Health Encyclopedia > Medications

escitalopram

Pronunciation: ES sye TAL oh pram

Brand: Lexapro

Lexapro 10 mg

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Lexapro 20 mg

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Lexapro 5 mg

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What is the most important information I should know about escitalopram?

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Do not take escitalopram together with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAOI before you can take escitalopram. After you stop taking escitalopram, you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAOI.

You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment.

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Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this medication. Escitalopram may cause heart defects or serious lung problems in a newborn if you take the medication during pregnancy. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant. Do not start or stop taking escitalopram during pregnancy without your doctor's advice.

It is dangerous to try and purchase escitalopram on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples of escitalopram purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide.

What is escitalopram?

Escitalopram is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Escitalopram affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression or anxiety.

Escitalopram is used to treat anxiety in adults and major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents who are at least 12 years old.

Escitalopram may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking escitalopram?

It is dangerous to try and purchase escitalopram on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples of escitalopram purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide.

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Do not use escitalopram if you are using an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). Serious and sometimes fatal reactions can occur when these medicines are taken with escitalopram. You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAO inhibitor before you can take escitalopram. After you stop taking escitalopram, you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAOI.

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Tell your doctor about all other antidepressants you take, especially Celexa, Cymbalta, Desyrel, Effexor, Luvox, Oleptro, Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax, Paxil, Pexeva, Viibryd, or Zoloft.

To make sure you can safely take escitalopram, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • seizures or epilepsy;
  • bipolar disorder (manic depression); or
  • a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts.

You may have thoughts about suicide while taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Tell your doctor if you have worsening depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several weeks of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.

Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment.

FDA pregnancy category C. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this medication. Escitalopram may cause heart defects or serious lung problems in a newborn if you take the medication during pregnancy. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant. Do not start or stop taking escitalopram during pregnancy without your doctor's advice.

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Escitalopram can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

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Do not give escitalopram to anyone younger than 12 years old without the advice of a doctor.

How should I take escitalopram?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.

Try to take the medicine at the same time each day. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

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It may take 4 weeks or longer before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 4 weeks of treatment.

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Do not stop using escitalopram suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using escitalopram.

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Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

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Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, tremor, sweating, rapid heartbeat, confusion, fainting, seizures, and coma.

What should I avoid while taking escitalopram?

Avoid taking tryptophan while you are taking escitalopram.

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Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of escitalopram.

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Escitalopram may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

What are the possible side effects of escitalopram?

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

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Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination; or
  • headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • mild nausea, gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation;
  • weight changes;
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm; or
  • dry mouth, yawning, ringing in your ears.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect escitalopram?

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Cold or allergy medicine, sedatives, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures or anxiety can add to sleepiness caused by escitalopram. Tell your doctor if you regularly use any of these medicines.

Ask your doctor before taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain, arthritis, fever, or swelling. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Naprelan, Treximet), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Arthrotec, Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Flector Patch, Pennsaid, Solareze), indomethacin (Indocin), meloxicam (Mobic), and others. Using an NSAID with escitalopram may cause you to bruise or bleed easily.

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol);
  • cimetidine (Tagamet);
  • lithium (Lithobid, Eskalith);
  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
  • any other antidepressants such as amitriptylline (Elavil, Vanatrip, Limbitrol), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), and others; or
  • migraine headache medicine such as almotriptan (Axert), frovatriptan (Frova), sumatriptan (Imitrex, Treximet), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), or zolmitriptan (Zomig).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with escitalopram. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about escitalopram.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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