What is Prozac (Fluoxetine) Used For?
SSRI drugs such as Prozac are used in treating MDD (major depressive disorder). There are about half a dozen SSRIs that the FDA has approved for treating depression, each having similar characteristics and efficacy. Prozac is the one which remains approved for prescribing to young people, and that is possibly why the number of Prozac prescriptions tends to outweigh the other drugs in this class. Prozac alternative treatments are available, but sadly ignored in the main by doctors and others who may not have been trained in such methods, using non drug-based protocols.
According to various psychiatric associations around the world, pharmacological solutions are not always the recommended first line of defense. For example, often the recommendation of psychotherapy is shown to work where prescribed antidepressants are much less effective. For example, two-thirds of adolescents who were prescribed antidepressants reported relapse phenomena after completing a course of SSRI treatment in the absence of psychotherapy.3
One type of “talk therapy” found effective for the treatment of depression is called CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy. There are many forms of CBT that can be explored, including these:
Cognitive restructuring: involves identifying irrational beliefs or negative automatic thoughts or assumptions and replacing those with more positive and realistic thoughts and conclusions.
Behavioral Activation: creating strategies that support and explore pleasurable experiences; this may motivate and overcome those aspects of inertia or avoidance that are often associated with depression.
Problem-solving collaboration: engaging with a skillful therapist can foster new ways to solve old problems.
Between therapy sessions: assigned “homework” to be done between sessions can provide meaningful opportunities to put into practice newly discovered ways of addressing challenges that may instill a sense of tangible and demonstrated progress.
Prozac Alternative Names and Slang
Prozac is the brand name for fluoxetine hydrochloride, the active main ingredient. Slang or street names for Prozac are:
- Wonder drug
- Bottled smiles
- Miracle drug
- Happy pills
Prozac has become a slang word itself, according to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, where the definition for Prozac used as an adjective to describe “someone lively and excited.”
Prozac Side Effects
The most troubling side effect for Prozac is the risk of suicide, and unexpected episodes of rage or violence, especially in the initial period of starting to take the drug.
Some people do not report any Prozac side effects or report only mild reactions. Others experience a range of adverse effects from mild to moderate to severe. Such reactions may lead to a decision to begin a program of getting off Prozac. For those considering Prozac cessation, a Prozac taper should only be attempted with medical help and guidance.
Some Prozac side effects include:
- Elevated mood
- Symptoms of low blood sugar, which can induce tachycardia, cold sweats, chills, shakiness, anxiety, unsteady gait, loss of balance, confusion, etc.
- Hot flashes
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach, vomiting
- Strange dreams
- Changes in vision
- Tiredness, drowsiness, may affect ability to drive or operate machinery
- Decreased sex drive
There are some side effects that are less commonly reported, some of which may require immediate medical intervention to avoid serious health risk:
- Serotonin syndrome, life-threatening toxic reaction, coma, seizure, unconsciousness, rigidity, sudden fever, delirium, death is possible.
- Hyponatremia or symptoms of low sodium such as seizure, confusion, weakness, thirst.
- Serious allergic reaction, rash, hives, itching, swelling, etc.
- Convulsions or seizures
- Suicidal behaviors and agitated behaviors or thoughts, feeling restless, agitated, anxious, aggressive, hostile, overly emotional, feeling of wanting to hurt oneself, feeling of wanting to hurt others.
- Signs of bleeding in the stomach such as black tarry stool, vomiting blood, frequent nosebleeds, etc., which can occur because of decreased coagulation of blood platelets.
- Signs of liver problems including nausea, yellowing of the skin or eye-whites, dark urine, pale stools, itching, etc.
- Enlargement of breasts or discharge of milk from the breasts.
- Unusual body or facial movements or tics, involuntary movements.
- Mania, uncontrolled speech, thoughts, impulsive behaviors.
Prozac Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawing from Prozac, usually called a Prozac taper, should be done carefully and slowly, not all at once due to the changes that might be too rapid for the body to adjust easily to. Some Prozac withdrawal symptoms that are experienced when getting off Prozac most commonly include:
- Brain zaps (feel like jolts of electricity through the head)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of balance
Discontinuing/Quitting Prozac (fluoxetine)
When Prozac side effects become hard to tolerate or seem to outweigh the benefits of the drug, a person may decide to stop taking Prozac. This is generally called Prozac cessation.
However, abruptly stopping is not recommended and in fact can be life-threatening. Prozac withdrawal can be safely accomplished with proper assistance. Always seek medical assistance from your doctor, or a competent and licensed health practitioner to get proper and safe guidance regarding how to get off Prozac safely. There is competent guidance available for those seeking Prozac withdrawal help. Alternative to Meds Center specializes in Prozac withdrawal treatment and other programs to achieve mental health naturally. Stopping Prozac can be done surprisingly gently and comfortably with the correct protocols and support in place.