Escitalopram is used as a treatment for depression. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. It can be used to treat a number of mental illnesses, including panic disorder, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
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Escitalopram is an antidepressant used to treat depression and a number of other mental illnesses, including anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
It is part of a group of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs). Similar drugs include Lustral and Sertraline.
These antidepressant treatments work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain which is partly responsible for mood, though it also has several other important functions. It is widely believed that there is a direct correlation between people who have low levels of serotonin and mental health difficulties, such as anxiety or depression. Escitalopram works by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.
Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience some form of mental illness according to the Mental Health Foundation. One of the most common types of mental illness is depression, which can take many forms. Forms of this condition include generalised clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), prenatal depression, postnatal depression and dysthymia.
Generalised clinical depression is characterised by persistent low mood that can interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms may include feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, feeling tearful, guilt-ridden, suicidal or anxious. Physical symptoms can include slowed speech, constipation, feeling overly hungry or unable to eat, lack of energy, lack of libido and changes to sleep patterns. Symptoms may range from mild to severe in nature. You can take a test to measure for depression here - though this is intended purely as a rough guide. If you are unsure, it’s advisable that you make an appointment with a doctor.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which can change with the seasons. It is also sometimes called ‘Winter Depression’, because it tends to bring people’s moods down significantly in the winter. The symptoms of SAD are very similar to that of clinical depression, with the one key difference being that the seasons tend to have an impact on when the symptoms are at their worst. The exact cause of SAD is unknown, though it’s largely attributed to the lack of sunlight that winter can bring about. The lack of sun can affect the hypothalamus, a small area of the brain, and how it works. This can cause an increase in melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy, and an increase in serotonin, a hormone that affects our mood, appetite and sleep.
Postnatal depression is a form of depression that occurs following childbirth. It can occur soon after a child has been born, or some time after. Symptoms are similar to that of generalised clinical depression. Like other forms of depression, symptoms may range from mild to moderate, and severe. If you have recently given birth and feel depressed or anxious, we recommend that you speak with your GP at your earliest convenience.
Dysthymia stems from the Greek word for ‘bad state of mind’. While the symptoms of dysthymia may be less severe than other forms of depression, it can last for longer periods. It is defined as a low mood that persists for a long time, sometimes up to two years or more, and will usually only cause mild symptoms. It is important to be aware that dysthymia is not ‘mild’ depression; it is as significant as any other form of depression.
Escitalopram can be used as a treatment for anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s normally used as part of a wider programme including counselling, and in some cases CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
You can speak in more detail about these mental disorders during your video consultation with a GMC-registered doctor. If you experience any of the above symptoms, or think you may have a mental health condition, we always recommend in the first instance that you make an appointment with your doctor, so that a more thorough, in-person diagnosis can be made.
If you want to buy Escitalopram online or renew your prescription, you may be able to do so following a video consultation with one of our doctors, who will make an assessment. Our video service allows patients to talk with registered clinicians who can offer unique advice, put you in touch with specialists or prescribe treatment.
- In most cases, a doctor will issue you with a 10mg dose of Escitalopram to begin with.
- After some time, if symptoms do not improve, your doctor may increase the dosage.
- To treat panic disorder, a slightly reduced dose of 5mg may be prescribed.
- It can take some time for the drug to work. Do not stop taking Escitalopram if your symptoms do not immediately improve.
- Take the film-coated tablets once a day. We recommend doing this at the same time each day.
- Swallow the treatment whole with water.
- If you think you have taken too much Escitalopram, it is important you seek immediate medical attention.
- If you forget to take a dose, skip the dose you have forgotten and continue with your treatment the following day.
Like all medication, Escitalopram can cause certain side effects. Not everybody will be affected, but it is important to be aware of the risks associated with taking this treatment. If you encounter difficulty urinating, fits or seizures, yellowing of the skin or eyes (signs of liver damage) or irregular heart beat and/or heart palpitations, seek medical advice immediately.
Very common (more than 1 out of 10 people)
Headaches and/or nausea.
Common (Less than 1 out of 10 people):
Feeling scared or helpless, restlessness, abnormal dreams, sleeping problems, insomnia, sleepiness, dizziness, skin sensations such as burning, itching, prickling or tingling, tremors, yawning, difficulty reaching the point of climax (in both men and women), diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, dry mouth, blocked or runny sinuses, increased perspiration, fatigue, fever, joint and muscle pain, increased weight, decreased or increased appetite.
