Generic Name: Escitalopram Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is escitalopram used for?

Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. Escitalopram works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. Escitalopram may improve your energy level and feelings of well-being and decrease nervousness.

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved US professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by yourhealth care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

Escitalopram may also be used to treat other mental/mood disorders (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder) and hot flashes that occur with menopause.

How should I take escitalopram?

Take escitalopram by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily in the morning or evening. The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

If you are using the liquid form of escitalopram, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start taking this drug at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. Take escitalopramregularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take escitalopram at the same time each day.

It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking escitalopram without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, tiredness, sleep changes, and brief feelings similar to electric shock. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with escitalopram, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms immediately.

It may take 1 to 2 weeks to feel a benefit from this drug and 4 weeks to feel the full benefit of escitalopram. Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

How do I store escitalopram?

Escitalopram is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store escitalopram in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of escitalopram that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush escitalopram down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using escitalopram?

Before taking escitalopram,

  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to escitalopram, citalopram (Celexa), or any other medications.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking pimozide (Orap) or a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate), or if you have stopped taking an MAO inhibitor within the past 14 days. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take escitalopram. If you stop taking escitalopram, you should wait at least 14 days before you start to take an MAO inhibitor.
  • You should know that escitalopram is very similar to another SSRI, citalopram (Celexa). You should not take these two medications together.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications and vitamins you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin); antihistamines; aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); carbamazepine (Tegretol); cimetidine (Tagamet); ketoconazole (Sporanox); lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, Lithotabs); linezolid (Zyvox); medications for anxiety, mental illness, or seizures; medications for migraine headaches such as almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Imitrex), and zolmitriptan (Zomig); metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL); other antidepressants such as desipramine (Norpramin); sedatives; sibutramine (Meridia); sleeping pills; tramadol; methylene blue; and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • Tell your doctor what nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking, especially products containing St. John’s wort or tryptophan.
  • Tell your doctor if you have recently had a heart attack and if you have or have ever had seizures or liver, kidney, thyroid, or heart disease.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, or if you plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking escitalopram, call your doctor. Escitalopram may cause problems in newborns following delivery if it is taken during the last months of pregnancy.
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking escitalopram.
  • You should know that escitalopram may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
  • Remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.
  • You should know that escitalopram may cause angle-closure glaucoma (a condition where the fluid is suddenly blocked and unable to flow out of the eye causing a quick, severe increase in eye pressure which may lead to a loss of vision). Talk to your doctor about having an eye examination before you start taking this medication. If you have nausea, eye pain, changes in vision, such as seeing colored rings around lights, and swelling or redness in or around the eye, call your doctor or get emergency medical treatment right away.

Is it safe to take escitalopram during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy.  Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category ___ according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

During breastfeeding, studies in women breastfeeding have demonstrated harmful infant effects. An alternative to escitalopram should be prescribed or you should stop breastfeeding while using this medicine.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of escitalopram?

Common side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, weight changes, and decreased sex drive.

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.

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 a serious side effect such as:

  • Very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;
  • 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 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

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with escitalopram?

Escitalopram may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval, especially:

  • Any other antidepressant;
  • Buspirone;
  • Lithium;
  • John’s wort;
  • Tryptophan (sometimes called l-tryptophan);
  • A blood thinner–warfarin, coumadin, jantoven;
  • Migraine headache medication–sumatriptan, rizatriptan, and others; or
  • Narcotic pain medication–fentanyl or tramadol.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with escitalopram, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Does food or alcohol interact with escitalopram?

Escitalopram may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with escitalopram?

Escitalopram may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
  • Heart rhythm problems (e.g., QT prolongation)
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood), uncorrected
  • Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood), uncorrected—Use is not recommended in patients with these conditions;
  • Congestive heart failure—The granules and tablet dosage forms of this medicine contains sodium, which can make this condition worse;
  • Elevated liver enzymes;
  • Liver disease (including cholestatic hepatitis);
  • Myasthenia gravis (severe muscle weakness)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse;

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of escitalopram for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Initial dose: 10 mg orally once a day; increase if necessary after at least 1 week of treatment to 20 mg once a day.
  • Maintenance dose: 10 to 20 mg orally once a day.
  • Maximum dose: 20 mg orally once a day.

Usual Adult Dose for Depression

  • Initial dose: 10 mg orally once a day; increase if necessary after at least 1 week of treatment to 20 mg once a day.
  • Maintenance dose: 10 to 20 mg orally once a day.
  • Maximum dose: 20 mg orally once a day.

    Usual Geriatric Dose for Depression

  • Recommended dose: 10 mg orally once a day

What is the dose of escitalopram for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Depression

  • Less than 12 years of age: the dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
  • 12 to 17 years of age:
  • initial dose: 10 mg orally once a day; increase if necessary after at least 3 weeks of treatment to 20 mg once a day;
  • maintenance dose: 10 to 20 mg orally once a day;
  • maximum dose: 20 mg orally once a day;
  • 18 years or older: Usual adult dose;

How is escitalopram available?

Escitalopram is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Tablet: 10 mg, 20 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of escitalopram, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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