Depression Treatment What to Know About Cipralex (Escitalopram) An SSRI Used to Treat Depression By Lindsey Toler Lindsey Toler Lindsey Toler, MPH, is a public health professional with over a decade of experience writing and editing health and science communications. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 16, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Laura Porter Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Uses Before Taking Dosage Side Effects Cipralex is the brand name for escitalopram in the United Kingdom. This drug is available in tablet and liquid form. Cipralex belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that, when released, stabilizes your mood and causes feelings of well-being and happiness. For this reason, serotonin is often referred to as the "happy chemical." However, when serotonin is reabsorbed back into the nerve cells, it no longer has an effect on your mood. SSRIs like Cipralex prevent (or "inhibit") serotonin from being reabsorbed by your nerve cells (a process known as "reuptake"). This keeps serotonin levels more available for longer periods of time in the synapse, which prolongs their effect and helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. In the United States, escitalopram is available under the brand name Lexapro. Only Lexapro is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This article discusses the uses of Cipralex as well as potential side effects. It also covers dosage information and precautions you should understand before taking this medication. Uses Cipralex is used to treat a form of depression called major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Research shows the active ingredient in Cipralex, escitalopram, is also effective for a variety of other conditions, including: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Panic disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) Social anxiety disorder (SAD) It can take a couple of weeks to feel better once you start taking Cipralex, and you may not experience the full benefits of the medication until you've been following a recommended treatment plan for several months. How Long Does Cipralex Take to Work for Anxiety? After starting escitalopram, you may feel physical changes in one to two weeks (such as improved sleep, energy, and appetite). Changes in mood may take longer—between six and eight weeks. Escitalopram may also be effective for relieving menopausal hot flashes; however, it would be prescribed "off label" for this purpose as it is not FDA-approved to treat hot flashes. Before Taking Talk to your doctor about all medications, supplements, and vitamins that you currently take. While some drugs pose minor interaction risks, others may outright contraindicate use or prompt careful consideration as to whether the pros of treatment outweigh the cons in your case. Precautions and Contraindications You should not take Cipralex if you are allergic to escitalopram, take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), or take medicines for heart rhythm problems or drugs that may affect your heart's rhythm, such as: Antipsychotics (e.g., phenothiazine derivatives, pimozide, haloperidol) Certain antihistamines (e.g., hydroxyzine, mizolastine) Certain antimicrobial agents (e.g., sparfloxacin, moxifloxacin, erythromycin IV, pentamidine, anti-malarial treatment particularly halofantrine) Class IA and III antiarrhythmics, which are medications that prevent and treat abnormal heart rhythms Tricyclic antidepressants Additionally, you should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. As with most antidepressants, you should not take Cipralex if you are pregnant or breastfeeding unless you and your doctor have discussed the risks and benefits involved. Prior to starting Cipralex, it's important to tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions or illnesses, as they may need to take this into consideration: Bipolar disorder (manic depression)DiabetesDrug addiction or suicidal thoughtsEpilepsyFast or irregular heartbeat, fainting, collapse, or dizziness on standing upHeart disease or high blood pressureLiver or kidney diseaseLow levels of sodium in your bloodSeizuresStrokeTendency to easily develop bleeding or bruises Dosage Cipralex comes in tablets and a liquid solution. Check your prescription and talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the right Cipralex dose for you. Cipralex should only be given to adult (ages 18 to 64) and older adult (ages 65 years and older) patients. Neither the tablet nor the oral drops should be given to children and adolescents under 18 years old. Oral Tablets Cipralex tablets are available in 5 milligrams (mg), 10 mg, and 20 mg strengths. The following listed dosages are according to the drug manufacturer: For adults with depression, social anxiety disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): The recommended dose of Cipralex tablets is 10 mg taken as one daily dose. The dose may be increased by your doctor to a maximum of 20 mg per day.For adults with SAD: The recommended dose of Cipralex