Anxiety Treatments: Untold Complications of Lexapro
As I sauntered into the CVS pharmacy to procure my first-ever anti-anxiety aid, Lexapro, I was astonished at the lack of information offered by the on-call pharmacists. I asked a seemingly simple question: What are the main side effects of Lexapro? This was answered with a dumbfounded expression and a mumbled "dry mouth?" response.
Disregarding CVS's clear lack of knowledgeable pharm techs, there is an undeniable need for better information about the mental health tablets we innocently ingest. The information packet enclosed with your new bottle is unnervingly limited, yet the average pill-popper may never notice this.
Lexapro (chemical name escitalopram) belongs to an interesting drug family termed SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reputake Inhibitors). More commonly known as antidepressants, these pills are hot commodities in both the public and business realm. Why? Because happy pills sell - and the placebo effect (simply expecting to be happy can cause happiness) is curiously similar to drug response rates. However, do not be immediately discouraged by this - whether you're feeling peachier because of a psychological effect or by a chemical solution, you're still feeling better.
Lexapro is the newest and shiniest out of the SSRI bunch (the 5 remaining include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Luvox), as it was recently launched in 2002. (But be prepared: Newly FDA-approved Viibryd will undoubtably be coming soon! to subliminize your TV, magazines, and billboards). Lexapro was thought to be extra special (and marketable) because it possesses additional anti-anxiety properties beyond happy-go-lucky ones. The anti-anxiety nature is linked to the activation of a special serotonin receptor (5HT1A), which, notably, is also the serotonin receptor we know most about. It is marketed to be able to provide indefinite, stable anxiety relief, unlike the fast-acting (but dangerous) prowess of Lorazepam.
Were You Briefed?
The primary untold complication of anti-anxiety agents like Lexapro is that it can cause anxiety disorder symptoms. Another cycle is born: Your effective dose may be increased to compensate, which may further confound anxiety sources.
Here are some side effects of Lexapro that should be on the label:
- SSRIs may inhibit your ability to process caffeine. This is especially true if you are prescribed Prozac or Luvox, but all SSRIs can have this power. If your are one of the millions of humans who drink coffee regularly, you could experience a sudden, inexplicable intolerance or toxicity to your favorite pick-me-up. This means that drinking your usual 3 cups of coffee now sparks uncomfortable symptoms of caffeinism, including anxiety, agitation, jitters, mood changes, tachycardia, hypertension, gastrointestinal disturbances, which are some of the exact sensations that started you on the happy pill. You may still be able to drink your favorite black stuff, but only with caution and in much lower quantities.
- SSRIs may inhibit your ability to process nicotine. Similar to the problems with caffeine, the chemicals in SSRIs can inhibit tummy enzymes responsible for the breakdown of nicotine, causing a smoker to unexpectedly experience a negative response to the accustomed dose.
- Sexual Dysfunction (as a side effect) is more prevalent than it appears. Most SSRI labels will present comforting, low symptom occurrence rates, but recent research and Consumer Reports have claimed that up to 80% of users experience some form of drug-induced sexual dysfunction.
Lexapro and similar drugs can be effective, but it is important to strive to be an informed pill-popper.