DESCRIPTION / DEFINITIONS: Lexapro® (escitalopram oxalate) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
ABUSE: Lexapro is a drug prescribed for the treatment of obsessive/compulsive behavior.
ADDICTION / DEPENDENCE: Half life and metabolism, Black Box Warning.
SIDE EFFECTS: Glaucoma, suicide, blood in urine (see list below).
WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS: Headache, insomnia, electric shock like sensations (see list below).
TREATMENT: Medical detoxification.
DESCRIPTION / DEFINITIONS
Lexapro® (escitalopram oxalate) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor ("SSRI"). Although there are no medical tests to determine if a person has insufficient serotonin, SSRI drugs like Lexapro increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. According to its label, "The mechanism of action of fluvoxamine maleate in obsessive compulsive disorder is presumed to be linked to its specific serotonin reuptake inhibition in brain neurons."
Lexapro is a drug prescribed for the treatment of obsessive/compulsive behavior.
ADDICTION / DEPENDENCE
HALF LIFE AND METABOLISM
The biological half life of a substance is the time it takes for a drug to lose half of its pharmacologic activity. This is significant because it affects how soon withdrawal symptoms may appear.
The half life of Lexapro is 27-32 hours.
Lexapro is mainly metabolized through the P450 pathway in the liver and the enzymes primarily handling the metabolism are CYP3A4 and CYP2C19.
The CYP enzymes are the major enzymes involved in drug metabolism, and since many drugs may increase or decrease the activity of various CYP isozymes, this is a major source of adverse drug interactions, since changes in CYP enzyme activity may affect the metabolism and clearance of various drugs. For example, if one drug inhibits the CYP-mediated metabolism of another drug, the second drug may accumulate within the body to toxic levels, possibly causing an overdose.
BLACK BOX WARNING
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided that some drugs pose very serious risks and have required that these drugs have what is called a black box warning. Lexapro has a black box warning. Here is the warning.
WARNING: Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs
Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of Lexapro or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Lexapro is not approved for use in pediatric patients.
(See WARNINGS: Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk, PRECAUTIONS: Information for Patients, and PRECAUTIONS: Pediatric Use.)
The following information is taken from the Lexapro label:
Lexapro can be a very difficult drug to stop taking. Here are some of the Lexapro’s withdrawal symptoms:
- dysphoric mood
- emotional lability
- sensory disturbances
(e.g., paresthesias such as electric shock sensations)
Withdrawal from Lexapro should only be done under the care of a health practitioner. The safest way is to withdraw at an inpatient medical detox facility. At an inpatient medical detox facility with a protocol that includes hydration, vitamins and supplements, most patients can safely stop taking Lexapro in about seven days. Patients can withdraw from Lexapro on an outpatient basis but it will normally take at least four weeks.