Escitalopram: Side Effects & Interactions

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do you buy over the counter supplements? Make sure to tell your doctor about them if you use escitalopram, or else you might be at risk of experiencing negative effects as a result of a poor drug interaction.

Escitalopram's Major Uses

Escitalopram is like a spork. You can use a spork for mainly two things: use it like a spoon or use it like a fork. Escitalopram can be used for mainly two things as well: depression and generalized anxiety disorder. As a result, escitalopram is an antidepressant and an anxiolytic. The latter words means it relieves anxiety.

That's all cheery and great. But some things related to escitalopram aren't so nice. This includes its potential side effects and drug interactions, some of which are covered in this lesson.

Side Effects

Cathy is taking escitalopram for her depression. She's noticed that she's got a dry mouth and is constipated. She feels really bloated all of the time and has frequent instances of heartburn. On top of that, she has trouble sleeping. Those are some potential side effects of escitalopram. But they need not be set in stone. While Cathy had constipation, other people might have diarrhea. While Cathy has trouble sleeping, some people are actually unusually sleepy when taking this medication.

Cathy is lucky though. She mentions that one of her friends took this medication and had it far worse. Her friend started to experience shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion and an irregular heartbeat. She then had a seizure and went into a coma because of a bad reaction to escitalopram. What Cathy's friend experienced is not common, but it is serious. So if you experience any of those signs, you need to call a doctor right away.

Drug Interactions

Cathy also needs to tell her doctor if she's taking any medication, including any supplements, he may not know about. This is important because escitalopram has a boatload of possible serious interactions with other drugs.

For example, let's say Cathy takes 5-HTP, or 5-Hydroxytryptophan. This is a supplement commonly found at a local Wal-A-Drug. If Cathy takes 5-HTP and escitalopram at the same time, she may experience confusion, shaking, hallucinations, and a seizure. The same interaction is possible with many other medications, such as fentanyl, a powerful pain reliever.

If Cathy takes escitalopram with amiodarone, she may put herself at risk of having a life-threatening arrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat. Amiodarone, also called Cordarone, is itself used to treat various arrhythmias. Again, this same consequence is possible with other medications, such as an antibiotic called ofloxacin.

If Cathy goes to a new doctor, she should make sure to tell her if she's taking mazindol. Mazindol is a medication that's sometimes used to treat obesity as it helps suppress a person's appetite. Using these two drugs together might make Cathy nervous, anxious, and jittery.

Another medication Cathy should tell her doctor about, if she's taking it of course, is aripiprazole. This medication, also known as Abilify, is used for various disorders such as schizophrenia. When used together, a person may become drowsy, experience low blood pressure and might have abnormal muscle movements.

Lesson Summary

Let's move ourselves on to the lesson summary. There are many other drugs escitalopram may interact with. A large percentage of them have interactions very similar to the ones we went over in this lesson though.

Escitalopram is an antidepressant and an anxiolytic. It's used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Some side effects include:

  • Heartburn
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping or unusual sleepiness

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