All You Should Know About Fluoxetine (Prozac) Prescription
In the U.S, around 44 million adults are estimated to have some form of mental health issue. Depression and anxiety remain two of the most common mental health conditions plaguing Americans now. Despite the high numbers of these conditions, only about 40% of patients seek treatment for them. This is because they erroneously assume that the stigma that was once associated with mental health conditions in the past still exists.
Other than the lack of stigma associated with the treatment of mental health conditions, there has been a lot of research into the best treatment alternatives for them. As such, there are now effective drugs for the management of mental health issues. For instance, both depression and anxiety now have Fluoxetine (Prozac) as their first-line treatment.
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When doctors have prescribed Fluoxetine (Prozac) for their patients, most have no idea what the drug is and what to expect from it. The following tidbits will equip you with all you should know about this life-changing drug.
What Is Fluoxetine?
Fluoxetine (Prozac) is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). There are four main chemical messengers your body needs, including endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Serotonin carries signals between your neurons (brain cells). SSRIs block the reabsorption of this crucial neurotransmitter. In doing so, they increase the amount of serotonin circulating inside your body to improve message transmission between the neurons. SSRIs are labelled ‘selective’ because they only affect serotonin.
Though primarily used to manage anxiety disorders and depression, Fluoxetine (Prozac) and other SSRIs are now approved by the FDA for treating a range of other conditions. The most common include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa.
Fluoxetine (Prozac) is a prescription-only drug available in the form of a tablet, delayed-release capsule or solution. All its forms are taken orally. The drug is commonly sold under its leading brand names, Prozac Weekly and Prozac. There are also generic options for Fluoxetine that cost less than Prozac though they might not be available in the same strengths as the leading brand name medications.
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How Does Fluoxetine (Prozac) Work?
As an SSRI, Fluoxetine (Prozac) affects the reuptake of serotonin. This neurotransmitter is sometimes called the happy hormone because it generates self-confidence, calm, happiness and safety. A deficiency of the hormone will cause low self-esteem, anxiety, impulsivity, aggressiveness, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior.
By preventing the reuptake of serotonin, this ‘happy hormone’’ is left to circulate in a patient’s body so that it generates a feeling of calmness and wellbeing. After taking Fluoxetine (Prozac), patients report an increased appetite, relaxation, interest in life, and energy because of serotonin’s increase. These effects make the drug ideal for managing both depression and anxiety disorders.
What Does Prozac Feel like When It Starts Working?
One of the first questions patients that are new to Fluoxetine (Prozac) have is ‘how does Prozac make you feel when you start taking it?’ You might not initially experience any changes because the improvement of your condition takes about a week or two after the initial dose of Fluoxetine (Prozac). It generally takes 4-5 weeks to actualize the full benefits of the drug. Some patients can nonetheless take up to 12 weeks to feel the effects of Fluoxetine (Prozac).
Initially, you might feel shaky, somewhat like someone having tremors and shakes when taking Fluoxetine (Prozac), so you are advised not to operate heavy machines or drive. Your doctor will closely monitor you because the drug might exacerbate your mood swings and suicidal thoughts.
Some patients also report changes in their sex drives, like difficulty in reaching orgasms and low libido. These effects might feel like a wild ride for the first few weeks you will be on Fluoxetine (Prozac), but they will often disappear as your body gets used to the drug.
Most people are tempted to stop taking Fluoxetine (Prozac) when dealing with these uncomfortable effects. Unfortunately, this decision leads to withdrawal symptoms like agitation, dizziness, tingling, sweating, headaches, confusion, and mood changes. If you have to stop taking Fluoxetine (Prozac), for any reason, a doctor will gradually reduce its dose rather than suddenly stopping it.
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How Is Fluoxetine Taken?
Fluoxetine (Prozac) is taken orally with or without food. It is usually prescribed to be taken once daily in the morning or twice at noon and in the morning. For the delayed-release capsules, the doctor will prescribe a once-weekly dose. These drugs should be swallowed whole rather than crushed, cut or chewed. Irrespective of the frequency of your dosage, you should take Fluoxetine (Prozac) at the same time daily so that your body adapts to it and you have minimal side effects.
The dosage of Fluoxetine (Prozac) will be based on the severity of your symptoms and the response to treatment. To minimize your risk of severe side effects, the doctor will start you on a low dose of Fluoxetine (Prozac) then gradually increase it if need be. The usual effective starting dose of the drug is 20mg per day for adults.
However, you might start at a lower dose than this, then gradually increase it to the maximum of 80mg/day. The lower dose of Fluoxetine (Prozac) is often for elderly patients and those with liver issues. Children are typically started on 10mg per day that is increased to 20mg daily if necessary.
Some people ask ‘’is 40mg of Fluoxetine a high dose?’’ The strength of a drug when managing mental health issues is partly subjective. While the standard dose might be ineffective in some patients, it can be catastrophic for others because people respond differently to drugs.
In general, with the allowed maximum dose of Fluoxetine (Prozac) being 80mg, 40mg is not considered too high a dose. If the doctor determines that 20mg of Fluoxetine (Prozac) is not doing much for you, he/she will consider increasing Fluoxetine (Prozac) from 20mg to 40mg after some time.
Side Effects of Fluoxetine
Like all drugs, Fluoxetine (Prozac) is not entirely free of side effects. Fortunately, most people do not experience any side effects or only have minor ones. The common side effects when taking Fluoxetine (Prozac) include nausea, headaches, inability to sleep, feeling wear or tired and diarrhea. These are minor and will often resolve on their own, but you can talk to your doctor if they persist or affect your quality of life.
Book a doctor’s appointment if you experience a change in the consistency or frequency of your periods and weight loss or gain. A few people experience severe side effects for which they should immediately call a doctor or go to the A & E. The severe side effects of Fluoxetine (Prozac) include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Painful erections lasting for more than four hours
- Nosebleeds that persist for more than ten minutes
- Memory problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Excessive enthusiasm or excitement
- Severe dizziness
- Dark vomit or vomiting blood
- Serious allergic reactions like wheezing, chest tightness, swelling or a skin rash
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Who Can and Can’t Take Fluoxetine (Prozac)?
Fluoxetine (Prozac) is prescribed for kids aged above eight years and adults battling OCD, anxiety disorders, bulimia or depression. You should let your doctor know if you:
- Have a history of drug abuse
- Are pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding
- Have a heart condition
- Are allergic to Fluoxetine
- Have glaucoma
- Are epileptic or undergoing Electroconvulsive Therapy
- Have diabetes
- Have been on any antidepressants in the past
Drugs that Should Not Be Mixed with Fluoxetine
Fluoxetine (Prozac) can interact with other drugs, herbs, and vitamins you are taking. This prevents it from working well or can increase the drugs’ side effects. Some of the drugs that should not be mixed with or be cautiously taken with Fluoxetine (Prozac) include:
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors like Phenelzine and Isocarboxazid
Even if you are now sure of what to expect when taking Fluoxetine (Prozac) and how it will work for your anxiety disorder or depression, this does not mean you should immediately head out to the chemist and get the drug. As a prescription-only drug, you need a prescription from a licensed mental health specialist or doctor to access Fluoxetine (Prozac). He/she might recommend trying drug-free management approaches for your condition before writing a Fluoxetine (Prozac) prescription.
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To ensure you get the right Fluoxetine (Prozac) dosage if the drug is determined to benefit you, visit Mango Clinic at their physical location or get an online consultation. The doctors here will take time to evaluate your symptoms before recommending the best treatment approach for you. They will also be on hand to handle any issues that might arise when using Fluoxetine (Prozac).
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