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Lexapro for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Lexapro™ is an antidepressant that has been found to be effective in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry that is persistent for at least six months and which the person finds difficult to control. It must be associated with at least three of the following symptoms: restlessness or feeling on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbance.

Lexapro™ (generic name escitalopram oxalate) is a highly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is available as 5 mg, 10 mg or 20 mg film coated tablets or as a 1 mg/ml oral solution.

The recommended starting dose of Lexapro™ is 10 mg once daily. If the dose is increased to 20 mg, this should occur after a minimum of one week. Lexapro should be taken once daily, in the morning or evening, with or without food.

How does Lexapro work?
Lexapro helps to restore the brain’s chemical balance by increasing the available supply of serotonin, a substance in the brain believed to influence mood.

How fast does it work?
Many patients treated with Lexapro began to feel better within 1 or 2 weeks, although the full effect may take 4 to 6 weeks.

Are there side effects with Lexapro?
Lexapro is well tolerated by most people with fewer side effects than many medications. The most commonly reported side effects of Lexapro are nausea, insomnia, problems with ejaculation, somnolence (drowsiness), increased sweating, fatigue, decreased libido (sexual drive), and anorgasmia (failure to achieve orgasm). Most of these side effects are mild to moderate and go away after taking the drug for awhile, and usually do not cause patients to stop taking Lexapro. In clinical trials, a low percentage of patients taking Lexapro have reported sexual side effects, primarily ejaculatory delay in men.

The maker of Lexapro says no; many patients say yes.]

In one study, among 429 GAD patients who received Lexapro 10-20 mg/day in placebo-controlled trials, side effects in these percentages were reported: headache-24 percent, nausea-18 percent, somnolence-13 percent, insomnia-12 percent. About half that number who were receiving placebos had the same complaints. Patients taking lower doses of Lexapro reported a lower percentage of side effects. Of the 429 patients in the study, 8 percent discontinued treatment due to an adverse event, compared to 4 percent of patients receiving placebos.

Here’s what you should know about Lexapro:

  • If you are taking an MAOI DO NOT take Lexapro. There have been reports of serious, sometimes fatal, reactions when they are taken together. Allow at least a 14-day gap after discontinuing treatment with a MAOI before taking Lexapro and the same interval when switching from Lexapro to an MAO.
  • Inform your doctor if you are taking, or plan to take, any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, including herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, diet preparations and NSAIDs (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen.) There is a potential for interactions. The combination of Lexapro and NSAIDS, aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation has been associated with an increased risk of bleeding.
  • Avoid alcohol while taking Lexapro.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine is known to make a person jittery and anxious and can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Lexapro should not be taken with Celexa because they contain the same active ingredient.
  • If discontinuing treatment with Lexapro, do not stop taking it abruptly; instead let your doctor instruct you in tapering off the drug.
  • Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they become pregnant or are breast feeding an infant, or intend to become pregnant during therapy.

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