Escitalopram oxalate (ES-sigh-talo-pram OX-a-late)
Consumer Medicine Information (CMI)
NOTICE: This Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) is intended for persons living in Australia. This page contains answers to some common questions about Lexapro. It does not contain all the information that is known about Lexapro. It does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist. All medicines have risks and benefits. Your doctor has weighed the risk of you using this medicine against the benefits he/she expects it will have for you. If you have any concerns about using this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Bookmark or print this page, you may need to read it again.
What Lexapro is used for
Lexapro is used to treat depression.
It belongs to a group of medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They are thought to work by their actions on brain chemicals called amines which are involved in controlling mood.
Depression is longer lasting or more severe than the "low moods" everyone has from time to time due to the stress of everyday life. It is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in parts of the brain. This imbalance affects your whole body and can cause emotional and physical symptoms such as feeling low in spirit, loss of interest in activities, being unable to enjoy life, poor appetite or overeating, disturbed sleep, often waking up early, loss of sex drive, lack of energy and feeling guilty over nothing.
Lexapro corrects this chemical imbalance and may help relieve the symptoms of depression.
Lexapro may also be used to treat patients who may avoid and/or are fearful of social situations.
Lexapro may also be used to treat patients who have excessive anxiety and worry.
Lexapro may also be used to treat irrational fears or obsessional behaviour (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves having both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts that occur over and over again. Compulsions are the ongoing need to repeat certain actions as a result of these thoughts.
Your doctor, however, may prescribe it for another purpose.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about why it has been prescribed for you.
This medicine is only available with a doctor's prescription.
Lexapro is not addictive. However, if you suddenly stop taking it, you may get side effects.
Tell your doctor if you get any side effects after stopping Lexapro.
Before you take it
When you must not take it
Do not take Lexapro if you are allergic to it, to any medicine containing citalopram, or any of the ingredients listed at the end of this leaflet.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body, or rash, itching or hives on the skin.
Do not take Lexapro at the same time as the following other medicines:
pimozide, a medicine used to treat mental disorders
monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are also used for the treatment of depression.
Do not take Lexapro when you are taking a MAOI or when you have been taking a MAOI within the last 14 days.
Taking Lexapro with MAOIs may cause a serious reaction with a sudden increase in body temperature, extremely high blood pressure and severe convulsions. Your doctor will know when it is safe to start Lexapro after the MAOI has been stopped.
Do not take it after the expiry date printed on the pack.
If you take it after the expiry date has passed, it may not work as well. The expiry date refers to the last day of the month.
Do not take it if the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering.
Before you start to take it
Tell your doctor if:
1. you have allergies to any other substances such as foods, preservatives or dyes.
2. you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.
Do not take Lexapro if you are pregnant unless you and your doctor have discussed the risks and benefits involved. If you take this medicine during the last three months of your pregnancy, the general condition of your newborn baby might be affected.
3. you are breast-feeding or planning to breast-feed.
Do not take Lexapro if you are breast-feeding unless you and your doctor have discussed the risks and benefits involved. It is not recommended that you breast-feed while taking Lexapro as it is excreted in breast milk.
4. you have, or have had, the following medical conditions:
a tendency to bleed or bruise easily
bipolar disorder (manic depression)
a history of seizures or fits
restlessness and/or a need to move often.
5. you are receiving electroconvulsive therapy.
Do not give Lexapro to a child or adolescent.
There is no experience with its use in children or adolescents under 18 years old.
Lexapro can be given to elderly patients over 65 years of age with a reduced dose.
The effects of Lexapro in elderly patients are similar to that in other patients.
If you have not told your doctor about any of the above, tell them before you use Lexapro.
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including any that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop.
Some medicines and Lexapro may interfere with each other. These include:
bupropion, a medicine helping to treat nicotine dependence
medicines used to treat reflux and ulcers, such as cimetidine, omeprazole, esomeprazole and lansoprazole
medicines known to prolong bleeding, e.g. aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
ticlopidine and warfarin, medicines used to prevent blood clots
mefloquine, an anti-malaria medicine
sumatriptan, used to treat migraines
tramadol, used to relieve pain
medicines affecting the chemicals in the brain
some heart medications, e.g. flecainide, propafenone, metoprolol
tryptophan, an amino-acid
lithium, used to treat mood swings and some types of depression
antipsychotics, a class of medicines used to treat certain mental and emotional conditions, e.g. risperidone, thioridazine and haloperidol
tricyclic antidepressants, e.g. imipramine, desipramine
St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), a herbal remedy
any other medicines for depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.
These medicines may be affected by Lexapro, or may affect how well it works. You may need to use different amounts of your medicines, or take different medicines. Your doctor will advise you.
Some combinations of medicines may increase the risk of serious side effects and are potentially life threatening.
Your doctor or pharmacist has more information on medicines to be careful with or avoid while taking Lexapro.
How to take it
How much to take
Your doctor will decide what dose you will receive.
