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Escitalopram

Why is this medication prescribed?

Escitalopram is used to treat depression. Escitalopram is in a class of antidepressants (mood elevators) called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance.

How should this medicine be used?

Escitalopram comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. To help you remember to take escitalopram, take it around the same time every day, in the morning or in the evening. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take escitalopram exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Your doctor may start you on a low dose of escitalopram and increase your dose after 1 week.

It may take 1-4 weeks or longer before you feel the full benefit of escitalopram. Continue to take escitalopram even if you feel well. Do not stop taking escitalopram without talking to your doctor, especially if you have taken large doses for a long time. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually.

Other uses for this medicine

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking escitalopram,

  • tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to escitalopram, citalopram (Celexa), or any other medications.
  • do not take escitalopram if you are taking an MAO inhibitor such as phenelzine (Nardil) or tranylcypromine (Parnate) or have stopped taking them in the last 2 weeks.
  • you should know that escitalopram is very similar to another SSRI, citalopram (Celexa). You should not take these two medications together.
  • tell your doctor or pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking. Be sure to mention anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin); antihistamines; carbamazepine (Tegretol); cimetidine (Tagamet); ketoconazole (Sporanox); lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, Lithotabs); medications for anxiety, mental illness, or seizures; metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL); other antidepressants such as desipramine (Norpramin); sedatives; sleeping pills; sumatriptan (Imitrex); and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have recently had a heart attack and if you have or have ever had bipolar disorder; seizures; or liver, kidney, thyroid, or heart disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking escitalopram, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking escitalopram.
  • you should know that escitalopram may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
  • remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Escitalopram may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • changes in sex drive or ability
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • drowsiness
  • increased sweating
  • dizziness
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • excessive tiredness
  • dry mouth
  • increased appetite
  • flu-like symptoms
  • runny nose
  • sneezing

Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience either of them, call your doctor immediately:

  • unusual excitement
  • seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist (hallucinating)

Escitalopram may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • tremor
  • drowsiness
  • fast or pounding heartbeat
  • seizures
  • confusion
  • forgetfulness
  • fast breathing
  • coma

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor .

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT
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