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Lexapro

Last reviewed on RxList: 10/9/2018
Lexapro Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Last reviewed on RxList 10/09/2018

Lexapro (escitalopram) is type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat anxiety in adults and major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents who are at least 12 years old. Common side effects of Lexapro include:

Lexapro is available in tablet form. The recommended adult dose of Lexapro is 10 mg once daily. Do not use escitalopram if you are using an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), or selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam). SSRI antidepressants may cause serious or life-threatening lung problems in newborn babies whose mothers take the medication during pregnancy. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant during pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, or if you become pregnant while taking escitalopram, do not stop taking the medication without first talking to your doctor. Escitalopram can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breastfeeding a baby.

Our Lexapro Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Lexapro Consumer Information

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
  • racing thoughts, unusual risk-taking behavior, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness;
  • low levels of sodium in the body--headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady; or
  • severe nervous system reaction--very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out.

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Common side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, weakness;
  • sweating, feeling shaky or anxious;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • dry mouth, loss of appetite;
  • nausea, constipation;
  • yawning;
  • weight changes; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Lexapro (Escitalopram Oxalate)

Lexapro Professional Information

SIDE EFFECTS

Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical studies of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

Clinical Trial Data Sources

Pediatrics (6 -17 years)

Adverse events were collected in 576 pediatric patients (286 Lexapro, 290 placebo) with major depressive disorder in double-blind placebo-controlled studies. Safety and effectiveness of Lexapro in pediatric patients less than 12 years of age has not been established.

Adults

Adverse events information for Lexapro was collected from 715 patients with major depressive disorder who were exposed to escitalopram and from 592 patients who were exposed to placebo in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. An additional 284 patients with major depressive disorder were newly exposed to escitalopram in open-label trials. The adverse event information for Lexapro in patients with GAD was collected from 429 patients exposed to escitalopram and from 427 patients exposed to placebo in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.

Adverse events during exposure were obtained primarily by general inquiry and recorded by clinical investigators using terminology of their own choosing. Consequently, it is not possible to provide a meaningful estimate of the proportion of individuals experiencing adverse events without first grouping similar types of events into a smaller number of standardized event categories. In the tablesand tabulations that follow, standard World Health Organization (WHO) terminology has been used to classify reported adverse events.

The stated frequencies of adverse reactions represent the proportion of individuals who experienced, at least once, a treatment-emergent adverse event of the type listed. An event was considered treatment-emergent if it occurred for the first time or worsened while receiving therapy following baseline evaluation.

Adverse Events Associated With Discontinuation Of Treatment
Major Depressive Disorder

Pediatrics (6 -17 years)

Adverse events were associated with discontinuation of 3.5% of 286 patients receiving Lexapro and 1% of 290 patients receiving placebo. The most common adverse event (incidence at least 1% for Lexapro and greater than placebo) associated with discontinuation was insomnia (1% Lexapro, 0% placebo).

Adults

Among the 715 depressed patients who received Lexapro in placebo-controlled trials, 6% discontinued treatment due to an adverse event, as compared to 2% of 592 patients receiving placebo. In two fixed-dose studies, the rate of discontinuation for adverse events in patients receiving 10 mg/day Lexapro was not significantly different from the rate of discontinuation for adverse events in patients receiving placebo. The rate of discontinuation for adverse events in patients assigned to a fixed dose of 20 mg/day Lexapro was 10%, which was significantly different from the rate of discontinuation for adverse events in patients receiving 10 mg/day Lexapro (4%) and placebo (3%). Adverse events that were associated with the discontinuation of at least 1% of patients treated with Lexapro, and for which the rate was at least twice that of placebo, were nausea (2%) and ejaculation disorder (2% of male patients).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Adults

Among the 429 GAD patients who received Lexapro 10-20 mg/day in placebo-controlled trials, 8% discontinued treatment due to an adverse event, as compared to 4% of 427 patients receiving placebo. Adverse events that were associated with the discontinuation of at least 1% of patients treated with Lexapro, and for which the rate was at least twice the placebo rate, were nausea (2%), insomnia (1%), and fatigue (1%).

Incidence Of Adverse Reactions In Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials
Major Depressive Disorder

Pediatrics (6 -17 years)

The overall profile of adverse reactions in pediatric patients was generally similar to that seen in adult studies, as shown in Table 2. However, the following adverse reactions (excluding those which appear in Table 2 and those for which the coded terms were uninformative or misleading) were reported at an incidence of at least 2% for Lexapro and greater than placebo: back pain, urinary tract infection, vomiting, and nasal congestion.

