Prozac Side Effects
We understand that there are a lot options when it comes to drugs prescribed for depression. That’s why we want you to have the information at your fingertips so you and your family can make the best decision for your medical care.
Prozac, an antidepressant is usually used to treat profound depression. It also helps with issues related to anxiety, like panic disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorders.
This drug is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, which is its generic name, was first introduced into the United States in 1988. Depression affects 120 million people around the world and 1- in-10 Americans.
Although there are now newer antidepressants, such as citalopram and sertraline, Prozac still remains one of the most frequently prescribed medication.
This drug is available in a number of forms: capsule, delayed-release capsule (long-term effects), tablet, and liquid. It is usually prescribed for adults, but it might be used by children over 10 years of age who suffer severe depression or anxiety.
In this article, we will review some basic questions and concerns you might have about Prozac.
How Does Prozac Work?
A selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) blocks absorption of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain.
When you take it, your mood improves because serotonin regulation makes it easier for your neurons to transmit signals to each other.
How Long Does It Take for Prozac to Work?
On average it takes from one to two weeks for you to notice an improvement in your energy, appetite levels, and sleep patterns. These early signs suggest that the medication is working well for you.
However, it may take as long as six to eight weeks to notice a renewal of interest in your favorite things and an alleviation of depressed mood.
What Are Some Common Prozac Side Effects?
Prozac, like other antidepressants, may have a range of adverse side-effects, ranging from mild to severe.
The worst may be an increase in suicidal ideation in those under 25 years of age. Consequently, the FDA requires drug makers to include a black box warning about this possible side-effect in children and young adults.
Here are some other potential side-effects:
- Anxiety (including irrational fear and nervousness)
- Abnormal dreams
- Decreased libido
- Sexual dysfunction
- Asthenia (loss of physical strength)
- Vasodilation (blood vessels widen)
- Dry mouth
- Dyspepsia (digestive pains or discomfort)
- Frequent yawning
- Sinusitis (mucous membrane inflammation)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Skin rash
Are the Side Effects Immediate?
Side effects may appear within the first week of use but will usually last only a few days.
Rare Prozac Side Effects
Some rare, but serious side-effects of Prozac include symptoms of low sodium blood levels, glaucoma, serotonin syndrome, and heart problems.
In addition, Prozac can increase the risk of bleeding if combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Symptoms of Low Sodium Blood Levels:
- Cognitive issues like difficulties in focus, concentration, and recall.
Symptoms of Angle Closure Glaucoma:
- Eye pain
- Vision changes
- Swelling around eyes
- Redness in eyes
Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome:
- Severe muscle tightness
Serotonin syndrome can also be fatal.
Symptoms of Ventricular Arrhythmia:
Someone who takes Prozac may experience Torsades de Pointes, which changes the electrical activity of the heart and its symptoms include:
- Fast heartbeat,
- Slow heartbeat,
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath,
Symptoms of Increased Risk of Bleeding:
When combined with common anticoagulants (aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, or warfarin), Prozac can increase the risk of bleeding.
Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening, such as:
- Bleeding gums
- Nose bleeding
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
More Serious Prozac Side Effects
Although only 1-in-100 people experience the following serious side-effects, you should immediately call your doctor if they occur:
- Chest pressure or pain
- Shortness of breath
- An erection that lasts for more than four hours
- Bleeding from a nosebleed, gum bleeding or accidental cut that does not stop in ten minutes. (Also, bruises that occur for no reason and that get progressively bigger.)
- Symptoms of low sodium levels (headaches, poor concentration, memory issues, unclear thinking, physical weakness, seizures).
- Suicidal ideation
- Episodes of irrational euphoria (excessive excitement over insignificant things)
- Gastrointestinal bleeding (vomiting, coughing, peeing, or defecating blood.)
Although some of these symptoms may not appear to be serious at the time they occur (for instance, few people get alarmed if they get mentally confused or start forgetting things, attributing it to stress or lack of sleep), but these small problems may be indications of a more severe underlying health issue like abnormally low sodium levels.
Do Prozac Side Effects Go Away?
Many symptoms that arise within the first or second week of taking Prozac may slowly go away, such as nausea, vomiting, weight gain, or insomnia.
However, if any symptoms do appear, talk to your health care provider as some symptoms may not go away.
Is Prozac Highly Addictive?
