Written by Avvo Staff

Dangerous Drug: Lexapro Risks & Lawsuit Information

Lexapro, also known as Escitalopram, is antidepressant manufactured by Forest Laboratories. Lexapro is an antidepressant belonging to the class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), and is considered appropriate for treatment of Major Depressive Disorders (MDDs), Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GADs), Social Anxiety Disorders (SADs), and/or panic disorders. Though Lexapro is noted for its selectivity of serotonin reuptake inhibition, thereby making it more potent in treating depression, this does not reduce its general side effects, which are comparable to that of most SSRIs.

Significant Adverse Risks

Patients prescribed Lexapro, as previously mentioned, are at risk from normal SSRI side effects, most notably serotonin toxicity, often referred to as Serotonin Syndrome. Serotonin syndrome occurs when a person has too much serotonin in their system which causes a reaction that is potentially life-threatening. Patients are at particular risk from serotonin syndrome if they are prescribed Lexapro while taking several other drugs, most notably: other SSRIs, such as Prozac or Paxil, tryptamines and phenethylamines, most commonly found in hallucinogens such as LSD/LSA, DMT, MDMA, MDPV, and mescaline (found in peyote), Dextromethorphan (DMO) and Dextrorphan (DXO)--both are common cough suppressants.

Patients should not hesitate to consult their doctor about serotonin syndrome, as many other common antidepressants, other than just Prozac and Paxil, will increase likelihood of developing the syndrome when taken in conjunction with Lexapro. Common symptoms of serotonin symptom include:

  • Circulatory problems
  • Instability of heart rate
  • Dramatic changes in mental and perceptual states
  • Over responsive reflexes
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Uncoordinated muscular movements
  • High blood pressure

A second adverse reaction to Lexapro, also common to SSRIs in general, is SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome, often referred to SSRI withdrawal. As with most SSRIs, the withdrawal symptoms can be very broad, thus any patient who is stopping Lexapro treatment should consult with their doctor about SSRI withdrawal. Patients are furthermore encouraged to visit their doctor for regular checkups as soon as treatment is stopped and to continue with checkups until it is confirmed that the drug has fully exited their body.

Also, those who have discontinued Lexapro have, specifically, reported symptoms similar to electric shocks, or "brain shivers/zaps", thus patients should be extra-vigilant about being aware of such sensations.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of Lexapro are as follows:

  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Somnolence
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Indegestion
  • Sexual side effects, such as decreased libido, ejaculatory delay, and anorgasmia (delayed orgasm in males.)
  • Also, because Lexapro is an SSRI, it should not be taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
  • Adolescents and children should not be prescribed Lexapro as it may actually increase tendency towards attempts at self harm, suicidal thoughts, and similar behaviors.
  • Glaucoma patients should have their eyes checked frequently as SSRIs can cause increases in blood pressure.

In general, patients experiencing any unusual physiological sensations, because of the broad spectrum of possible SSRI side effects, should avoid hesitating in consulting their doctor.

Lexapro Claims and Lawsuits

Several cases have been filed against the manufacturer of Lexapro, Forest Laboratories. The claim being that Lexapro was unsafely and unethically marketed towards children and teenagers despite findings that such prescriptions would put teenagers and children at risk for self harm, suicide, and other dangerous, self-inflicted, behaviors.

As of yet, these suits have not been resolved.

Getting Legal Help

Those who feel they have been harmed, experienced extreme side effects, of other grievances beyond those normal for persons prescribed Lexapro or other SSRIs, should consult a personal injury attorney, if possible, one who specialized in product liability or dangerous drugs.

Prior to retaining an attorney, patients should collect as much information about their suffering and damages as possible. Useful information includes, but is not limited to, duration of Lexapro treatment, various symptoms experienced, severity of symptoms, when symptoms arose, and similar observations that can help determine the strength of the patient's case.

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