Escitalopram

(Brand Name: Cipralex, Lexapro)

Escitalopram was licensed in 2002, and is an active enantiomer of s-citalopram (unlike Citalopram which is a mixture of two stereoisomers: R-citalopram and S-citalopram). Escitalopram is available on prescription in either tablet or liquid drop form which you take with water.

Key Facts:
  • It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for Escitalopram to work
  • NHS Choices report that Escitalopram can affect an unborn baby, so it is important to tell your doctor straight away if you’re trying to get pregnant or become pregnant while taking it
  • Take Escitalopram once a day. You can take it with or without food
  • If you have epilepsy – Escitalopram can increase your seizures so tell your doctor
  • If you have an eye problem called glaucoma please tell your doctor because Escitalopram can increase eye pressure
  • If you have diabetes, Escitalopram can make it more difficult to keep your blood sugar stable. Monitor your blood sugar more often for the first few weeks of taking and consult your doctor
  • In the United States, the FDA require all antidepressants including Escitalopram to carry a warning that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicide in people younger than 25

Medication Information

Skeletal formula of Escitalopram.

Skeletal formula of Escitalopram.

The following information is a guide only,  a doctor may want to try dosages outside these recommended guides.

Form:: Tablets range from 5mg to 20mg. With liquid drops, 1 drop is equivalent to 1mg, 10 drops is 10mg, 20 drops is 20mg.

When: At any time of day, although recommended you stick to the same time every day. If you have trouble sleeping, it’s best to take the medication in the morning.

Child dose: Not recommended for children.

Adult dose: The usual dose for adults is 10mg daily, as a single dose,  however, it may be started at a lower dose and gradually increased to a maximum dose of 20mg a day.

Older people: The usual dose for older people is 5mg initially but this may be increased to a maximum of 10mg daily.

Half-Life: 27-32 hours. If you occasionally forget to take a dose, because of the long half-life don’t worry and if you remember before you go to bed, take it straight away. Carry on as usual the next day. If you only remember during the night, or the next day, leave out the missed dose and carry on as usual the next day.

Drug interactions: Don’t take St John’s wort, the herbal remedy while you are taking Escitalopram as this will increase your risk of side effects.

Pregnancy and Breast Feeding:
Escitalopram is generally not recommended in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. A doctor will want to prescribe this medication only when the benefits of you taking the medicine outweigh the risks. Escitalopram and similar antidepressants have been linked with a small risk of problems for the unborn baby when taken in early or late pregnancy and are thought to pass into breast milk and have been linked with side effects, including withdrawal symptoms, in breastfed babies.

Since the publication of the NICE guidelines (November 2005), Escitalopram is now widely used for the treatment of adults with OCD.

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