Modafinil and Lexapro are two commonly used medications for treating sleep disorders and depression, respectively. Some individuals with depressive disorders often consider combining them for various reasons, such as treating depression faster and enhancing cognitive function. If you are considering mixing the drugs, it is important to be aware of potential risks and interactions that may result from doing so.
In this guide, we will shed light on the potential benefits and downsides of this combination.
Modafinil is a popular medication that is primarily used to treat the symptoms of 3 major sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, it produces cognitive-enhancing benefits, so many people use it off-label to :
- increase alertness;
- enhance memory;
- increase energy level;
- improve focus.
Modafinil is classified as a Schedule IV controlled medication in the United States; this means it has a low potential for dependence and abuse, especially when compared to other drugs in its class. It is because of this feature, researchers at Oxford and Harvard Universities deem it “the world’s first safe ‘smart drug .’”
Scientists are yet to understand how the drug works in its entirety. But based on some fundamental knowledge, they believe it works by increasing the release of dopamine and some other neurotransmitters in the brain that influence alertness and the sleep-wake cycle .
Modafinil has a high success rate, meaning it works for most people who use it. It is generally well-tolerated and safe. However, it may not be ideal for everyone. It is not to be used by individuals below the age of 17, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, or individuals with certain underlying health conditions . It is worth noting that it is a prescription medication and, as such, should only be used on recommendation and under the supervision of a doctor or healthcare provider.
Basics About Lexapro
Lexapro (escitalopram) is a prescription medication used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders. It belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly recommended by healthcare providers for treatment .
Lexapro works by regulating the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a huge role in mood regulation, based on its amount in the brain at any point in time. Lexapro ensures that the neurotransmitter remains at optimal levels by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic neuron, thereby increasing or preserving its levels in the brain .
The drug is safe and well-tolerated, but it is not without side effects. It is worth noting that it is a prescription medication and, as such, should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider. It is not recommended for children under the age of 12, women during the late stage of pregnancy, and individuals with some underlying conditions . It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting treatment with Lexapro or any other medication.
Difference Between Modafinil and Lexapro
Modafinil and Lexapro are two medications that are commonly recommended by doctors or healthcare providers to treat the conditions they were designed to treat. Besides the fact that they work in different ways and are used to treat different conditions, they exist other differences between them.
Let’s look at a table showing some of those differences:
|Provigil (modafinil)||Lexapro (escitalopram)|
|What drug class does it belong to?||Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants||Antidepressants|
|When was it first approved?||Dec 30, 1998.||August 14, 2002.|
|Is it available in generic form?||Yes (generic modafinil)||Yes (generic escitalopram)|
|What is it prescribed to treat?||Prescribed to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), and narcolepsy.||Prescribed to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).|
|What are the available generic names?||ModaXL, Modavinil, Modalert, Modvigil, Modaheal, etc.||Escitalopram.|
|What is its off-label use?||Doctors often prescribe it off-label to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, ADHD, drowsiness, and depression. On the other hand, healthy individuals use it to enhance cognitive function and ultimately increase productivity.||Doctors often prescribe it off-label to treat social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, vasomotor symptoms of menopause, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.|
|What is the half-life?||15 hours.||27-32 hours .|
|What are the associated side effects?||Common side effects include headache, nausea, anxiety, diarrhea, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness, and agitation.
More serious adverse effects may also occur, especially if it is used incorrectly.
|Common side effects include headache, dry mouth, restlessness, increased fatigue, nervousness, diarrhea, insomnia, and nausea.|
|Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule (Under Federal Law)||It is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance.||It is not a controlled substance, the FDA classifies it in the category C – for the safety of use during pregnancy.|
|What number of drugs does it interact with?||Modafinil interacts with a total of 449 drugs. Of these drugs, 62 result in major negative interactions .||Lexapro interacts with 670 drugs. Of these drugs, 254 result in major negative interactions .|
|Does it interact with alcohol?||It is not known to interact negatively with alcohol. However, it remains best to avoid or drink it in moderate amounts. Consult your doctor before taking this medication.||Lexapro interacts negatively with alcohol and may result in potentially dangerous adverse effects. Consult your doctor before starting treatment with it.|
|What are the ratings & reviews?||Based on 440 ratings published on Drugs.com, it has an average rating of 7.2/10 .||Based on 2,142 ratings published on Drugs.com, it has an average rating of 7.5/10 .|
It is worth noting that these differences are not exhaustive. It is always advisable to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about the appropriate treatment options for your specific needs.