The standard dose for this medicine is 10 mg per day. This may be increased by your doctor to 20 mg per day.
The recommended maximum dose in elderly patients is 10 mg per day.
It is recommended that patients with liver disease receive an initial dose of 5 mg daily for the first two weeks. Your doctor may increase the dose to 10 mg daily.
Your doctor may have prescribed a different dose.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure of the correct dose for you.
They will tell you exactly how much to take.
Follow the instructions they give you.
If you take the wrong dose, Lexapro may not work as well and your condition may not improve.
How to take it
Swallow the tablets whole with a full glass of water.
Do not chew them.
The oral solution can be mixed with water, orange juice or apple juice. To assist with the dosing, a syringe is provided in the pack with a scale ranging from 1 mg to 10 mg, in 1 mg increments.
When to take it
Take Lexapro as a single dose either in the morning or in the evening.
Take Lexapro with or without food.
How long to take it
Continue to take Lexapro even if it takes some time before you feel any improvement in your condition.
As with other medicines for the treatment of these conditions it may take a few weeks before you feel any improvement.
Individuals will vary greatly in their response to Lexapro. Your doctor will check your progress at regular intervals.
The duration of treatment may vary for each individual, but is usually at least 6 months.
In some cases the doctor may decide that longer treatment is necessary.
Continue taking your medicine for as long as your doctor tells you, even if you begin to feel better.
The underlying illness may persist for a long time and if you stop your treatment too soon, your symptoms may return.
Do not stop taking this medicine suddenly.
If Lexapro is stopped suddenly you may experience mild, but usually temporary, symptoms such as dizziness, pins and needles, electric shock sensations, sleep disturbances (vivid dreams, inability to sleep), feeling anxious or agitated, headaches, feeling sick (nausea), vomiting, sweating, tremor (shaking), feeling confused, feeling emotional or irritable, diarrhoea, visual disturbances, or fast or irregular heart beats.
When you have completed your course of treatment, the dose of Lexapro is gradually reduced over a couple of weeks rather than stopped abruptly.
Your doctor will tell you how to reduce the dosage so that you do not get these unwanted effects.
If you forget to take it
If you miss a dose and remember in less than 12 hours, take it straight away, and then go back to taking it as you would normally.
Otherwise, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed and take the next dose when you are meant to.
Do not take a double dose to make up for the dose you have missed.
If you are not sure what to do, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
If you have trouble remembering when to take your medicine, ask your pharmacist for hints.
If you take too much (overdose)
Immediately telephone your doctor, or the Poisons Information Centre (Tel: 13 11 26 for Australia and Tel: 0800 764 766 for New Zealand), or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital, if you think you or anyone else may have taken too much Lexapro.
Do this even if there are no signs of discomfort or poisoning.
You may need urgent medical attention.
Symptoms of an overdose may include dizziness, low blood pressure, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, agitation, tremor (shaking) and rarely convulsions and coma.
While you are taking it
Things you must do
If you are about to be started on any new medicine, remind your doctor and pharmacist that you are taking Lexapro.
Tell any other doctors, dentists and pharmacists who treat you that you are taking this medicine.
If you become pregnant while taking Lexapro, tell your doctor immediately.
Persons taking Lexapro may be more likely to think about killing themselves or actually trying to do so, especially when Lexapro is first started or the dose is changed. Tell your doctor immediately if you have thoughts about killing yourself or if you are close to or care for someone using Lexapro who talks about or shows signs of killing him or herself.
All mentions of suicide or violence must be taken seriously.
Occasionally, the symptoms of depression may include thoughts of suicide or self-harm. It is possible that these symptoms continue or get worse until the full antidepressant effect of the medicine becomes apparent. This is more likely to occur if you are a young adult, i.e. 18 to 24 years of age, and you have not used antidepressant medicines before.
Patients and care givers should pay attention for any of the following warning signs of suicide-related behaviour while taking Lexapro. Tell your doctor immediately, or even go to the nearest hospital for treatment:
thoughts or talk of death or suicide
thoughts or talk of self-harm or harm to others
any recent attempts of self-harm
increase in aggressive behaviour, irritability or agitation.
Do not stop taking this medicine or change the dose without consulting your doctor, even if you experience increased anxiety at the beginning of treatment.
At the beginning of treatment, some patients may experience increased anxiety which will disappear during continued treatment.
Tell your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms such as restlessness or difficulty in sitting or standing still.
These symptoms can occur during the first weeks of treatment.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you suddenly experience an episode of mania.
Some patients with bipolar disorder (manic depression) may enter into a manic phase. This is characterised by profuse and rapidly changing ideas, exaggerated gaiety and excessive physical activity.
Sometimes you may be unaware of the above-mentioned symptoms and therefore you may find it helpful to ask a friend or relative to help you to observe the possible signs of change in your behaviour.
Things you must not do
Do not give the tablets to anyone else, even if they have the same condition as you.
Do not take Lexapro to treat any other complaints unless your doctor tells you to.
