Lexapro (Escitalopram Oxalate) Patient Information
Find out why Lexapro is prescribed, side effects of Lexapro, Lexapro warnings, effects of Lexapro during pregnancy, more - in plain English.
Generic name: Escitalopram oxalate
Brand name: Lexapro
Pronounced: EE si TAL o pram, LEKS-uh-proh
What is Lexapro?
Lexapro is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression or anxiety.
Lexapro is used to treat anxiety in adults and major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents who are at least 12 years old.
Lexapro may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
Important information about Lexapro
Do not take Lexapro together with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAOI before you can take Lexapro. After you stop taking Lexapro, you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAOI.
You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment with Lexapro.
Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself. SSRI antidepressants may cause serious or life-threatening lung problems in newborn babies whose mothers take the medication during pregnancy. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant during pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, or if you become pregnant while taking Lexapro, do not stop taking the medication without first talking to your doctor.
It is dangerous to try and purchase Lexapro on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples of Lexapro purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide
Before taking Lexapro
Do not use Lexapro if you are using an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), or selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam). Serious and sometimes fatal reactions can occur when these medicines are taken with Lexapro. You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAO inhibitor before you can take escitalopram. After you stop taking Lexapro, you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAOI.
Before taking this medicine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
- liver or kidney disease;
- seizures or epilepsy;
- bipolar disorder (manic depression); or
- a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts.
If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take Lexapro.
You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Tell your doctor if you have worsening symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several weeks of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.
Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment with Lexapro.
FDA pregnancy category C. SSRI antidepressants may cause serious or life-threatening lung problems in newborn babies whose mothers take the medication during pregnancy. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant during pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, or if you become pregnant while taking Lexapro, do not stop taking the medication without first talking to your doctor. Escitalopram can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Do not give Lexapro to anyone younger than 12 years old without the advice of a doctor.
How should I take Lexapro?
Take Lexapro exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from the medication.
Take each dose of Lexapro with a full glass of water.
Try to take the medicine at the same time each day. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
To be sure you get the correct dose of liquid Lexapro, measure the liquid with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
It may take 4 weeks or longer before you start feeling better. Do not stop using Lexapro without first talking to your doctor. You may have unpleasant side effects if you stop taking this medication suddenly. Store Lexapro at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next regularly scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one as directed. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have taken too much of this medication. Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, tremor, sweating, rapid heartbeat, confusion, dizziness, seizures, and coma.
What should I avoid while taking Lexapro?
Talk to your doctor before taking any medicine for pain, arthritis, fever, or swelling. This includes aspirin and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), indomethacin, piroxicam (Feldene), nabumetone (Relafen), etodolac (Lodine), and others. Taking any of these drugs with escitalopram may cause you to bruise or bleed easily.
Avoid drinking alcohol, which can increase some of the side effects of Lexapro. Lexapro can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.
Tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by Lexapro.
Lexapro side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, overactive reflexes;
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination; or
- headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops.
Less serious Lexapro side effects may include:
- drowsiness, dizziness;
- sleep problems (insomnia);
- mild nausea, gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation;
- weight changes;
- decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm; or
- dry mouth, yawning, ringing in your ears.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect Lexapro?
Talk to your doctor before taking any medicine for pain, arthritis, fever, or swelling. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), indomethacin, piroxicam (Feldene), nabumetone (Relafen), etodolac (Lodine), and others. Taking any of these drugs with Lexapro may cause you to bruise or bleed easily.
Before taking Lexapro, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following medicines:
- carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol);
- cimetidine (Tagamet);
- lithium (Lithobid, Eskalith);
- a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin);
- any other antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), paroxetine (Paxil), or sertraline (Zoloft); or
- almotriptan (Axert), frovatriptan (Frova), sumatriptan (Imitrex), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), or zolmitriptan (Zomig).
If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use Lexapro, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.
There may be other drugs not listed that can affect Lexapro. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.
Where can I get more information?
Your pharmacist can provide more information about Lexapro.
What does my medication look like?
Escitalopram is available with a prescription under the brand name Lexapro. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.
- Lexapro 5 mg - white, round, tablets
- Lexapro 10 mg - white, round, scored tablets
- Lexapro 20 mg - white, round, scored tablets
- Lexapro 5 mg/5 mL - peppermint-flavored oral solution
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and only use this medication for the indication prescribed.
- Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
last updated: 03/09
Last Updated: 28 January 2019
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD