What is escitalopram?
Escitalopram is an antidepressant belonging to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression or anxiety.
Escitalopram is used to treat anxiety in adults.
Escitalopram is also used to treat major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents who are at least 12 years old.
You should not use escitalopram you also take pimozide (Orap) or citalopram (Celexa).
Do not use escitalopram within 14 days before or 14 days after you have used a MAO inhibitor, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.
Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.
Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Do not give escitalopram to anyone under 12 years of age.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to escitalopram or citalopram (Celexa), or if:
you also take pimozide or citalopram.
Do not use escitalopram within 14 days before or 14 days after you have used an MAO inhibitor. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.
Some medicines can interact with escitalopram and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take stimulant medicine, opioid medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.
To make sure escitalopram is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver or kidney disease;
- low levels of sodium in your blood;
- heart disease, high blood pressure;
- a stroke;
- a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
- bipolar disorder (manic depression); or
- drug addiction or suicidal thoughts.
Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.
Taking an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy may cause serious lung problems or other complications in the baby. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking escitalopram. Do not start or stop taking this medicine during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice.
Escitalopram can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Escitalopram should not be given to a child younger than 12 years old.
How should I take escitalopram?
Take escitalopram exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
You may take escitalopram with or without food. Try to take the medicine at the same time each day.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
It may take up to 4 weeks before your symptoms improve. Keep using escitalopram as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.
Do not stop using escitalopram suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking escitalopram?
Ask your doctor before taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain, arthritis, fever, or swelling. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam, and others. Using an NSAID with escitalopram may cause you to bruise or bleed easily.
Drinking alcohol with this medicine can cause side effects.
Escitalopram may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Escitalopram side effects
Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, 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:
- blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
- racing thoughts, unusual risk-taking behavior, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness;
- low levels of sodium in the body – headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady; or
- severe nervous system reaction – very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out.