Lexapro (escitalopram) is an oral prescription drug used to treat depression in adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older, and to treat anxiety in adults 18 years of age and older. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is also used off-label to treat hot flashes , post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), agitation, and some neuropsychiatric problems.
Lexapro is used to prevent the symptoms of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. This medicine must be taken every day to work and usually takes a few weeks to do so .
- Major Depressive Disorder : When used to treat Major Depressive Disorder, Lexapro can be used to treat acute or chronic symptoms. It is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents 12 to 17 years of age.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – When used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, Lexapro is used to treat acute conditions and is not recommended to be taken for longer than eight weeks. It is approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in adults 18 years of age and older.
Lexapro is approved for the acute treatment of depression or anxiety. This means that it can be used to prevent symptoms that have been present for several months. Lexapro does not relieve symptoms right away or for several hours. It should be taken daily to prevent symptoms .
Lexapro is classified as an SSRI. This allows the neurotransmitter serotonin to remain active in the body. Serotonin regulates mood and pain. Serotonin activity deficiency is believed to be one of the causes of depression and anxiety.
Lexapro prevents the cessation of serotonin action by inhibiting the reuptake of this neurotransmitter from its area of activity.
Use not indicated on the label
Lexapro and its generic version are used off-label to treat multiple conditions.
Inappropriate use includes :
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Hot flashes due to menopause
- Agitation due to Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia .
If you have had an allergic or other reaction to Lexapro or any form of escitalopram or Celexa (citalopram), it may not be safe for you to use Lexapro.
If you are pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant while using Lexapro, you and your doctor should discuss the risks and possible benefits of this medication.
Precautions and contraindications.
Certain conditions can predispose you to side effects from taking Lexapro. If you are predisposed to side effects, your doctor will monitor you closely for these problems.
- Seizures : Taking Lexapro may predispose you to seizures if you have epilepsy .
- Mania / Hypomania : Lexapro can cause mania if you have had mania in the past or if you have bipolar disorder.
- Hyponatremia (low sodium content) : If you have a tendency to have low sodium levels or if you have been diagnosed with syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), Lexapro may help reduce sodium levels.
- Angle-closure glaucoma : You may have a sudden flare-up of glaucoma, especially if your glaucoma goes undiagnosed and untreated.
- Medical Condition: The manufacturer recommends using Lexapro with caution if you have a chronic or serious medical condition.
Lexapro can interfere with your thinking and reaction time, and it can also cause you to pass out. When you start to use it, be careful when driving or using potentially dangerous equipment.
Lexapro is a brand name drug. It is also available as a generic version of escitalopram. And Cipralex is another brand of escitalopram.
Other SSRIs include:
Lexapro is available as tablets and oral solution. The tablets are available in 5, 10 and 20 mg strengths. The 10 and 20 mg tablets are scored and can be cut in half.
The oral solution has a concentration of 1 mg per milliliter (ml).
Lexapro Manufacturer's Recommended Dosage :
- Major depressive disorder over 18 years : the recommended dose is 10 mg per day and can be increased to 20 mg per day if necessary after three weeks.
- Major depressive disorder aged 12 to 18 years : the recommended dose is 10 mg per day and can be increased to 20 mg per day every two weeks if necessary.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: the recommended dose is 10 mg a day.
The Lexapro blood level test is not standard and treatment is adjusted based on symptoms and side effects. However, higher blood levels of Lexapro are associated with better therapeutic benefits .
There is no specific dosage adjustment recommendation for Lexapro, but it should be used with caution if you are elderly or have a serious medical condition that affects your metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease.
How to take and store
You can take Lexapro with or without food, in the morning or in the evening.
Store at 25 ° C (77 F); Excursions up to 15-30 C (59-86 F) are allowed.
Lexapro is generally considered safe if it has no contraindications or is susceptible to side effects. However, this can lead to several side effects.
Common Lexapro side effects may go away after a few months of use. Discuss any side effects with your doctor.
Common side effects of Lexapro include:
- Ejaculation problems
- Decreased libido
In rare cases, Lexapro can cause serious or life-threatening side effects. You should seek immediate medical attention if you begin to experience these side effects.
- Worsening of symptoms: You may experience increased depression or anxiety, or a lack of improvement in your symptoms .
- Serotonin syndrome : This condition is characterized by rapid heartbeat, confusion, agitation, sweating, muscle spasms, and irregular body temperature .
Lexapro can cause suicidal thoughts, especially in young adults. If you have thoughts of harming yourself, seek medical attention immediately.
Warnings and interactions
Do not stop taking Lexapro suddenly. Talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking Lexapro and follow the instructions for gradually reducing the dose of the medicine before you stop taking it.
Withdrawal symptoms can cause symptoms of mood swings, agitation, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and trouble sleeping.
Lexapro can interact with other medications and cause side effects. especially when used with other antidepressants. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist the names and dosages of all the medicines you take.
Most common drug interactions of Lexapro:
Serotonergic drugs : Other drugs that interact with serotonin can cause serotonin syndrome when used with Lexapro. Serotonergic medications that increase the risk of serotonin syndrome include:
- Other SSRIs like Celexa (citalopram)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are used to treat psychiatric disorders.
- Tricyclic antidepressants such as pamelor (nortriptyline)
- Triptans used to treat migraines, such as sumatriptan
Medications that can potentially cause serotonin syndrome when used with Lexapro include:
- Pimozide, a neuroleptic
- Linezolid (antibiotic)
- Intravenous methylene blue (used to treat methemoglobinemia)