Lexapro (escitalopram) belongs to the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and represents an antidepressant that is effective in managing such health conditions as anxiety and major depressive disorder in adult patients and children aged 12 years old at a minimum. Lexapro influences the chemical structure of the brain and allows achieving proper balance in brain functioning in those patients who are susceptible to the development of depressive disorders and anxiety. Lexapro affects neurotransmitters inside the brain, the imbalance of which is suggested to be the major cause of depression. Lexapro is also used to manage obsessive compulsive disorders and panic conditions, even though it is not officially approved to be used for such purposes.
Possible Side Effects
Lexapro often causes a number of undesirable side effects, which should be considered before taking this medication. The most common adverse reactions associated with the intake of Lexapro include the following:
- Feeling agitated or restless;
- Impaired vision;
- Upset stomach;
- Feeling dizzy;
- Increased thirst;
- Increased urination;
- Nausea and changes of appetite;
- Sex-related difficulties (reduced sexual desire or postponed ejaculation);
- Taste changes, etc.
Precautions: Things to Consider
Antidepressants often lead to an increased risk of suicidal thinking and associated behavior, especially in young people suffering from depression and other mental disorders. Everyone who is about to take this medication or any other antidepressant of this category needs to consider the risks and evaluate whether the benefits of treatment will outweigh possible threats. Short-term use, however, does not demonstrate an increased suicidal behavior in patients, but such a risk still exists and may lead to unordinary changes in the patient’s behavior.
Besides, a number of patients experience the symptoms of withdrawal after they stop taking this drug. Such signs and symptoms may include the following conditions:
- Feeling dizzy;
- Feeling irritated and tired;
- Having bad mood;
- Having colorful and vivid night dreams, etc.
In order to prevent the development of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is advisable not to stop the therapy abruptly, but to start decreasing the dosage and stop taking the medication step by step. This will allow patients to prevent undesirable adverse conditions and avoid possible mental health outcomes.
Even though patients suffering from depression most often lack sexual desire and experience decreased sexual performance because of their mental health condition, sometimes it can be a result of the drugs taken during treatment. It is suggested that one man out of 11 who were given Lexapro to experience sexual difficulties and problems with ejaculation.
How to Take Lexapro
Lexapro should be taken according to the directions of your healthcare provider with much accuracy. Do not violate the directions provided in your prescription. Your physician may sometimes change the dosage depending on your current state and reaction to treatment, but it is not recommended to take larger or smaller quantities of this medication or increase the duration of treatment. Make sure you follow the instructions when taking Lexapro:
- This medication may be taken on a full or empty stomach. Do not take this drug at different times day after day. Instead, try to make equal intervals between the intakes of the medication;
- Use a dose-measuring device to measure the necessary amount of the drug in case you are using a liquid form of Lexapro. If you don’t have any special spoon or cup, you need to ask a pharmacist for one;
- The duration of treatment may vary, but as a rule, it takes four weeks at a maximum before your condition improves. Continue using this medication according to the prescription and make your doctor aware if the symptoms worsen or do not get better;
- Avoid stopping the treatment process all of a sudden because this may lead to highly undesirable withdrawal signs. As such, it is better to gradually decrease the dosage up until it reaches a minimal level.
An adult dose presupposes taking 10 mg orally one time a day. However, this dosage may be increased if necessary after one week of treatment has passed. The maximum dosage is 20 mg a day orally. In case you are using this drug for maintenance purposes, the recommended dose would be 10-20 mg a day used as a single dose. However, the treatment course needs to be evaluated from time to time and occasionally changed in case the effectiveness of treatment is observed.
Seek immediate medical attention in case you experience the symptoms of serotonin syndrome, which may sometimes take place when taking this medication. The signs of this condition include the following:
- Feeling agitated;
- Feverish state and increased sweating;
- Irregular heartbeat;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Upset stomach;
- Loss of coordination.
Warnings: Before Taking This Medication
Avoid using Lexapro if you experience an allergic reaction to any of its ingredients. Besides, due to the interaction of this medication with certain other drugs, it is inadvisable to take it if you are currently undergoing the treatment with pimozide or citalopram. Avoid giving Lexapro to children under the age of 12 due to the lack of data regarding possible effects of this medication on young children.
Avoid using Lexapro within a period of two weeks before and after you have taken MAO inhibitors due to the risk of developing a hazardous drug interaction. Always consult your doctor before taking this medication in order to minimize the risk factors and make sure your treatment course is effective. Tell your doctor if you are using any herbal products, opioid or migraine drugs, medicines for depression disorders and other mental illnesses, preventive medications against nausea and vomiting or anti-bacterial medicines.