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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you tell me about Escitalopram?

Short Answer

Escitalopram is a medication prescribed for major depression and anxiety disorders.

Long Answer

Escitalopram (also known as Escitalopram oxalate) is the active ingredient in a medication with trade names such as Lexapro, Cipralex, Scitadep, and Nexito. It is used to treat major depressive disorder and various anxiety disorders. Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are believed to increase the availability of the chemical seratonin in the brain. This can have a positive effect on one's mood or behaviour.

In the U.S. Escitalopram is approved for treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Other countries may approve of its use in treating:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Other potential conditions it may be used for include:

  • Prevention of depression in patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer or following acute coronary syndrome or stroke
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Trichotillomania (uncontrollable urge to pull hair out) in adult women
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar depression
  • Premature ejaculation

Depending on the country in which it's sold, Escitalopram may come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. It's taken orally once a day, with or without food.

Precautions

Before prescribing Escitalopram, your doctor will need to know what other health conditions you have as well as any prescription and over-the-counter medications you are on. There are a number of conditions and medications that may rule out the use of Escitalopram or where it should be used with caution. The two most prominent risks are described below.

Patient Age
As with most SSRIs, Escitalopram should be used with considerable caution in adolescents and young adults (up to age 24) due to a higher risk in the early stages of treatment where depression can worsen, leading to self-harm or suicide. The FDA has approved the use of Escitalopram for depression in adolescents and adults. In Canada, it has not been approved for use in patients younger than 18.

Medical professionals advise that patients over 65 years of age be prescribed a reduced dosage.
Heart Risk
Escitalopram should not be taken by patients with a heart condition called long QT syndrome. It's discouraged when patients are taking drugs that affect the QT interval or reduce electrolyte levels in the body. The latter includes diuretics (water pills) and laxatives.

Additional Information

Escitalopram (nlm.nih.gov)
MedlinePlus discusses Escitalopram uses, precautions, side effects, and more.
escitalopram, Lexapro (MedicineNet.com)
MedicineNet.com describes how Escitalopram works and covers dosing, drug interactions, use during pregnancy and nursing, side effects, and warnings.
Escitalopram 10mg tablets (Medicines.org.uk)
This article by emc Medicine Guides has well-organized and detailed information about Escitalopram with an option to select different tablet dosages or oral drops.
Escitalopram (Drugs.com)
Drugs.com covers Escitalopram basics with links to advanced reading.
Citalopram and escitalopram: QT interval prolongation-new maximum daily dose restrictions (including in elderly patients), contraindications, and warnings (nhs.uk)
This is a drug safety update for health care professionals issued by the UK regulator MHRA.
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