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Prozac Alternatives

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

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Natural Prozac alternatives may be able to provide significant relief without having to incur side effects associated with antidepressant medications such as Prozac®.

The medical community has expressed a growing interest in exploring natural remedies for depression. The Alternative to Meds Center has been successfully helping people with mental health challenges and medication-related issues using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for a decade and a half. We are here to help.

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Natural Prozac Alternatives?

prozac alternatives
Alternative to Meds has been primarily invested in guiding clients toward alternatives to prescription medication and we’ve been doing this for over 15 years. Using Orthomolecular, Holistic and Environmental Medicine, we have published evidence showing that over 77% of clients who we helped to discontinue antidepressants, and then replace drugs with choices such as transitioning to a holistic lifestyle have overcome their original symptoms, and are feeling better than they ever were on Prozac.

Overview of Antidepressant Alternatives

There are a number of different alternatives to Prozac for depression or other symptoms. Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, is part of a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are frequently prescribed to treat depression and other mental health conditions.22 There are a number of Prozac side effects that may occur from taking this drug.3 And in many cases, mental conditions don’t resolve by taking antidepressants.11 Fortunately, antidepressant alternatives to Prozac are available for those who want to avoid side effects or unsatisfactory results from drug-based therapy. At Alternative to Meds Center, we believe that there are effective alternative solutions besides continuing to be medicated with prescription depression drugs. We employ effective alternatives to Prozac for anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, and have done so successfully for more than 15 years.

Many of our patients who were considering alternatives to Prozac for anxiety or depression claim that their doctor wanted to keep them on medication by suggesting another similar drug. This is likely because doctors get little to no education in nutrition or other alternative treatments for depression during their medical education.8 Doctors often prescribe multiple pharmaceutical products such as SSRIs–Paxil® (paroxetine), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Cymbalta® (duloxetine), tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil® (amitriptyline), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Nardil® (phenelzine).9  All of these drugs can come with their own side effects and may be similarly ineffective. These medications can cause dependence and will cause withdrawal symptoms when discontinued. This is the trap that keeps many stuck on the endless prescription. However, Antidepressant withdrawal can also be eased by using natural alternatives for mental wellness.10,11

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Prozac Alternatives Treatment

Prozac side effects could be solved by transitioning to natural Prozac alternatives.4,5,7,6,13 A thoughtful selection of Prozac alternatives can avoid the pitfalls of unwanted consequences associated with prescription medication.6 Depression and other mental conditions are very often a result of physiological, lifestyle, occupational and nutritional factors.12

talk therapy prozac alternativeSimply substituting other antidepressant drugs as alternatives to Prozac for depression or anxiety may not be the answer for most people. Many of the adverse effects of Prozac may also occur with other prescription drug treatments.11 We recommend Prozac alternative therapies in drug-free formats for individuals experiencing complications from prescription antidepressants. For example, many different forms of psychotherapy, such as CBT can help people manage symptoms of depression and help them to make consistent, proactive steps toward their desired mental health goals.1,2

Talk therapies can allow a depressed individual to look at their problems from another perspective and find strategic resolutions for these problems through talking with the talk therapist. Talk therapists can also help patients with finding more satisfaction with their own actions and unlearning old and unproductive patterns of behavior and thought which may be contributing to depression.

Natural Alternatives to Prozac Include:

  • Individual CBT or other forms of counseling and lifestyle coaching strategies13*
  • Group CBT13*
  • Other forms of counseling such as DBT1
  • Exercise and physical activity may be as or more effective than drugs for depression23,27
  • Improve sleep for better energy and mood 29-32
  • Tryptophan is a precursor for natural neurochemical production14,33
  • SAMe, Omega Fatty Acids, St. Johns Wort7
  • Avoid refined carbs, sugars, caffeine, food additives18
  • Testing for and clearing out neurotoxins lodged in the body such as cadmium, lead, industrial chemical exposures, heavy metals, food additives12,25,26
  • Food allergies can go unsuspected unless tested for and diet adjustments made 24
  • Balance the microbiome (gut bacteria) with probiotics and fermented foods28

*A groundbreaking 2011 study (Driessen, Hollon) showed CBT to be an effective alternative treatment for depressive symptoms.

Underlying Causative Factors of Depression

Heavy metal toxicity; nutritional deficiencies; irregularities in sleep, poor diet, or lack of physical activity; dysfunctional relationships; environmental factors; and many other aspects of one’s life and lifestyle play a role in the symptoms and outcome of depression.5,12 Doctors often prescribe an antidepressant for a mental condition, as a quick fix. A more thorough approach could include testing and other assessments to identify underlying medical, dietary, toxicity-related, or other causative factors.

