Escitalopram is known by several trade names and Lexapro is quite popular and widely used. Lexapro is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class. Approved by the US FDA, Lexapro is used for treating adults with major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. It was developed in close co-operation between Forest Laboratories and Lundbeck. Lexapro was developed in a short span of 3.5 years because Forest and Lundbeck had extensive experience in creating a similar drug Citalopram. Lexapro is available only under prescription.
The medication works by way of increasing serotonin, a substance present in the brain that is believed to influence mood. Lexapro has been prescribed to over 18 million US adults and has been considered an effective and safe medication.
Conditions treated by Lexapro
Lexapro is used to treat two major kinds of disorders: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The drug is used to treat acute MDD and also in maintenance treatment of MDD for adolescents and adults over 12 years of age. MDD refers to that condition where persistent and prominent dysphoric mood or depression interferes with your routine operations thereby making daily functioning difficult. Some of the symptoms exhibited by these patients include suicidal tendencies, impaired concentration, feeling of worthlessness, fatigue, psychomotor retardation, insomnia, change in appetite and weight, loss of interest and depressed mood.
Acute treatment of GAD is also handled by Lexapro. This issue is characterized by excessive worry and anxiety that extends for a period of at least 6 months and is highly uncontrollable for the patient. Sleep disturbance, muscle tension, irritability, concentration difficulties, fatigue and restlessness are some of the common symptoms of GAD.
Lexapro Dosage Information
a.) Typical Dosage Recommendations
The regular starting dose of Lexapro is 10mg once every day either in the morning or in the evening. The dose can be increased further up to 20mg once very day after the initial week. You will begin to observe benefits only after a period of 4 weeks. The drug can be taken without or with food. A daily dose of 20mg is not going to be more effective than the 10mg you had been taking for treating depression. Therefore, medication is adjusted according to the need and response exhibited by the patient. Do not take extra doses of the drug without consulting your doctor.
Every dose of Lexapro should be taken with a full glass of water. When you are on liquid Lexapro, take the medication with a marked medicine cup or measuring spoon to get the correct dose. Do not use a tablespoon for this purpose. Medication should not be stopped abruptly since unpleasant side effects can occur when you stop the drug all of a sudden. Both adolescents and adults are initially recommended only 10mg every day. An increase in dosage (to 20mg) happens after three weeks for adolescents and after one week for adults.
b.) Missing a Dose
When you miss a dose, take it when you remember the next time but when it is time for the subsequent dose, it is better to skip the missed one. Do not double or take extra doses to catch up. It can cause harmful results.
If you think you are overdosed, get emergency medical attention. Symptoms of overdosing can include coma, seizures, dizziness, confusion, quick heartbeats, sweating, tremors, vomiting and nausea.
You should inform your doctor when you are taking medication for pain, swelling arthritis and fever. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs and aspirin can interfere with Lexapro. Avoid alcohol consumption since alcohol has the ability to increase side effects caused by this drug. The medication can impair your ability to react or even think. Driving and other similar activities that need you to stay alert and cautious should be done only if inevitable.
Lexapro causes sleepiness and therefore should not be had with other sleep inducing drugs that are taken for seizures, muscle relaxation, sleeping, narcotic pain and allergy. Patients with a major depressive disorder should abstain from Lexapro since they may experience worsening of depression. Safety of the drug in pregnant mothers has not been established and therefore, should be used by them only when advised by the doctor. The drug gets excreted through breast milk and therefore breast feeding mothers should not take Lexapro.
Lexapro Side Effects
You can possibly develop an allergic reaction that involves swelling of lips, face, throat and tongue, hives or breathing difficulties when you are on Lexapro. When you are on this drug, you can also experience worsening or new symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, depression, hyperactiveness, restlessness, aggression, hostility, agitation, irritability and impulsiveness. Sleeping troubles, panic attacks, anxiety, behavior or mood changes are other possible side effects that arise from taking this drug. You are prone to certain severe side effects such as shallow breathing, seizure, fainting, hallucination, confusion, weakness, memory problems, trouble in concentrating, headaches etc.
Loss of co-ordination, unsteadiness, appetite loss, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, overactive reflexes, stiff muscles and high fever are also typical symptoms you can face by taking Lexapro. Few other issues include dry mouth, reduced sex drive, impotence, weight changes, constipation, heart burn, sleep problems, drowsiness, gas and mild nausea. In very rare cases, acute renal failure has been reported.
Drug Interactions With Lexapro
It is important to consult your doctor before you take any medication for swelling, fever, arthritis or pain while you are on Lexapro. Drugs such as etodolac, nabumetone, piroxicam, indomethacin, diclofenac, naprozen, ibuprofen and aspirin can interfere with Lexapro. Unexplained bleeding or bruising can be the outcome when these drugs are combined with Lexapro. You should also inform your doctor if you are currently on:
- Tegretol (carbamazepine)
- Tagamet (cimetidine)
- Carbolith (lithium)
- Coumadin (warfarin)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Aventyl (nortriptyline)
- Tofranil (imipramine)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Elavil (amitriptyline)
- Zomig (zolmitriptan)
- Axert (almotriptan)
You may not be able to use Lexapro if you are on any of these drugs. In certain specific cases, dose adjustments can be made but a doctor’s approval is necessary.
Notice: The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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