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Covers effects of taking too much Lexapro, overdose on Lexapro, alcohol and taking Lexapro, Lexapro for Bipolar Disorder and dose-splitting.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the SSRI antidepressant LEXAPRO® (escitalopram oxalate). The answers are provided by HealthyPlace.com Medical Director, Harry Croft, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist.

As you are reading these answers, please remember these are "general answers" and not meant to apply to your specific situation or condition. Keep in mind that editorial content is never a substitute for personal advice from your health care professional.

Q: Does constant use of antidepressants cause brain damage or lasting damage to your ability to think clearly?

A: I am not aware of any legitimate, well-conducted study showing any long- or short-term brain damage. To the contrary, there are studies showing no such damage, even after years of regular antidepressant use.

Q: What are the effects of taking too much LEXAPRO? Can you overdose on LEXAPRO?

A: LEXAPRO (like most of the SSRI antidepressants) is, in general, not lethal even in large doses—although taking any medication over the prescribed amount is never a good idea.

For patients who have taken "too much" LEXAPRO, alone or in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol, have experienced dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, tremor, somnolence, sinus tachycardia, and convulsions. In more rare cases, observed symptoms included amnesia, confusion, coma, hyperventilation, cyanosis, rhabdomyolysis, and ECG changes (including QTc prolongation, nodal rhythm, ventricular arrhythmia, and one possible case of torsades de pointes). For a list of side effects, see the LEXAPRO package insert.

Q: What will happen if I drink alcohol while taking LEXAPRO?

A: Studies show that LEXAPRO does not increase the cognitive and motor effects brought on by alcohol. However, alcohol may deepen depression. Therefore, the use of alcohol with patients taking LEXAPRO is not recommended.

Q: For people prone to psychosis, can LEXAPRO put you into a psychotic episode? What about taking LEXAPRO for Bipolar?

A: I am not aware of any reports of LEXAPRO causing psychotic thinking; however, if someone has a psychotic depression or underlying schizophrenic illness, treatment with just an antidepressant can unmask the underlying problem as the depressive symptoms improve, but not cause the psychosis.

The concern in patients with bipolar disorder who are presenting with depressive instead of manic symptoms is that treatment with LEXAPRO or other SSRIs can bring on a manic episode or "flip" them into mania. This is, however, less common with the SSRIs than it was with the older "tricyclic" antidepressants. Most experts think that bipolar depression is different from unipolar depression and requires treatment with other medications, called mood stabilizers, either by themselves or in combination with SSRIs.

Q: Is dose-splitting—taking half in the AM and half in the PM—okay?

A: The effectiveness of LEXAPRO seems to be due to the 24-hour blood level, and thus it does not seem to matter whether the dose of LEXAPRO is taken morning, noon, or evening. The key is to take the correct (and same) dose every day.

Dose-splitting is not recommended. If you have questions about dosing, you should talk with your healthcare professional or doctor.

next: LEXAPRO® FAQS: For Women Taking Lexapro