Lexapro is a popular brand name of the antidepressant escitalprolam oxalate manufactured by Forest Laboratories, Inc. Other brand names include Seroplex, Cipralex and Lexam. Currently, escitalprolam oxalate will not be available as a generic antidepressant until 2012. Lexapro is one of a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. The most popular drug in this class is fluoxetine, better known as Prozac.
Why Doctors Prescribe Lexapro
In America, Lexapro is approved to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and general anxiety disorder (GAD.) It is possible for a patient to suffer from both conditions, but often Lexapro will be used to target just one condition. Lexapro may be used in combination with other medications for MDD or GAD, depending on the patient’s individual health.
However, many doctors prescribe Lexapro off-label. This is because doctors have noted that Lexapro often gives beneficial side effects to some patients. Lexapro is often prescribed off-label for other mental illnesses like obsessive compulsive disorder, for migraine prevention and even for premature ejaculation. If a doctor prescribes Lexapro off-label for a condition that is not a mental illness, this is not because the doctor thinks the patient is “crazy.”
How Does Lexapro Work?
Lexapro is an SSRI. That second “S” stands for serotonin, which is a brain chemical thought to be responsible for not only depression, but for migraines and some types of epilepsy. Doctors have noted that many people with depression also have migraines or epilepsy. Although doctors do not exactly know in minute detail how Lexapro or any other SSRI works, the Mayo Clinic’s theory is that it helps brain cells stop reabsorbing serotonin.
SSRIs like Lexapro are not a “magic bullet.” Any mental illness or anxiety disorder cannot be managed just by medication alone, but with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication can help calm a person down enough to make therapy more effective. Patients often begin to feel positive benefits in as little as two weeks but some patients may need a couple of months before they begin to feel better. But if a patient begins to feel suicidal, hallucinates, becomes suddenly hyperactive, has breathing problems or begins having an irregular heartbeat then he or she needs to contact a doctor or mental health professional immediately.
Lexapro is an antidepressant that may be prescribed for many other conditions other than major depressive disorder. It is usually prescribed for patients age 12 and up. Contact a medical professional immediately if you begin having serious side effects or if you feel even more suicidal than usual.
Never take or give Lexapro prescribed for someone else, even a close family member, because even members of the same family can have different reactions to it. Please do not use this article in the place of a lawyer’s council or a doctor’s diagnosis.