Lexapro (escitalopram) is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor group, which helps maintain mental balance by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Although it primarily treats depression and anxiety, it can also work for panic attacks. Lexapro is a prescribed medication that must be used under the supervision of a doctor. Only the doctor can decide the dose changes and when to quit. Compared to other antidepressants, it has less side effects and is easily tolerated. Nevertheless, nausea, anxiety, weight gain, dizziness, weakness and dry mouth are among the main side effects.
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Lexapro (Escitalopram) is an antidepressant medication, which can be obtained with a prescription. It belongs to group of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It increases the amount of serotonin (happiness hormone) that helps maintain mental balance.
Although it is usually prescribed in the treatment of major depression and anxiety, it can also be used for chronic pain, panic attacks or obsessive compulsive disorder. It has less side effects comparing to previous antidepressants. (1)
This medication belongs to a group called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). The way how medications in this group work are similar and they treat similar conditions. Escitalopram increases the amount of serotonin (happiness hormone) in the brain and helps maintain mental balance. (2)
Serotonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain that has positive effects on emotions and behaviors when it is secreted in sufficient quantity. Lack of serotonin can cause mental problems such as depression or anxiety. (3)
Lexapro is mostly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder. This drug increases the activity of serotonin in the central nervous system with a quite strong effect. The probability of interacting with other drugs and its side effects are considered low.
In a randomized study to assess the power of escitalopram in the treatment of depression, the medication was observed to be more effective than and equal to other SSRIs and serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors. In addition, escitalopram can prevent recurrence of depression in a long-term use. (4)
In another study, the efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder were assessed. According to this study, development and improvement were observed in the group using escitalopram compared to the group using placebo (ineffective drug). In addition, it was well tolerated by the patients and the side effects were scaled as low. (5)
In recent years, SSRI group medications have been used in the treatment of chronic pain in addition to depression treatment due to their low side effects. In a study with drug addicts, escitalopram has been observed to decrease pain intensity.
Additionally, in a review evaluating the results of 36 studies, escitalopram was found to be significantly effective in the treatment of chronic pain compared to other drugs. However, more studies should be done on this subject. (6, 7)
Lexapro is not suggested for patients under the age of 18 due to possible side effects such as suicide attempts or tendency, aggression, anger. However, when the doctor finds it necessary, it can be prescribed provided that the patient is closely monitored.
Escitalopram’s use and dose calculation in adult patients over 18 years of age:
If you take more than the dose you should take, consult a doctor or pharmacist immediately and contact the nearest hospital’s emergency service, even if you do not feel any discomfort. If you need to go by car, do not drive, take a taxi or ask a someone for help.
Take your medicine package with you when you go to the hospital or doctor.
Other medicines containing escitalopram, such as Lexapro:
In these conditions, the use of Lexapro should be very careful and dose adjustment should be made under regular doctor supervision.
Concomitant use of Lexapro with some medicines may decrease the effect of the drug or cause severe side effects. Therefore, if you use any of the following medicines, be sure to inform your doctor:
Escitalopram is a blood thinner, if you take it with other blood thinning medications, your risk of bleeding may increase. Drugs to be careful are warfarin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), apixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban, rivaroxaban.
Some migraine medications that contain triptan may work similar to escitalopram. Taking these drugs with escitalopram may increase side effects. These drugs are almotriptan, eletriptan, sumatriptan, frovatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan.
Some psychiatric medications can increase the risk of possible side effects. These medications are:
Taking medications that reduce stomach acid, such as cimetidine, with escitalopram may increase the level of escitalopram in the body and therefore, the risk of side effects.
Some diuretics can reduce the sodium level in the body. Escitalopram has a similar effect, too. Therefore, using these two groups of drugs together may cause sodium deficiency. Diuretic medications: Furosemide, torsemide, hydrochlorothiazide, spironolactone
Serotonin syndrome is an extremely dangerous disease that can be fatal. Concomitant use of serotonergic drugs with escitalopram may increase the risk of Serotonin syndrome. Its symptoms are agitation, sweating, muscle twitching, and confusion. Serotonergic medications are:
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should discuss the risks and benefits of using Lexapro with your doctor.
Using Lexapro in the last 3 months of pregnancy can cause some side effects in the baby. If your baby has symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, bluish skin, seizures, changes in body temperature or vomiting, contact your doctor immediately.
Never stop taking the drug if you become pregnant while using Lexapro. Consult your doctor or pharmacist.
A small amount of escitalopram passes into breast milk. However, there is not enough research on its effects on breastfeeding infants. Although it is not recommended to use it during breastfeeding, you can still use it if your doctor thinks it is necessary for your health.
Lexapro should gradually be stopped, within a few weeks under the supervision of a doctor. Stopping the medication suddenly can cause some withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will be even more severe, especially after a long-term use.
Some patients may quit medication easily, but sometimes symptoms such as dizziness, tingling or burning sensation, sleep disturbances, anxiety, headache may appear. If you experience these symptoms or different problems, be sure to consult your doctor. Sometimes you may need to start the medication again.
WARNING: If you experience any of the following side effects, contact your doctor or emergency service immediately: