Escitalopram is a prescription medication that goes by the brand name Lexapro. It is recommended to treat anxiety and depressive disorders in adults and adolescents over the age of 12. This medication is a part of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants. It balances serotonin concentrations, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, and decreases nervousness.
What to Note Before Taking Lexapro
Avoid this medication if you are allergic to citalopram or escitalopram. Also, don’t take it if you’re on pimozide to avoid the negative interactions of these elements.
Keep your doctor informed if you are taking any other medications, including those for mental illness, serious infections, or preventing nausea. Serotonin syndrome is a potentially fatal disease that can occur when certain medications interact with escitalopram.
Using Lexapro before or after taking an MAO inhibitor is not recommended. This is especially true if you have taken one of these medications within the past 14 days. There is the potential for a fatal medication interaction if you use an MAO inhibitor with Lexapro. Rasagiline, selegiline, isocarboxazid, linezolid, tranylcypromine, and phenelzine are all monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.
Notify your doctor if you have ever suffered from the following before taking the medication:
- Sexual problems
- Heart disease
- Kidney or liver disease
- Drug addiction
The Right Way to Take Lexapro
This prescription can be taken orally once a day, in the morning or evening, with or without food. Dosage varies based on your current health status, how well you’re responding to treatment, your age, and any other medications you’re taking. Don’t forget to inform your doctor and pharmacist about other medications you use, even if they’re herbal products.
If you’re taking this medicine in liquid form, be sure to use a measuring spoon. Do not try to measure the correct dosage with a regular spoon, as you might not get the precise dosage.
Your doctor may recommend that you begin treatment with a low dose and gradually raise it. This is out of concern for your safety, as this medication can cause unwanted side effects. Do not use this medication more frequently or longer than your doctor has instructed. If you do, you might not get any quicker results, and you’ll be more vulnerable to side effects.
It might take up to two weeks to start seeing results and sometimes 4 weeks for the full effects to kick in. Hence, you should keep taking the medication as directed, even if you don’t see immediate changes. If you have health concerns or notice a change in your mental or physical state, report to your healthcare provider immediately.
Dosage for Lexapro
The dosage your doctor prescribes depends on several factors, including your health history and reaction to medications. However, the initial dose is usually 10 mg at least once a day. This will be taken for a week, then probably increased to 20 mg depending on your symptoms. 20 mg per day is the maximum recommended for anxiety and depression.
What Happens to Missed Doses?
If you miss a dosage, consume it as soon as you memorize. However, if you remember at a time close to your next dose, skip it. Instead, ensure you don’t miss any more portions. Don’t take two portions at once or at a very close time interval.
Side Effects of Lexapro
When using the medication, you might not experience any other effects besides its anti-depressant qualities. However, some patients might suffer mild reactions. These include hives, swelling of the face, and swelling of the throat.
If your depressive and anxiety symptoms worsen, contact your doctor. These symptoms could include frequent panic attacks, aggression, mood swings, and restlessness. Other serious symptoms to look out for include:
- Pain when you urinate
- Extreme feelings of happiness or sadness
- Pain in the eyes or blurred vision
- Intense reaction of the nervous system (stiff muscles, high fever, tremors, accelerated or uneven heartbeat)
- Low level of sodium in the body (severe weakness, confusion, headache)
You should contact your doctor if you’re suffering from any serious reactions. When you’re on such medications, you should be around caregivers who can also monitor your well-being. This way, even if you’re not in a good position to reach out to your healthcare provider, someone else can do that for you.
Lexapro and Other Medications
There are a number of medications that should not be used together with escitalopram due to the risk of negative interactions. As already noted, MAO inhibitors fall into this category.
Using Lexapro with other sedative medications can intensify the drowsy effect. Therefore, before using any opioids, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, or medications for anxiety or seizures, consult your doctor. Also, let your healthcare provider know if you use a blood thinner like warfarin or Jantoven. Don’t forget to update your doctor on any new or discontinued medications.
Other Things to Note When Taking Lexapro
We have covered the basics you need to know before taking the medication, its dosage, and more. However, there are a few other points to note:
- While starting an antidepressant, some young people experience increased suicidal thoughts. Therefore, ensure to have regular checkups with your doctor to monitor your recovery. Your loved ones or other caretakers must also be aware of any shifts in your mental or physical state.
- Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to use Lexapro because of safety concerns.
- If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before using this medication. Using an SSRI antidepressant late in pregnancy increases the baby’s risk of developing health problems.
- Do not adjust your Lexapro dosing or schedule without first consulting your doctor.
- If you’re breastfeeding and your baby is displaying symptoms of sleepiness, irritability, feeding difficulties, or low weight growth, consult your doctor immediately.
Should I Take Lexapro in the Morning or in the Night?
You can take the medication in the morning or at night, whichever works for you.
Will I gain weight from taking Lexapro?
Lexapro might cause weight gain because it decreases metabolism and increases appetite.