Escitalopram or Cipralex: How Does It Work?

Escitalopram, marketed under the brand name Cipralex, is a drug used to treat depression and anxiety. It belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by blocking the uptake of serotonin in the brain, increasing its levels. This helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants in the world. In this post, we will take a closer look at how escitalopram works and some of its potential side effects.

Is escitalopram an addictive drug?

No, escitalopram is not an addictive drug.

It is a type of antidepressant medication known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is involved in mood, emotions, and sleep. It is prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Escitalopram is not addictive and but can cause withdrawal symptoms when discontinued abruptly.

escitalopram or cipralex

What Is Escitalopram?

Escitalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medication. It is used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin by the nerve cells in the brain. This helps to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which can help improve mood, sleep, and appetite.

The drug is available as both a tablet and an oral liquid solution. It is typically taken once daily with or without food. Common side effects include headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, and insomnia.


Escitalopram is FDA-approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder in teenagers and adults, as well as generalized anxiety disorder in adults. It is licensed for the treatment of depression (MDD) and anxiety disorders in Europe, including: Social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and panic disorder with or without agoraphobia are examples. It’s been cleared for major depressive episodes in Australia.

It was authorized for the treatment of major depressive disorder based on four placebo-controlled, double-blind studies, three of which showed a statistically significant advantage over placeboid.

The effectiveness of escitalopram vs. citalopram was the subject of debate. The significance of this problem is derived from the greater cost of escitalopram compared to the generic combination of isomers of citalopram, before the expiration of the escitalopram patent in 2012, which prompted accusations of evergreening. This problem has been studied at least ten times in systematic reviews and meta analyses. The majority of these studies (with exceptions) found that escitalopram is slightly more effective and tolerable than citalopram.

Second-generation antidepressants, according to a 2011 study, appear to be equally effective, although they may vary in onset and adverse effects. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence’s treatment guidelines, as well as the American Psychiatric Association’s recommendations, generally reflect this opinion.

In 2018, a comprehensive study and network meta-analysis comparing the efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant medications found escitalopram to be one of the most efficient.

Side Effects:

Just like it is observed in other SSRIs, escitalopram may cause decreased libido, delayed ejaculation, and anorgasmia.

There is also research indicating that SSRIs might lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts. The FDA discovered a statistically insignificant 1.5 to 2.4-fold (depending on the statistical technique used) increased risk of suicidality among adults prescribed escitalopram for psychiatric indications after analyzing data from 17 studies. The limitations of statistical procedures in clinical trials were highlighted by a separate team of experts: Because suicidal events are so uncommon in medical trials, drawing firm conclusions with a sample less than two million people is difficult.

The most common side effects of escitalopram are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite/weight loss
  • Sexual dysfunction (ejaculatory problems, decreased libido, orgasm difficulties)

The abrupt cessation of escitalopram, especially in those who are not tolerant to its effects, may induce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as “electric shock” feelings, known as “brain shivers” or “brain zaps” by sufferers. Dizziness, muscular tightness, chills, mental clouding, amnesia, and crying were among the symptoms observed in one study. It was advised that tapering be done very slowly. There have been a few reports of Lexapro and other SSRIs and SNRIs being discontinued suddenly, resulting in dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, anxiety, headache, tiredness, emotional lability, insomnia, and mania. Symptoms such as panic attacks, irritability, rage, aggressiveness, impetuousness, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), mania, worsening of depression, and suicidal ideas can appear if the dose is reduced.


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