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Is Prozac Addictive? Learn About Fluoxetine Dependency

This entry was posted in Antidepressant and tagged , on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on June 9, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

Are you wondering if Prozac is addictive? It’s an important question. Prozac© is an SSRI, (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant. According to research in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, a person who takes an SSRI long-term, such as Prozac, does risk developing Prozac addiction or dependency. More than half of antidepressant users experience withdrawal phenomena when they stop, an indicator that dependency has developed. The trend of repeating prescriptions for years upon years may portend a greater risk for Prozac addiction or dependence than was previously predicted.8

Prozac addiction is not particularly well-studied, but Prozac dependency has been documented in decades of research. Millions of people across the globe use antidepressants daily as a means to get through a crisis, trauma, or depression. Typically, an individual is prescribed Prozac to provide relief from such symptoms without any further investigation into the root causes of the problem. There are other ways that have been documented as efficacious to resolve a depressed state or other unwanted symptoms and do not subject the person to the risk of Prozac addiction, dependency, or a lifetime of drug side effects.7 These will be discussed in more detail below.

What is Prozac used for?

Prozac has been FDA approved for specific uses, listed below. Off-label uses have also developed, as seen below.1,3

Prozac is FDA-approved to treat the following conditions:
  • MDD or major depressive disorder
  • Combined with olanzapine (Zyprexa©) for the treatment of depressive episodes of Bipolar disorder
  • Combined with olanzapine for treatment-resistive depression
  • OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder with or without agoraphobia (fear of open spaces, also refers to any extreme fear response to situations or places)
  • Bulimia nervosa (eating disorder)

Fluoxetine is also marketed as Sarafem© to treat PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), a disorder in which women experience depression symptoms, tension, or irritability related to menstruation. Sarafem carries the same suicide warnings as Prozac and all SSRI drugs. 

Off-label uses for Prozac include:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Social phobias
  • PTSD
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Raynaud phenomenon
  • Selective mutism

Is Prozac Addictive? Find more information here.

Drug regulators did not study or document the risks of Prozac addiction before approval. Even now, more than 30 years after, the 1987 label as well as two later revisions, in 1999 and 2017, also state no studies have been done on Prozac addiction as a potential outcome.1

Prozac is most often referred to in medical literature as a psychotherapeutic agent. Despite the fact that antidepressant prescriptions doubled in the decade from 2005 to 2015, oddly, only a small number, estimated at about 14% of patients report improvement from antidepressant drug therapy. Studies suggest that about 75% of reported benefits from antidepressants are actually from the placebo effect. Yet long-term dependency can develop after long-term use.6

There are a growing number of case reports outlining instances of Prozac non-medical (recreational) use, dependency, abuse, and misuse, as well as documenting the exponential rise in the number of antidepressant prescriptions globally.2,5

The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health4 shared the following results:

  • that 2.4 million persons aged 12 or older used psychotherapeutics for nonmedical reasons.
  • that 8.5% or 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older reported substance dependence or abuse.
  • that between 6 and 7 million persons aged 12 or older reported recreational use of prescription drugs (sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants), totaling more than users of cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin combined.

The survey numbers are over 10 years old now. While the number of case reports we found of individuals becoming ” addicted to Prozac ” is about 20, the number of reports of dependence and difficulties when withdrawing from Prozac are so numerous as to be uncountable. Adding to the equation the ongoing exponential rise in numbers of prescriptions of SSRIs it becomes clear that Prozac addiction and dependence treatment is a crucial element hitting drug rehabs globally. And suggests as well that alternative methods of mental health treatment that do not induce the negative outcomes associated with drug-based treatment are destined to play a major role in human health.7

So while efficacy results are mixed, the number of prescriptions is still rising. And, there is now a growing number of studies that document the risk of addiction and drug dependence for some individuals taking Prozac whether as a recreational drug or as a prescribed psychotherapeutic drug.

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Risk Factors for Prozac Addiction & Dependency

There are a great number of concerning side effects that have been associated with SSRI medications including Prozac. Below, samples of these are grouped into categories for brevity and understanding. Please note this is not a complete list but serves to give significant examples.

