Lexapro (Escitalopram)

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What Is Lexapro?

Escitalopram is a type of antidepressant sold under the brand name Lexapro. This drug belongs to a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which help to restore balance in the brain by making more of the important neurotransmitter serotonin available to carry signals between cells.

Your doctor may suggest trying escitalopram if you are suffering from depression or any of a number of anxiety disorders. Escitalopram is not intended for use in young children, and you must be twelve years old or more to safely take this drug.

Important Information About Lexapro

Escitalopram is not safe for everyone. Certain antipsychotics can interact dangerously with escitalopram, as can MAO inhibitors – you must wait at least two weeks after finishing taking MAO inhibitors before you begin taking escitalopram. Other medications that may counter-indicate the usage of escitalopram include other anti-depressants, blood thinners, methylene blue injections, and medications given for migraines as well as more general pain medications. While these are common interactions, the only way to be sure that nothing you are taking will affect your escitalopram prescription is to notify your doctor of your complete list of active medications.

Certain medical conditions may also prevent you from being able to safely take escitalopram. Discuss your full family and personal medical history with your doctor, especially if you have ever experienced any kind of kidney, liver, or heart disease; diabetes; or epileptic seizures. If you have ever previously contemplated suicide, or if you have a history of drug abuse, this drug may not be suitable for you to take.

Pregnant women and those who are considering trying to conceive should discuss any ongoing treatment with escitalopram. While the drug may cause pulmonary problems in the fetus, quitting without first consulting a doctor may cause you to experience worsening symptoms of depression. Similarly, if you are breastfeeding, your baby can get escitalopram passed to her through your milk. It is important to talk to your doctor to choose a plan that is safest for you and your baby.

Drug Interactions

If you’re taking escitalopram, you should avoid taking any NSAID medications to relieve pain unless you have first consulted your doctor. These drugs include common pain relievers such as naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, and when taken in conjunction with an SSRI like escitalopram they can cause bleeding disorders. It’s also wise to avoid the use of alcohol while using escitalopram; alcohol acts as both a stimulant and sedative, and the changes it causes to the nervous system can interfere with the escitalopram’s effect on your body.

Lexapro Side Effects

The most common side effects of taking escitalopram are mild. You may experience an overall feeling of weariness and even insomnia, as well as mild gastrointestinal concerns (gas, nausea, occasional constipation, weight fluctuations). Sexual side effects are also a consideration; you may experience a loss of libido or erectile dysfunction.

More serious side effects that warrant a call to your doctor’s office include muscle rigidity, profuse sweating, erratic heart rate, seizures, difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhea, or severe light-headedness. It’s also important to report any changes in mental state you may experience while taking escitalopram: engaging in risky or dangerous behavior, large mood swings, hallucinations, or mental confusion.

The most important side effect to watch out for is suicidal thoughts. Starting a new course of treatment for depression is associated with thoughts of suicide, especially in patients in their teens and twenties. If you find yourself considering or attempting suicide, contact a care provider, friend or family member, or suicide hotline immediately to seek help.

How To Take Lexapro

It is important to only take escitalopram as prescribed by a doctor. Overdoses may be fatal, and failing to take as much as prescribed may fail to relieve your depression or anxiety. While escitalopram can be purchased without a prescription on the Internet, much of what is available comes from unlicensed medication distributors rather than reputable pharmacies, and medicine from such sources may not be completely pure. In many cases, Internet-purchased escitalopram contains antipsychotic medications, which can affect your mental state or interact dangerously with your other medications.

Overdosing On Lexapro

Overdosing on escitalopram can be fatal. Symptoms of an overdose include profuse sweating, dizziness, vomiting, a rapid and pounding heart rate, and eventually unconsciousness. If you think you may have overdosed, call 911 or a Poison Control Center immediately.

Missing A Dose

If you accidentally miss a dose of escitalopram, take it once you remember it, unless you are close to the time when you would normally take your next dose anyway. Never give yourself additional medication to make up for a dose that you skipped – this can be very dangerous.

Escitalopram is most effective when taken close to the same time each day; it may help you to set an alarm in order to remind you to take your dose. Swallow pills with water, and if using liquid escitalopram, always measure your dose with a medical-grade spoon or cup rather than kitchen-grade equipment, which may not be as accurate as you need.

Don’t be concerned if a few weeks of taking escitalopram have passed without any relief from your symptoms. It can take a month or more before symptoms begin to dissipate, and quitting escitalopram all at once can cause withdrawal. If you are worried about your symptoms or the drug’s efficacy, talk to your doctor before making any changes to how you are taking your medication.

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