HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Escitalopram overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Taking Fluoxetine and Mirtazapine: Rachel's story
And to me that was almost the scariest thing - I knew nothing about this medication at all, or any of my supposed conditions

You can drink alcohol while taking escitalopram

You can continue to drink alcohol while taking escitalopram. However, the two together might make you sleepy or you might lose your focus when you first start taking escitalopram. So, during the first few days, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you.

Do not drive or ride a bike just after you start taking escitalopram 

  • Taking escitalopram may affect your ability to do things like driving a car, riding a bike, or anything else that needs a lot of focus or balance. It can make you feel dizzy, trembling, or restless when sitting or standing. It might be best to stop doing things like this for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people drive and do other things as normal while taking escitalopram.

Try not to take escitalopram for the first time just before your exams

  • Taking escitalopram may affect your sleep and make you feel restless, which might interfere with your preparation for exams.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting escitalopram.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them. If they are more than a month away, however, you might find that it is better to start escitalopram to lift your mood and improve your motivation to study.
  • Do not worry - most people do exams as normal while taking escitalopram.

Escitalopram is not a banned substance in sport

  • Escitalopram is not a banned substance in sport.
  • Taking escitalopram may affect doing things like riding a bike, competitive gymnastics, or anything else that needs a lot of focus and balance.
  • It might be best to stop such sports for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people do sports as normal while taking escitalopram.

Your weight can be affected by escitalopram 

  • A side-effect of escitalopram can be both weight loss and weight gain.
  • It can also affect your appetite, making you either more or less hungry.
  • It is very difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it worries you.

Escitalopram may make you feel tired 

  • You can feel tired in the first few days of taking escitalopram.
  • It should, however, get better after the first week or two.
  • If you feel like a zombie, and you’ve been taking it for more than a month, you should go back to the doctor and see what else you could do.

Let your family and friends know you are taking escitalopram so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • The side-effects of escitalopram might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You may become more anxious, for example. It may make you irritable and restless.
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
  • After a month you should be getting the good effects of escitalopram, and that should improve your relationships in itself.
  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking the medicine!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website. They could then help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it is hard for us to see it ourselves).

Escitalopram can have side-effects that might affect your sex life

The good effects of escitalopram may, after a while, have a good effect on your sex life as your mood lifts and you become interested in life and relationships again.

Some of the possible negative side effects include:

  • Men might get painful erections, or problems with getting hard (getting an erection) and coming (ejaculating)
  • Women might have some bleeding from their vagina, and might not come (reach orgasm) the same way as before
  • You may have a lower sex drive
  • If you lose or gain weight, or get other physical side-effects, you may just not feel as sexy as before

These effects should pass after the first couple of weeks. If they do not, and this is a problem for you, go back to the doctor and see what else you could try.

Escitalopram does not seem to affect human fertility

  • There is nothing to suggest that escitalopram affects the fertility of men or women.
  • Risks with escitalopram in pregnancy are low but women who are trying to get pregnant, should talk about it with their doctor (see below for more information).

Talk to your doctor about your escitalopram if you are trying to get pregnant

Escitalopram can sometimes cause symptoms in newborn babies. Escitalopram is passed to the baby in breastmilk

  • If you do become pregnant while you are on escitalopram, you should carry on taking the medicine and go back to your doctor as soon as possible, to see if you should change or stop your medicine.
  • If you agree - with your doctor - to carry on taking escitalopram, you should tell your midwife that you are taking it before you give birth.
  • Remember, babies do better with well mums.
  • If escitalopram is taken in the last 5 months of a pregnancy, it can sometimes cause a condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
  • This happens in around 12 out of 1,000 births, but it can be serious. This compares with a rate of 2 in 1,000 in women not on antidepressants
  • This can make the baby breathe faster and look a bit blue in colour. This happens in the first 24 hours after birth: you will need help from the midwife and doctors, so it is better if they are looking out for problems.
  • There are some other symptoms that can happen in newborn babies if escitalopram is taken in the last 3 months of pregnancy, so do look out for these and get help if they happen:
  • Fits or shaking
  • Being too hot or cold
  • Feeding difficulties, or being sick
  • Having stiff or floppy muscles, or overactive reflexes
  • Being jittery, irritable or having constant crying
  • Being very sleepy, or finding it difficult to sleep
  • These are usually mild and go away in a few days without treatment
  • Escitalopram passes to the baby in breast milk in small amounts.
  • Breastfeeding may help offset any withdrawal symptoms
  • Please talk to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist if you want to breastfeed while taking escitalopram.

Reference sources

Search www.medicines.org.uk to find patient information leaflets and prescribing information on escitalopram. The drops are Cipralex brand only. The SmPC lists all the inactive ingredients in the product so you can check against any allergies. If you are still unsure about this then speak to your pharmacist.

  • British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for children. Download the BNF/BNFC app (blue background) on to your mobile device. No longer available for public access via the web
  • Taylor D, Barnes T, Young A. Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry, 13th edition. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, May 2018. ISBN: 978-1-119-44260-8
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Medicines Ethics and Practice (42nd edition). London: RPS, 2018. Standards for pharmacists to work to. It is not a free publication
  • World Anti Doping Agency WADA Prohibited List https://www.wada-ama.org/en/resources/science-medicine/prohibited-list-documents
  • Choiceandmedication; an independent source of information on many mental health conditions and their medicines with easy to read fact sheets www.choiceandmedication.org Personal subscriptions to download the app available for £1 per month (with proportionate discounts for longer periods) but your local mental health Trust may subscribe and provide information sheets for free.
  • Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS). Information sheets on drugs in pregnancy http://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/
  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Information on drugs in breastfeeding https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm