Prozac is an antidepressant from the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It primarily affects the neurotransmitter serotonin by decreasing its absorption, thus increasing the serotonin level. This causes improved mood and a decrease in symptoms such as fear, anxiety, unwanted thoughts and obsessions.
Prozac is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder. It has also been used to treat bulimia nervosa (an eating disorder), obsessive compulsive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and panic disorder. It is sometimes used to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders and certain sleep disorders. It may be combined with other medications, such as olanzapine, to treat bipolar disorder with mania as well. Prozac is often prescribed in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers for dual diagnosis treatment. Prozac combined with alcohol can increase the alcohol’s CNS depressive effects.
Studies have indicated that a small number of people, especially those 24 years of age and younger, may experience worsening symptoms or increased suicidal ideation while using this medication.
Prozac may cause side effects, which are generally mild and decrease over time. Notify your doctor if side effects do not go away after a couple of weeks or if they are severe. Unfortunately, Prozac has an extremely long half-life and can take up to 10 days to be eliminated from the body.
Some less common but more serious side effects are:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Easy bruising
- Muscle weakness
- Unusual weight gain
- Irregular heartbeat
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
As with all SSRI antidepressants, many people experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping Prozac use. Consult your doctor before stopping Prozac, as symptoms are decreased by slowly tapering off this medication. While these withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, they may be quite uncomfortable.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Loss of coordination
- Flulike symptoms
- Mood swings
It is recommended that individuals be weaned off of Prozac to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The dosage of this medication should never be altered without consulting with the prescribing physician.
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