Lexapro (Escitalopram) is one of the most popular antidepressants. It belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class.
How it acts
Lexapro prevents the rapid disappearance of serotonin from the lumen between the two nerve endings. Because of this, neurotransmitter serotonin interacts longer with receptors on the membranes, thereby leading to a decrease and disappearance of depression symptoms.
Most common side effects of Lexapro
- Diarrhea or constipation;
- Nausea, heartburn, increased gas formation;
- Dry mouth;
- Increased sweating;
- Erectile dysfunction, difficulty in erection, decreased sexual activity;
- Insomnia or drowsiness.
- Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss, sleep disturbance, vomiting;
- General weakness, shivering, muscle tremors, fever, excessive sweating;
- Headache, pain in joints, muscle spasms and myalgia, pain and tension around the cheeks and eyes;
- Inability to reach orgasm;
- Runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose;
- Sore throat, shortness of breath or respiratory failure (for example, stridor);
- Feeling of tightness behind the sternum (breastbone).
Rarer side effects of Lexapro
All the side effects of the drug must be reported to the doctor, but there are side effects that require immediate medical help. They may be called acute side effects. If not properly treated, these reactions can pose a threat to human life and health. Fortunately, acute side effects are rare.
Acute side effects of Lexapro
- Extrapyramidal reactions;
- High or very low blood pressure;
- Serotonin syndrome;
- Heart attack;
- Arrhythmias: atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia (torsade de pointes);
- Slow heartbeat;
- Thrombosis of the pulmonary veins, deep veins of the extremities;
- Renal failure;
- Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines);
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis;
- Muscle damage (associated with the body reaction to the medicine) – a very rare phenomenon, but in some cases there is massive destruction of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure;
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome;
- Hallucinations, convulsions, loss of sense of reality, confusion, suicidal thoughts;
- Reduced platelets in the blood, therefore – increased bleeding;
- Low level of sodium in the blood;
- Allergic reactions that are accompanied by edema (especially laryngeal edema) and shortness of breath;
- Depression or irritability, anxiety;
- Paresthesia (false sensation) – for example, a sensation of tingling of the skin, electric shock;
- Mood swings;
Side effects that occur after the drug withdrawal (signs of withdrawal syndrome):
Side effects of Lexapro in children
Children and young people under 24 years experience suicidal thoughts more often while taking the drug. This is especially true in the first week of treatment or after dose adjustment. Patients younger than 12 years are not recommended to take Lexapro.
Side effects of Lexapro during pregnancy and breast-feeding
Lexapro belongs to the drugs whose adverse effects on the fetus have not been proven. According to some studies, the substance Escitalopram can lead to the formation of developmental anomalies in the lungs and heart in children whose mothers received the drug during pregnancy. It is therefore not recommended to take the medication during pregnancy unless there is an urgent need for that.
Lexapro passes into breast milk and can affect the newborn. The adverse effects in newborns are similar to those described for children and adults, and their degree of severity depends on the amount of dose that entered the body.
Warnings and recommendations
To prevent some side effects of Lexapro or reduce the risk of their occurrence, follow these recommendations:
- Strictly follow all the instructions of the doctor and what is written in the instructions for the use of Lexapro. If in the course of treatment or prior to the start there are any questions, please contact a doctor for answers.
- It is recommended to wash down the medicine with a full glass of water (200 mL).
- To avoid decreasing the drug concentration in the blood and reducing its effectiveness, try to take it every day at the same time.
- Do not interrupt therapy abruptly, do not stop taking the drug on your own, even if you think there is no effect. Remember that the effect of Lexapro can occur few weeks after taking the drug. If you do not feel any result after a few weeks, ask your doctor to change the dose or offer you another medicine.
- Do not take Lexapro if you are at the same time being treated with MAO inhibitors (Marplan, Nardil). After treatment with MAO inhibitors, wait for at least 2 weeks and only then you can begin treatment with Lexapro.
- Certain diseases and symptoms may strengthen the side effects of the drug and worsen your health. Therefore, if you are suffering from diseases of the kidney, liver, epilepsy, or you had convulsions, you need to always inform your doctor before starting treatment with Lexapro. The same applies to patients with suicidal thoughts, drug dependency, or mania (maniacal syndrome, bipolar disorder).
- If you are allergic to the drug Celexa (citalopram), it is likely that Lexapro can also cause allergic reactions. It is not recommended to take these two drugs at the same time. If you are planning to take any other antidepressants along with Lexapro, first inform the doctor.
Lexapro and alcohol
Alcohol can increase such side effects of Lexapro as dizziness and drowsiness. It may also increase the risk of other adverse drug reactions.