Escitalopram is used for the treatment of depression in adults, children, and teenagers who are 12 years of age or older. This medication is also used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults, which is characterized by excessive worry and tension that interferes with daily life for a period of 6 months or longer.
Escitalopram is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant and works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a naturally occurring substance in the brain that plays a crucial role in maintaining mental stability.
Uses and Dosage
Escitalopram is usually taken orally, either with or without food, as directed by your healthcare provider. The medication is taken once daily, either in the morning or in the evening, based on your doctor’s recommendation. The prescribed dosage will be tailored to your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other medications that you may be taking. Inform your doctor and pharmacist of all the products that you are using, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal products.
If you are taking the liquid form of this medication, measure the dose accurately using a specialized measuring device or spoon.
To minimize the risk of side effects, your doctor may start you on a low dose of the drug and gradually increase the dose as needed. Adhere to your doctor’s instructions strictly and do not increase the dose, frequency, or duration of the medication without consultation. Doing so may not accelerate the improvement of your condition, but it will increase the risk of side effects. For optimal benefits, take the medication regularly at the same time each day.
Even if you feel better, it is important to continue taking the medication as prescribed. Discontinuing the medication abruptly without consulting your doctor can worsen your condition. You may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and brief sensations similar to electric shocks.
It may take several weeks for the full benefits of the medication to become apparent. If your condition does not improve or worsens, inform your doctor.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- dry mouth
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- trouble sleeping
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- decreased interest in sexual intercourse
- delayed or inability to have an orgasm
- inability to have or keep an erection
- loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- not able to have an orgasm
Prior to utilizing escitalopram, inform your physician or pharmacist if you have any allergies, including an allergy to escitalopram or citalopram. Disclose any previous medical history, including a history of bipolar or manic-depressive disorder, suicide attempts, liver disease, seizures, peptic ulcer disease or bleeding problems, low sodium levels, or a family history of glaucoma.
Escitalopram may cause a heart rhythm condition known as QT prolongation, which in rare cases can lead to serious and potentially fatal symptoms such as fast or irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, or fainting.
During treatment with escitalopram, avoid operating heavy machinery or performing tasks that require alertness, as the medication may cause dizziness or drowsiness. The consumption of alcohol or marijuana should be avoided as it can amplify these effects.
For individuals with diabetes, phenylketonuria, or any condition that requires them to limit sugar and/or aspartame in their diet, exercise caution as the liquid form of escitalopram may contain these substances.
While pregnant, the use of escitalopram should only occur when deemed necessary, as it may be harmful to the unborn baby. Newborns born to mothers who have used escitalopram during the final trimester of pregnancy may develop withdrawal symptoms such as difficulty feeding, breathing difficulties, seizures, muscle stiffness, or excessive crying. If these symptoms are observed, prompt medical attention should be sought.
Escitalopram is known to pass into breast milk and may have adverse effects on a nursing infant, consult with a physician before breastfeeding.
Form and Strength
Lexapro is available in the following forms and strengths:
How quickly does Lexapro take effect?
Most people report feeling the effects of their Lexapro within 4 weeks. It can take some people as little as a day or as long as 6 weeks to feel the effects of their treatment.
How do I know if Lexapro is working?
When you start taking an antidepressant, you should begin to function better in your daily life before you start feeling better. You should begin sleeping better, eating better, and having more energy.