Lexapro Overview

Lexapro Defined

Lexapro, derivative from escitalopram, belongs to the classification called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs for treatment of depression and General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. Lexapro is developed and produced by Forest Laboratories, Inc and was granted approval in 2002 by US Food and Drug Administration.

FDA Alert on Lexapro – Serotonin Syndrome

FDA released an alert stating that a life-threatening condition knownas serotonin syndrome can happen when medicines selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs like Lexapro and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonist or triptans for treatment of migraine headaches are taken simultaneously. The following are symptoms of serotonin syndrome:

  • Rapid changes in blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Coma

Serotonin syndrome may tend to happen during the start of the medications or when the dosage of SSRIs or triptans is increased. If you are taking migraine headache medicines, you can ask your healthcare provider is a triptan.

FDA Alert on Lexapro – Antidepressants and Pregnant Women

FDA has released another alert announcing that there was a study was made regarding the use of antidepressants during pregnancy period by mothers of babies born with severe condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn or PPHN. These babies who were born with PPHN have abnormal flow of blood through the heart and lungs, and could not get sufficient oxygen to their human bodies. Babies born with PPHN could be severely sick and might die. The results revealed that babies who were born to mothers who took SSRIs twenty weeks or later into their in their pregnancies had greater chances to have PPHN compared to the babies born to mothers who did not take antidepressants during their pregnancy period.

FDA also planned to further assess the role of SSRIs in babies with PPHN.

Discuss with your healthcare provider if you are taking Lexapro and are pregnant, or are planning to be pregnant. Both of you can determine the best medication for treatment of depression during pregnancy period.

Risks of Suicidality and Lexapro

FDA released a public health advisory instructing all manufacturers of antidepressant medicines to modify their product labeling by adding a boxed warning and expanded warning statements that informed all the healthcare providers to probable greater risks of suicidality, characterized by suicidal thoughts and behavior, among the children and adolescents who are being treated with these medicines. Forest Laoratories Inc, the manufacturers of Lexapro, inserted black box warning to prescribing information in adherence to the advisory of FDA.

Then in June 2005, another public advisory was released by FDA regarding several scientific publications that implied the probability of greater risks for suicidal behavior among adults who are undergoing medications using antidepressant medicines like Lexapro. FDA stressed that adults who are taking antidepressant medicines should be monitored thoroughly for indications of severe depression and suicidality. Monitoring these patients should be during the start of their treatment and when dosage are increased or reduced. FDA is coordinating closely with the manufacturers of antidepressant medicines to complete the assessment of the risks of suicidality among adults being treated with these medicines.

Who should avoid taking Lexapro?

Avoid taking Lexapro while taking another medicine for depression which is called as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor or MAOI, or if you have discontinued taking MAOI during the last 14 days. Taking these two medicines so close in time can lead to severe and sometimes fatal reactions which include high body temperature, seizures or convulsions, and coma.

Some of MAOI medicines are Nardil from phenelzine sulfate, Parnate from tranylcypromine, Marplan from isocarboxazid, and other brands.

Lexapro and its Health Risks

Aside from the risks that have been identified by the FDA earlier, there are still other dangers related with the use of Lexapro.

Do not discontinue taking Lexapro abruptly because it may lead to harmful side effects but your healthcare provider will gradually reduce your dosage when it is needed. Other health risks while using Lexapro are:

  • Greater chances of having suicidal thoughts and/or behavior
  • Seizures, although Lexapro is not used close in time with MAOI medications
  • Bleeding problems, particularly when Lexapro is taken with aspirin, nonsteroidalant-inflammatory medicines or NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen, or other medicines that can affect the bleeding
  • Greater risks for pregnant women or those who may become pregnant; babies who are born to mothers who are taking Lexapro during the late pregnancy period may experience difficulty in breathing and feeding
  • Mania
  • Sexual problems which includes impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED), difficulty in reaching orgasms, abnormal ejaculation, and/or decreased libido or sexual desires.

Other side effects of using Lexapro are:

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Increased sweating
  • Sleepiness

It is essential to inform your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions, particularly if you have liver and kidney illnesses or glaucoma. Inform your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed your baby.

Can other medicines or food affect Lexapro?

To keep from dangerous interaction with any medicine, inform your healthcare provider about all your prescription and nonprescription medicines, herbal supplements, or vitamins.

Avoid taking Lexapro with Celexa from citalopram which is another medicine for treatment of depression. Taking these medicines simultaneously increases the risks of overdose.

And if you are planning to drink alcohol while taking Lexapro, discuss this first with your healthcare provider.

Obtaining Legal Assistance

Since medicines or medication have their particular side effects, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to produce products that are safe and to inform the medical community and the general public of the products’ risks associated with drugs. But if the manufacturers failed in these responsibilities, they can be held liable if the patents are injured as a consequence for insufficient warnings or the hazards on the nature of the medicines, under the legal theory called as “product liability.”

If you or any of your family members have suffered from one or more of the symptoms or rare medical conditions associated with the use of Lexapro, you must seek medical attention immediately. Then, you may want to find an experienced lawyer who can explain and discuss your options and safeguard your legal rights to remedy from any injury sustained by using Lexapro.

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