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Lexapro Treats Depression, Anxiety; Causes Mental Health Problems

Lexapro treats depression and anxiety. Known as the generic drug, Escitalopram, it functions by aiding in restoring the balance of serotonin in the brain.

The drug belongs to a class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It may improve a patient’s level of energy level and feelings of well-being and reduces nervousness.

Lexapro may also treat other mental/mood disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder as well as hot flashes stemming from menopause.

To lessen the chance of side effects, patients may be asked to start usage at a low dose and gradually increase. They may be directed to take Lexapro despite feeling unwell because stopping will worsen some conditions, including mood swings, headaches, tiredness, sleep changes, and brief feelings similar to electric shock. To prevent them, doctors may ask them to reduce their dosage.

It takes one to two weeks to experience a benefit from Lexapro and four weeks to feel the full benefit. Otherwise, patients must consult their doctors.

Side effects include nausea, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, constipation, tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness and increased sweating. Severe ones are decreased interest in sex, changes in sexual ability, easy bruising/bleeding, bloody/black/tarry stools, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, seizures and serotonin syndrome/toxicity.
Patients are urged to tell their doctors if they have allergies, including to Lexapro, as it contains ingredients that may cause allergic reactions. They must reveal their medical histories with personal or family history of bipolar/manic-depressive disorder, personal or family history of suicide attempts, liver diseases, seizures, intestinal ulcers/bleeding or bleeding problems, low sodium in the blood (hyponatremia).

(NOTE: is featuring the first 10 of 200 of the most common prescription medicine brands reflected in Google’s app for Rx drug flash cards. The flash cards and the app were developed as visual aids to instruct medical students on modern drugs. In a series of summaries, we recap the purpose and nature of each drug, its side effects and advice on usage. The series will feature Lipitor, Singulair, Lexapro, Nexium, Synthroid, Plavix, Toprol XL, Prevacid, Vytorin and Advair Diskus.)

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Last updated September 2014

Vladimire Herard, M.S. (99 Posts)

A print journalist for 21 years, Vladimire Herard freelanced for the National Senior Living Providers Network, (, the Guidance Channel and Under CD Publications, Ms. Herard wrote about senior health, substance abuse prevention, and elderly housing. Under Inside Washington Publishers, she covered health care financing for Inside HCFA and food and product safety issues for FDAWeek. Ms. Herard also covered education, crime, and county affairs for daily newspapers such as the Chicago Defender. She currently covers senior long-term care, the pharmaceutical industry and issues and education. Ms. Herard resides in Chicago.

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