Although many users, as well as psychological organizations like rehab and addiction therapy clinics, consider Prozac addictive, it does not meet the criteria of an addictive chemical.
For a chemical to be addictive, it must create a change in the brain that leads to an intense craving for more. You do not need more frequent doses or higher amounts of it to feel better.
In addition, if you stop, you then go through severe withdrawal symptoms until you get the next fix. Prozac does not have any of these effects.
At most, Prozac can be said to be psychologically addictive if you always feel cognitively clearer and emotionally more stable when you have it.
Are There Long-Term Side Effects or Harm Caused by Prozac Use?
Although this medication is not chemically addictive, long term use or an abrupt Prozac withdrawal can result in nervousness, anxiety, drowsiness, insomnia, agitation, gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, nausea, and sexual dysfunction.
Prozac’s Drug Identification Number
Prozac has the following drug identification numbers:
- DISTA 3104 Prozac 10 mg
- DISTA 3105 Prozac 20 mg
- DISTA 3107 Prozac 40 mg
Health care providers suggest dosages based on the patient’s age, general health, and the reason for treatment.
When taking Prozac, it can be dangerous to take the wrong dosage, so you must follow your health care advisor’s instructions on how much to take, how often to take it, and when you should take it. Often the health care provider will start with a low dose Prozac recommendation and only increase it if the minimum dose is not effective after four weeks.
Here, then, are some general dosage guidelines.
Normal Adult Dose:
Low Dose Prozac: 20 milligrams (mg) a day.
Ingested by mouth.
Taken in the morning.
Steps to Increase Dosage:
If the normal adult dose does not show any improvements after a few weeks (it can take up to four weeks) and there are no persistent side-effects, then dosage might be increased up to 60 mg a day. If this still does not have the desired effect, it can be maximized to 80 mg a day.
Delayed Release Oral Capsule Dose:
Prozac week-by-week dosage is also possible for people who for one reason or another do not want to take it daily. A delayed release oral capsule dose of 90 mg can be taken once a week.
Dosage for Children and Elderly Patients
If a child over 10 years of age has to take this medication for extreme depression or anxiety, the physician will determine the appropriate Prozac child dosage based on age and weight and the purpose of the treatment.
Prozac dosage for elderly patients may be less than what is considered a low dose for an average adult.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The only time pregnant women should take this antidepressant is when the positive benefits of Prozac outweigh any potential risk to the fetus.
One risk the fetus might face is called neonatal adaptation syndrome. Symptoms include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), feeding difficulties, breathing problems, and restlessness. In addition, breastfeeding is not advisable if the mother is using Prozac as the active ingredients in the drug can be passed through milk.
Is Prozac Right for You?
It is estimated that over 100 million people take SSRIs, with the most popular being Prozac, followed by Zoloft.
Although they take it to relieve depression and anxiety disorders, SSRIs have the curious effect of making anxiety-related symptoms worse in the first few weeks. For this reason, many people prematurely assume that Prozac is not right for them and discontinue taking it — although it is likely that the side-effects would fade away and the benefits begin to work.
Prozac is not necessary if you have mild symptoms of depression or anxiety, but it is useful if you have moderate or severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. Moderate to severe symptoms are those that could lead to a disruption in the quality of their lives — for instance, it might lead to the end of a compatible relationship, or to quitting a good job, or to abandoning some important life goal (like dropping out of college to earn a professional degree).
Incidentally, Prozac should also be combined with psychological treatments for the best effects. For instance, if someone is depressed because of their long-term relationship, then they should combine taking the antidepressant with couples’ therapy.
When to Consult Your Doctor
Consult your doctor about Prozac before you decide whether or not you need an antidepressant and after you have been prescribed Prozac and begin to experience side-effects.
When deciding whether or not you need it, seeing a doctor (or other health care provider) will help you determine if you need an antidepressant.
When dealing with any side-effects after use, consulting with a doctor will help him or her monitor adverse reactions for intensity and duration. Sometimes side-effects are mild or only temporary.
At other times, they may be symptomatic of larger issues or be likely to persist and even get worse.
When seeing a doctor for the first time, here are ten questions you should ask after you describe your symptoms of depression or anxiety.
- Will Prozac help me resolve my situation?
- What are the things I can expect from Prozac?
- How long should I stay on Prozac?
- What are the possible side-effects of Prozac?
