Lexapro is classified in a group of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is prescribed to treat depression or anxiety in adults with major anxiety disorder. Doctors have also prescribed Lexapro to adolescents as young as 12 years old. It was approved by the FDA in 2001 and is generically known as Escitalopram.
Lexapro and other SSRI antidepressants have been linked to serious side effects such as suicidal thoughts and actions and birth defects.
Suicidal thoughts and actions are dangerous risks associated with some antidepressants. These side effects are seen more prevalent in children and young adults who are taking the drug. Some healthcare professionals believe that SSRI antidepressants actually enhance the problems they are aiming to treat.
One FDA study evaluated 372 other studies of 100,000 patients and 11 antidepressants. When professionals analyzed the results by age, it was clear that younger patients were at a higher risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts while taking an SSRI.
Lexapro and other SSRIs have also been linked to serious birth defects when taken by pregnant women. A Danish study conducted in 2005 found that infants exposed to SSRIs during the first trimester had a 60 percent higher chance of developing a heart defect.
Lexapro and SSRIs have also been thought to cause persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), ventricular outflow defects; hypoplastic left heart syndrome, clubfoot, septal defects, cleft lip and palate, and limb defects in children that were exposed to the drugs while in the womb.
Serious side effects may include:
- Very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination
- Headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops
Less serious side effects may include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Mild nausea, gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation
- Weight changes
- Decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm