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Aug 16, 2022

Mental Health

Antidepressant

What to Know About Escitalopram

Escitalopram is an anti-depressant medication. It’s in a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications are prescribed for a number of conditions, including depression.

How Escitalopram Works

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by inhibiting (stopping) the reuptake of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a “happy” chemical, but it has a role in many bodily processes such as digestion, sleep, wound healing, and very importantly, mood. When serotonin levels are normal, your emotions will be more regulated and your mood should, in general, be more elevated, calm, and focused.

Serotonin is released from one nerve cell as a message to another nerve cell. There is a baseline amount of serotonin released at all times, but it also gets released in larger amounts in response to certain stimuli. In the brain, one of the main messages that gets sent by serotonin is to increases happiness and mood stability. Once the serotonin has sent its signal, it then gets re-taken up by the nerve cell that sent it out initially. This is so, in a normal situation, there won’t be any more signal than the brain needs.

It's thought that certain mental illnesses, such as depression, are partially caused, or at least aggravated by, decreased levels of serotonin. Inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin therefore allows it to stay around longer and send more signals in your brain. This then works to increase focus, happiness, and overall mood stability.

Conditions Escitalopram Treats

Even though it is termed an “anti-depressant”, escitalopram is useful in treating more than just depression. The increase in mood stability is also useful in treating mental health conditions characterized by excessive worry or anxiety.

Side Effects

Like any medication, it’s possible to experience side effects while taking escitalopram. While not everyone experiences any or all side effects, it’s important to be aware of the possible changes your body may undergo. The most common side effects of escitalopram are:

  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction (primarily ejaculation delay)
  • Nausea
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue

It is also important to note that the side effects will be the worst in the first few weeks of taking escitalopram, as your body “gets used” to the medication. The side effects should change and, ideally, improve after a few weeks of taking the medication.

Learn more about the first few weeks of taking antidepressants.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:

It has not been deemed fully safe or fully dangerous to take escitalopram while pregnant. There have been animal studies that have shown potential dangers to the fetus when the pregnant mother is given escitalopram. However, this animal data is not always transferrable to humans. There have not been adequate studies done in humans due to the possible risks posed to the mother and/or the fetus. Therefore, it’s recommended to speak with your healthcare provider about the possible risks to the fetus compared to the possible risks of discontinuing an effective medication from a pregnant mother.

Escitalopram is excreted into breastmilk, which then can be consumed by the nursing baby. There have been reports of some side effects seen in babies who have been nursing from people on escitalopram. The side effects are mild and likely resolve after discontinuation, but because of this possibility it’s recommended to avoid escitalopram while breastfeeding. If you must take this medication while you are breastfeeding, it is important for you and your healthcare provider to monitor your baby for any possible side effects.

Drug Interactions

There are a number of medications that should be avoided while taking escitalopram. One large class of medications that should be avoided are any that increase serotonin in the body. This is because escitalopram also increases serotonin, so additional serotonin-increasing medication may increase your serotonin too much. When serotonin gets too high in the body, it can lead to something called “serotonin syndrome”, which can display as diarrhea, shakiness, agitation, and eventually even irregular heartrate and possibly seizures.

Some of the medications that should be avoided due to the possibility of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Other antidepressants (SNRIs, TCAs)
  • Triptans (rizatriptan, sumatriptan)

There are also a number of other medications that should be avoided while taking escitalopram for other reasons. The list is extensive, but the two main medications that absolutely must be avoided when on escitalopram are:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    Very serious reactions, including death, can occur with MAOI combination with escitalopram
  • Pimozide (an antipsychotic)
    This combination can result in serious heart issues

Cost

Escitalopram is a medication that is usually taken long-term. Because of this, it’s often in your best interest to get a longer supply of the medication. Getting your medication in a longer supply means fewer trips to the pharmacy. This is both convenient and cost effective, as you then don’t have to pay the pharmacy fees or the cost of transportation to and from the pharmacy.

At a typical pharmacy, a 6-month supply of 10mg escitalopram tablets would cost you anywhere from $241 to $678. At Marley Drug, you can get a 6-month supply of escitalopram costs $37, or even a 12-month supply for only $70. This equates to less than $6 per month.

How can our prices be so low? We get our medications directly from accredited wholesalers, cutting out the insurance middlemen. Insurance companies usually hike up the costs of medications with their “service fees”, so cutting out this step enables us to keep our prices low. This way, our prices are competitive, even with the best insurance plans.

To learn more about how you can get your escitalopram prescription from Marley Drug, just call us at 1-800-810-7790.

Prices mentioned in this article are based on average retail price at major box chain pharmacy in the U.S. as of August 1, 2022.


References:
  1. Lexapro (escitalopram) – Access data FDA-Approved Drugs [Internet]. Amended 01/2017; accessed 07/2022].
  2. Serotonin: What Is It, Function & Levels. (2022). Retrieved 30 July 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org
  3. Serotonin: Functions, Normal Range, Side Effects, and More. (2022). Retrieved 30 July 2022, from https://www.healthline.com
  4. Lexapro: generic escitalopram – GoodRx (https://www.goodrx.com). Accessed 2022-07-30

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