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Prozac Tapering (Fluoxetine)

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

Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Carol Gillette

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

Prozac tapering may be less nightmarish than you might think when supported by a team that understands the possible complexities. You should choose a team that is well-equipped to help you navigate safely and comfortably back to natural mental health.

Antidepressant interventions, even if necessary in a time of crisis, may not be the best long-term stand-alone solution. Are you looking for a more permanent and natural solution for emotional distress?

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Alternative to Meds has not only the expertise but over 17 years of dedicated experience helping people through antidepressant withdrawal and tapering. Our published evidence shows that well over three-quarters of our clients have enjoyed an improved quality of life, fewer symptoms, and better natural mental health long-term after completing their Prozac taper program with Alternative to Meds Center. We hope these numbers give hope. Perhaps you are looking for the best solutions to your original set of symptoms, or to find relief from the problems connected to continuing on a medication. We’ve been there, and we know it is possible to recapture the parts of you that you may have thought lost because of unhandled symptoms, and from treatment with heavy drugs.
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According to studies done by Lyons et al on the brains of rats,1 SSRI drugs like Prozac chemically blunt certain neuronal responses and disinhibit others that would normally be kept in check. These drug-induced changes are thought to induce the emotional flattening effects of SSRIs (as well as sexual dysfunction, euphoria, and other side effects). However, the body is built to compensate.

Prozac Discontinuation Syndrome

prozac discontinuation syndromeSometimes the terminology can be confusing. What is a syndrome exactly? It sounds like a disease, but it’s not. A syndrome is a word that encapsulates a broad range of symptoms, without pointing to a specific pathology. In the case of Prozac discontinuation, or withdrawal, the syndrome refers to the numerous potential symptoms that occur when coming off Prozac. You might have 1 or 2, or you might have a dozen of these. These reactions can be intense, even debilitating, some can be mild. Tragically, a lot of patients are never fully informed of Prozac discontinuation syndrome before they are given their prescription.2,6 Many of our clients have stated they would never have begun taking Prozac if they would have known how difficult it would be to stop.

Prescribers who feel untrained to help in withdrawal from antidepressants often refer their patients to Alternative to Meds for the kind of help they really need in a residential setting.

Prozac Tapering Guidelines

Prozac tapering guidelines should be personalized, but general considerations are discussed below.

Your doctor should be able to help with the reduction of the dosage which may involve actually cutting the pills. In the case of Prozac, the lowest dosage is 10mg, and we prefer the green elliptical tablets. Prozac is one of the easier antidepressants to withdraw from due to the longer half-life. The longer the half-life, the slower the medication will leave your body, which, generally speaking, makes the tapering easier.7,8,9,10

Prozac Tapering Guidelines Include:
  • prozac tapering guidelinesGradual reduction: never abrupt except if serotonin syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, or other life-threatening condition arises. In the latter cases, get an ambulance to the nearest hospital without delay.3
  • For ease of mathematics, get your doctor to provide 10mg Prozac green elliptical tablets.
  • You can cut the 10mg pills in half for smaller dosing. You can even try to cut them smaller. Prozac is rather forgiving if the cuts are not exact.8
  • Dosage cuts have to be adjusted for personal tolerance and sensitivity, but a good range would be in the 10-25% range. Then wait perhaps 1, 2, or more weeks for things to settle before the next cut.
  • Expect withdrawal symptoms to emerge around the drug’s half-life range. In this case, the elimination half-life is 1 to 3 days for those who briefly used the medication and 4 to 6 days for regular users. There is an active metabolite called norfluoxetine that has a half-life of 4 to 16 days depending on individual variability.7 All said, this withdrawal from this medication may not be felt for three days to a week after a medication cut.8
  • Continue to adjust the cuts as needed according to personal tolerance and your doctor’s guidance.
  • It is not at all unusual for the last cuts to be the most difficult. Take enough time to ease through the final reductions slowly.9

Sometimes there are multiple issues going on concurrent with a medication taper, and these may contribute to protracted withdrawal which is quite difficult to negotiate through without professional help.

