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Indications

Lexapro is an antidepressant used to treat depression and anxiety disorders including major depressive disorder (MDD), general anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

Escitalopram is a highly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that is the single isomer of RS-citalopram. The drug inhibits the neuronal reabsorption or serotonin to increase serotonin activity and availability in the central nervous system. Lexapro helps treat symptoms of anxiety disorders as well as depression thanks to its impact on the central nervous system.

This medication is well tolerated and has low incidence of side effects or drug interactions. Lexapro is used to treat depression and anxiety thanks to these qualities and its fast-acting improvement of symptoms at lower doses than other antidepressants, including citalopram.

Uses and Dosage

The dose of Lexapro prescribed will depend on the person and condition being treated. Follow your doctor’s instructions and all directions on your prescription label.

  • Take with or without food
  • Take Lexapro at the same time each day
  • Most adults start by taking 10mg once a day
  • Doses may increase up to 20mg taken once daily
  • Do not double dose
  • Don’t stop taking Lexapro without asking your doctor
  • Tell your doctor if symptoms don’t improve after 4 weeks
  • Store away from moisture and heat at room temperature

Side Effects

Lexapro may cause some side effects while it affects your central nervous system and serotonin levels. Contact your doctor for more information about the kinds of symptoms you may encounter.

Tell your doctor about any new or worsening symptoms, such as changes in mood or behaviour, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, hostile, restless, depressed, or have suicidal thoughts.

Common Lexapro side effects include:

  • Painful urination
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, weakness
  • Feeling anxious or irritated
  • Increased muscle movements, feeling unsteady
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating, dry mouth
  • Increased thirst, loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Yawning
  • Nosebleed, heavy menstruation
  • Decreased sex drive, impotence, troubles having an orgasm

Serious Side Effects

Some more serious side effects may occur when taking Lexapro. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or tunnel vision
  • Eye pain or swelling
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Racing thoughts, unusual risk-taking behaviour
  • Extreme happiness or sadness
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Slow growth or weight gain (for children)
  • Low sodium levels (headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady)
  • Severe nervous system reaction (stiff, rigid muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out)

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice signs of serotonin syndrome. These symptoms include agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Allergic Reactions

Do not take Lexapro if you are allergic to escitalopram or citalopram. Stop taking this medication and contact your doctor if you have any signs of an allergic reaction.

Lexapro allergy symptoms may include:

  • Hives
  • Skin rash
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling in face, lips, tongue, or throat

Cautions

Do not use Lexapro if you also take pimozide or citalopram.

Lexapro is not for the use of anyone under the age of 12.

Wait 14 days before and after using an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue or injection to take Lexapro.

Ask your doctor about taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and others while taking Lexapro. These drugs may interact with escitalopram and cause you to bruise or bleed more easily.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro; it may interact with the medication and cause an increase in side effects.

Avoid driving or performing activities that require attention until you know how Lexapro affects you because it may impair your reactions.

Some young people may have suicidal thoughts when first taking Lexapro or other antidepressants. Monitor your mood and behaviour; stay in contact with your doctor and report any symptoms.

Some medications can interact with Lexapro and worsen side effects or make you drowsy. Ask your doctor before taking opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxant, or medicine for anxiety or seizures. Tell your doctor about all the medications you take including herbal products and vitamins, especially if you take blood thinners.

To ensure the safety of taking Lexapro, tell your doctor if you have every had any of the following:

  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Seizures
  • Low blood sodium levels
  • Heart disease, high blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding problems
  • Sexual problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Drug addiction
  • Suicidal thoughts

Consult your doctor about taking Lexapro while pregnant. Taking any SSRI antidepressant late in pregnancy could cause serious complications. Do not stop taking this medication without talking to your doctor.

If you are breastfeeding while taking Lexapro, tell your doctor if you notice drowsiness, agitation, feeding problems, or poor weight gain in the baby.

Forms and Strength

This medication is available in regular tablet and scored tablet forms.

Lexapro tablet strengths:

  • 5mg
  • 10mg
  • 20mg

The 5mg tablets are available in quantities of 28, 30, 84, and 90; the 10mg ones are available in groups of 28, 84, and 100; and the 20mg tablets come in quantities of 28 and 84.

FAQ

How long does it take for Lexapro to work?

Escitalopram is quickly absorbed into your body and increases serotonin levels within a few hours after taking Lexapro. However, the medication may take several weeks before visibly improving symptoms of depression or anxiety. Some signs that Lexapro has begun working include improved sleep, energy, or appetite.

When is the best time to take Lexapro?

You can take Lexapro at any time of the day without affecting the drug’s efficacy. If Lexapro makes you sleepy, take it at night; if it keeps you awake, take it in the morning.

Why does Lexapro cause weight gain?

Lexapro may cause weight gain because its blocking of serotonin transporters increases appetite and decreases metabolism. Fluctuations in weight tend not to be drastic and is experienced less with Lexapro as opposed to some other antidepressants.

Resources:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17375980/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12665392/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15045034/
  4. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=13bb8267-1cab-43e5-acae-55a4d957630a
  5. https://www.drugs.com/lexapro.html

Additional information

Brand Name:

Lexapro

Scientific Name:

Escitalopram, Escitalopram Oxalate, Escitalopram oxalate

Other Names:

Cipralex, Escitalopram, S-Citadep

Strength(s):

5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg

Quantities Available:

28, 56, 84, 90, 100

Formulation:

Scored Tablet, Tablet