Lexapro is the brand name for Escitalopram, a drug commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder–a condition that causes individuals to suffer from extreme worry and anxiety without any identifiable cause. Lexapro works by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, and the blockage causes an increase in the amount of available neural serotonin. This in turn is thought to positively influence mood. Although Lexapro is an effective antidepressant, it is connected to a number of complications and side effects.
According to the official Lexapro website as well as information provided by the Mayo Clinic, Lexapro use is connected to a number of sexual problems, including a sharp decrease in sexual desire, impotence, difficulty maintaining an erection, delayed ejaculations and–in some cases–the inability to achieve an orgasm, a condition known as anorgasmia.
Individuals on Lexapro also report digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, increased gas, abdominal pain and cramping, heartburn, constipation and extreme nausea.
The abdominal pain and cramping is caused by uncontrollable contractions stimulated in the muscles of the intestines, stomach, and other digestive organs such as the pancreas and liver. These unusual contractions–thought to be directly caused by the action of the Lexapro–may also be instrumental in causing many of the other digestive problems associated with the drug, including heartburn (digestive juices from the stomach inadvertently pushed back up into the esophagus) and increased amounts of digestive tract gas.
Lexapro can cause sleep disorders on both ends of the spectrum. In some individuals, the medication causes insomnia–the inability to fall asleep–or severe difficulty staying asleep for longer than a few hours at a time. In other individuals, Lexapro results in extreme sleepiness and drowsiness. In clinical trials of Lexapro, patients diagnosed with both depression and generalized anxiety disorder consistently reported higher levels of both insomnia and unusual drowsiness than the patients in the study taking a placebo drug.
In clinical trials of Lexapro, patients taking the drug for depression-related disorders experienced slightly higher levels of respiratory problems–severe nasal congestion, fever, wheezy breathing, runny nose, fever, sore throat, coughing and chills–than the patients in the trial given the placebo drug.
One of the most serious complications of Lexapro use is the increase in suicidal tendencies and behavior in young adults and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 24. Lexapro’s main site reports that there is no increase in suicidal thinking in people over 24 taking the drug, but that the families of younger individuals on Lexapro should be on guard for suicidal behavior and unusual personality changes.