Lexapro, which contains the active substance known as Escitalopram, is a medication that is included in the category of antidepressants. It is included in the class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), which also contains other drugs with a similar mechanism of action, but different chemical structure and absorption patterns.
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What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which means that some nerve cells in the brain use serotonin release as a tool to communicate with each other and transmit brain impulses and information. Serotonin is especially important in brain functions such as mood stability and appetite control. Specifically, individuals who suffer from depression may have low serotonin levels in the brain, which has been documented indirectly through several clinical studies. Mental health professionals are not able to directly measure the amount of serotonin in one’s brain, but they call such a condition “chemical imbalance”, which may or may not lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders or panic attacks.
How does Lexapro work to restore and stabilize the chemical imbalance in one’s brain?
Escitalopram blocks a specific part of the nerve cell that is responsible for the reuptake of serotonin back into the cell after it has been released to influence the neighboring nerve cells. By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, Lexapro facilitates higher amounts of serotonin to be available for nerve signal transmission. It is believed that this reuptake inhibition is what improves the chemical balance and contributes to the relief of depression symptoms. Lexapro is prescribed by mental health professional as treatment for depression, panic disorder, anxiety disorder or social phobia, among other mental health conditions depending on the particular circumstances of the case where a higher availability of serotonin may be helpful. Lexapro may also be prescribed as a relief for hot flashes experienced by some female patients after menopause. It is believed that serotonin may play a role in the appearance of postmenopausal symptoms.
Lexapro side effects
Lexapro, just like other antidepressants, may cause side effects, including nausea, temporarily unstable mood, anxiety, transient sexual dysfunction. It is very important to be monitored by your doctor during the treatment and adjust the dosage depending on the response to the administered medication. Children and teens are especially vulnerable to antidepressant side effects, so make sure to consult with a mental health professional if you believe that you or your child may benefit from Lexapro treatment. In some cases, a period of adjustment to the medication is necessary, during which you may experience some unusual effects, which typically stop as you continue with your treatment. It may take weeks before you start experiencing the benefits of Escitalopram treatment, and dosage adjustment as prescribed by your doctor may be necessary.