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Lexapro (Escitalopram)

Lexapro, also called escitalopram, is part of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and is used to treat depression and anxiety. Lexapro is available by prescription only. Lexapro comes in tablet or liquid form and is usually taken once a day. It may take up to a month to feel the full effects of Lexapro. A person's doctor may slowly increase the amount of Lexapro taken each day to find the correct dose of this medication.

Important Information Before Use

Talk to your doctor before you take Lexapro if you have ever had a heart attack, seizure, or any type of liver, kidney, or heart disease. You should also mention any serious reactions you have had to other similar medications. You should talk to your doctor about alternative treatments for depression if you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking this prescription. Lexapro can cause problems in newborns if taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

 

Lexapro may interact with other medications or supplements, including MAO inhibitors, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), migraine medications, anticoagulants, antihistamines, antidepressants, antacids, medications for anxiety, St. John's Wort, sleeping pills, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, and more. If you are taking other prescription drugs or vitamins, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking Lexapro. Do not take Lexapro with other SSRI medications, particularly Celexa. Do not take Lexapro within two weeks of taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI); you should let your doctor know if you have taken a MAOI recently.

Important Information During Use

  • Do not drive or work with heavy machinery until you know how this medication affects you; Lexapro can make you very drowsy. Using alcohol with Lexapro can worsen this side effect.
  • If you are having any type of surgery, including oral or dental surgery, then you should tell your doctor or anesthesiologist that you take Lexapro.
  • Only take the dosage of Lexapro that has been prescribed by your doctor. Signs of Lexapro overdose include sweating, drowsiness, fast heartbeat, seizures, nausea, and loss of consciousness.

Side Effects

Antidepressants, including Lexapro, may cause an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior in children, teens, or young adults under the age of 24 years old. Your doctor can help you decide if the benefit of this medication outweighs the risk of using it. Call your doctor right away if you experience serious or severe side effects from using this medication. Serious side effects that may occur when taking Lexapro include:

  • Irregular, pounding, or fast heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusual levels of excitement

Less serious side effects of this medication can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, stomach pain, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Sweating
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Sneezing or runny nose
  • Flu symptoms
  • Increase in appetite

Withdrawing

Work with your doctor to reduce your dose of this medication slowly over time. You should not stop taking Lexapro abruptly. Weaning slowly off of this medication over time will reduce the amount and severity of potential withdrawal symptoms. You should not reduce or discontinue this medication without the guidance of your physician. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia

Talk with your doctor if you experience any withdrawal effects from stopping this medication.

 

References:

  1. Forest Laboratories, Inc. (2014, July). Lexapro. Retrieved from http://pi.actavis.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1907&p=pi&language=E
  2. Lexapro. (2014, December 3). Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/cdi/lexapro.html

 

Last Update: 12-16-2014

 

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