Category Archives: Prescription Medication Information

Lexapro Medication: Side Effects, Dosages and Indications

Lexapro Medication: Side Effects and Dosages: Overview

Lexapro medication side effects and dosages are absolutely essential to know before you begin taking this antidepressant medication. Lexapro is a medication usually prescribed for major depression which is a low mood that persists for at least several weeks duration, and interferes with daily functioning. Major depression must occur nearly every day for at least two weeks, and must include either (1) low mood or (2) loss of interest in your usual activities and interests, as well as at least five of the following symptoms of depression: significant changes in weight or appetite, changes in your pattern of sleep, lethargy or agitation, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and slowed thinking and thoughts of suicide. If the symptoms of depression persist over a period of several weeks you may have major depressive disorder, which may make Lexapro a good choice for an antidepressant. If that is the case, it is essential to understand Lexapro medication, side effects, dosages, indications and contraindications.

Lexapro is a medication that increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a necessary chemical in the brain referred to as a neurotransmitter, which is involved in things such as establishing biological processes associated with sleeping and eating. Lexapro is also a close cousin of Celexa, which is also a medication used to treat depression. There are several medications that focus on increasing the level of serotonin in the brain including Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil.

Lexapro Medication Important Information:

Lexapro is an effective and very popular medication. However, this is a medication in which you could possibly get a very bad reaction if you have been taking some other medications, such as those of the medication classification of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s). Some of the MAOI’s include Parnate, Marplan and Nardil. Many psychiatrists recommend that you never take Lexapro within two weeks of having taken these medications. When combined with Lexapro, these medications can cause some very serious and even fatal reactions. These negative symptoms include twitching and agitation, fever, and rigidity, which have been known at times to even lead to delirium and even coma.

Lexapro Medication Side Effects:

Specific Lexapro medication side effects cannot really be anticipated but if any develop or intensify, you should contact your doctor immediately. Only your physician can decide if you should continue taking this medication for depression if you experience any of the following symptoms below.

Some of the more common Lexapro side effects include:

Decreased appetite, sweating, sleepiness, sinusitis, runny nose, nausea, insomnia, indigestion, impotence, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, ejaculation disorder, dry mouth, dizziness, diarrhea, decreased sex drive, constipation

Some of the less common Lexapro side effects may also include:

Yawning, weight changes, vomiting, vertigo, urinary problems, tremors, toothache, tingling, stomachache, sinus headache, sinus congestion, ringing in the ears, rash, palpitations, pain in arms or legs, pain in the shoulder and neck, nasal congestion, muscle pain, migraine, menstrual cramps, lightheadedness, lack of orgasm, lack of energy, lack of concentration, joint pain, irritability, increased appetite, hot flashes, high blood pressure, heartburn, fever, coughing, chest pain, bronchitis, blurred vision, allergic reactions, abnormal dreaming, abdominal pain

In addition to these Lexapro side effects, others have been reported but are very rare. You should always check with your physician if you develop any new or unusual symptoms when taking this depression medication.

Lexapro side effects and additional special warnings:

This medication can make you sleepy. Until you know how you react to this drug, you should use it with caution when driving a car or operating any potentially hazardous machinery or tools. In some rare cases, Lexapro has been known to trigger manic episodes, which are unreasonably high levels of energy, that can become very risky or hazardous to your health. Also, you should let your doctor know if you have had any problems with your kidneys or liver. Your physician may need to adjust your medication accordingly.

Possible drug and food interactions when taking Lexapro:

You should never take Lexapro when taking the similar drug Celexa. Also, as referred above, you should always be careful to avoid any of the MAO inhibitor medications such as Nardil, Parnate and Marplan. Lexapro is not known to interact negatively with alcohol, but the manufacturer recommends avoiding alcoholic beverages while taking this depression medication. If Lexapro is taken with other medications, the combination may increase, decrease or otherwise alter the effects in some way. It is highly recommended that you consult your physician before taking the following medications:

• Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
• Cimetidine (Tagamet)
• Desipramine (Norpramin)
• Other drugs that act upon the brain including antidepressants, sedatives, tranquilizers and painkillers
• Ketaconazole (Nizoral)
• Lithium (Eskalith)
• Metoprolol (Lopressor)
• Narcotic painkillers
• Sumatriptan (Imitrex)

Special information if you happen to be pregnant or breast-feeding:

If you are currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the future, you should let your physician know before taking Lexapro. This medication should only be taken if the benefits outweigh the risks. Lexapro appears in breast milk and could possibly affect the nursing infant. In most cases it is not recommended to breast-feed while taking this medication.

Lexapro medication dosage overview:

Your Lexapro medication dosage should be taken exactly as recommended by your physician even if you begin to feel better. The correct dosage of Lexapro should result in feeling better in one to four weeks, although it is recommended that you continue with this medication for at least several months. This medication can be taken with or without food.

If you miss your usual Lexapro medication dosage…

You should take your missed dosage as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dosage however, you should skip the missed dose and resume your regular medication routine. You should never take more than one dose of Lexapro at a time.

Lexapro medication dosage for adults:

The recommended dosage of Lexapro is 10 mg once a day. If necessary, the doctor may increase the dosage to 20 mg after a minimum of one week. The higher dosage will probably not be recommended for senior adults and people who have liver problems.

Lexapro Overdosage:

Taking massive amounts of Lexapro can be fatal. If you suspect a Lexapro overdosage, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Typical symptoms of Lexapro medication overdosage:

Seizures, rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, vomiting, tremors, nausea, sweating, dizziness
There have also been some rare cases of Lexapro overdosage causing memory loss, confusion, breathing problems, muscle wasting, irregular heartbeat

Storage of Lexapro

This medication should be stored at room temperature.

Summary of Lexapro medication side effects and dosages:

Lexapro is a medication with well-known side effects and effective dosages. Always follow your physician’s recommendations and pay attention to the physiological changes in your body as your specific Lexapro medication side effects cannot really be anticipated and dosages may need to be adjusted accordingly.

Some information adapted from the PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs (Sixth Edition) by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

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Zoloft Medication Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage

Zoloft Medication Overview:

Zoloft is easily one of the most popular medications prescribed for major depressive disorder, a persistently low mood which intrudes in a senior’s daily life. Symptoms often include loss of interest in your normal activities, disturbances in sleep, appetite changes, fidgeting and/or lethargic movement, fatigue, guilt or feelings of worthlessness, and problems with thinking and concentrating. Zoloft has also been prescribed for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This problem is often characterized by low mood, anxiety or tension, emotional instability, and anger or irritability in the two weeks prior to menstruation. Other symptoms may include loss of interest in normal activities, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and feeling out of control.

Zoloft is also effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, which includes symptoms of unwanted thoughts that won’t go away (obsessions) and an irresistible urge to repeat certain actions, such as counting and hand washing (compulsions). Zoloft may also be prescribed for the treatment of panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Zoloft is actually an antidepressant and is referred to as a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor. The neurotransmitter serotonin is believed to regulate mood. Usually, serotonin is reabsorbed after its release back into the releasing neuron (nerve cell). Zoloft, as well as other similar medications block the process of “reuptake”, allowing an increase in serotonin to be absorbed by the receiving neurons.

Important Precautions:

It is usually recommended that you don’t take Zoloft within two weeks of taking any medication classified as an MAO inhibitor. Marplan, Nardil and Parnate are drugs within this medication category. When serotonin boosters such as Zoloft are combined with these medications, serious and sometimes fatal reactions have occurred. Also, this drug should be avoided if it causes any allergic reaction.

Special precautions should be taken if you have liver disorder or have had seizures. Zoloft should always be taken under the close supervision of a doctor, and especially when you have the above conditions.
This drug has not usually been found to effect the operation of automobiles or other machinery. However, as with all medications, you should find out how you are effected by Zoloft before you attempt these operations. Also, if you have a sensitivity to latex, you may want to use precaution when you handle the dropper provided with the oral concentrate.

Zoloft: Benefits and Information:

How is Zoloft taken and what should I expect?

This drug should be taken exactly as prescribed, which most often means once a day, either in the morning or the evening.

Zoloft is available in both capsule or oral concentrate forms. You should use the dropper provided when taking the Zoloft oral concentrate. Measure out the amount of concentrate prescribed by your physician and then mix it with 4 oz. of water, ginger ale, lemon/lime soda, lemonade, or orange juice. (You should not mix the concentrate with any other type of beverage.) You should drink the mixture immediately and not save it for later use. A slight haze has been noticed at times after mixing, but is not a problem.

It usually takes several days to a few weeks to see some improvement from Zoloft. Most doctors recommend that you take it for a minimum of at least several months. It has been found to make your mouth dry at times. Many people have found that sucking on hard candy, chewing gum, or chewing on ice may provide some temporary relief.

