Escitalopram

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Escitalopram

Escitalopram drug image

Brand Lexapro

     Form Oral Tablet

     Drug Type Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

 

Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain.

 

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Drug Information

Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It may improve your energy level and feelings of well-being and decrease nervousness.

Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking escitalopram and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily in the morning or evening. The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to take this drug at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. Keep taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience mood swings, headaches, tiredness, sleep changes, and brief feelings similar to electric shock. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Report any new or worsening symptoms right away. It may take 1 to 2 weeks to feel a benefit from this drug and four weeks to feel the full benefit of this medication. Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

See also the Warning section. Nausea, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, constipation, tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, and increased sweating may occur. Tell your doctor promptly if any of these effects last or get worse.

Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including decreased interest in sex, changes in sexual ability, and easy bleeding/bruising. Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including black stools, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, seizures, eye pain/swelling/redness, widened pupils, vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night, blurred vision). This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section).

Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, and unusual agitation/restlessness. Rarely, males may have a painful or prolonged erection lasting four or more hours. If this occurs, stop using this drug and get medical help right away, or permanent problems could occur. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Antidepressant medications are used to treat a variety of conditions, including depression and other mental/mood disorders. These medications can help prevent suicidal thoughts/attempts and provide other important benefits. However, studies have shown that a small number of people (especially people younger than 25) who take antidepressants for any condition may experience worsening depression, other mental/mood symptoms, or suicidal thoughts/attempts. Talking with the doctor about the risks and benefits of antidepressant medication (especially for people younger than 25) is very important, even if treatment is not for a mental/mood condition.

Tell the doctor right away if you notice worsening depression/other psychiatric conditions, unusual behavior changes (including possible suicidal thoughts/attempts), or other mental/mood changes (including new/worsening anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, irritability, hostile/angry feelings, impulsive actions, severe restlessness, very rapid speech). Be watchful for these symptoms when a new antidepressant is started or the dose changes.

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all your products (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist.

Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval. Some products that may interact with this drug are other drugs that can cause bleeding/bruising (including antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen/naproxen "blood thinners" such as dabigatran/warfarin). Aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding when used with this medication. However, if your doctor has directed you to take low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually 81-162 milligrams a day), you should continue taking it unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Taking MAO inhibitors with this medication may cause a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction. Avoid taking MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, metaxalone, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, safinamide, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before and after treatment with this medication. Ask your doctor when to start or stop taking this medication.

The serotonin syndrome/toxicity risk increases if you also take other drugs that increase serotonin. Examples include street drugs such as MDMA/"ecstasy," St. John's wort, certain antidepressants (including other SSRIs such as fluoxetine/paroxetine, SNRIs such as duloxetine/venlafaxine), tryptophan, among others. The serotonin syndrome/toxicity risk may be more likely when you start or increase the dose of these drugs. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness, including alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, and opioid pain relievers (such as codeine). Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy, pain/fever reducers, or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness or increase the risk of bleeding. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.

Many drugs besides Sertraline may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation), including amiodarone, pimozide, procainamide, quinidine, and sotalol, among others. Escitalopram is very similar to citalopram. Do not use medications containing citalopram while using escitalopram. This medication may interfere with certain medical/laboratory tests (including brain scans for Parkinson's disease), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel, and all your doctors know you use this drug.

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The information provided on this page is updated periodically. Please use our Drug Search Tool for the latest information and updates about this drug. The information on this site is not intended to take the place of your doctor or other healthcare professionals. It is a resource to help you make the best decisions and get the most from the medical services available to you. A licensed physician should be consulted to diagnose and treat all medical conditions.