Prozac Tapering Schedule Plan

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for Prozac tapering, and unfortunately, the FDA and the drug manufacturers give no meaningful direction to physicians or to consumers beyond a generic “gradual taper” recommendation.4 It also doesn’t help that the severity and duration of withdrawals from SSRIs and other antidepressants have been under-researched and relatively unacknowledged for decades.11

But a plan can be drawn up and adhered to with the clear caveat that some flexibility and alertness might be needed for slowing the pace at times. We urge you to get a trusted medical professional to help devise your plan and provide oversight as you go through the process safely. Realize that you are juggling a number of factors, so taking time off work for a month or more, or at least reducing your work schedule may be helpful if that is possible.

prozac side effectsThe side effects from an incorrectly done or rushed Prozac taper, similar to other SSRI drugs, can become prolonged and overwhelming. This is why so many people just decide to stay on antidepressants rather than try to endure such a challenge. This is especially true in older persons who just can’t stand up to that level of mental and physical torture.9,10

Dizziness is one of the most common withdrawals from SSRIs. Others can include electric-shock sensations in the head and neck, nausea, vivid dreams, insomnia, depersonalization, irritability, visual and auditory hallucinations, stroke-like phenomena, and a myriad of other documented symptoms.12

Alternative to Meds Center may be able to provide help for such persons who are looking for safe and comfortable titration from Prozac under careful and exacting medical oversight in a warm and nurturing inpatient setting. One important goal at the center is to help our clients improve mental health naturally. You should have the opportunity to choose a drug-free pathway to mental health, instead of relying on drugs to mask the unwanted symptoms which are reducing one’s quality of life. Below we discuss some of the protocols used during Prozac tapering at Alternative to Meds Center.

Holistic Prozac Alternatives for Mental Health

Alternative to Meds Center bases its Prozac tapering programs around holistic detox methods, correction of diet, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, and a wide array of recovery therapies, including therapeutic massage, supplementation, IV + NAD treatments, nebulized glutathione, counseling services, Qi Gong, holistic pain management, peer support groups, acupuncture, Equine-assisted therapy, colon hydrotherapy, and many other components, many of which are based on the results of lab testing. Our programs provide a foundation that can lead to attaining natural mental health. It means much more than just becoming drug-free.

Before coming to our center, a person may have been suffering from mental unease or stress. They may have gone to see their regular doctor or even a psychiatrist, and the most usual course of treatment probably involved a short interview in the doctor’s office, and the person may have answered positively when asked about feeling depressed, lacking energy, lethargic, in despair, and perhaps other troubles such as insomnia, social withdrawal, or even a vague feeling of general malaise.

A common response might have been to offer a prescription of antidepressant medication, without any further investigative work or other lines of questioning. It is truly unfortunate that medical practitioners including psychiatrists seem inadequately trained to investigate root causes, but simply to find which drug seems like the best fit for the patient’s set of symptoms. The patient may even come into the doctor’s office requesting a particular medication because they saw a TV show, or read a blog, and have self-diagnosed based on someone else’s situation, or based on how the TV show made Prozac et al seem like a miracle drug or a particularly impactful advertising campaign. This practice is sometimes referred to as “pop medicine,” and it doesn’t always have a very good track record.4,13

This abbreviated type of “assessment” would be much like having a patient indicate they have pain in the leg, where the attending doctor did not inquire about any recent injury, or doing any check for broken bones or torn ligaments, etc. and simply offering a prescription of painkillers to “treat” the patient. If that scenario seems improper, and even negligent, that is because it would be. Obviously, medical doctors are well-trained in their field and WOULD be more inquisitive than the above hypothetical situation of treating a patient complaining of a pain in the leg or a boil or a rash. But, when the patient has a symptom that lies outside the realm of obvious physical complaints, the treatment options may default to handing out more pills.6

Assessment Prior to Prozac Tapering

getting off prozacA client coming to Alternative to Meds Center for relief from unwanted symptoms such as mental unease, stress, depression, insomnia, mood swings, etc., will be assessed in a much more comprehensive way so as to support getting off Prozac. Since documentation shows that neurotoxins,14 food and other allergies,15 nutritional deficits,16 blood sugar anomalies,17 and other factors can lead to certain symptoms, we investigate these and other possible root causes during assessment using testing to design the proper treatment.