Do not stop taking Lexapro, or lower the dosage, without checking with your doctor.
Do not let yourself run out of medicine over the weekend or on holidays.
Suddenly stopping Lexapro may cause unwanted discontinuation symptoms such as dizziness, headache and nausea.
Your doctor will tell you when and how Lexapro should be discontinued. Your doctor will gradually reduce the amount you are using, usually over a period of one to two weeks, before stopping completely.
Things to be careful of
Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how Lexapro affects you.
It may cause nausea, fatigue and dizziness in some people, especially early in the treatment. If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous.
Avoid alcohol while you are taking this medicine.
It is not advisable to drink alcohol while you are being treated for depression.
All medicines may have some unwanted side effects. Sometimes they are serious, but most of the time they are not. Your doctor has weighed the risks of using this medicine against the benefits he/she expects it will have for you.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking Lexapro.
It helps most people with depression, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it may have unwanted side effects in a few people.
The side effects of Lexapro are, in general, mild and disappear after a short period of time.
Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following and they worry you:
decreased appetite or loss of appetite
nausea (feeling sick)
fatigue, sleepiness or drowsiness, yawning
sexual disturbances (decreased sexual drive; problems with ejaculation or erection; women may experience difficulties achieving orgasm).
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
agitation, confusion, panic attacks*, anxiety, restlessness*
dizziness when you stand up due to low blood pressure*
low sodium levels in the blood (the symptoms are feeling sick and unwell with weak muscles or feeling confused)*
abnormal liver function tests (increased amounts of liver enzymes in the blood)*
unusual secretion of breast milk*
increased tendency to develop bruises*
rash, itching, patches of circumscribed swellings.
These may be serious side effects of Lexapro. You may need urgent medical attention.
Tell your doctor immediately, or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital, if you notice any of the following:
serious allergic reaction
(symptoms of an allergic reaction may include swelling of the face, lips, mouth or throat which may cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing, or hives)
high fever, agitation, confusion, trembling and abrupt contractions of muscles
(these symptoms may be signs of a rare condition called serotonin syndrome)*
seizures, tremors, movement disorders (involuntary movements of the muscles)*.
These are very serious side effects. You may need urgent medical attention or hospitalisation.
*The side effects marked with an asterisk (*) are a number of rare side effects that are known to occur with medicines that work in a similar way to Lexapro.
Tell your doctor if you notice anything else that is making you feel unwell.
Other side effects not listed above may occur in some people.
Do not be alarmed by this list of possible side effects.
You may not experience any of them.
After taking it
Keep Lexapro tablets in the blister pack until it is time to take them.
If you take the tablets out of the box or the blister pack they may not keep well.
Keep Lexapro tablets in a cool dry place where the temperature stays below 30 degrees C.
Keep Lexapro oral solution in a cool dry place where the temperature stays below 25 degrees C.
Discard Lexapro oral solution 3 months after first opening.
Do not store it or any other medicine in the bathroom, near a sink, or on a window-sill.
Do not leave it in the car.
Heat and damp can destroy some medicines.
Keep it where children cannot reach it.
A locked cupboard at least one-and-a-half metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.
If your doctor tells you to stop taking Lexapro, or the medicine has passed its expiry date, ask your pharmacist what to do with any that is left over.
Return any unused medicine to your pharmacist.
What it looks like
Lexapro comes in two types of tablets and as an oral solution:
Lexapro 10 mg film-coated tablets - oval, white, scored and marked with "E" and "L" on each side of the score on one side of the tablet
Lexapro 20 mg film-coated tablets - oval, white, scored and marked with "E" and "N" on each side of the score on one side of the tablet
Lexapro oral solution - clear, nearly colourless to yellowish solution.
A box contains 28 tablets and a bottle contains 28 mL.
Lexapro 10 mg tablets - 10 mg escitalopram (as oxalate) per tablet
Lexapro 20 mg tablets - 20 mg escitalopram (as oxalate) per tablet
Lexapro oral solution - 10 mg escitalopram (as oxalate) per 1 mL.
Inactive ingredients (tablets):
cellulose - microcrystalline
silica - colloidal anhydrous
talc - purified
Inactive ingredients (oral solution):
water - purified.
Lexapro does not contain lactose, gluten, sucrose, tartrazine or any other azo dyes.
Lexapro is made by H. Lundbeck A/S, Denmark.
Distributed in Australia by:
Lundbeck Australia Pty Ltd
1/10 Inglewood Place
Norwest Business Park
Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
Ph: +61 2 9836 1655
Distributed in New Zealand by:
PO Box 62-027
Mt Wellington, Auckland
Ph: +64 9 966 0000
This leaflet was prepared in October 2008.
Australian Registration Numbers:
10 mg AUST R 92051
20 mg AUST R 92053
Lexapro oral solution
10 mg/mL AUST R 99369
(Lexapro oral solution is not available in New Zealand)
"Lexapro" is the registered trademark of H. Lundbeck A/S.
For information and support for depression visit www.depnet.com.au