What If I miss a dose of Zoloft?

You should take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless several hours have passed, at which time you should just skip that dose and try to get back into the usual dosing routine as soon as possible. You should never double up on your dose of Zoloft.

Zoloft storage instructions…

You should always store Zoloft at room temperature.

Zoloft – Possible food and drug interactions:

It is recommended that you not drink alcohol when taking this drug. Also, the use of over-the-counter medications should be used with caution. Although none of these over-the-counter remedies have been found to cause a negative interaction with Zoloft, interactions always remain a possibility.

If Zoloft is taken with other medications, the effects may be increased, decreased or otherwise altered. It is especially important for you to check with your doctor when combining Zoloft with any of the following:

• Cimetidine(Tagamet)
• Diazepam (Valium)
• Digitoxin (Crystodigin)
• Flecaimide (Tambocor)
• Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid)
• MAO inhibitor drugs such as the antidepressants Nardil and Parnate
• Other serotonin-boosting drugs such as Paxil and Prozac
• Other antidepressants such as Elavil and Serzone
• Over-the-counter drugs such as cold remedies
• Propafenone (Rythmol)
• Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
• Tolbutamide (Orinase)
• Warfarin (Coumadin)

If you are using the oral concentrate form of Zoloft, do not take the medicine disulfiram (Antabuse).

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding:

Zoloft has not been adequately tested during pregnancy. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future, consult your doctor immediately. Zoloft should only be taken during pregnancy when you are extremely depressed and the benefits significantly outweigh the risks. It’s not presently known whether Zoloft appears in breast milk and caution is advised when using this medication during breast-feeding.

Zoloft Side Effects

Zoloft Side Effects: What do I need to know?

Zoloft side effects cannot really be anticipated but, if any develop or change in intensity, you should notify your doctor immediately. Only your physician will be able to tell you whether you should continue taking this medication.

Some of the more common Zoloft side effects may include:

Abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, constipation, decreased sex drive, diarrhea or loose stools, difficulty with ejaculation, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, gas, headache, and decreased appetite are some of the more common Zoloft side effects. And, they also may include increased sweating, indigestion, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, rash, pain, sleepiness, sore throat, tingling or pins and needles, tremor, vision problems and vomiting.

Less common and much rarer Zoloft side effects may include:

Acne, allergic reaction, altered taste, back pain, blindness, breast development in males, breast pain or enlargement, breathing difficulties, bruise-like marks on the skin, cataracts, changeable emotions, chest pain, cold, clammy skin, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), coughing, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, double vision, dry eyes, eye pain, fainting, feeling faint upon arising from a sitting or lying position, feeling of illness, female and male sexual problems, and fluid retention. Other less common Zoloft side effects may include blushing, frequent urination, hair loss, heart attack, hemorrhoids, hiccups, high blood pressure, high pressure within the eye (glaucoma), hearing problems, hot flushes, impotence, inability to stay seated, increased appetite, increased salivation, increased sex drive, inflamed nasal passages, inflammation of the penis, intolerance to light, irregular heartbeat, itching, joint pains, kidney failure, lack of coordination, lack of sensation, leg cramps, menstrual problems, low blood pressure, migraine, movement problems, muscle cramps or weakness, need to urinate during the night, nosebleed, pain upon urination, prolonged erection, purplish spots on the skin, racing heartbeat, rectal hemorrhage, respiratory infection/lung problems, ringing in the ears, rolling eyes, sensitivity to light, sinus inflammation, skin eruptions or inflammation, sleepwalking, sore on tongue, speech problems, stomach and intestinal inflammation, swelling of the face and throat, swollen wrist and ankles, thirst, throbbing heartbeat, twitching, vaginal inflammation, hemorrhage or discharge, and yawning.

Zoloft side effects may also include mental symptoms such as:

Abnormal dreams or thoughts, aggressiveness, exaggerated feeling of well-being, depersonalization (unreal feeling), hallucinations, impaired concentration, memory loss, paranoia, rapid mood shifts, thoughts of harming yourself, tooth grinding, and worsening depression.

It may also include the loss of several pounds for some people taking this medication. This usually doesn’t pose much of a problem, but could be a concern if your depression has already caused significant weight loss.
In a few people, Zoloft side effects may also trigger manic or hypomanic episodes which include sensations of high energy, lack of need for sleep, grandiose thoughts and feelings and generally inappropriate and out-of-control behavior.

