Medication and Treatment Reviews

Lexapro

Generic Name: Escitalopram Oxalate

Uses

Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication taken orally that is primarily used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults. It can help relieve the sadness, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite and mood associated with depression. It can lessen the mental agitation and distress that characterize anxiety disorders. The safety and effectiveness of Lexapro in children and adolescents under age 18 has not been established. Physicians may recommend a reduced dose for adults over age 65.

How to Use Lexapro

Before starting or refilling a Lexapro prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.

This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.

Dosage

As with all medications, follow your Lexapro prescription instructions exactly. Lexapro is taken orally, with or without food, once daily, in the morning or evening. It is available in two formulations.

  • Tablets should be swallowed whole with water or other liquids.
  • Oral solution should be measured with the included syringe and dispensed into water, orange juice or apple juice, stirred, then swallowed entirely.

The recommended standard dose is 10mg per day. The optimal dosage varies by patient health and age. If you are over 65 years of age, or have certain health conditions, your doctor may recommend a lower dosage.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Lexapro.

Your doctor may incrementally adjust your daily dosage until you experience the best response — that is, until you find the lowest dosage at which you experience the greatest improvement in symptoms without side effects.

When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor to gradually taper the level of medication. Stopping Lexapro suddenly can create serious symptoms including anxiety, irritability, changes in mood, feelings of restlessness, difficulty sleeping, headache, sweating, nausea, dizziness, electric shock-like sensations, shaking, or confusion.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of Lexapro are similar to those associated with other SSRIs, like Zoloft, and are as follows: nausea, sleepiness, weakness, dizziness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, sexual difficulty, sweating, shaking, changes in appetite, dry mouth, constipation, and susceptibility to infection.

Other serious side effects include increased risk of suicidality or manic episode, vision problems, seizures, and changes in blood pressure. Patients should be monitored and observed closely for worsening depression, changes in behavior, or suicidality, especially when starting treatment or changing dosage.

Lexapro is not approved for use in children in adolescents. When taken by pediatric populations, side effects can include: increased thirst, muscle twitching, nose bleeds, difficult urination, heavy menstrual periods, and slowed growth rate. For children or adolescents treated with Lexapro, your physician should check vital statistics and evaluate height and weight. If any problems are found, your doctor may recommend discontinuing treatment.

Taking Lexapro may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor.

Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar disorder, mania, or depression. The FDA recommends evaluating patients for bipolar disorder prior to the administration of Lexapro to avoid inducing a manic episode. Lexapro may create new or exacerbate existing behavior problems, bipolar disorder, or suicidal ideation, especially in the first few months of treatment or after a dosage change. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including reckless behavior, hallucinations, or sudden excessive happiness or irritability.

Lexapro increases serotonin levels in the brain, and can rarely lead to life-threatening serotonin syndrome, or toxicity. If you or your child experiences changes in mental status, coordination problems, muscle twitching, racing heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, seek medical help immediately.

Discuss any bleeding disorders or irregular sodium levels with your doctor. Lexapro can cause abnormal bleeding for some patients, and low salt concentration in the blood. The elderly may be at greater risk for these problems.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions and Safety

Store Lexapro in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Lexapro prescription with anyone, even another person with depression or anxiety. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.

You should not take Lexapro if you have an allergy to escitalopram oxalate, citalopram hydrobromide, or any of the other ingredients in Lexapro.

You should not take Lexapro if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within 14 days, or are taking the antipsychotic medication Orap; it can cause a serious, even life-threatening reaction.

You should use caution when taking any SSRIs, including Lexapro, and speak with your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems, heart problems, seizures, bipolar disorder, low blood sodium levels, a history of stroke or high blood pressure, or a history of bleeding problems.

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Lexapro with your doctor. It is not known if Lexapro can cause fetal harm during pregnancy. It is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking Lexapro, as its safety for infants is unknown, and some Lexapro may pass into breastmilk.

Interactions

Before taking Lexapro, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Lexapro can have a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction with antidepressants including MAOIs, and the antipsychotic medication Orap. Taking Lexapro while taking blood thinners like Coumadin, ibuprofen, or aspirin can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding. Using Lexapro concurrently with medication that increases serotonin – like St. John’s wort, SSRIs, tryptophan, or street drugs like MDMA – can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications, you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, especially any drugs that cause drowsiness. Let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Lexapro before having any surgery or laboratory tests.

The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.

Sources:

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=13bb8267-1cab-43e5-acae-55a4d957630a
http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/04/briefing/2004-4065b1-22-tab11C-Lexapro-Tabs-SLR015.pdf

4 reviews

  1. Hello, I have ADHD, anxiety and mild depression. I take two meds for all of those symptoms. I’m taking 15mg Adderall XR and 20mg Lexapro. This combination is working wonderfully for me. The Lexapro treats the anxiety and depression while the Adderall treats the ADHD. This combination has given me the awareness to make the behavioral changes I needed to improve my life. I’ve tried other meds for ADHD and the increase in anxiety made some things worse even though my attention and distractibility had improved.

  2. Our 13-year-old son started 5 mg of Lexapro early December, then went to 10 mg on December 7th and now just started this week 15mg. He has been really tired and we have not seen any significant change in his low mood. He also takes Strattera 80 mg in the evening and that has worked really well.

  3. I am an adult who took Lexapro and it didn’t work for me for depression. I am on Strattera, which is going to be increased. I can’t tell yet what that is doing. I am on Zoloft for depression 200 mg; still waiting for it to kick in. I have tried so many anti-depressants and they don’t seem to work. I am also on Adderall 50 mg x 2 daily. I have to take Trazodone before bed and I take Clonazepam.

  4. My 13-year-old son started on 5 mg Lexapro for 3 weeks then was increased to 10 mg for 7 weeks. We then increased it to 20 mg and he’s been on this dose for 2 1/2 weeks and it seems to be helping with his depression. He doesn’t have that feeling of not wanting to live and is in better spirits generally. Though he does have his moments of being “depressed” he is better. At his lowest point he had a plan to kill himself two months ago.
    He also suffers from ADHD and is currently in a residential treatment facility for about a month. The therapy and meds are slowly starting to work. It’s a very long process but we’re hopefully headed in the right direction.

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