Uncommon (less than 1 out of 100 persons):
Grinding of the teeth or gurning, agitation, nervousness, panic attacks, confusion state, change in taste buds, sleep disorder, fainting, nosebleeds, bleeding from the uterus that is not associated with menstruation, abnormally heavy or extended menstrual flow, nettle rash (urticaria), rash, itching (pruritus), hair loss, swelling of the arms or legs, enlarged pupils, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fast heart beat, weight loss.
Rare (less than 1 out of 1000 people):
Hallucinations, increased symptoms of depression, reduced heart rate, feeling aggressive, thoughts of killing yourself or self-harming, manic episodes, involuntary convulsions, discharge from the breasts, painful erections, bleeding problems or disorders, dizziness when standing up, low blood pressure, decreased sodium levels, urinating more frequently, abnormal liver function, suicidal-related thoughts or events, restlessness or an inability to remain still, anorexia as a result of reduced appetite, brittle bones and alteration or changes in the heart rhythm.
Conditions to look out for
You must tell your prescriber about any current or previous medical conditions you may have suffered with. You should refrain from taking Escitalopram particularly if you are allergic to anything in it.
You should make your doctor aware if you suffer with any form of epilepsy, liver disease, damage or impairment, diabetes, decreased sodium levels in the blood, low potassium or magnesium levels, easily bleed or bruise, undergoing electroconvulsive therapy, have any form of heart disease, suffer with heart problems, a heart condition, irregular heartbeat or low-resting heartbeat. You should also inform your doctor of any history of glaucoma.
Taking it with other medicines
As with health conditions, you should also make the prescribing clinician aware of any existing medications you’re using. This includes any treatments which you haven’t been prescribed and any taken recreationally. Tell your doctor if you use any MAO inhibitors, including selegiline moclobemide and linezolid. You should also alert them if you experience an irregular heart rhythm, or if you take any medication relating to heart problems.
You should inform your doctor if any treatment that you take contains any of the following ingredients: non-selective monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or any drug containing phenelzine, iproniazid isocarboxazid, nialamide and tranylcypromine as active ingredients, reversible, selective MAO-A inhibitors containing moclobemide, irreversible MAO-B inhibitors, containing selegiline, the antibiotic linezolid, lithium, tryptophan, sumatriptan and similar medicines tramadol, cimetidine and omeprazole, fluvoxamine and ticlopidine, escitalopram, St. John’s Wort, acetylsalicylic acid and non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs, warfarin, dipyridamole, and phenprocoumon, mefloquine, bupropion, and antidepressants, flecainide, propafenone, and metoprolol, desipramine, clomipramine, and nortriptyline, risperidone, thioridazine, and haloperidol or any medicines that change potassium or magnesium levels.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Do not take Escitalopram if you are attempting to conceive, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. If this medicine is taken during pregnancy, it can cause harm to an unborn child.
Speak to your doctor for further advice about this, or if you become pregnant while you are taking Escitalopram.
Driving and using machines
Some side effects associated with this treatment include dizziness, tiredness and involuntary convulsions. These side effects could have an impact on a person’s ability to drive and/or operate machinery. Subsequently, Escitalopram may not be suitable. However, some people choose to take their medication in the evening, in the knowledge that they won’t be driving anywhere imminently. This may be preferential for you. It is important to note however that you should refrain from driving if side effects persist the following morning.
Food, drink and alcohol
You should not take Escitalopram whilst consuming alcohol.
A similar treatment, Citalopram, has been shown to reduce the sperm count in studies on animals. This could potentially apply to Escitalopram as well, though nothing conclusive has been observed in humans.
Can I still drink alcohol?
Escitalopram and alcohol are not thought to interact, but you should not take this treatment whilst drinking alcohol.
Will I still be able to drive?
If you experience any of the side effects that can inhibit your ability to drive, such as tiredness or dizziness, you will not be able to drive and take this treatment. You may want to try taking the medication during the evening, as the side effects may have worn off by the following morning.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
No. This treatment cannot be taken whilst you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How should I store it?
Do not store above 25°C and keep out of reach from children.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
As well as Escitalopram, the active ingredient, Escitalopram contains microcrystalline cellulose, colloidal anhydrous silica, croscarmellose sodium, talc, magnesium stearate coating: hypromellose 6cP, titanium dioxide (E 171), macrogol 6000.
Is it available over-the-counter?
No. This is a prescription-only medication.
Is it possible to buy Escitalopram online?
Escitalopram is available to buy online with a prescription. However, in the first instance we recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor in-person.
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