Fluoxetine (Prozac) Withdrawal & Detox – Educational Overview

Fluoxetine (brand name Prozac) is a member of a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While it is most often used to treat mood disorders such as depression, Prozac can also be used to treat panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, certain eating disorders such as bulimia, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. If you abruptly stop taking fluoxetine, you may experience certain withdrawal symptoms, or what is more appropriately called “SSRI discontinuation syndrome.”

Prozac (Fluoxetine) Withdrawal & Detox

SSRI discontinuation syndrome can cause a myriad of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Agitation – a feeling of restlessness or an inability to remain still.
  • Confusion – slowed cognition and/or mild amnesia.
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Excessive sweating – this is a physical symptom of your body attempting to restore balance.
  • Headaches – these can range from mild to severe.
  • Insomnia – an inability to fall asleep is quite common.
  • Fatigue – feeling extremely tired or lethargic.
  • Anxiety – anxiety, and nervousness are the two most common withdrawal symptoms
  • Mood swings – since Prozac is a mood stabilizer, you’re likely to experience changes in mood as your body tries to adjust to the absence of fluoxetine in your system.
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Sensory symptoms, such as numbness or tingling – many people experience neurological symptoms such as tingling in their extremities or what they describe as “brain shivers” or “brain zaps.”

The severity of withdrawal symptoms from fluoxetine can vary. It often depends on how long you were taking the medication and at what dosage. Prozac has a longer half-life than most other drugs in its class, which means that it stays in your system longer. Somone who has been taking fluoxetine for a long period of time is much more likely to experience withdrawal than someone who has been on it short term.

Likewise, those who have been on a higher dose of Prozac such as 60 milligrams will be more likely to encounter withdrawal symptoms than someone who has been on a lower dose such as 10 or 20 milligrams. Some people may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms immediately on discontinuing the dosage, but it may take up to 15 days for others to begin noticing symptoms.

Prozac (Fluoxetine) Withdrawal & Detox

For some, the symptoms of fluoxetine withdrawal will gradually improve without the need for additional treatment. Those who suffer from the symptoms may try some of the following methods to help with relief.

  • Eat serotonin boosting foods. Prozac works to regulate your body’s serotonin levels. Since serotonin has a calming effect, eating foods that are high in serotonin can help counter the effects of fluoxetine withdrawal. Some examples of foods that help you maintain optimum serotonin levels include spinach, lentils, and whole grains. Foods that help release serotonin include carbohydrates like oatmeal and foods with high in the amino acid L-tryptophan like turkey. Foods that are high in monounsaturated fat like avocados can help your brain receive the serotonin better.
  • Try foods that are known to help fight depression. Foods such as almonds and spinach that are rich in magnesium may help fight anxiety and stress. Other foods to try are bananas, mushrooms, and milk and other dairy products.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. It’s a good idea to try and avoid foods and drinks that can alter your mood. While caffeine and alcohol may help to lift your mood for a short while, in the long term they can have adverse side effects of their own.
  • Exercise. One of the many health benefits of exercise is that it can have a positive impact on mood levels. It can also help ease Prozac withdrawal by helping to relieve stress and tension.

Anyone who is planning to discontinue use of Prozac should be under a physician’s care and supervision. Doctors will usually recommend a gradual decrease in dosage to help mitigate the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Stopping “cold turkey” is ill-advised, especially if the patient is on a high dose or has been on fluoxetine for a long period of time, as the patient will be more likely to suffer more pronounced withdrawal symptoms.

If you decide that you need further help with treating fluoxetine withdrawals, it’s important to speak with your doctor. When choosing an inpatient or outpatient program, it’s important to be sure that it will be a good fit for you. What works for one person may not right for another, and there are many treatment options available. It’s important to remember that even if they are overwhelming, the withdrawal symptoms will eventually come to an end.

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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.