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    Lexapro

    Lexapro is prescribed to treat patients with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Depression is often accompanied by anxiety. Depression affects as many as one in four women and one in 10 men, and can make it difficult to work, rest, or complete many daily functions. Depression can also lead to suicide.

    What are some important things I should know about Lexapro?

    The FDA has released two alerts concerning injuries caused by Lexapro. The first is that Lexapro has caused persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies whose mothers used the drug during pregnancy and while nursing. The second FDA alert warns people that Lexapro, like other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can cause serotonin syndrome. 

    Persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns causes breathing and lung function problems that are noticeable immediately after birth. Many infants can recover quickly, but some may require care throughout the rest of their lives. Medications like Lexapro can cause injuries like problems in the fetal circulatory system, causing inadequate blood supply to the lungs and oxygen-depleted blood to return to the heart.

    Serotonin syndrome occurs when the body receives too much seratonin, which is a chemical produced by nerve cells. Serotonin controls moods, emotions, sleep cycles and appetite. SSRI drugs and migraine headache drugs containing triptan both work to retain serotonin in the brain and to increase serotonin. The two drugs combined can lead to serotonin levels that are extremely dangerous, leading to serious injury or death.

    Untreated serotonin syndrome can be fatal. The syndrome can occur within minutes or hours of taking the drugs. Symptoms include:

    • restlessness
    • hallucinations
    • loss of coordination
    • increased heart beat
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • fever
    • shivering
    • tremor
    • muscle spasms
    Who is Lexapro for?

    Lexapro is for patients who suffer from depression or generalized anxiety disorder.

    Depression can be caused by an imbalance of serotonin in the brain, which is a chemical that allows nerve cells to communicate. When these nerve cells don’t communicate correctly, it can cause heightened sadness, moodiness, worry, fatigue, and general feelings of unhappiness. Lexapro works by rebalancing seratonin.

    Generalized anxiety disorder causes persistent anxiety and constant worry. People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder often cannot shake their worry, fear and tension, even when there is nothing that seems to be causing it. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include fatigue, headaches, constant worry, trembling, sweating, mood swings, muscle tension, and hot flashes.

    What side effects can Lexapro cause?

    The two most serious injuries, as discussed above, include serotonin syndrome and persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns. Other side effects include:

    ·        adverse withdrawal reactions when patients stop taking Lexapro, especially if they stop taking it abruptly

    ·        gastrointestinal bleeding

    ·        seizures

    ·        worsening depression or anxiety

    ·        drug interactions

    ·        allergies

    ·        problems in pregnant women and harm to unborn baby

    ·        injury to nursing babies

    ·        increased risk of suicide

    When should I contact my doctor?

    Contact your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms associated with the side effects listed above, including:

    • if you become pregnant
    • if you are nursing
    • prolonged, painful erection
    • suicidal thoughts or actions
    • weight changes
    • severe allergic reactions (swelling in the face and throat and difficulty breathing)
    • discolored stools
    • seizures
    • tremor
    • vision changes
    • severe mood swings
    • irregular heart beat or chest pain

    Always tell your doctor about any other medication you are taking in order to avoid drug interactions and serious injury.

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