Adults

The most commonly observed adverse reactions in Lexapro patients (incidence of approximately 5% or greater and approximately twice the incidence in placebo patients) were insomnia, ejaculation disorder (primarily ejaculatory delay), nausea, sweating increased, fatigue, and somnolence. Table 2 enumerates the incidence, rounded to the nearest percent, of treatment-emergent adverse events that occurred among 715 depressed patients who received Lexapro at doses ranging from 10 to 20 mg/day in placebo-controlled trials. Events included are those occurring in 2% or more of patients treated with Lexapro and for which the incidence in patients treated with Lexapro was greater than the incidence in placebo-treated patients.

TABLE 2
Treatment-Emergent Adverse Reactions observed with a frequency of ≥ 2% and greater than placebo for Major Depressive Disorder

Adverse Reaction Lexapro Placebo
(N=715)
%
(N=592)
%
Autonomic Nervous System Disorders    
Dry Mouth 6% 5%
Sweating Increased 5% 2%
Central & Peripheral Nervous System Disorders    
Dizziness 5% 3%
Gastrointestinal Disorders    
Nausea 15% 7%
Diarrhea 8% 5%
Constipation 3% 1%
Indigestion 3% 1%
Abdominal Pain 2% 1%
General    
Influenza-like Symptoms 5% 4%
Fatigue 5% 2%
Psychiatric Disorders    
Insomnia 9% 4%
Somnolence 6% 2%
Appetite Decreased 3% 1%
Libido Decreased 3% 1%
Respiratory System Disorders    
Rhinitis 5% 4%
Sinusitis 3% 2%
Urogenital    
Ejaculation Disorder1,2 9% <1%
Impotence2 3% <1%
Anorgasmia3 2% <1%
1Primarily ejaculatory delay.
2Denominator used was for males only (N=225 Lexapro; N=188 placebo).
3Denominator used was for females only (N=490 Lexapro; N=404 placebo).

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Adults

The most commonly observed adverse reactions in Lexapro patients (incidence of approximately 5% or greater and approximately twice the incidence in placebo patients) were nausea, ejaculation disorder (primarily ejaculatory delay), insomnia, fatigue, decreased libido, and anorgasmia. Table 3 enumerates the incidence, rounded to the nearest percent of treatment-emergent adverse events that occurred among 429 GAD patients who received Lexapro 10 to 20 mg/day in placebo-controlled trials. Events included are those occurring in 2% or more of patients treated with Lexapro and for which the incidence in patients treated with Lexapro was greater than the incidence in placebo-treated patients.

Table 3 enumerates the incidence, rounded to the nearest percent of treatment-emergent adverse events that occurred among 429 GAD patients who received Lexapro 10 to 20 mg/day in placebo-controlled trials. Events included are those occurring in 2% or more of patients treated with Lexapro and for which the incidence in patients treated with Lexapro was greater than the incidence in placebo-treated patients

TABLE 3
Treatment-Emergent Adverse Reactions observed with a frequency of ≥ 2% and greater than placebo for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Adverse Reaction Lexapro Placebo
(N=429)
%
(N=427)
%
Autonomic Nervous System Disorders    
  Dry Mouth 9% 5%
  Sweating Increased 4% 1%
Central & Peripheral Nervous System Disorders    
  Headache 24%

17%

  Paresthesia 2% 1%
Gastrointestinal Disorders    
  Nausea 18% 8%
  Diarrhea 8% 6%
  Constipation 5% 4%
  Indigestion 3% 2%
  Abdominal Pain 2% 1%
  Flatulence 2% 1%
  Toothache 2% 0%
General    
  Fatigue 8% 2%
  Influenza-like Symptoms 5% 4%
Musculoskeletal System Disorder    
  Neck/Shoulder Pain 3% 1%
Psychiatric Disorders    
  Somnolence 13% 7%
  Insomnia 12% 6%
  Libido Decreased 7% 2%
  Dreaming Abnormal 3% 2%
  Appetite Decreased 3% 1%
  Lethargy 3% 1%
Respiratory System Disorders    
  Yawning 2% 1%
Urogenital    
  Ejaculation Disorder1,2 14% 2%
  Anorgasmia3 6% <1%
  Menstrual Disorder 2% 1%
1Primarily ejaculatory delay.
2Denominator used was for males only (N=182 Lexapro; N=195 placebo).
3Denominator used was for females only (N=247 Lexapro; N=232 placebo).

Dose Dependency Of Adverse Reactions

The potential dose dependency of common adverse reactions (defined as an incidence rate of ≥5% in either the 10 mg or 20 mg Lexapro groups) was examined on the basis of the combined incidence of adverse reactions in two fixed-dose trials. The overall incidence rates of adverse events in 10 mg Lexapro-treated patients (66%) was similar to that of the placebo-treated patients (61%), while the incidence rate in 20 mg/day Lexapro-treated patients was greater (86%). Table 4 shows common adverse reactions that occurred in the 20 mg/day Lexapro group with an incidence that was approximately twice that of the 10 mg/day Lexapro group and approximately twice that of the placebo group.

TABLE 4
Incidence of Common Adverse Reactions in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder

Adverse Reaction Placebo 10 mg/day 20 mg/day
(N=311) Lexapro Lexapro
  (N=310) (N=125)
Insomnia 4% 7% 14%
Diarrhea 5% 6% 14%
Dry Mouth 3% 4% 9%
Somnolence 1% 4% 9%
Dizziness 2% 4% 7%
Sweating Increased <1% 3% 8%
Constipation 1% 3% 6%
Fatigue 2% 2% 6%
Indigestion 1% 2% 6%

Male And Female Sexual Dysfunction With SSRIs

Although changes in sexual desire, sexual performance, and sexual satisfaction often occur as manifestations of a psychiatric disorder, they may also be a consequence of pharmacologic treatment. In particular, some evidence suggests that SSRIs can cause such untoward sexual experiences.

Reliable estimates of the incidence and severity of untoward experiences involving sexual desire, performance, and satisfaction are difficult to obtain, however, in part because patients and physicians may be reluctant to discuss them. Accordingly, estimates of the incidence of untoward sexual experience and performance cited in product labeling are likely to underestimate their actual incidence.

TABLE 5
Incidence of Sexual Side Effects in Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials

Adverse Event Lexapro Placebo
In Males Only
(N=407) (N=383)
Ejaculation Disorder
(primarily ejaculatory delay)
12% 1%
Libido Decreased 6% 2%
Impotence 2% <1%
  In Females Only
(N=737) (N=636)
Libido Decreased 3% 1%
Anorgasmia 3% <1%

There are no adequately designed studies examining sexual dysfunction with escitalopram treatment.

Priapism has been reported with all SSRIs.

While it is difficult to know the precise risk of sexual dysfunction associated with the use of SSRIs, physicians should routinely inquire about such possible side effects.

Vital Sign Changes

Lexapro and placebo groups were compared with respect to (1) mean change from baseline in vital signs (pulse, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure) and (2) the incidence of patients meeting criteria for potentially clinically significant changes from baseline in these variables. These analyses did not reveal any clinically important changes in vital signs associated with Lexapro treatment. In addition, a comparison of supine and standing vital sign measures in subjects receiving Lexapro indicated that Lexapro treatment is not associated with orthostatic changes.

Weight Changes

Patients treated with Lexapro in controlled trials did not differ from placebo-treated patients with regard to clinically important change in body weight.

Laboratory Changes

Lexapro and placebo groups were compared with respect to (1) mean change from baseline in various serum chemistry, hematology, and urinalysis variables, and (2) the incidence of patients meeting criteria for potentially clinically significant changes from baseline in these variables. These analyses revealed no clinically important changes in laboratory test parameters associated with Lexapro treatment.

ECG Changes

Electrocardiograms from Lexapro (N=625) and placebo (N=527) groups were compared with respect to outliers defined as subjects with QTc changes over 60 msec from baseline or absolute values over 500 msec post-dose, and subjects with heart rate increases to over 100 bpm or decreases to less than 50 bpm with a 25% change from baseline (tachycardic or bradycardic outliers, respectively). None of the patients in the Lexapro group had a QTcF interval >500 msec or a prolongation >60 msec compared to 0.2% of patients in the placebo group. The incidence of tachycardic outliers was 0.2% in the Lexapro and the placebo group. The incidence of bradycardic outliers was 0.5% in the Lexapro group and 0.2% in the placebo group.

QTcF interval was evaluated in a randomized, placebo and active (moxifloxacin 400 mg) controlled cross-over, escalating multiple- dose study in 113 healthy subjects. The maximum mean (95% upper confidence bound) difference from placebo arm were 4.5 (6.4) and 10.7 (12.7) msec for 10 mg and supratherapeutic 30 mg escitalopram given once daily, respectively. Based on the established exposure-response relationship, the predicted QTcF change from placebo arm (95% confidence interval) under the Cmax for the dose of 20 mg is 6.6 (7.9) msec. Escitalopram 30 mg given once daily resulted in mean Cmax of 1.7-fold higher than the mean Cmax for the maximum recommended therapeutic dose at steady state (20 mg). The exposure under supratherapeutic 30 mg dose is similar to the steady state concentrations expected in CYP2C19 poor metabolizers following a therapeutic dose of 20 mg.

