The prescription drug escitalopram oxalate, available as the brand Lexapro, is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Manufactured by Forest Pharmaceuticals, Lexapro increases serotonin levels in the brain, making it useful for treating depression and generalized anxiety disorder, which can result from imbalances in brain chemicals. Lexapro also can help some people who experience migraine headaches 3.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Lexapro is beneficial for people diagnosed with clinical depression, according to eMedTV 2. Symptoms of this disorder may include unexplained pain, sleeping too much or having insomnia, or eating too much or having a lack of appetite. Changes in appetite can lead to weight gain or weight loss. People with clinical depression, may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, have feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, or have suicidal thoughts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Lexapro for treating adults with depression, as well as adolescents age 12 to 17 years old. Significant improvements in mood usually appear in four to six weeks.
- Lexapro is beneficial for people diagnosed with clinical depression, according to eMedTV 2.
- People with clinical depression, may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, have feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, or have suicidal thoughts.
Lexapro Rare Side Effects
The FDA has also approved Lexapro for treating generalized anxiety disorder. This condition is very different than the normal anxiety that most people experience on occasion, as noted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health 14. Generalized anxiety disorder causes chronic and excessive worry and tension that disrupts daily life, even though no specific events have occurred that explain this level of anxiety 4. Generalized anxiety disorder can cause:
- unexplained feelings of apprehension
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty sleeping
- muscle aches (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.shtml 'inline-reference::U.S
National Institute of Mental Health: Generalized Anxiety Disorder'). A doctor might diagnose generalized anxiety disorder if these symptoms last for six months or longer.
- The FDA has also approved Lexapro for treating generalized anxiety disorder.
Doctors are allowed to prescribe medications for purposes not approved by the FDA, called off-label uses. Lexapro has an off-label use for preventing migraine headaches, according to eMedTV 23. A migraine headache is intense and severe, often occurs on only one side of the head, and may also involve symptoms of nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. A migraine headache can last for several days 3. Lexapro is especially effective at preventing these headaches in people who also have depression or anxiety 3. The FDA warns that migraine treatment drugs known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists, or triptans, can be dangerous to take along with Lexapro. A doctor should be notified about any other medications be taken.
- Doctors are allowed to prescribe medications for purposes not approved by the FDA, called off-label uses.
- The FDA warns that migraine treatment drugs known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists, or triptans, can be dangerous to take along with Lexapro.
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- U.S. National Institutes of Health: Escitalopram
- EMedTV: What is Lexapro Used For?
- EMedTV: Lexapro and Migraine Headaches
- U.S. National Institute of Mental Health: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Steyn SF, Harvey BH, Brink CB. Immediate and long-term antidepressive-like effects of pre-pubertal escitalopram and omega-3 supplementation combination in young adult stress-sensitive rats. Behav Brain Res. 2018;351:49-62. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.05.021
- Landy K, Estevez R. Escitalopram. StatPearls Updated May 6, 2020.
- Guzman F. Citalopram and escitalopram. Psychopharmacology Institute.
- Freeman EW, Guthrie KA, Caan B, et al. Efficacy of escitalopram for hot flashes in healthy menopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2011;305(3):267-274. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.2016
- Aga VM. When and how to treat agitation in Alzheimer's disease dementia with citalopram and escitalopram. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019;27(10):1099-1107. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2019.04.016
- Li C, Chen L, Huo N, et al. Generic escitalopram initiation and substitution among Medicare beneficiaries: A new user cohort study. PLoS One. 2020;15(4):e0232226. Published 2020 Apr 30. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0232226
- Food and Drug Administration. Lexapro label. Updated January 2017.
- Florio V, Porcelli S, Saria A, Serretti A, Conca A. Escitalopram plasma levels and antidepressant response. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017;27(9):940-944. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.06.009
Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.