- What fluoxetine warnings might apply to me?
- How quickly does Prozac work for someone with my type of health condition?
- What should I do if I experience intolerable side-effects?
- How and when should I take Prozac?
- What type of psychological support should I also use with Prozac?
Risks of Prozac
Besides the health risks associated with allergic reactions, strong side-effects, and drug contraindications, some other risks of Prozac include:
- A significant amount of weight gain
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Sexual dysfunction
In addition, Prozac will lose its effectiveness in about a third of its users within the span of a year.
Do Not Take Prozac If:
Prozac is not right for you under the following circumstances:
- You develop an allergic reaction to its ingredients, such as difficulty breathing, swelling, or hives.
- You have suicidal ideation before you take it. This can get even worse as anxiety symptoms can often exacerbate during the first few weeks of taking Prozac. In fact, the FDA requires manufacturers to place a black box warning of this risk on the product. Prozac for teenage anxiety or for the existential angst of a young adult can be problematic if the patient talks about killing themselves because life is not worth living.
- You take the following recreational drugs or medications that don’t mix well with Prozac:
- Prescription Opioid Painkillers (like Methadone, Fentanyl, Opioids)
- Over-the-Counter (OTC) Painkillers
- ADHD stimulants (like Adderall)
Prozac Drug Interactions
Prozac drug interactions are vast and complex. It may have a variety of adverse reactions with self-medicating drugs as well as prescription drugs.
For instance, it reacts adversely to self-medicating drugs like marijuana and prescription drugs like amphetamines. Speak to your doctor honestly about what you are currently taking so that he can cross-check to see if it interacts adversely with Prozac.
What Other Drugs and Treatments
Currently, prescription drugs, atypical drugs, and psychotherapy can also provide relief from depression and anxiety.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) For Example:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Fluoxetine (Besides Prozac, there is Sarafem)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) For Example:
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
- Tetracyclic Antidepressant For Example:
- Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) For Example:
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Desipramine (Norpramin)
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- Trimipramine (Surmontil)
- 5-HT1A receptor antagonist For Example:
- Vilazodone (Viibryd)
- 5-HT2 receptor antagonists For Example:
- Trazodone (Oleptro)
- 5-HT3 receptor antagonist For Example:
- Vortioxetine (Brintellix)
- Dopamine reuptake blocker For Example:
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Forfivo, or Aplenzin)
- Noradrenergic antagonist For Example:
- Mirtazapine (Remeron)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) For Example:
- Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
- Phenelzine (Nardil)
- Selegiline (Emsam)
- Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
Atypical antidepressants (Natural Herbal Treatments)
Natural herbal treatments may be recommended by alternative health providers to relieve depression.
- Rhodiola Rosea (Crassulaceae)
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Camu Camu (Myrciaria Dubia)
- Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
- Maca (Lepidium Meyenii)
Besides medication, it’s possible to treat depression and anxiety with psychotherapy. In moderate to severe cases, you can combine medication with therapy. In mild cases, therapy alone may suffice
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Behavior therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Experiential therapy
Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, is a popular antidepressant that falls under a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs).
Despite recognized side-effects, it is considered safe if prescribed by a doctor and directions are followed. If side-effects are unusually strong or persistent, the doctor will discontinue the medication.
However, it can take up to four weeks for the benefits of the medication to appear.
Although Prozac is usually used as an antidepressant for adults, it may also be considered an antidepressant for teenagers or as an antidepressant for elderly people if the extent of their depression warrants the use of an effective SSRI.
Besides its common application as a mood and cognitive enhancer for people with depression. Prozac for anxiety may also be prescribed for disorders like uncontrollable obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In many cases, Prozac for OCD has been proven highly effective.
Anyone who is considering using Prozac should consult a doctor before use, during use, and even when deciding to discontinue use. A professional will ensure proper dosage and reduce the likelihood of any serious adverse reactions causing additional health problems.
Although there are general guidelines on how much to take based on an average Prozac dose found to be most helpful in clinical studies, a health care provider will base dosage amounts on the needs of the patient.
Finally, since Prozac can react with a number of other substances, including recreational drugs, over the counter drugs, and prescription drugs, it is important that patients be completely honest about what they are taking if the information is not included in their medical records. This includes taking substances that you might not consider as a drug.
For instance, Prozac and alcohol don’t work well together.