Other Reactions Observed During The Premarketing Evaluation Of Lexapro

Following is a list of treatment-emergent adverse events, as defined in the introduction to the ADVERSE REACTIONS section, reported by the 1428 patients treated with Lexapro for periods of up to one year in double-blind or open-label clinical trials during its premarketing evaluation. The listing does not include those events already listed in Tables 2 & 3, those events for which a drug cause was remote and at a rate less than 1% or lower than placebo, those events which were so general as to be uninformative, and those events reported only once which did not have a substantial probability of being acutely life threatening. Events are categorized by body system. Events of major clinical importance are described in the Warnings and Precautions section (5).

Cardiovascular - hypertension, palpitation.

Central and Peripheral Nervous System Disorders - light-headed feeling, migraine.

Gastrointestinal Disorders - abdominal cramp, heartburn, gastroenteritis.

General - allergy, chest pain, fever, hot flushes, pain in limb.

Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders - increased weight.

Musculoskeletal System Disorders - arthralgia, myalgia jaw stiffness.

Psychiatric Disorders - appetite increased, concentration impaired, irritability.

Reproductive Disorders/Female - menstrual cramps, menstrual disorder.

Respiratory System Disorders - bronchitis, coughing, nasal congestion, sinus congestion, sinus headache.

Skin and Appendages Disorders - rash.

Special Senses - vision blurred, tinnitus.

Urinary System Disorders - urinary frequency, urinary tract infection.

Post-Marketing Experience

Adverse Reactions Reported Subsequent To The Marketing Of Escitalopram

The following additional adverse reactions have been identified from spontaneous reports of escitalopram received worldwide. These adverse reactions have been chosen for inclusion because of a combination of seriousness, frequency of reporting, or potential causal connection to escitalopram and have not been listed elsewhere in labeling. However, because these adverse reactions were reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. These events include:

Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: anemia, agranulocytis, aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia.

Cardiac Disorders: atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, cardiac failure, myocardial infarction, tachycardia, torsade de pointes, ventricular arrhythmia, ventricular tachycardia.

Ear and labyrinth disorders: vertigo

Endocrine Disorders: diabetes mellitus, hyperprolactinemia, SIADH.

Eye Disorders: angle closure glaucoma, diplopia, mydriasis, visual disturbance.

Gastrointestinal Disorder: dysphagia, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, gastroesophageal reflux, pancreatitis, rectal hemorrhage.

General Disorders and Administration Site Conditions: abnormal gait, asthenia, edema, fall, feeling abnormal, malaise.

Hepatobiliary Disorders: fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis, hepatitis.

Immune System Disorders: allergic reaction, anaphylaxis.

Investigations: bilirubin increased, decreased weight, electrocardiogram QT prolongation, hepatic enzymes increased, hypercholesterolemia, INR increased, prothrombin decreased.

Metabolism and Nutrition Disorders: hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, hypokalemia, hyponatremia.

Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders: muscle cramp, muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, rhabdomyolysis.

Nervous System Disorders: akathisia, amnesia, ataxia, choreoathetosis, cerebrovascular accident, dysarthria, dyskinesia, dystonia, extrapyramidal disorders, grand mal seizures (or convulsions), hypoaesthesia, myoclonus, nystagmus, Parkinsonism, restless legs, seizures, syncope, tardive dyskinesia, tremor.

Pregnancy, Puerperium and Perinatal Conditions: spontaneous abortion.

Psychiatric Disorders: acute psychosis, aggression, agitation, anger, anxiety, apathy, completed suicide, confusion, depersonalization, depression aggravated, delirium, delusion, disorientation, feeling unreal, hallucinations (visual and auditory), mood swings, nervousness, nightmare, panic reaction, paranoia, restlessness, self-harm or thoughts of self-harm, suicide attempt, suicidal ideation, suicidal tendency.

Renal and Urinary Disorders: acute renal failure, dysuria, urinary retention.

Reproductive System and Breast Disorders: menorrhagia, priapism.

Respiratory, Thoracic and Mediastinal Disorders: dyspnea, epistaxis, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.

Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders: alopecia, angioedema, dermatitis, ecchymosis, erythema multiforme, photosensitivity reaction, Stevens Johnson Syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, urticaria.

Vascular Disorders: deep vein thrombosis, flushing, hypertensive crisis, hypotension, orthostatic hypotension, phlebitis, thrombosis.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Lexapro (Escitalopram Oxalate)

Related Resources for Lexapro

Read the Lexapro User Reviews »

© Lexapro Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Lexapro Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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