Escitalopram (Lexapro) Side Effects

Depression can mean many things. It could be a temporary feeling of lowness or sadness that can be easily sidelined, or it could be a major episode where the sufferer is unable to function in everyday life for an extended period. The latter type is called clinical depression and is considered a mental illness rather than an emotional mood.

Clinical depression or depressive illness is believed to affect more than 6% of the US population, and almost a third of this population experience severe forms of the illness. It is believed that depressive illness may be caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance, in which case a good solution would be a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs acts on neurotransmitters to reduce the uptake of serotonin so that it remains longer in the body. This will help restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the body which will hopefully reduce depression. Lexapro is the brand name for a type of SSRI called escitalopram.

Escitalopram is prescribed as an acute treatment protocol for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in patients 12 years old and above. It is very similar in action to citalopram (Celexa) and they have similar side effects, although escitalopram is considered more effective in treating anxiety disorders.

Like citalopram, the most common escitalopram side effect is sexual problems such as decreased sexual interest and anorgasmia (difficulty in achieving orgasm) which in some cases can be permanent when the patient stops taking the drug, which is called post SSRI sexual dysfunction. There is evidence that escitalopram may increase the incidence of suicidality in adult patients, up to 2.4 times in some studies.

Other side effects include dry mouth, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, excessive yawning, drowsiness, frequent urination, increased sweating, trembling, insomnia, nightmares, and fatigue. Some people also develop a habit of teeth grinding (bruxism), cardiac arrhythmia, anxiety, blood pressure changes, mood swings, headache, dilated pupils, and dizziness, and rarely convulsions, photosensitivity and hallucinations.

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