dec 10] [cited 2022 June 13]

7. Patil N, Rehman A, Jialal I. Hypothyroidism. [Updated 2022 Feb 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519536/ [cited 2022 June 13]

8. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Jun; 31(6): 385–393. Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, Joanne Kouba, PhD, RD, Mary Byrn, BSN, RN, and Carol Estwing Ferrans, PhD, RN, FAAN [cited 2022 June 13]

9. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao [cited 2022 June 13]

10. Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) FDA Drug Label [cited 2022 June 13]

11.The drugs don’t work? antidepressants and the current and future pharmacological management of depression Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012 Oct; 2(5): 179–188. Elizabeth Penn corresponding author and Derek K. Tracy [cited 2020 Dec 28]

12. A Guide to Common Antidepressant Side Effects Healthline Written by Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN (Ice) on 2018 Dec 4 [cited 2022 June 13]

13. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Mood Disorders: Efficacy, Moderators and Mediators Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep; 33(3): 537–555. Ellen Driessen, M.Sc. and Steven D. Hollon, Ph.D. [cited 2022 June 13]

14. Psychodynamic treatment of depression Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2012 Mar;35(1):111-29. Patrick Luyten, Sidney Blatt [cited 2022 June 13]

15. Kofler, M., Schiefecker, A.J., Gaasch, M. et al. A reduced concentration of brain interstitial amino acids is associated with depression in subarachnoid hemorrhage patients. Sci Rep 9, 2811 (2019). [cited 2022 June 13]

16. Update and Critique of Natural Remedies as Antidepressant Treatments Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Dec 1. Published in final edited form as: Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2009 Dec; 36(4): 789–807. David Mischoulon, MD, PhD [cited 2022 June 13]

17. The Immediate Analgesic Effect of Acupuncture for Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017; 2017: 3837194. Published online 2017 Oct 25. doi: 10.1155/2017/3837194 Anfeng Xiang, Ke Cheng, Xueyong Shen, Ping Xu, and Sheng Liu [cited 2022 June 13]

18. Is acupuncture beneficial in depression: A meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials? Journal of Affective Disorders Volume 111, Issues 2–3, 2008 Dec, Pages 125-134 Hao Wang, Hong Qi, Bai-song Wang, Yong-yao Cui, Liang Zhu, Zheng-xing Rong, Hong-zhuan Chen [cited 2022 June 13]

19. Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis J Clin Psychiatry 2010 Jul;71(7):894-901. Epub 2010 Mar 23. Wen-Hsuan Hou, Pai-Tsung Chiang, Tun-Yen Hsu, Su-Ying Chiu, Yung-Chieh Yen [cited 2022 June 13]

20. Keng SL, Smoski MJ, Robins CJ. Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011;31(6):1041-1056. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006 [cited 2022 June 13]

21. The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct; 22(4): 1017–1028.Published online 2017 Jun 30, Ledetra Bridges, LMSW and Manoj Sharma, MBBS, MCHES, PhD [cited 2022 June 13]

22. Jureidini J, Tonkin A. Overuse of antidepressant drugs for the treatment of depression. CNS Drugs. 2006;20(8):623-32. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200620080-00002. PMID: 16863268. [cited 2022 June 13]

23. What has serotonin to do with depression? World Psychiatry. 2015 Jun; 14(2): 158–160. Published online 2015 Jun 4. Philip J Cowen and Michael Browning [cited 2022 June 13]

24. Is There a Connection Between Food Allergies and Mental Health? Integrative Psychiatry 2012 Sep 6 [cited 2022 June 13]

25. Hage MP, Azar ST. The Link between Thyroid Function and DepressionJ Thyroid Res. 2012;2012:590648. doi:10.1155/2012/590648 [cited 2022 June 13]

26. How antidepressant drugs act: A primer on neuroplasticity as the eventual mediator of antidepressant efficacy Indian J Psychiatry. 2010 Oct-Dec; 52(4): 378–386. Chittaranjan Andrade and N. Sanjay Kumar Rao [cited 2022 June 13]

27. Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome,Am Fam Physician. 2006 Aug 1;74(3):449-456. [cited 2022 June 13]

28. Antidepressant Discontinuation Reactions . 1998 Apr 11; 316(7138): 1105–1106. [cited 2022 June 13]

29. The Effects of Dietary Tryptophan on Affective Disorders Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2015 Apr; 29(2): 102–107. Published online 2014 Dec 9. Glenda Lindseth, Brian Helland, and Julie Caspers [cited 2022 June 13]

30. Tammadon MR, Nobahar M, Hydarinia-Naieni Z, Ebrahimian A, Ghorbani R, Vafaei AA. The Effects of Valerian on Sleep Quality, Depression, and State Anxiety in Hemodialysis Patients: A Randomized, Double-blind, Crossover Clinical Trial. Oman Med J. 2021 Mar 31;36(2):e255. doi: 10.5001/omj.2021.56. PMID: 33936782; PMCID: PMC8077445. [cited 2022 June 13]

31. Sharma A, Castellani RJ, Smith MA, Muresanu DF, Dey PK, Sharma HS. “5-Hydroxytryptophan: A precursor of serotonin influences regional blood-brain barrier breakdown, cerebral blood flow, brain edema formation, and neuropathology.” Int Rev Neurobiol. 2019;146:1-44. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2019.06.005. Epub 2019 Jul 18. PMID: 31349924. [cited 2022 June 13]

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Originally Published Nov 5, 2019 by Lyle Murphy


This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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