Thus, the destination of eliminating root causes — or at least reducing their impact — can be mapped out for each individual. Goals for treatment include the following three:

  1. To help a person safely and comfortably reduce or eliminate medications, for example, Prozac tapering, which can reduce their unwanted drug reactions and side effects.
  2. During and after Prozac tapering, we initiate changes in the person’s routine, diet, environment, etc., which may help reduce or eliminate their troubling symptoms, which in turn reduces the need to mask these with prescription drugs. This is fundamental because prescription drugs such as Prozac were never designed to cure or fix, but only to mask unwanted symptoms and feelings. For example, a person who has a potassium deficiency may suffer chronic headaches. One could just continue to take aspirins or could be given the opportunity to discover this deficiency, correct it, and experience a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of their headaches.
  3. To provide a thorough education to each client concerning how to enhance mental wellness in a natural and proactive way, and how to integrate that into their lifestyle. Each client is given many tools and a wealth of information needed for a better understanding of the effects that certain precursors or other factors can have on neurochemistry, which in turn, can affect many aspects of health.

These three goals demonstrate the overall aim to achieve what we call natural mental health:  minimum to no drugs required for feeling healthy, well, and symptom-free.

Prozac Titration & Prozac Weaning Help

At Alternative to Meds Center, Prozac titration, also known as Fluoxetine tapering, is only part of the overall picture. Our clients are given a program designed to help meet their individual goals, which gives the client getting off Prozac a comprehensive and well-planned route to accomplish the task safely and as comfortably as possible.

Trying to wean off Prozac without such preparation, planning and medical oversight can be daunting and unpredictable. We understand the challenges facing our clients and we have helped thousands of clients to reach their goals by designing programs that fit their unique history and profile. To ensure success we offer the tools needed to mitigate the discomforts that often accompany trying to quit Prozac and other medications.

Alternative to Meds Center Programs for Prozac Alternatives

Where a person elects antidepressant tapering as a desired treatment option, additional holistic treatments such as IV and NAD therapy, neurotoxin removal, and others offered at the Alternative to Med Center can open the door to addressing and correcting root causes for the symptoms that led to a prescription of Prozac in the first place. Many other forms of help and support are also provided such as CBT counseling, life coaching, problem-solving, education on nutrition for a healthy brain and CNS, education on creating and support for a healthy microbiome, and education on self-care for healthy neurotransmitters.18 Please visit our services overview page for more details on these and other services we provide inpatient at the center.

There is no real point in getting off Prozac if the original symptoms or problems will just come back again. Weaning off Prozac, or other prescription drugs should also be accompanied by thoroughly investigating the root causes for these troubling symptoms, and providing therapies and treatments that will begin to correct the source of these unwanted feelings such as hopelessness, grief, tiredness, stress, depression, etc., in natural, drug-free ways.

Contact Alternative to Meds Center

Trying to quit Prozac can be surprisingly easy, and more comfortable than you may have thought possible. We have been successfully assisting clients toward their goals of improving natural mental health for nearly a decade and a half now.

Please contact Alternative to Meds Center for much more detailed information on the programs we offer for those weaning off Prozac or other prescription drugs. If you are looking for a dependable, safe program that will provide the most helpful and comprehensive protocols and treatment options for Prozac tapering and health restoration, our center may be exactly what you have been searching for.