Medical Risks:
  • Cerebral, gastrointestinal, and gynecologic hemorrhage.9
  • Myositis, inflammation of muscle groups leading to weakness and muscle fatigue as well as spinal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back.10
  • Extrapyramidal disorders include involuntary muscle contractions, tremors, or other movement disorders.1,10
  • Adrenal insufficiency is a life-threatening suppression of the adrenal gland leading to abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, and other symptoms.11
  • Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening reaction to serotonergic drugs resulting in shock, hypothermia, involuntary muscle contractions or rigidity, nausea, fever, coma, agitation, disorientation, requiring immediate emergency hospital treatment.1,12
  • Cardiac adverse events include prolonged QT interval, tachycardia and torsades des pointes, and cardiac arrest.1,13
  • Hyponatremia, low blood sodium leading to changes in blood pressure, nausea, cramps, anorexia, altered mental state, seizures, coma, and other symptoms.1
Mental Health Risks (from the label):
  • Increased risk of suicide, especially in younger patients.15
  • Cognitive impairment, reduced judgment ability, and impaired motor controls.
  • Agitation, nervousness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Abnormal thinking.
Sexual Side Effects:
  • Loss of libido, inability to climax in females, and priapism (painful penile erection) that may persist even after discontinuation of Prozac.
  • Abnormal ejaculation.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma, abnormal vision.

Common Side Effects of Prozac, Sarafem, or fluoxetine

Common Prozac side effects include:
  • Prozac side effectsInsomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, headache, weakness, sore throat
  • Thinking differently
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Accidents and injuries
IMPORTANT NOTE: Any adverse drug reactions can be voluntarily reported to FAERS online, or by calling the FDA directly at 1 800 FDA-1088.

Common Prozac, Sarafem, fluoxetine Withdrawal Symptoms:

Fluoxetine and Prozac, Sarafem, and other brand-name drugs containing fluoxetine have a relatively long half-life compared to other SSRIs. This means the initial effects may not be apparent for a number of weeks. Similarly, the long half-life means that withdrawal symptoms may not become noticeable until some days or weeks after stopping the drug, particularly when stopping abruptly. When other drugs are taken simultaneously, such as benzos, antipsychotics, tricyclics, and others, their half-lives may also be extended. The half-life is a good predictor of when withdrawal adverse reactions may begin to initiate.1,13,14

Prozac withdrawals can include:
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Anxiety
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Emotional lability, crying spells, rage, irritation, agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Hypomania
  • Dizziness

Prozac Addiction and Dependency — How to Avoid Becoming Hooked

prozac addictionTaking any kind of medication for a symptom can easily turn into a long-term, chronic habit. Being able to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, fear, sleeplessness, or even pain through a pill is a very attractive way to forget about things and move on with life.

But, many of the pharmaceutical medications today, especially antidepressants such as Prozac, are habit-forming and induce withdrawal effects that leave many people in misery. So, prior to engaging in long-term antidepressant therapy, why not look at some safe and holistic therapies for your unwanted symptoms. The symptoms you struggle with are real, and so should the solution to them.

If you have decided it is time for a comfortable Prozac withdrawal, there are alternative treatments that can be of great benefit.

One can look closely at the reasons one decided to take Prozac in the first place. What were/are the things that needed resolving? Was there any investigation into what could be contributing to these symptoms? Did your physician test for allergies or exposures to toxins? Did you receive counseling for psychological trauma or an important loss? Were any medical reasons investigated that could have contributed to lack of energy, insomnia, or other reactions?

Each person is a beautifully complex divine spark of life. Can we really expect that a pill that is mass-produced in a lab “somewhere” is capable of giving our unique and many-faceted self all the answers to our unique situation?