tablets is 10 mg taken as one daily dose. Your doctor can either decrease your dose to 5 mg per day or increase the dose to a maximum of 20 mg per day, depending on how you respond to the medicine.For adults with panic disorder: The starting dose of Cipralex tablets is 5 mg as one daily dose for the first week before increasing the dose to 10 mg per day. The dose may be further increased by your doctor to a maximum of 20 mg per day.For older patients (ages 65 and older): The recommended starting dose of Cipralex tablets is 5 mg taken as one daily dose. The dose may be increased by your doctor to 10 mg per day. Oral Drops Solution Cipralex liquid oral solution comes in a strength of 20 mg per milliliter (ml). The following listed dosages are according to the drug manufacturer: For adults with depression, SAD, GAD, and OCD: The normally recommended dose of Cipralex is 10 mg (10 drops) taken as one daily dose. The dose may be increased by your doctor to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) per day.For adults with SAD: The normally recommended dose of Cipralex is 10 mg (10 drops) taken as one daily dose. Your doctor can either decrease your dose to 5 mg (5 drops) per day or increase the dose to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) per day, depending on how you respond to the medicine.For adults with panic disorder: The starting dose of Cipralex is 5 mg (5 drops) per day for the first week before increasing the dose to 10 mg (10 drops) per day. Your doctor may increase the dose to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) per day.For older patients (ages 65 and older): The recommended starting dose of Cipralex is 5 mg (5 drops) taken as one daily dose. The dose may be increased by your doctor to 10 mg (10 drops) per day. How to Take and Store Cipralex tablets can be taken with or without food. As with all medicines, combining Cipralex tablets with alcohol is not advised. When taking Cipralex oral drops solution, count the required number of drops into your drink (water, orange juice, or apple juice), stir it briefly, and then drink all of it. Do not mix the Cipralex with other liquids and do not mix them with other medicinal products. Follow your doctor's instructions for taking Cipralex. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about this medication. Do not stop taking the medication without talking to your doctor; stopping abruptly may cause discontinuation symptoms. Side Effects Most people will only experience a few mild side effects when taking Cipralex. As your body adjusts to taking Cipralex, the side effects should go away. If you notice they are getting worse or are interfering with your quality of life, talk to your doctor. Common Like all medicines, Cipralex can cause side effects. The most common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people) side effects are nausea and headache. Common Cipralex side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 people) include: Abnormal dreamsAching muscles or jointsAnxietyBlocked or runny noseDecreased or increased appetite and weight gainDifficulty sleepingDry mouthIncreased sweatingFatigueFeverGastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting)HeadacheIncreased sweatingNauseaSexual problems (such as decreased sex drive, difficulty achieving orgasm; in men, erectile dysfunction or problems with ejaculation)Sleep problems (insomnia) Severe Seek immediate help if you experience any of the following unusual Cipralex side effects including: Difficulty breathing or swallowingFlu-like achinessMemory lossRashSeizuresSignificant changes in mood or personalitySwelling of the face, mouth, or tongueSuicidal thoughts or behaviors If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. A Word From Verywell This overview of the use of Cipralex for mental health conditions does not cover every possible outcome of taking this medication. If you have been prescribed this medication by your doctor, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. If you have additional questions, they are best answered by a medical professional. 6 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Kirino E. Escitalopram for the management of major depressive disorder: a review of its efficacy, safety, and patient acceptability. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2012;6:853-861. doi:10.2147/PPA.S22495 Taylor C, Fricker AD, Devi LA, Gomes I. Mechanisms of action of antidepressants: from neurotransmitter systems to signaling pathways. Cell Signal. 2005;17(5):549-557. doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2004.12.007 National Alliance on Mental Illness. Escitalopram (Lexapro). UpToDate. Patient education: Non-estrogen treatments for menopausal symptoms (Beyond the basics). Cipralex tablet label. Cipralex oral drops solution. By Lindsey Toler Lindsey Toler, MPH, is a public health professional with over a decade of experience writing and editing health and science communications. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Depression Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.