The prescription drug Lexapro® (escitalopram) is used to treat depression and general anxiety disorder. It is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is a natural substance produced in the body that enhances mood. These medications make serotonin more available to the cells in the brain.
Lexapro® Side Effects
The medication guide for Lexapro® has a black box warning, the most serious warning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives. It says that Lexapro® taken by some children, teens and young adults may result in increased suicidal thoughts or actions when they first begin to take the drug.
These people and their family or caregivers must watch for the following symptoms, especially if they worsen, and call their healthcare providers between visits when necessary:
- Acting on dangerous impulses
- Attempts to commit suicide
- Increased feelings of agitation and restlessness
- Mania (extreme increase in activity and talking)
- New or worsening anxiety
- New or worsening depression
- New or worsening irritability
- Other unusual behavioral or mood changes
- Panic attacks
- Showing aggressiveness, anger, or violence
- Thoughts about suicide
Other more common side effects of Lexapro® are:
- Changes in sex drive or ability
- Dry mouth
- Excess fatigue
- Flu-like symptoms
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Increased sweating
- Runny nose
- Sexual problems
- Sleeping problems
- Stomach pain
If you have the following side serious side effects, you should call your doctor immediately:
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- Severe muscle stiffness
- Unusual excitement
Lexapro® and Birth Defect Risk
The Lexapro® Medication Guide says it is not known if "Lexapro® will harm your unborn baby." The guide advises you to talk with your doctor about taking Lexapro® if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
But, data has suggested a link between SSRI antidepressants and an increase in the risk of certain birth defects, including septal heart defects, a serious lung disorder called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), abdominal walls defects in which the intestines and/or organs protrude through the belly button and head and skull defects.
Lexapro® is an FDA pregnancy category C medication. That means that animal studies have shown the drug to cause birth defects but there are no adequate human studies to show birth defects.
Contact a Lexapro® Attorney
If you or someone you love has been taking Lexapro® during pregnancy and then had a baby born with birth defects, you should contact a Lexapro® lawyer to find out if you qualify to pursue damages through a birth defect claim.
You may also be entitled to compensation if you suffered a serious side effect of Lexapro®. To learn more, contact a Lexapro® lawyer today.