1. Lyons DJ, Ammari R, Hellysaz A, Broberger C. Serotonin and Antidepressant SSRIs Inhibit Rat Neuroendocrine Dopamine Neurons: Parallel Actions in the Lactotrophic Axis. J Neurosci. 2016;36(28):7392-7406. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4061-15.2016 [cited 2022 July 5]

2. Informed Consent AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, II, V, VIII [[cited 2022 July 5]

3. FDA Access Data PROZAC® FLUOXETINE CAPSULES, USP [cited 2022 July 5]

4. AMA Moving Medicine Podcast, “Pop Medicine: How media shapes perceptions of health care.” [transcript from Jan 24, 2020 online podcast] [cited 2022 July 5]

5. Cartwright C, Gibson K, Read J, Cowan O, Dehar T. Long-term antidepressant use: patient perspectives of benefits and adverse effects. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2016;10:1401-1407. Published 2016 Jul 28. doi:10.2147/PPA.S110632 [cited 2022 July 5]

6. Smith B, “Inappropriate prescribing.” APA June 2012 Vol 43 No.6 [print version Page 36] [cited 2022 July 5]

7. Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome, Am Fam Physician. 2006 Aug 1;74(3):449-456. [cited 2022 July 5]

8. Keks N, Hope J, Keogh S. Switching and stopping antidepressants. Aust Prescr. 2016;39(3):76-83. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2016.039 [cited 2022 July 5]

9. McHugh, Beth, and Rajeev Krishnadas. “Guide to safely withdrawing antidepressants in primary care.” Prescriber 22.17 (2011): 36-40. [cited 2022 July 5]

10. Haddad, Peter M., and Ian M. Anderson. “Recognising and managing antidepressant discontinuation symptoms.” Advances in Psychiatric treatment 13.6 (2007): 447-457. [cited 2022 July 5]

11. Stockmann T, Odegbaro D, Timimi S, Moncrieff J. SSRI and SNRI withdrawal symptoms reported on an internet forum. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2018;29(3-4):175-180. doi: 10.3233/JRS-180018. PMID: 29758951. [cited 2022 July 5]

12. Renoir T. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant treatment discontinuation syndrome: a review of the clinical evidence and the possible mechanisms involved. Front Pharmacol. 2013 Apr 16;4:45. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2013.00045. PMID: 23596418; PMCID: PMC3627130. [cited 2022 July 5]

13. Greenslit N, Kaptchuk T, “Antidepressants and Advertising: Psychopharmaceuticals in Crisis.” Yale J Biol Med. 2012 Mar; 85(1); 2012 Mar PMC3313530 [online] 2012 Mar 29 PMID 22461754 [cited 2022 July 5]

14. Stephen J. Genuis, “Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked.” NeuroToxicology, Volume 29, Issue 6, 2008, Pages 1147-1149, ISSN 0161-813X, [cited 2022 July 5]

15. Amritwar AU, Lowry CA, Brenner LA, Hoisington AJ, Hamilton R, Stiller JW, Postolache TT. Mental Health in Allergic Rhinitis: Depression and Suicidal Behavior. Curr Treat Options Allergy. 2017 Mar;4(1):71-97. doi: 10.1007/s40521-017-0110-z. Epub 2017 Mar 25. PMID: 28966902; PMCID: PMC5614510. [cited 2022 July 5]

16. Stevens AJ, Rucklidge JJ, Kennedy MA. Epigenetics, nutrition and mental health. Is there a relationship? Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Nov;21(9):602-613. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1331524. Epub 2017 May 29. PMID: 28553986. [cited 2022 July 5]

17. Ducat L, Rubenstein A, Philipson LH, Anderson BJ. A review of the mental health issues of diabetes conference.Diabetes Care. 2015;38(2):333-338. doi:10.2337/dc14-1383 [cited 2022 July 5]

18. Rybnikova E. Brain, antibiotics, and microbiota – how do they interplay?: An Editorial for ‘Antibiotics-induced modulation of large intestinal microbiota altered aromatic amino acid profile and expression of neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus of piglets’ on page 219. J Neurochem. 2018 Aug;146(3):208-210. doi: 10.1111/jnc.14341. Epub 2018 Jun 28. PMID: 29953619. [cited 2022 July 5]

Originally Published Nov 2, 2019 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 Tapering (Fluoxetine)
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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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