Prozac (fluoxetine) is a prescription antidepressant medication in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works to boost serotonin levels in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and well-being. When serotonin levels are low or unstable, this can lead to a wide variety of emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Prozac is not thought to cause addiction in the sense that many other psychoactive drugs are, such as opioids or benzodiazepines. Moreover, its use does not typically lead to drug cravings or compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Still, when used long-term, the development of physical dependence on Prozac is entirely possible. When this occurs, a person will experience very unpleasant symptoms, including a rebound of depression or anxiety, if he or she tries to discontinue use abruptly.
Prozac Dependence and Withdrawal
Chemical or physiological dependence occurs when the brain and body have adapted to the drug’s presence to the extent that the person requires regular doses to function correctly. For this reason, it is essential that patients use fluoxetine only as directed by a medical provider and that they do not attempt to stop using it without a doctor’s guidance. In addition to a reoccurrence of symptoms formerly managed by Prozac, people who quit using the drug “cold turkey” are likely to encounter several withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
The most significant issues are indeed, however, related mainly to emotional turmoil. People who stop using antidepressants after months or years are likely to experience significant bouts of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, or panic due to the body’s decreased ability to regulate serotonin levels—the very problem that SSRIs are intended to help.
As noted, discontinuing Prozac use can result in rebound effects, and these can be even more severe than the initial symptoms. For this reason, a tapering schedule is usually the course of action recommended by doctors, and in some cases, professional addiction treatment may be beneficial. By slowly weaning a person off Prozac, he or she will be much less likely to encounter severe symptoms and may not suffer any adverse effects to any significant degree. If your use of Prozac has been problematic or ineffective, it may be prudent to replace it with another antidepressant that could be more helpful.
If you are considering using Prozac or another antidepressant, talk to a doctor about the pros and cons. Antidepressants can be beneficial, but they are not intended to be a cure-all. Depression, anxiety, bipolar and other mood disorders are most effectively treated using a broader approach that, in addition to medication, consists of psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning, among other therapeutic services.
How Is Prozac Used?
Fluoxetine is usually prescribed in doses between 10-380 milligrams and may be taken with or without food. For depression, doctors typically start patients on a low dose and gradually increase the amount as needed. Most individuals notice some improvement in symptoms within two weeks of initial use, but in some cases, it may take as long as 30 days to experience the full benefits.
Prozac is FDA-approved to treat depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and some eating disorders. It has also been prescribed off-label to address symptoms of other conditions, such as those related to generalized anxiety disorder, migraines, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy.
Fluoxetine can improve an individual’s overall mood and boost energy levels. It can also be used to reduce anxiety and the urge to perform repeated tasks commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Prozac Side Effects
A doctor should prescribe fluoxetine only if he or she believes that possible benefits outweigh the potential side effects. Moreover, patients using Prozac are encouraged to talk to their physician if any of these potential side effects become problematic:
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Unwanted weight loss or gain
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Nightmares or vivid dreams
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Sexual dysfunction
Rarely, severe side effects can occur. Patients taking Prozac should contact their doctor or emergency medical personnel as soon as possible if they experience any of the following:
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Impaired judgment or thinking
- Impaired motor skills
- Excessive bleeding
- Allergic reactions such as rash
- Suicidal ideations
- Self-harming behaviors
- Sudden bouts of mania
- Vision problems
- Significant weight loss
- Serotonin syndrome
Serotonin syndrome is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition caused by the production of too much serotonin and requires immediate treatment. Patients should use Prozac only as directed by a doctor, and never in larger doses or more frequently than prescribed.
Getting Treatment for Drug Dependence and Addiction
If you feel you need professional treatment for a dependence on Prozac or other substances, we urge you to contact us today. In addition to comprehensive treatment for substance use and abuse, we use an individualized approach intended to address all aspects of a person’s health and wellness. This includes treatment for depression, anxiety, and other co-occurring mental health issues.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer evidence-based programs and services beneficial for the recovery process in both inpatient and partial hospitalization formats. If you are suffering from addiction and mental illness, please do not hesitate—we are ready to take your call and discuss treatment options today!-