Escitalopram: uses and effects

Escitalopram is a drug that belongs to the family of antidepressants. Thus, It is indicated in the treatment of depression.

Within the antidepressants, is classified in the group of serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI. For this reason, It has a series of characteristics similar to other drugs in this pharmacological group such as paroxetine or fluoxetine.

On the other hand, escitalopram is the S enantiomer of citalopram, an antidepressant drug marketed previously. The enantiomers are a series of compounds in which the molecule of one is a mirror image of the molecule of the other, so they are not superimposable.

A little history of escitalopram

This drug was jointly developed by the Lundbeck and Forest laboratories. They began to develop it during the summer period of 1997. However, it was not until March 2001 that the FDA was approved and requested approval by the United States FDA.

The short period of development can be attributed, as we have mentioned, to the previous experience of Lundbeck and Forest in the development of another drug with similar pharmacological properties, citalopram.

Depression and serotonin

As we know, escitalopram is especially indicated to treat depressive symptoms. This effect is achieved thanks to the ability to inhibit serotonin reuptake. However, if we do not understand these two terms well, we cannot understand how this medicine exerts the antidepressant effect.

In this way, Depression is a severe disease that involves constant states of sadness.. However, it goes beyond what many believe. It is a disorder of the brain and there are many causes of its development, including different factors, such as:

  • Genetic
  • Biological
  • Environmental
  • Psychological

Among the biological factors, it is worth mentioning neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical substance synthesized by the body that favors signal transmission between one neuron and another. Depending on the neurotransmitter that is released, there is an effect on the organism or another.

According to some researchers, serotonin is the chemical responsible for maintaining the balance of our mood. Therefore, a deficit of this neurotransmitter leads to depressive states.

Read also: Serotonin: importance and functions

How does escitalopram have an effect on the body?

This medicine is highly selective when it comes to inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. It has minimal effects on the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine, two other neurotransmitters.

Serotonin, like other neurotransmitters, is secreted by a neuron to bind with adjoining neuron membrane receptors. When it joins this membrane, Serotonin triggers an effect in the body through a cascade of chemical signal transmission.

Then, it is released from this receptor and some molecules return to the neuron that previously secreted it by a reuptake process. It is in this reuptake process that escitalopram acts, inhibiting it.

By inhibiting it, serotonin is not recaptured and increases its concentration in the space between one neuron and another, known as presynaptic space. With more serotonin, it can rejoin the neuron membrane receptors and increase its effect on the body.

In addition, they have a low, almost nil, affinity for other types of biological amines receptors, which explains that escitalopram has fewer adverse effects than other drugs serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Discover: Antidepressants and alcohol: what effects does your combination have?

Adverse reactions and contraindications

The use of escitalopram It is contraindicated in those people who have a known hypersensitivity to the drug or to some component of its composition. Nor can it be taken if there is a concomitant treatment with MAO inhibitors or with pimozide, since they can interact and produce a toxic condition.

On the other hand, the most common side effects of treatment with this drug are:

  • Headache.
  • Sickness.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Insomnia.

At the same time, some sexual dysfunctions may also appear as a consequence of treatments with escitalopram, as well as with other serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs.

Between the symptoms associated with sexual dysfunctions we can mention:


Escitalopram It is a widely used and safe drug for the treatment of depression. However, although it has a good safety profile, we cannot forget that it can trigger a series of adverse reactions like any other medicine.

Always ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions that you arise on this drug and never use it outside the recommendations of a specialist.