Did you know that depressive symptoms occur in about 75% of people with sleep problems? Rather than drugging the problems, one can look to natural solutions. These may include melatonin, L-theanine, chamomile tea, reducing blue light and evening exposure to electronics, better pillows and mattresses, and reducing stimulants like caffeine. These examples of natural sleep aids may be helpful and they won’t introduce other troubling side effects like the daytime drowsiness often associated with sleeping pills.29-32 

Depression may not always respond to a medication quick-fix. Prescription drugs may complicate the condition, worsen depression for some, or cause emerging side effects.22,11 Medication ineffectiveness, dependency issues, and withdrawal symptoms can tangle things up even more.10 Effective treatment for depression may be achieved by discovering the underlying reasons that cause depression. Instead of trying to fix depression symptoms with drugs, addressing the underlying causes of depression may be more effective. We seek to alleviate the symptoms rather than mask these very symptoms that can act as signposts, and that can lead to an effective, authentic, and permanent resolution.

Effective Holistic Prozac Alternatives

Other popular and potentially effective Prozac alternative medicines include anxiety or depression relieving supplements and vitamins such as valerian and St. John’s Wort7, and serotonin-producing amino acids such as L-tryptophan. 14,33

At Alternative to Meds, we believe that any positive effects of Prozac can generally be recreated with natural medicines and healing therapies that don’t inflict the risks associated with prescription medications.

There is no reason to suffer from drug side effects when equally effective and low side-effect Prozac alternative therapies are available.4,5

People are often given an antidepressant prescription without any prior biological investigations into what might be causing their depression.15 Low serotonin is frequently blamed as the cause for depression, hence the hundreds of serotoninergic antidepressant drugs. But there is a lack of evidence that drugs actually resolve a deficiency in serotonin. Supplements like L-tryptophan and a diet containing nutrients that naturally convert into serotonin may be helpful.14,33 The depressed individual may have a diet that is so severely poor in nutrients, that they are not able to produce what is required for optimal brain health.18

alternatives to prozacSSRI’s like fluoxetine block serotonin reuptake, but they do not produce any serotonin.  Serotonin is designed for reuptake, so it can be used again by the nerve cells. But, when the serotonin is forced to stay in synaptic suspension, much of the serotonin is lost, and cannot be recycled. This constant presence of serotonin in the synapse can cause downregulation, which means that the receptors are not as responsive to serotonin.20 This neuroplasticity is a common feature of many antidepressants.21 This is similar to why cocaine can only relieve depression for a short time. Cocaine will use up all of the person’s dopamine, rather than producing any of it.19 What’s left is a deficit. And depression. And other troubles.

Also consider food allergies which slow metabolism,15 environmental neurotoxins like heavy metals that ruin our energy metabolism,12 or low thyroid as a contributor.17  A person may just be completely wrapped up in an unsatisfying life and they need a pathway and perhaps guidance to make some needed changes. Any of these issues could be underlying causes of depression. But instead of addressing these underlying problems, a person is often given an antidepressant that brings on even more problems than were present before using the medication.2,3

Integrative Prozac Alternatives

At Alternative to Meds Center, we look for potential medical, biological, genetic, lifestyle, and other contributors to depression. Our program’s protocol uses lab testing, stabilization of the neurochemistry using natural substances, cleansing to remove environmentally accumulated toxins, holistic Prozac withdrawal techniques, specialized IVs,  amino and other targeted nutritional treatment, correction of diet, nebulized glutathione, peer support, Qi Gong, exercise, yoga, massage, Equine therapy, CBT and other forms of counseling, colon hydrotherapy, art therapy, and many other strategies to successfully combat depression and provide the most effective Prozac alternatives natural help plan on planet Earth.


1. Meredith L, Mazel R, “Counseling for Depression by Primary Care Providers.” The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine [INTERNET] 2000 Dec 1 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

2.  Gautam M, Tripathi A, Deshmukh D, Gaur M. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for DepressionIndian J Psychiatry. 2020;62(Suppl 2):S223-S229. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_772_19 [cited 2021 Oct 15]

3. NHS UK information letter, “Fluoxetine (Prozac): an antidepressant.” Reviewed 2018 Dec 10 [Internet] [cited 2020 Dec 28]

4.  Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevancePhytother Res. 2018;32(5):865-891. doi:10.1002/ptr.6033 [cited 2021 April 17]

5.  Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010 Oct 7;9:42. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-42. PMID: 20929532; PMCID: PMC2959081. [cited 2021 April 17]

6. Jakobsen JC, Katakam KK, Schou A, Hellmuth SG, Stallknecht SE, Leth-Møller K, Iversen M, Banke MB, Petersen IJ, Klingenberg SL, Krogh J, Ebert SE, Timm A, Lindschou J, Gluud C. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors versus placebo in patients with major depressive disorder. A systematic review with meta-analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Feb 8;17(1):58. doi: 10.1186/s12888-016-1173-2. [cited 2020 Dec 28]

7. Update and Critique of Natural Remedies as Antidepressant Treatments David Mischoulon, MD, PhD, 2009 Dec [cited 2020, Dec 28]

8. Adan RAH, van der Beek EM, Buitelaar JK, Cryan JF, Hebebrand J, Higgs S, Schellekens H, Dickson SL. Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2019 Dec;29(12):1321-1332. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.10.011. Epub 2019 Nov 14. PMID: 31735529. [cited 2021 Oct 15]

