Prozac is the trade name for 'fluoxetine', which is an antidepressant. It belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs. Prozac and other serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by preventing the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. This helps maintain the level of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter, which affects our mood. A low level of serotonin has been found to be associated with depression. This is the reason why SSRIs are used to treat depression. Along with depression, this medication is indicated or approved for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is one of the oldest and widely used medication for major or clinical depression.
Common Side Effects
The most common side effects of Prozac are:
- Loss of appetite
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Dry mouth
- Flushing or redness of the skin
- Fever and chills
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Excessive perspiration
- Urinary retention
Along with these usual side effects, this drug can sometimes cause a serious condition, known as serotonin syndrome. The risk of developing this condition increases if this medication is taken with certain other drugs, like triptans, other SSRIs, tryptophan, lithium, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) drugs. The common signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome are:
- Loss of coordination
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Agitation and shakiness
- Unexplained fever
- Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Overactive reflexes
Sometimes, this drug can also cause bloody stool, muscle weakness and spasms, and fainting. People allergic to this drug can experience itching, hives, unexplained swelling of the mouth, throat, and the tongue, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Side Effects in Men
In men, this drug can cause ejaculatory problems, besides reducing libido. It can also cause impotence or erectile dysfunction in men. Rarely, men can get a condition, known as priapism while using this antidepressant. This condition is characterized by painful erection of the penis that can last for several hours. If left untreated, the condition can eventually cause permanent damage to the penis.
Side Effects in Women
Prozac can cause both weight loss and unusual weight gain in women. Like men, women can also experience decreased libido while taking this antidepressant. Pregnant women should not take this medication without consulting their physicians.
This drug belongs to the pregnancy category C of the FDA. It can increase the risk of life-threatening lung problems in newborn babies, if taken during pregnancy. Therefore, physicians recommend this drug only when they feel that the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn fetus. This antidepressant is usually not recommended for nursing mothers, as it is excreted in breast milk.
Prozac can sometimes cause a very serious condition, especially in teenagers. It can increase suicidal tendencies or thoughts in individuals younger than 25 years of age. So, adolescents and teenagers should never use this drug without consulting their health care provider.
In general, this drug should not be used along with pimozide, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, aspirin, sibutramine, and thioridazine. People who are suffering from diabetes, kidney diseases, epilepsy, seizures, bipolar disorder, and liver cirrhosis should always talk to their physicians before taking this drug. Lastly, if you experience any of the aforementioned side effects or anxiety while using this antidepressant, then inform your physician as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.