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What Is Escitalopram Oxalate?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Escitalopram oxalate is a medication prescribed to treat symptoms of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is an antidepressant that helps restore the balance of a chemical, called serotonin, in the brain. This drug is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

Patients may begin with a low dose of escitalopram oxalate, to be increased by the doctor if needed. Adults may take 10 milligrams (mg) once daily, which may be adjusted to no more than 20 mg daily. This drug may be taken with or without food. Patients may continue this treatment for one to four weeks before noticing the full benefit of the medicine. Abruptly discontinuing escitalopram oxalate can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety.

This antidepressant may cause some side effects, which should be reported to the physician if they become bothersome or persistent. These may include nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness. Heartburn, stomach pain, and an increased appetite may also occur. Other patients have reported flu-like symptoms, a runny nose, and dry mouth, along with unusual, increased sweating.

Rarely, escitalopram oxalate can cause very serious side effects that require immediate medical care. These can include vomit with the appearance of coffee grounds, severe stomach pain, and muscle cramps. Seizures, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and shakiness can occur. Patients have also reported severe mood changes, decreased sexual ability, or men may have an erection that lasts longer than four hours and may be painful. Patients younger than 24 have rarely experienced suicidal tendencies after taking escitalopram oxalate and other antidepressants.

It is essential that patients not take more escitalopram oxalate than prescribed, or take other medications that can increase the level of serotonin in the body. Having too much serotonin can cause a patient to develop serotonin syndrome, which is life-threatening. Symptoms of this complication can include hallucinations, loss of coordination, and severe dizziness. Side effects can also include a rapid heartbeat and an unexplained fever.

Before taking escitalopram oxalate, patients must disclose their other medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this antidepressant. Liver disease, kidney disease, and a seizure disorder may preclude a person from using it. Those who have low sodium in the blood, a personal or family history of psychiatric disorders, or bleeding problems may be unable to undergo this treatment. Patients should also disclose their other medications and supplements, such as St. John's wort, tryptophan, and migraine medications.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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