9. Larson J, Berger K, “What You Should Know Before Switching Antidepressants:” [online] 2020 May 20 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

10. Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit The New York Times Health Section by Robert Gebeloff 2018 Apr 7 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

11. The drugs don’t work? antidepressants and the current and future pharmacological management of depression Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012 Oct; 2(5): 179–188. Elizabeth Penncor responding author and Derek K. Tracy [cited 2020, December 28]

12. van den Bosch M, Meyer Lindenberg A, Environmental Exposures and Depression: Biological Mechanisms and Epidemiological Evidence.” Annual Review of Public Health [2019 Apr] Vol. 40.239-259 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

13. Driessen E, Hollon SD. “Cognitive behavioral therapy for mood disorders: efficacy, moderators and mediators.” Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010;33(3):537-555. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.005 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

14. Lindseth G, Helland B, Caspers J. “The effects of dietary tryptophan on affective disorders. Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2015;29(2):102-107. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2014.11.008 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

15. Wickelgren I, Allen F, “Why Are There No Biological Tests in Psychiatry?” Scientific American 2012 May 11 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

16. Is There a Connection Between Food Allergies and Mental Health?
2012 Sep 6 [cited 2020 Dec 21]

17. “When depression starts in the neck” Keep Women Healthy Updated, June 24, 2019 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

18. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao [cited 2020 Dec 21]

19. University of Michigan Health System authors, “Cocaine harms brain’s ‘pleasure center’ addict study finds.” 2003 Jan 1 [online] [cited 2020 Dec 28]

20. Leykin Y, Amsterdam JD, DeRubeis RJ, Gallop R, Shelton RC, Hollon SD. “Progressive resistance to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor but not to cognitive therapy in the treatment of major depression.” J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Apr;75(2):267-76. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.75.2.267. PMID: 17469884. [cited 2020 Dec 28]

21. Andrade C, Rao NS. “How antidepressant drugs act: A primer on neuroplasticity as the eventual mediator of antidepressant efficacy.” Indian J Psychiatry. 2010;52(4):378-386. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.74318 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

22. FDA Label Prozac (fluoxetine) [1987, 2008, 2016] [cited 2020 Dec 28]

23. Craft LL, Perna FM. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed.Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

24.  Hidese S, Nogawa S, Saito K, Kunugi H. Food allergy is associated with depression and psychological distress: A web-based study in 11,876 Japanese. J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 15;245:213-218. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.10.119. Epub 2018 Oct 26. PMID: 30408639. [cited 2021 Oct 15]

25.  Orisakwe OE. The role of lead and cadmium in psychiatryN Am J Med Sci. 2014;6(8):370-376. doi:10.4103/1947-2714.139283 [cited 2021 Oct 15]

26.  Meyer-Baron M, Schaeper M, Seeber AA meta-analysis for neurobehavioural results due to occupational mercury exposure. Arch Toxicol 2002; 76:127–136 CrossrefMedline [cited 2021 Oct 15]

27.  Shaphe MA, Chahal A. Relation of Physical Activity with the Depression: A Short ReviewJ Lifestyle Med. 2020;10(1):1-6. doi:10.15280/jlm.2020.10.1.1 [cited 2021 Oct 15]

28.  Butler MI, Mörkl S, Sandhu KV, Cryan JF, Dinan TG. The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health: What Should We Tell Our Patients?: Le microbiote Intestinal et la Santé Mentale : que Devrions-Nous dire à nos Patients? Can J Psychiatry. 2019 Nov;64(11):747-760. doi: 10.1177/0706743719874168. Epub 2019 Sep 17. PMID: 31530002; PMCID: PMC6882070. [cited 2021 Oct 15]

29.  Nutt D, Wilson S, Paterson L. Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depressionDialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008;10(3):329-336. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2008.10.3/dnutt [cited 2021 Oct 15]

30.  Rao TP, Ozeki M, Juneja LR. In Search of a Safe Natural Sleep Aid. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(5):436-47. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.926153. Epub 2015 Mar 11. PMID: 25759004. [cited 2021 Oct 15]

31.  Salfi F, Amicucci G, Corigliano D, D’Atri A, Viselli L, Tempesta D, Ferrara M. Changes of evening exposure to electronic devices during the COVID-19 lockdown affect the time course of sleep disturbances. Sleep. 2021 Sep 13;44(9):zsab080. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsab080. PMID: 34037792; PMCID: PMC8194574. [cited 2021 Oct 15]

32.  Auld F, Maschauer EL, Morrison I, Skene DJ, Riha RL. Evidence for the efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of primary adult sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Aug;34:10-22. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2016.06.005. Epub 2016 Jul 20. PMID: 28648359. [cited 2021 Oct 15]

33. Lindseth G, Helland B, Caspers J. The effects of dietary tryptophan on affective disordersArch Psychiatr Nurs. 2015;29(2):102-107. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2014.11.008 [cited 2021 Oct 15]


Originally Published Oct 30, 2018 by Lyle Murphy


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

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Prozac Alternatives
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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