The antidepressant 'fluoxetine' is sold under the trade names: Prozac, Sarafem, etc., and is a type of serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI). Prozac helps treat major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in both adults and children, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). OCD is a psychiatric disorder in which patients perform the same tasks again and again.
How Prozac Works
Neurotransmitters or the chemical compounds are part of the exclusive communication system run by our brain. Serotonin is one of those chemical compounds that helps lighten your mood. Re-absorption of serotonin by the nerve cells or insufficient supply of serotonin from the brain leads to depression. Prozac is a selective SSRI which prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed into the nerve cells. Thus, it helps in sustaining mood lightening effect of released serotonin, which in turn helps relieve depression. Consumption of this drug may lead to weight loss initially, but studies show that the patient eventually gains weight. You might be confused after seeing both weight loss and weight gain as side effects of Prozac. Let me clear your doubts.
Weight Gain or Weight Loss?
Prozac, a depression medication, helps maintain the supply of serotonin, that controls mood, pain, sleep, and a variety of other metabolic processes. It is not yet entirely clear how Prozac causes weight loss. The drug can cause loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea, which generally contribute towards weight loss. It is often observed that these side effects go away with time. Since 'weight gain' is a depression symptom, treating the depression results in 'weight loss'.
Patients who initially complain about loss of appetite tend to gain more weight over the course of the year. Studies show that the period following recovery from depression is associated with weight gain. It is a fact that recovery from depression results in improved appetite and willingness to socialize, which leads to greater food intake and is thus responsible for potential weight gain. Some middle aged people experience natural changes associated with the aging process. Their lifestyle changes according to the age which influences their body metabolism, potentially predisposing them to weight gain. If you are worried about weight gain caused by Prozac, you should follow the instructions of your doctor regarding lifestyle changes or you should switch to another antidepressant medication.
It is important to consult your doctor if you wish to discontinue the drug. Your doctor will tell you how to reduce the dose gradually before discontinuing it. If you stop taking Prozac abruptly, you may have to face problems like insomnia, irritability, tiredness, weight gain, headache, confusion, dizziness, etc. To avoid these withdrawal symptoms, you should not discontinue it suddenly.
Side Effects in Women
It has been observed that Prozac and weight gain go hand in hand, especially in women. Women should consult their doctor before taking Prozac and before discontinuing it too. Pregnant or lactating women should not take it and if at all they need to take it, it should be administered cautiously. Prozac is recommended during pregnancy, only if the benefits to the mother outweigh any risk to the fetus. The side effects or effects of sudden withdrawal of the drug can affect the newborn infant, if it is taken during pregnancy. The drug can be transferred to the infant via breast milk and may have adverse effects on the infant. Most women notice weight gain as the side effect of the drug. They should rather opt for natural anxiety cures.
There are several other side effects of fluoxetine, for example, hair loss, fatigue, headache, diarrhea, dry mouth, loss of appetite, weight loss, skin rash, sweating, weight gain, swelling of lips, tongue and throat, eye problems, sexual problems, seizures, joint pain, nausea, dizziness, muscle pain, etc.
One of the easiest way to avoid Prozac induced weight gain is avoid taking it. For this, you need to avoid stress, which causes depression. Regular exercise, balanced diet, healthy eating and sleeping habits, practicing yoga and meditation can help relieve stress and depression. Try to eliminate the causes of depression and you won't need such drugs.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.