Can You Take Modafinil & Lexapro Together?
Yes, you can, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Over time, several people have combined these drugs to improve their effectiveness: eliminate the symptoms of depression and increase cognition.
A good number of the people who took it reported having a wonderful experience, and several others have reported noticing an improvement at first, which then suddenly falls flat. If you are considering combining these drugs, it is important that you consult a doctor first before doing so. Let’s find out more about the benefits and safety of mixing these drugs.
Is This Combination Safe?
Yes and no.
Several studies have been conducted to determine the potential positive effects and safety of combining modafinil and Lexapro. One of the studies was a small, uncontrolled one that involved 20 participants (16 completed the study). It showed that the combination was well-tolerated and only resulted in minimal adverse effects, which are considered normal. None of the participants discontinued the study as a result of suffering serious adverse events .
However, the researchers behind the study acknowledge that the study is limited and caution should therefore be taken when combining mixing modafinil and Lexapro.
On the other hand, some people assert that combing both drugs is unsafe, and this is based on their personal experiences. One user reported noting improvement in alertness, increased motivation to work, and a swift, significant decrease in fatigue when he first mixed 200 mg of Modalert, a popular generic version of modafinil, with Lexapro. He noticed that he could process and assimilate information much faster and remember them with great ease. However, he started to notice serious side effects after a few days of use, particularly after increasing his modafinil dose .
This goes to show that combining the medications may be unsafe, specifically if they are misused. However, the combination may be helpful and necessary in some conditions, such as those where a patient experiences fatigue and other depressive symptoms (even after Lexapro treatment) and needs them to be alleviated, or is not responding to antidepressant therapy alone. In such situations, the combination should be recommended by and supervised by a doctor or healthcare provider or doctor. A doctor will help determine the best dosage for a reduced risk of adverse effects.
In a nutshell, mixing Lexapro and modafinil may or may not be safe, depending on factors such as the dosage administered and the health condition of the individual taking it. If combination treatment is required, it should be overseen by a doctor.
Benefits of Drug Mixing
- Increased effectiveness of Lexapro: One of the studies conducted to determine the benefits of mixing modafinil with Lexapro indicated that it improved overall depressive symptoms, promoted wakefulness, and increased the overall physical & mental health quality of the patients;
- Enhanced cognitive function: Modafinil is commonly used off-label to boost cognitive function in healthy individuals. It is widely believed that it may have a similar effect on individuals with depressive disorders;
- Decreased symptoms of depression: Some individuals who use Lexapro to treat symptoms of depressive disorder find it effective but continue to suffer from residual symptoms such as fatigue and insomnia. Modafinil has proven to eliminate the residual symptoms in such conditions.
It is important to understand that the above-listed benefits are supported by limited research, some of which were small, open-label, and uncontrolled. Consequently, it may be inadvisable to go ahead with the combination, unless it is recommended by a doctor or medical expert.
What Side Effects Can This Mix Cause?
Modafinil and Lexapro may both cause side effects on their own, and taking them together may increase the risk of experiencing these side effects due to an unforeseen interaction.
For example, modafinil may cause mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, nervousness, nausea, and upset stomach. It can also result in more serious adverse effects if abused or misused in some other way.
On the other hand, Lexapro may cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, tremors, and sexual dysfunction. Taking the tablets at the same time of the day can increase the chances of these side effects occurring; it may also worsen them.
Generally, Lexapro, as well as other antidepressants, are known to sometimes cause serotonin syndrome because they interact with neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin syndrome is a condition that can cause severe muscle rigidity, seizures, and fever, among other symptoms due to the overabundance of serotonin in the brain. Combining two or more medications that influence brain-serotonin levels is known to be one of the causative factors .
It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting treatment with any medication or combining it with another.
The Verdict: Mixing Lexapro and Modafinil
It is generally not recommended to take modafinil and Lexapro together without consulting a healthcare provider. Although taking low doses of modafinil such as 100 mg per day is believed to have a positive impact on antidepressant effects without exactly increasing the risk of negative after-effects, it remains necessary to mix the drugs under the supervision of a medical professional. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine whether it is safe for you to take these medications together and will provide you with the appropriate dosing instructions.
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