Zoloft Dosage: What is the right amount?

General Zoloft Dosage Information


Zoloft dosage for Depressive or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The usual starting Zoloft dosage is 50 mg once a day, taken either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may increase the amount depending upon your response to the medication. The maximum Zoloft dosage is 200 mg in one day.

Zoloft dosage for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Zoloft may be prescribed throughout the menstrual cycle or limited to the two weeks preceding menstruation. The starting Zoloft dosage is 50 mg a day. If this is insufficient the doctor may increase the amount in 50 mg steps at the start of each menstrual cycle up to the maximum of 100 milligrams per day in the 2-week regimen, or 150 mg per day in the full-cycle regimen.(During the first three days of the two-week regimen, doses are always limited to 50 mg).

Zoloft dosage for Panic Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The most common Zoloft dosage during the first week is 25 mg once a day. After that, the dose may be increased to 50 mg once a day. Depending upon your response, your doctor may continue to increase your Zoloft dosage up to a maximum of 200 mg a day.


Zoloft dosage for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The initial Zoloft dosage for children aged 6 to 12 is 25 mg, and for adolescents aged 13 to 17, is 50 mg per day. Your physician should adjust the dose as needed. The safety and effectiveness have not been established for children under the age of six.

Zoloft Overdosage

Many medications taken in excess of the recommended dosage can have serious consequences. An overdose of Zoloft can possibly be fatal. If you suspect an overdose seek medical attention immediately.

Common symptoms of Zoloft overdose include:

Agitation, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, sleepiness, tremor, and vomiting
Other less common symptoms include coma, stupor, fainting, convulsions, delirium, hallucinations, mania, high or low blood pressure, and slow, rapid, or irregular heartbeat.

Information adapted from the The PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs – Sixth Edition By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

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Dangerous Food and Drug Interactions: By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

Dangerous food, over-the-counter drug and prescription medication interactions: 

Frequently people combine dangerous food and drugs and put their health and sometimes their lives at risk.  In most cases they are not aware of the problem that some medications and foods cannot be mixed, since many of these same medications and foods seem harmless when taken alone.  Below are some of the more common hazardous food and drug interactions which will be followed on subsequent pages by dangerous prescription drug and over-the-counter drug interactions and what you can do to protect yourself and your family from harm. 

Food and drug interactions: 

Your pharmacist may have cautioned you about taking certain antibiotics with dairy products, as this combination may reduce the effectiveness of these medications.  However, there are many pharmacists and doctors who are actually unaware of some unusual drug/food interactions.  The following foods may cause problems with some medications.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice contains substances that interact in a powerful way with medications and sometimes may cause devastating side effects.  An example may be blood pressure medications such as Procardia and Adalat (Nifedipine) and Plendil (felodipine), which are dangerous when combined with grapefruit, resulting in higher levels of the blood pressure medications. Some of the negative symptoms may include facial flushing, nausea, dizziness, confusion, palpitations or irregular heartbeat.
Green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage have been known to reduce the effectiveness of the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin), which is a very commonly prescribed blood thinner that is used to prevent blood clots.  These foods are rich in vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot.  Coumadin is believed to work by counteracting vitamin K’s ability to clot.  Consuming small amounts of vitamin K-rich foods probably will not pose a problem.  But if you usually do not eat these foods and then decide to consume quite a few at a Chinese restaurant for example, you may reduce the drug’s effectiveness and put yourself at risk for blood clot or stroke. 

Oatmeal and other high fiber foods are believed to interfere with the absorption of Lanoxin (digoxin), a drug that is frequently prescribed to control an irregular heart rhythm, which can then lead to blood clots and stroke.  You should take Lanoxin two or three hours before or after eating high-fiber foods.
Salt substitutes are frequently used by people who have high blood pressure.  However, they also contain high amounts of potassium.  If these salt substitutes were to be consumed with potassium-sparing diuretics such as Aldactone (Spironolactone) – which is usually prescribed for high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, your potassium levels may skyrocket, which then may increase your risk of cardiac arrest. 

Licorice and Lanoxin or diuretics such as Lasix (furosemide) can lead to very low levels of potassium which may lead to an irregular heart rhythm and possibly cardiac arrest.  One piece of licorice will probably not hurt, but regular handfuls of licorice could be fatal.

Information adapted from The World’s Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets 

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist