Prozac (A complete guide)

Prozac is the brand name of fluoxetine, which is a type of antidepressant known as SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). 

What is Prozac?

Prozac is the brand name we will refer to in this blog, but it is sometimes known by its generic name fluoxetine.

Prozac is an antidepressant medication that is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, bulimia nervosa and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). 

Prozac helps many people recover from depression, and it has fewer unwanted effects than older antidepressants.

Prozac is available only on prescription. It comes in tablet, syrup, solution, capsule delayed release and capsule form.

Prozac helps many people recover from depression, and it has fewer unwanted effects than older antidepressants.

How does Prozac work?

This medication can improve your mood, sleep, appetite and energy levels and can also help restore your interest in daily living.

It may decrease fear, anxiety, unwanted thoughts and the number of panic attacks.

It may also reduce the urge to perform repeated tasks (compulsions such as hand washing, counting, and checking) that interfere with daily living.

Prozac can reduce premenstrual symptoms such as irritability, increased appetite and depression.

It may decrease binging and purging behaviors in bulimia.

People also worry if they might have to stay on Prozac for life, which generally depends on the individuals condition.

Who should take Prozac? 

People who have been diagnosed with certain psychiatric disorders may be prescribed Prozac by a psychiatrist.

These include MDD, OCD, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, and PMDD. 

MDD is a mood disorder that causes feelings of worthlessness and loss of interest in daily activities.

Common symptoms of MDD are as follows: 

·      chronic feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness

·      loss of interest in activities that once used to bring enjoyment (e.g. sex, hobbies)

·      outbursts of anger 

·      irritability

·      frustration

·      issues with sleeping too much or difficulty sleeping or staying asleep (insomnia)

·      lack of energy and fatigue 

·      changes in eating patterns and weight changes (i.e. increased appetite and weight gain or reduced appetite and weight loss)

·      anxiety

·      agitation

·      restlessness

·      slowed down speaking, thinking or moving

·      feelings of worthlessness 

·      fixating on past failures

·      feelings of guilt 

·      trouble concentrating, making proper decisions or remembering things 

·      physical problems such as back pain or headaches that cannot be explained by another medical condition.

To get more insight into depression, click here. 

People who are diagnosed with panic disorder may also be prescribed Prozac.

Be sure not to confuse normal, everyday anxiety with an anxiety disorder.

If you are experiencing a problem at work, have a big exam approaching or perhaps an important decision, you are probably having a normal anxious reaction to life stressors.

Anxiety disorders, however, are chronic and usually center around irrational fears and worry. 

Prozac is commonly prescribed to people suffering from panic disorder because the effects may help panic attacks subside.

Symptoms of panic attacks include:

·      heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate 

·      sweating, trembling, shaking

·      shortness of breath 

·      feelings of impending doom.

What about the other uses of Prozac?

If you are taking Prozac for premenstrual problems, your doctor may direct you to take it every day of the month or just for the two weeks before your period until the first full day of your period.

To help you remember, mark your calendar.

The full list of conditions treated by Prozac is as follows:

  • major depressive disorder
  • anorexia nervosa
  • depression following delivery of baby
  • posttraumatic stress syndrome
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bulimia
  • premenstrual disorder with a state of unhappiness
  • muscle weakness associated with sleeping disease
  • “change of life” signs
  • binge eating disorder
  • anxiety associated with depression
  • panic disorder
  • repeated episodes of anxiety
  • depressed mood disorder occurring every year at the same time
  • depression associated with Bipolar Disorder, Adjunct Treatment

What are side effects of Prozac?

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention.

These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine.

Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. 

Prozac can be used to treat a variety of depression symptoms including bipolar disorder

Like all medicines, Prozac can cause side effects in some people, but most people have no side effects or only minor ones.

Some of the common side effects will gradually improve as the body gets used to it.

Common side effects can include:

·      feeling sick (nausea)

·      headaches

·      being unable to sleep or drowsiness

·      diarrhoea

·      feeling tired or weak.

In less than one in 100 people much rarer, but serious, side effects which require immediate medical attention can include:

·      chest pain or pressure, or shortness of breath

·      severe dizziness or passing out

·      painful erections that last longer than four hours which can happen even when not having sex

·      bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop, like cuts or nosebleeds that don’t stop within 10 minutes

·      headaches, trouble focusing, memory problems, not thinking clearly, weakness, seizures, or losing your balance – these can be signs of low sodium levels

·      thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life

·      fits, feelings of euphoria, excessive enthusiasm or excitement, or a feeling of restlessness that means you can’t sit or stand still

·      vomiting blood or dark vomit, coughing up blood, blood in your tinkle, black or red poop – these can be signs of bleeding from the gut

·      bleeding from the gums or bruises that appear without a reason or that get bigger.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Prozac:

1.    Why do people take Prozac?

Prozac, or fluoxetine, is an antidepressant prescription medication.

It is part of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of drugs and is prescribed to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). 

2.    What is the most common side effect of Prozac?

The most common side effects of Prozac are nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, fatigue, sweating, and yawning.

If you are taking Prozac and are experiencing unwanted side effects, it is important to discuss these with your doctor. 

3.    Is Prozac good for anxiety?

Yes, Prozac is approved for the treatment of anxiety. 

Is Prozac highly addictive?

Prozac is not classified as an addictive drug.

It does, however, alter the mood of users so it can become psychologically addictive.

Can Prozac make you lose weight?

Prozac can cause loss of appetite and thus cause temporary weight loss.

It is also possible to experience weight gain after the first few months of taking Prozac. 

6.    Does Prozac cause weight gain?

Many antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac can lead to weight gain as a common side effect.

Reports indicate that up to 25 percent of antidepressant users experience a weight gain of more than 10 pounds. 

7.    Can you drink alcohol on Prozac?

It is not recommended to consume alcohol while taking Prozac because it can increase sedation.

Having even one drink while taking Prozac can cause extreme drowsiness, which can lead to many dangerous situations.

8.    Does Prozac change your personality?

When taken correctly, Prozac will not change your personality.

They will help you feel like yourself again and return to your previous level of functioning.

9.    What does Prozac feel like when it starts working?

Prozac won’t change your personality or make you feel euphorically happy.

It will simply help you feel like yourself again. Don’t expect to feel better overnight, though.

Some people feel worse during the first few weeks of treatment before they begin to feel better.

10.                  How many hours does Prozac last?

The half-life of a medication is the approximate time it takes to reduce to half strength in your plasma.

The half-life of Prozac is about four to six days.

That means it will take between four and six days after fully stopping the prescription for it to reduce its effectiveness by 50 percent.

11.                  How quickly does Prozac work?

It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for Prozac to work.

12.                  What does Prozac do to the brain?

Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

It works by blocking the absorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.

Regulating the amount of serotonin helps brain cells transmit messages to each other.

This results in a better and more stable mood.

13.                  What happens when people stop taking Prozac?

Missing doses of Prozac may increase the risk of relapse in symptoms.

Stopping Prozac abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, nightmares, headache, and/or paresthesias (prickling, tingling sensation on the skin).

For more reading material on Prozac try the following books:

Natural Prozac: Learning to Release Your Body’s Own Anti-Depressants

Scientifically proven and easy to follow, Dr Joel Robertson’s groundbreaking lifestyle program makes a significant advance in treating and overcoming depression and its debilitating effects without drugs.

With more than 21 million people now using Prozac and other anti-depressants worldwide, this book comprises an enormous breakthrough: an all-natural method anyone can use to regain control of their physical and emotional health.

Robertson, an expert in pharmacology and brain chemistry, has been using this method with remarkable success for more than twenty years.

His approach uses the body’s own natural chemistry to restore the brain’s chemical balance and end the dangerous cycle of negative thought patterns and behaviour that cause depression to recur.

With detailed instructions on developing a tailored program of diet and exercise, new techniques for understanding and breaking free of negative habits, and targeted exercises for burning up self-destructive chemicals.

Natural Prozac gives every depression sufferer a new option.

A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac

In A History of Psychiatry, Edward Shorter shows us the harsh, farcical and inspiring realities of society’s changing attitudes toward, and attempts to deal with, its mentally ill and the efforts of generations of scientists and physicians to ease their suffering.

He paints vivid portraits of psychiatry’s leading historical figures and pulls no punches in assessing their roles in advancing or sidetracking our understanding of the origins of mental illness.

Shorter also identifies the scientific and cultural factors that shaped the development of psychiatry.

He reveals the forces behind the unparalleled sophistication of psychiatry in Germany during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as the emergence of the United States as the world capital of psychoanalysis.

This engagingly written, thoroughly researched, and fiercely partisan account is compelling reading for anyone with a personal, intellectual, or professional interest in psychiatry.

Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America

Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger on the faint pulse of an overdiagnosed generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues.

Her famous memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation is a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era for readers of Girl, Interrupted and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

Fluoxetine (including Prozac) – NHS UK – December 2018

Prozac – WebMD – January 2020

Fluoxetine (Oral Route) – Mayo Clinic – April 2020

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