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Prozac is the brand name of the drug fluoxetine. Fluoxetine is an antidepressant that belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing the levels and activity of a chemical called serotonin in the brain. When serotonin levels are unbalanced, it can cause a wide array of problems such as depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Fluoxetine is only available with a doctor’s prescription. Prozac is available in capsule, tablet, and syrup forms and may be taken alone or in conjunction with other medications to help treat certain disorders such as Bipolar depression. Fluoxetine may improve your overall mood, help with insomnia, and increase energy levels. It can be used to reduce anxiety as well as reduce the urge to perform repeated tasks that are commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive behavior.
It is important to take Prozac as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it longer than what your doctor recommends. Fluoxetine is most often prescribed in doses between 10 and 80 milligrams, and it may be taken with or without food. For the treatment of depression, your doctor will most likely start you on a low dose such as 10 or 20 mg and gradually increase the dose as needed. You should see some improvement in symptoms in one to two weeks after starting Prozac, but it may take up to 4 weeks to see the full benefit in some cases. It is important to continue taking fluoxetine even if you feel well.
Prozac is FDA approved to treat major depressive disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, certain eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, or a severe form of a premenstrual disorder known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It has also been used off-label to treat generalized anxiety disorder, migraine headaches, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and neurocardiogenic syncope.
Certain conditions may affect the use of this medicine. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have any other medical conditions such as bipolar disorder, bleeding problems, diabetes, heart problems, or liver disease.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed fluoxetine because he believes that the possible benefits outweigh the possible side effects. Be sure to consult your physician if you experience any of these common side effects of Prozac:
- Dry mouth
- Agitation and anxiety
- Increased sweating
- Weight gain or loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Abnormal dreams
In rare cases, serious side effects may occur. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these serious side effects:
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Impaired judgment, thinking, and motor skills
- Abnormal bleeding
- Allergic reactions, skin rash
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Serotonin syndrome
- Activation of mania/hypomania
- Vision problems (angle-closure glaucoma)
- Significant weight loss
Discuss with your doctor other medications you are currently taking, including over the counter medicines or herbal supplements, as these may affect the likelihood of experiencing one or more side effects. Drinking alcohol while taking fluoxetine is not recommended as it may affect the way the medication is absorbed into your system.
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Although many doctors don’t consider Prozac additive in the traditional sense of inducing cravings for the medication, patients can become dependent on the drug. Drug dependency is when the body has adapted to the drug to the point where it requires steady doses to function. Because of this, it is important that patients take fluoxetine only as directed and that they not abruptly discontinue use. Patients who stop taking Prozac “cold turkey” are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
One of the most important aspects of treating depression is aftercare. A strong support system that includes drug therapy and psychological support is essential in the fight against depression. If you feel that your depression is not improving or is getting worse while on fluoxetine, be sure to consult with your doctor. He may need to adjust your treatment plan.
If you feel you need more intensive treatment for your depression or compulsive disorder, there are a number of options available. Inpatient or outpatient programs provide a regulated, safe environment to help address depression and anxiety. Individual or group therapy may also be recommended. It is important that you immediately communicate with your doctor if you feel you need help addressing your treatment plan.