What is Lexapro?
Lexapro is an antidepressant oral medication that belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Lexapro is a brand name for the generic drug escitalopramand it works by boosting serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain that assists in controlling mental balance or restore chemical balance in the brain. [1,2,3,4, 8, 9]
Lexapro may enhance your feelings of well-being, reduce nervousness and enhance your energy level.Lexapro is also sold in different brands and is prescribed based on your condition. Other brand names include:
Lexapro is only available with a doctor’s prescription and if you are using it, you should not give it to anyone even if they have the same symptoms as you because it can be harmful to them. The full benefits of this drug may be felt after 1 to 4 weeks or longer. Lexapro is prescribed for the following conditions:[4, 8, 9]
- Generalized anxiety disorder
Other off-label uses of Lexapro include:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Pathological gambling
- Panic disorder
- Vasomotor symptoms associated with Menopause
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Premature ejaculation
Lexapro is available in solution and tablet form. Here is an average dosage guideline for taking Lexapro:[1, 2, 6]
- For adults and adolescents, the starting dose is 10mg per day. The dose may be increased after a few weeks to 20mg per day and is maintained between 10 to 20 mg.
- For generalized anxiety disorder, the starting dose recommended is 10 mg per day. The dose can be increased to 20mg once daily by your doctor after one or more weeks.
- For senior patients and patients with hepatic impairment, the starting dose is 10mg once daily.
Lexapro side effects may be severe or minor and they can improve over time. Other people may not even experience these side effects.Allergic reaction to this drug is uncommon but if you have any serious allergic reaction including difficulty in breathing, rash, swelling of the tongue, face or throat, itching, and hives get medical help immediately. Report to your doctor immediately if the following side effects persist:[1, 2, 4, 5, 7]
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Very rapid speech
- Changes in sexual ability
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Reduced sexual interest
- Chest tightness
- Extreme tiredness
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
This is not a complete list of all side effects and you may experience other unusual side effects. Make sure you consult with your doctor and get more information about side effects and how to manage them.
Other serious side effects
Other serious side effects include:
- Pounding, fast or unequal heartbeat
- Eye pain and vision change
- Unexplained fever
- Severe dizziness
- Unusual restlessness
- Muscle twitching
- Loss of coordination
- Change in behaviour or mood
- Trouble sleeping
- Panic attacks
- Impulsive feelings or aggression
- Feeling more depressed or having suicidal thoughts
- This drug can also make you feel tired and can influence your thinking, motor skills, and judgment.
Overdose side effects
It is quite possible to overdose on Lexapro just like any other medications. The effects of overdose vary based on the amount taken and if it was taken with other drugs, medicine or alcohol. Lexapro overdose side effects include:
- Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Blue skin coloration called cyanosis which could happen in rare instances due to lack of oxygen
- Rapid skeletal muscle breakdown called rhabdomyolysis which is also uncommon
- Other rare overdose side effects that could occur include hyperventilation, coma, amnesia and ECG abnormalities.
Withdrawal side effects
Antidepressants like Lexapro influences the brain chemical serotonin and when a person stops taking them abruptly, the body may react with emotional and physical side effects. Not every single person who uses Lexapro will experience discontinuation side effects and they are usually mild and would go away over time. These withdrawal side effects include:
- An individual may experience fatigue due to the brain trying to restore itself to homeostasis. The fatigue, tiredness, and lethargy may become very difficult that you think it wouldn’t go away.
- Lexapro is used to treat depression and when a person stops using it, the depression is likely to worsen.
- Mood swings are quite common when an individual stops using Lexapro. A person may feel irritated and angry especially when around people.
- Headache is another very common withdrawal side effect. Some people may experience intense headaches due to tension. Relaxing and drinking a lot of water with some painkillers would help.
- Severe anxiety which happens when you stop taking Lexapro after using it for a prolonged period of time. The serotonin levels are likely to decrease causing severe anxiety because the brain has become reliant on the drug to increase serotonin.
- Dizziness and balance problems, possibly vertigo. Some people experience dizziness to a point of having balance problems. Dizziness could last for a long duration and may make life hard to handle.
- Sleeping troubles caused by increased anxiety or changes in sleep pattern.
- Electric shock sensations throughout the brain or brain zaps is a common withdrawal symptom and can last for several weeks.
- An individual may feel nauseated when they first stop taking Lexapro and in some cases, it may lead to vomiting.
- Some people may experience an increase in appetite and other loss of appetite when they abruptly stop using Lexapro.
- When coming off Lexapro an individual is likely to experience suicidal thoughts or feel suicidal and the intensity of these thoughts will possibly increase when you withdraw.
- During withdrawal period the majority of people sweat more than average during the day or when sleeping.
- Lexapro may cause mania in rare cases.
- Flu-like symptoms. During withdrawal, some people feel as if they have flu which comes with feelings of nausea, achiness, unable to eat and bedridden.
- Libido changes. Lexapro causes delayed orgasm and in some cases, it may cause inability to orgasm, therefore, if a person stops using it their sex life improves.
- Other side effects a person may experience when coming off Lexapro include loss of coordination, tremors, irritability, vomiting, eye floaters, muscle spasm, and nightmares.
Withdrawal side effects in adolescents include:
- Back pain
- Nasal congestion
- Urinary tract infection.
- Lexapro side effects available at www.emedexpert.com/facts/escitalopram-facts.shtml