Prozac, like many antidepressants, can lead to additional medication therapies, or it can lead to long-term fluoxetine dependence. But there are alternative treatments, and there is a way to combine safe withdrawal with a comprehensive program tailored to your exact needs. At Alternative to Meds Center, we help our clients regain natural mental health, with medical oversight, and with a whole range of therapies that offer a way out of the trap of Prozac addiction or dependency, out of chronic depression, and back into vibrant, healthy life.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

If you are thinking of Prozac or being recommended an antidepressant treatment, first take a look at some healthy alternatives that could help you manage your symptoms without the need for a strong psychiatric medication: If you are already taking an SSRI medication, seek help in withdrawing under medical supervision. These alternative treatments will be of interest to anyone in this situation.


This centuries-old practice is known to help bring balance and stability. If you find yourself having anxiety, panic, or depression, try taking a moment to focus on your breath and find calm through meditation or other relaxation methods. Find a class in your area or online for extra support and guidance.

Avoid Stimulants

Dealing with depression or other symptoms and consuming stimulants will often lead to mood swings where the user experiences a surge of energy and then a crash. If you are feeling depressed, extra coffee or an energy drink may not be the best idea.


Exercise is a great way to get rid of old energy and toxins stored in the body. Some cardio every day can prove very effective when trying to fight off symptoms of depression. Stretching the body is also relaxing and calming, through yoga, Qi Gong, or Tai Chi, for example.

Nutrient-based Therapy

If you are feeling depleted or in need of extra support for your overall health and energy, nutrient therapy can help. Research the precursors (found in foods and supplements) to the essential building blocks the body needs, for example, to produce adequate serotonin and other hormones. Whether working with a nurse or doctor for IV therapy or using nutritional supplements and improvements to the quality of water you drink, etc., aim to provide as much nourishment to your body as you can to help you get through the hard moments.

Reassess Your Diet

If you are eating junk food, candy, sugar, coffee, energy drinks, or just have an unhealthy diet, perhaps looking at your food intake could be a start to a healthier you. Try a healthy organic diet full of nutrients, and foods your body responds well to, and then see how your overall sense of well-being improves.


If your symptoms are too hard to overcome alone, don’t just ruminate about them; tell somebody. There are people waiting to help right now. Make an appointment with a life coach, therapist, or nutritionist. Be the change you want to see in your life. CBT is a form of counseling that has shown equal or better efficacy than SSRI medications for depression and other unwanted symptoms.

See a Doctor

Find a doctor who specializes in holistic, integrative, complementary, or alternative medicine. Work with a licensed professional to discover underlying symptoms and areas that you can focus on in order to achieve more complete healing in real and practical ways.

How to Discontinue Prozac Safely

As listed above, when an individual stops taking an antidepressant, particularly when done abruptly, it is possible to develop Prozac withdrawal symptoms over the next few days or weeks, such as dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea, headache, and flu-like symptoms. Psychiatric symptoms may also be triggered including suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, hopelessness, dysphoria, anxiety, confusion, mania or hypomania, and other concerning effects.

If a person has been dependent on Prozac or any antidepressant for a while, it is wise to consult a doctor in order to devise a plan to safely and slowly taper off the medication. With the acute withdrawal symptoms and protracted withdrawal symptoms associated with Prozac, it is possible to avoid complications by having professional assistance to guide you through the process.

Long-Term Recovery from Prozac

At our holistic center located in Sedona, Arizona, Alternative to Meds Center has had people come from all over the world in order to safely titrate their medications. By performing tests and assessments to discover underlying areas of concern, the Alternative to Meds treatment team is able to help people safely remove the necessity for addictive medication. Integrative treatments combined with a therapeutic environment provide the perfect space for people to transition into a healthier and symptom-free life.

Examples of people being healed show that it is possible for anyone to have a second chance at life, even after a miserable case of antidepressant withdrawal. By supplying proper nutrients to the CNS to balance the entire body chemistry, we create a solid foundation to heal from Prozac addiction or dependence for good, while improving mental health naturally. Before, during, and after holistic drug withdrawal, a wealth of treatment options are available to ease the process. These can be viewed in detail on our services overview pages. A few examples include:

Having the right team to aid in recovery is also very important. For more than 17 years, the team at Alternative to Meds Center has provided professional and licensed medication withdrawal treatment. Our treatment team of more than 40 professionals provides the expertise, encouragement, and care needed for a person to feel comfortable.

If you or your loved one is investigating whether to use Prozac, the best advice is to speak to a professional. Prior to agreeing to begin long-term medication-based therapy, see if you can heal in a way that isn’t as habit-forming.

Is Prozac Addictive for some? Yes.

Is Prozac something you can take so you can feel better? Maybe … for temporary relief.

Do you want help to avoid the pitfalls of Prozac withdrawal, and recover from fluoxetine addiction or dependence? YES! You can contact us directly at Alternative to Meds Center for personalized advice and help on your journey to personal wellness, logistics information on insurance coverage, and other questions you may have. We are happy to provide you or a loved one with a detailed description of our services, uniquely designed to help you regain natural mental health after fluoxetine addiction or dependence and relief from original symptoms that may have preceded a prescription.

1. FDA drug label Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) tablets, capsules approval 1987, revised 1999, revised 2017 [cited 2022 June 9]

2. Evans EA, Sullivan MA. Abuse and misuse of antidepressantsSubst Abuse Rehabil. 2014;5:107-120. Published 2014 Aug 14. doi:10.2147/SAR.S37917 [cited 2022 June 9]

3. Sohel AJ, Shutter MC, Molla M. Fluoxetine. [Updated 2021 Jul 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:  [cited 2022 June 9]

4. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health [cited 2022 June 9]

5. Tinsley JA, Olsen MW, Laroche RR, Palmen MA. Fluoxetine abuse. Mayo Clin Proc. 1994 Feb;69(2):166-8. doi: 10.1016/s0025-6196(12)61044-1. PMID: 8093133. [cited 2022 June 9]

6. Spence D. Bad Medicine: The rise and rise of antidepressants. Br J Gen Pract. 2016;66(652):573. doi:10.3399/bjgp16X687793 [cited 2022 June 9]

7. Dirmaier J, Steinmann M, Krattenmacher T, Watzke B, Barghaan D, Koch U, Schulz H. Non-pharmacological treatment of depressive disorders: a review of evidence-based treatment options. Rev Recent Clin Trials. 2012 May;7(2):141-9. doi: 10.2174/157488712800100233. PMID: 22353197. [cited 2022 June 9]

8. Read J, Cartwright C, Gibson K. How many of 1829 antidepressant users report withdrawal effects or addiction? Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2018 Dec;27(6):1805-1815. doi: 10.1111/inm.12488. Epub 2018 Jun 5. PMID: 29873165. [cited 2022 June 9]

9. Kim S, Ko YJ, Park K, Yang BR, Kim MS, Park BJ. Fluoxetine and Risk of Bleeding in Patients Aged 60 Years and Older Using the Korea Adverse Event Reporting System Database: A Case/Noncase Study. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2019 Jul/Aug;39(4):362-366. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000001059. PMID: 31206390. [cited 2022 June 9]

10. Kim S, Park K, Kim MS, Yang BR, Choi HJ, Park BJ. Data-mining for detecting signals of adverse drug reactions of fluoxetine using the Korea Adverse Event Reporting System (KAERS) database. Psychiatry Res. 2017 Oct;256:237-242. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.06.038. Epub 2017 Jun 13. PMID: 28646789. [cited 2022 June 9]

11. Nicolaides NC, Chrousos GP, Charmandari E. Adrenal Insufficiency. [Updated 2017 Oct 14]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000-. [cited 2022 June 9]

12. Simon LV, Keenaghan M. Serotonin Syndrome. [Updated 2022 Feb 4. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.Available from: [cited 2022 June 9]

13. Yekehtaz H, Farokhnia M, Akhondzadeh S. Cardiovascular considerations in antidepressant therapy: an evidence-based reviewJ Tehran Heart Cent. 2013;8(4):169-176 [cited 2022 June 9]

14. FDA label Sarafem (approved 1987) [published online] [cited 2022 June 9]

15. Check, E. Analysis highlights suicide risk of antidepressants. Nature 430, 954 (2004). [cited 2022 June 9]

Originally Published Nov 9, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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