|Type of medicine||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)|
Anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder)
Anyone can develop depression. It can develop for no apparent reason or it may be triggered by a life event such as a relationship problem, bereavement, or illness.
Brain cells called neurons, release a number of chemicals which go on to stimulate other neurons leading to electrical impulses which result in many functions controlled by the brain. Serotonin is one such chemical in the brain. Once released, it stimulates other neurons and is then taken back up into the neuron cells and recycled. Antidepressants like escitalopram increase the amount of circulating serotonin available in the brain. This may help depression symptoms in some people.
Before taking escitalopram
Before taking escitalopram make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you have heart, liver or kidney problems.
- If you have epilepsy, diabetes or glaucoma.
- If you are receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
- If you have recently been taking a type of antidepressant called Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs).
- If you have a history of mania (an abnormally 'high' mood).
- If you have a blood disorder or have had problems with bleeding.
- If you are under 18 years of age.
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
- If you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
How to take escitalopram
- Swallow escitalopram tablets whole, with a drink of water, with or without food.
- Take escitalopram drops in a drink of water, orange juice or apple juice. Count the required number of drops into your drink, stir it briefly and then drink all of it.
- If you forget to take a dose, and it is still within the same day, take it as soon as you remember. If you only remember through the night, or the next day, leave out the missed dose and take the next dose when it is due.
- Do not stop taking escitalopram without speaking with your doctor first. Your doctor will want to reduce your dose gradually, as stopping suddenly can cause problems.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Before beginning treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet.
- Take escitalopram exactly as directed by your doctor.
- Escitalopram can cause drowsiness. Make sure your reactions are normal before driving, operating machinery or doing any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were not fully alert.
- It is sensible not to drink alcohol with escitalopram. Taking escitalopram and alcohol increases the chance that you may experience side-effects.
- It may take two to four weeks before you start to feel better. Do not stop taking escitalopram in the belief that it is not working.
- Keep your regular appointments with your doctor who will check on your progress.
Can escitalopram cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common escitalopram side-effects||What can I do if I experience this|
|Feeling sick||Eat little and often. Stick to simple foods|
|Drowsiness, dizziness and problems with eyesight||Make sure your sight and reactions are normal before driving, operating machinery or doing any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were not fully alert. Do not drink alcohol as it will increase any feelings of drowsiness|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well balanced diet containing plenty of fibre, and drink 6-8 glasses of water each day|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sugar-free sweets|
|Sweating||Take care not to become overheated during exercise or hot weather. Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Changes in appetite and weight, muscle and joint pain, sexual problems and difficulty sleeping||If troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: tell your doctor straight away if:
- You have any thoughts of harming yourself or suicide whilst you are taking escitalopram.
- You develop a high fever, agitation, confusion, trembling and abrupt contractions of muscles.
How to store escitalopram
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Oral solutions of escitalopram should only be used for a number of weeks after the bottle has been opened. Check when your supply will expire and make sure you get a new prescription before your current bottle expires.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 59th Edition (March 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Cipralex® Film-Coated Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Cipralex® Film-Coated Tablets, Lundbeck (UK) Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Cipralex® 20 mg/ml oral drops, solution; Manufacturer's PIL, Cipralex® 20 mg/ml oral drops, solution, Lundbeck (UK) Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2011.
|Original Author: Hui Teoh||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Adrian Bonsall|
|Last Checked: 15/12/2011||Document ID: 1414 Version: 24||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.