Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which is used to treat a variety of mental disorders, most notably depression and various anxiety disorders. SSRIs can help manage these conditions but they cannot cure them. In most cases it takes 4-5 weeks before patients will feel the full effects of fluoxetine. Once you start feeling better, you should not suddenly stop taking fluoxetine because it may cause your symptoms to return or get worse. If your doctor determines that it is appropriate to stop using fluoxetine, you can work together to determine an appropriate schedule to alter your medication.
Indications and Usage
Fluoxetine is sold under the brand names Prozac, Prozac Weekly, Reapflux, Sarafem, and Selfemra. These medications are used to treat a variety of disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, some eating disorders, sleep disorders, depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and in some cases may be used to treat borderline personality disorder, Tourette's syndrome, headaches, alcoholism, obesity, attention-deficit disorder, sexual problems, phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder. These medications are available as a capsule, tablet, long acting capsule and solution. All of these medications are meant to be taken orally.
In most cases, patients will take two doses of fluoxetine a day, once early in the morning and once at noon. Long release tablets will be taken once a day, first thing in the morning. Your medication can be taken with or without food or a full beverage. If you miss a dose, take your medication as soon as you remember, unless it is close to the time that you should take your next dose. Do not double up doses to make up for medication you have missed. In some cases, your doctor will start you on an initial dose which will be adjusted based on the progression of your condition and your reaction to the medication. Do not alter your medication without express directions from your doctor to do so.
Initial doses of fluoxetine for most adults are 20 mg once a day. This may be increased to 60 mg per day in divided doses depending on your reaction to the medication. Those who are using fluoxetine to treat bulimia will be given 60 mg per day, which should not be increased. Doses for any condition should not exceed 80 mg per day.
Adolescents (in this case, children ages 7-18) using fluoxetine for obsessive compulsive disorder are usually given 10 mg per day initially, which may be increased up to 20-30 mg per day as necessary. Doses should not exceed 60 mg per day. Children who are underweight will need to have their body examined to determine what dosing level is appropriate. The safety of giving fluoxetine to children under the age of 6 has not been determined.
Those who suffer from cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, diabetes, glaucoma, seizures, bipolar disorder, epilepsy or a history of suicidal thoughts or drug abuse may not be able to use fluoxetine. This medication could make your condition worse or lead to a life threatening condition. If you suffer from any of these conditions, talk to your doctor and determine together if fluoxetine is right for you.
Fluoxetine Side Effects
Side effects of fluoxetine include skin rash that may blister or peel, stiff muscles, fever, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, headache, trouble concentrating, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, cold symptoms, drowsiness, dizziness, increased appetite, sleep problems, decreased sex drive or dry mouth. These side effects are not usually signs of a serious reaction, but you may wish to report them to your doctor to ensure that your mediation is at a level that it should be.
If you suddenly begin to experience unsteadiness, confusion, nervousness, dizziness, irregular or pounding heartbeat, unresponsiveness, hallucinating, uncontrollable shaking, fever, fainting or coma you may be suffering from an overdose of fluoxetine. Contact poison control and emergency medical services immediately to get help. If you are capable, inform these medical professionals about how much of the medication you have taken and when so they can more adequately address your needs.
Users under 24 years of age may be at a higher risk for their condition getting worse while they initially start using fluoxetine. Talk with your doctor about these risks and what you can do to help prevent this from happening and where you can get help if you need it during this adjustment period.
Pregnant women may not be able to use fluoxetine due to a risk of damage dependency in the infant. If you become pregnant while using this medication, talk with your doctor about a safe schedule to wean yourself off this medication so avoid withdrawal symptoms. Similarly, women who are breastfeeding may not be able to use fluoxetine as it can be passed through the breast milk an harm your baby. Talk with your doctor about this risk and what to do to ensure that your child is protected.
Whenever you use an antidepressant, there is a risk of worsening depression or suicidal thoughts when you initially start using the medication. Before you start your fluoxetine prescription, talk with family members or caregivers to get help monitoring your condition so you can get help if your condition gets worse. Your doctor may also provide you with phone numbers or other contact points where you can get help while your body adjusts to your medication.
You should not drink alcohol while taking fluoxetine. This can increase some of the side effects of this medication or negatively affect your reaction time or mental clarity.
Medications which negatively impact fluoxetine include other antidepressants, alprazolam, clopidogrel, clozapine, flecainide, haloperidol, vinblastine, blood thinners, migraine medication and seizure medication. If you use these medications, inform your doctor before you start using fluoxetine to avoid a potentially dangerous reaction. You should also inform your doctor about over the counter medications or supplements you take regularly to ensure that none of these will negatively impact your treatment.