Lexapro® is the orally-administered prescription antidepressant drug manufactured by Forest Laboratories Inc. Its active component is escitalopram, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2002. It is one of a class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which also includes Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa.

SSRIs are commonly prescribed to correct an imbalance of neurotransmitters. Medical experts believe that this imbalance is the cause of mental disorders such as depression. In the case of Lexapro and other SSRIs, excess serotonin (that which did not bind to receptors) are prevented from returning to the nerves that produce them, referred to as reuptake. SSRIs inhibits reuptake, keeping the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain high.

Lexapro is FDA-approved for treating depression as well as generalized anxiety disorder. It may also be prescribed for panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, although these are off-label uses. First-time users may not see any improvement in their conditions until after 4 weeks of regular intake; the maximum daily of intake Lexapro is 20 mg although 10 mg a day is thought to be just as effective for treating depression.

Common side effects of Lexapro include but not limited to:

  • Agitation
  • Blurred vision
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • Indigestion
  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of libido, sexual difficulties
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sweating

More serious side effects which may tip the balance for the discontinuation of taking the medication include suicidality and birth defects. Lexapro and Celexa are chemically similar, and according to the website of the National Injury Law Center, these are unfortunately side effects that they have in common. They are so similar that the two drugs have been named in conjunction as part of multidistrict litigation against Forest Laboratories in Missouri Judicial Circuit 19 in Cole County for birth defects. The allegations state that Forest knew about the risk to pregnant mothers of taking either of these two products but failed to give adequate warning. Birth defects alleged to have been caused by taking Lexapro and Celexa include spina bifida, craniosynostosis, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, anencephaly, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn and club foot.

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