Can you switch from Effexor to Prozac? (+3 tips)

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In this blog post, we are going to talk about switching from effexor to prozac. Both effexor and prozac are antidepressants and can be used to treat mild to severe episodes of depression and several other mental health conditions. 

Can you switch from Effexor to Prozac? 

Yes, you can switch from Effexor to Prozac, if your healthcare professional suggests you to. Effexor, sometimes, causes unbearable side effects which lead to the discontinuation of the treatment with this antidepressant. 

Prozac has a better tolerability profile and is considered a good choice of antidepressant, in case your prior antidepressants fail to provide adequate therapeutic response. 

Reasons for the discontinuation of Effexor 

Following are the common reasons associated with the discontinuation of effexor. These include:

Allergic reaction to effexor 

Effexor may cause sudden allergic reactions in various individuals. Allergic reactions are usually associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 

Make sure you immediately report to your healthcare provider if you observe any allergic reaction after taking effexor or any other medication. 

Intolerance

Antidepressants usually start to work within 4 to 6 weeks of treatment. These meds are supposed to be taken daily for several months, according to the severity of your mental health condition. 

Some conditions require years and years of treatment, but is it possible if your antidepressant doesn’t suit you? No. It is impossible to live with a medicine that you can’t tolerate well. 

This is exactly why antidepressants are often switched a couple of times to finally end up with the one which works the best for you. Effexor may become difficult for some people and they can’t continue the med for a long period of time. 

This is why it is often switched to prozac. Now, one thing to bear in mind is that it’s not necessary that prozac will work 100% for you. You may or may not tolerate it well. 

Inadequate therapeutic response 

Effexor may not work well for every individual out there. Several studies have reported that effexor may not produce any beneficial effects in some individuals and it doesn’t help relieve the symptoms of their mental health related problems. 

If you continue to take your antidepressant but it does show any sign of relief from your symptoms, it clearly indicates that the drug is not the right choice for you and it can not help to treat your symptoms in the long run. 

Prozac is generally well tolerated and is a good option when you’re switching from one antidepressant to another. 

Drug interactions 

Effexor may be discontinued because of its ability to interact with other prescription medications. The chance of drug interactions is more common in people who are taking medications daily for the treatment of different chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, asthma etc. 

Such meds may interfere with effexor in one way or another and may cause therapeutic failure. This is when the doctor prescribes another antidepressant, usually from a different class, to prevent such drug interactions and all the complications associated with them. 

Drug interactions should be an important consideration before taking two or more medicines together. Yes, drugs in combination are often used to achieve better therapeutic response but this is not the case with every interaction. 

Some drugs are highly incompatible with one another. They often cancel out each other’s effects or antagonise them. Some drugs are so incompatible that they end up changing the entire chemical composition of one another. 

Some interfere with metabolism or bioavailability (the rate and extent at which the active drug moiety enters systemic circulation/blood). This can lead to drug accumulation in different parts of the body. 

It is always advised to inform your healthcare provider of any medicine you take before getting a new prescription. Your doctor will make sure not to prescribe any such drug which might interfere with those you are already taking. 

A closer look at Effexor 

Effexor, brand name for Venlafaxine, is an antidepressant which belongs to the class of Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It inhibits the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine, which are the excitatory neurotransmitters. 

Serotonin is responsible for modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and various other psychological processes. 

Norepinephrine, on the other hand, is also responsible for a lot of physiological functions like contraction of skeletal and cardiac muscles etc. 

In these agents, the inhibition of serotonin reuptake is more common and can be achieved at lower doses. However, the norepinephrine reuptake inhibition is usually achieved at high doses, as low doses may not produce adequate inhibition. 

Uses of Effexor (Venlafaxine) 

Effexor is used for the treatment of following health conditions:

  • Mild to severe episodes of depression 
  • Generalised anxiety disorder 
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD) 
  • Panic attacks 

Side effects of Effexor (Venlafaxine) 

Common side effects associated with the use of effexor include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Sleepiness or somnolence 
  • Fatigue or excessive tiredness
  • Muscular pain
  • Joint pain 
  • Nightmares 
  • Insomnia or inability to fall asleep 
  • Headaches 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Tinnitus 
  • Mydriasis
  • Infections including sore throat, ear and eye infections etc. 
  • Bad or metallic taste in mouth
  • Loss of libido in both male and females. Males may suffer from inability to ejaculate, while females may suffer from inability to have an orgasm. 

Effexor also causes some serious side effects. These include:

  • Allergic reactions associated with symptoms like redness of skin, hives, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia 
  • Convulsions 
  • Chills and fever with confusion, hallucinations and inability to recognise one’s surroundings. 
  • Impairment of motor coordination 
  • Coma

A closer look at Prozac 

Prozac, brand name for Fluoxetine, is  a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, which works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin from the synaptic cleft (space between a neuron and its target cell). It increases the availability of serotonin in your brain. 

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical) released by our brain which is responsible for a lot of functions, as mentioned earlier. It improves sleep quality, increases appetite, boosts energy levels, reduces the frequency of panic attacks and much more.

Uses of Prozac 

  • Prozac is used to treat mild to severe episodes of depression. 
  • It is also used to treat symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). 
  • It is also used to tone down the intensity and frequency of panic attacks. 
  • It is also used to treat eating disorders like bulimia nervosa. 

Prozac is also used to treat certain health conditions off-label. These include:

  • It can be used to treat generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). 
  • It can also be used to tone down the severity of migraine headaches and can also be used to treat erectile dysfunction. 
  • It can also be used to treat the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia. 

Side effects of Prozac 

Common side effects of prozac include:

  • Restlessness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Skin rash
  • Muscular pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Tiredness 
  • Sweating 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Loss of sexual desire 

Prozac is also associated with some serious side effects, which often require immediate medical attention. These include:

  • Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 
  • Convulsions 
  • Dark grey-brown colored vomiting
  • Tarry or bloody stools
  • Eye problems including pain, swelling, redness, vision changes etc. 
  • Abnormal mood changes including, excitement following by sudden sadness, erratic behaviour, paranoia etc
  • Kidney function abnormalities, including severe pain, elevation of serum creatinine, difference in urine output and colour, blood urea nitrogen levels etc. 
  • Suicidal behavior 
  • Excessive muscle tremors

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed switching from effexor to prozac. Both effexor and prozac are antidepressants, but they belong to different classes. Effexor is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), whereas prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). 

You can switch from Effexor to Prozac, if your healthcare professional suggests you to. Effexor, sometimes, causes unbearable side effects which lead to the discontinuation of the treatment with this antidepressant. 

Prozac has a better tolerability profile and is considered a good choice of antidepressant, in case your prior antidepressants fail to provide adequate therapeutic response. 

Just stick to your doctor’s advice and do not deviate from it. Make sure you don’t stop or start using any medication without your doctor’s approval.

FAQs: switching from effexor to prozac 

Does Prozac help Effexor withdrawal?

Yes, prozac can help relieve the symptoms of effexor withdrawal because it is an antidepressant itself. It’s a common practice to taper off effexor gradually while starting prozac from the lowest effective dose. This is one of the switching strategies. 

However, it is not recommended to prescribe prozac just for the sake of getting rid of effexor withdrawal symptoms because prozac itself is an antidepressant and can produce withdrawal symptoms of its own. 

Can you switch from Effexor to another antidepressant?

Yes, you can switch from Effexor to another antidepressant if your healthcare provider recommends it. The choice of new antidepressant and initial dose is also determined by your doctor. It is strictly prohibited to start or stop using any antidepressant without your doctor’s approval. 

Which is better, venlafaxine or Prozac?

Both venlafaxine (Effexor) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are antidepressants and can be used to treat mild to severe episodes of depression and several other mental health conditions. 

However, few studies suggest that venlafaxine is better for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) as compared to fluoxetine because of the mechanism of action through which it works. Venlafaxine inhibits the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine, whereas prozac only inhibits the reuptake of serotonin. 

What is a good alternative to Prozac? 

Other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are good and safe alternatives of prozac. These include zoloft (sertraline), lexapro (escitalopram), paxil (Paroxetine) and celexa (Citalopram). 

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can also be used to replace prozac. Examples include venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) etc. 

How long does it take to notice a difference with Prozac?

Prozac usually starts to show noticeable improvement in the symptoms of your mental health condition within 4 weeks of treatment. However, it may show relief in physical symptoms but it still takes a few weeks to make changes in your psychological symptoms. 

The time duration can vary from person to person. Some people may start to notice differences much earlier than the others.

What to expect when switching antidepressants?

When you switch your antidepressant, it is expected to receive better therapeutic outcomes. One of the possible reasons for antidepressant discontinuation is inadequate therapeutic response. 

If you continue to take your antidepressant but it does show any sign of relief from your symptoms, it clearly indicates that the drug is not the right choice for you and it can not help to treat your symptoms in the long run. 

Better tolerability is another expectation when you switch your antidepressant. It is impossible to live with a medicine that you can’t tolerate well. This is exactly why antidepressants are often switched a couple of times to finally end up with the one which works the best for you. 

References 

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