IMPORTANT: HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
ESCITALOPRAM – ORAL
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Lexapro
WARNING: Antidepressant medications are used to treat a variety of conditions, including depression and other mental/mood disorders. These medications can help prevent suicidal thoughts/attempts and provide other important benefits. However, studies have shown that a small number of people (especially people younger than 25) who take antidepressants for any condition may experience worsening depression, other mental/mood symptoms, or suicidal thoughts/attempts. Therefore, it is very important to talk with the doctor about the risks and benefits of antidepressant medication (especially for people younger than 25), even if treatment is not for a mental/mood condition.
Tell the doctor immediately if you notice worsening depression/other psychiatric conditions, unusual behavior changes (including possible suicidal thoughts/attempts), or other mental/mood changes (including new/worsening anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, irritability, hostile/angry feelings, impulsive actions, severe restlessness, very rapid speech). Be especially watchful for these symptoms when a new antidepressant is started or when the dose is changed.
USES: Escitalopram is an antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-SSRI) used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by restoring the balance of certain natural substances (neurotransmitters such as serotonin) in the brain. Escitalopram may improve your feelings of well-being and energy level 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 your health 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.
This medication may also be used to treat other mental/mood disorders (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder).
HOW TO USE: Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking escitalopram and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily in the morning or evening. Take it at the same time each day. 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 this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.
If you are using the rapidly dissolving tablets, dry your hands before peeling back the foil on the blister pack to carefully remove a tablet. Do not push the tablet through the foil. The tablet is fragile and is not intended to be cut, split, or broken. Place each dose on the tongue, allow it to dissolve completely, then swallow it with saliva. Do not remove the tablet from the blister pack until just before taking. You do not need to take this medication with water.
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 take more or less medication or take it more frequently than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.
It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.
This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as nervousness, headache, numbness, tingling, trouble sleeping, confusion) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions immediately.
It may take 1 to 2 weeks to feel a benefit from this drug and 4 weeks to feel the full benefit of this medication. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
SIDE EFFECTS: See also Warning section.
Nausea, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, constipation, tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, or increased sweating may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: unusual or severe mental/mood changes (such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, nervousness, unusual high energy/excitement, rare thoughts of suicide), decreased interest in sex, changes in sexual ability, easy bruising/bleeding, muscle weakness/cramps, change in the amount of urine.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: bloody/black/tarry stools, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, seizures.
This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness.
Rarely, males may have a painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours. If this occurs, stop using this drug and get medical help right away, or permanent problems could occur.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US –
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
PRECAUTIONS: Before taking escitalopram, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to citalopram; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: personal or family history of psychiatric disorders (such as bipolar/manic-depressive disorder), personal or family history of suicide attempts, bleeding problems, liver disease, seizures, kidney disease, stomach bleeding (such as ulcers), severe loss of body water (dehydration), low sodium in the blood (hyponatremia).
Escitalopram may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can infrequently result in serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using escitalopram, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, recent heart attack, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/”water pills”) or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using escitalopram safely.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
The rapidly dissolving tablets or liquid forms of this medication may contain sugar and/or aspartame. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other condition that requires you to limit/avoid these substances in your diet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this medication safely.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of this drug. They may be more likely to lose too much salt (hyponatremia), especially if they are also taking “water pills” (diuretics) with this medication.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. Also, babies born to mothers who have used this drug during the last 3 months of pregnancy may infrequently develop withdrawal symptoms such as feeding/breathing difficulties, seizures, muscle stiffness, or constant crying. If you notice any of these symptoms in your newborn, tell the doctor promptly.
Since untreated depression can be a serious condition, do not stop using this medication unless directed by your doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using this medication during pregnancy.
This medication passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: drugs that can cause bleeding/bruising (including antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, “blood thinners” such as warfarin).
Aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding when used with this medication. However, if your doctor has directed you to take low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually at dosages of 81-325 milligrams a day), you should continue taking it unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Avoid taking MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication and for two weeks before and after treatment. In some cases a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction may occur.
The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin. Examples include street drugs such as MDMA/”ecstasy,” St. John’s wort, certain antidepressants (including other SSRIs such as fluoxetine/paroxetine, SNRIs such as duloxetine/venlafaxine), tryptophan, among others. The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity may be more likely when you start or increase the dose of these drugs.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness including alcohol, antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, and narcotic pain relievers (such as codeine).
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy, pain/fever reducers, or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness or increase the risk of bleeding. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.
Many drugs besides escitalopram may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation), including amiodarone, pimozide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol, among others.
Escitalopram is very similar to citalopram. Do not use medications containing citalopram while using escitalopram.
OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call the US National Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
NOTES: Do not share this medication with others.
Psychiatric/medical check-ups and possibly lab tests should be done periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
MISSED DOSE: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised November 2012. Copyright(c) 2012 First Databank, Inc.