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Prozac Withdrawal Symptoms

brain zaps prozac withdrawalProzac withdrawal should be done slowly, not all at once due to the overwhelming reactions that may ensue. Prozac’s relatively long half-life may allow for easier withdrawal than other antidepressants that have a shorter half-life. However, each person has a unique health profile, and reactions differ from person to person, and in all cases, careful planning and oversight are required for the best outcome.3,19

A set of 53 withdrawal symptoms associated with antidepressant withdrawal was compiled by Black et al, published in the 2000 Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.13 The most common Prozac withdrawals are listed below. 7,10,13,14,18,20,21,28-30

REMEMBER:  Always seek medical oversight for Prozac withdrawal for your health and safety.

Common symptoms of Prozac withdrawal can include:
  • Insomnia, vivid dreams or nightmares, disturbed sleep
  • Imbalance, unsteady gait, vertigo, dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Brain zaps (electrical jolts through the head) associated with bilateral eye movement
  • Hyperarousal, anxiety, aggression, irritability, restlessness
  • Flu-like symptoms, sweating, lethargy, fatigue, myalgia, headache
  • Visual or audio hallucinations
  • Burning, tingling, prickling sensations
  • Akathisia, jerking motions, psycho-motor disturbances
  • Rebound phenomena – may include relapse, elevated return of symptoms 

Some persons will experience mild symptoms, while others may find the withdrawals compare to or surpass the level of discomfort of coming off benzodiazepines. This was documented in a massive review of medical literature by Offidani et al, published in the 2013 Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.12

Prozac abuse has been reported as a growing concern right across the globe, according to recent medical literature.8 However, dependence is also of great concern. Dependence is associated with adverse withdrawal effects. A 2017 review of prescriptions in Germany found SSRIs to be the most frequently prescribed psychiatric drug across the country.10 And, a study out of Denmark showed that the majority of medical advice hotline calls had to do with questions relating to antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.11

Despite overwhelming evidence and even FDA black-box warnings, in many cases, Prozac withdrawal symptoms seem to get blamed on the patient rather than the drug itself.

Prozac withdrawal can cause extraordinarily debilitating withdrawals for certain persons. Disturbingly, these patients tend to get disregarded and minimized for their very real suffering.

Looking for a more personalized treatment plan?

successful prozac withdrawal
Alternative to Meds Center has been tackling antidepressant withdrawal for over 17 years. Our independently compiled analysis of client success is publicly available. We encourage reading more about the published evidence regarding our success. Our staff, including licensed professionals and founding members, have overcome similar struggles, which underlies our passion to do this work. After working with over 20,000 cases, we have found that each person needs a unique combination of support. Some people are neurotoxic in a way that debilitates neurochemical balance. Some may require lifestyle modification. These changes can include diet changes, exercise, and supplementation. Some people have genetic polymorphisms or even medical conditions that can be identified and vastly improved with drug-free treatments.
Watch this video of a woman who came to Alternative to Meds in a truly disabled state. She was on benzodiazepines and antidepressants and was still highly anxious and highly depressed. She was unable to work and barely able to walk. After completing the program, she was off both medications, and was able to walk 1½ hours a day. She has since regained her profession of being a professional counselor.

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About Prozac

cautions regarding antidepressant drugsAccording to recent statistics, Prozac is once again poised among the top three most prescribed antidepressant drugs in the world. Statista reported 24,961,000 Prozac prescriptions were written in the US alone in 2011-2012.1

Despite sagging sales pre-pandemic, the numbers have again spiked for antidepressants and other pharmaceutical drugs at an astounding 34% rise according to 2020 statistics.26 Prozac is an antidepressant drug in the class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. Prozac affects and manipulates certain natural chemicals.
Among these are the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate brain and central nervous system functions, a vast and not entirely understood body of data. Areas affected can include the digestive system, hormone activation or suppression, body temperature, mood, and emotional response, and a million other components of the human body. A theory was launched that depressed persons have a deficiency in serotonin. As a result, a whole new era of drugs was born to respond to this condition. And advertising has been highly effective in spreading the word. However, the “serotonin theory” has been subject to serious debate.15-17 Nonetheless, successful marketing of SSRI drugs, has captured billions of dollars each year for the ongoing sales campaign.

Antidepressants on the Rise

In 2019 the National Center for Health Statistics reported that 48% of all US citizens took at least one prescription drug in the previous 30 days. The third most prescribed drug was antidepressant medication.4 Just as alarming, teen suicides have also risen by 50% in the last decade.27 Many such antidepressants were originally approved only after short-term studies. Short-term studies cannot demonstrate long-term efficacy or safety. According to a comprehensive review of clinical data by Danborg et al, the benefits of SSRI use have been exaggerated by short-term trials. Consequently, the harms of long-term SSRIs have been underestimated and are largely unknown. Notably, all authors of the review concluded there were no documented long-term beneficial outcomes after long-term use of SSRIs.16

SSRIs are prescribed to children 8 and older and adults for major depressive disorder. For children aged 7 and older, and adults Prozac is prescribed to treat OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and panic disorder.7 With surprising clarity, the DSM-5 clearly stresses the importance of careful assessment to select persons who may or may not be good candidates for SSRI drugs.2

Seek Medical Help for Prozac Withdrawal

While an ever-growing number of doctors and nurse practitioners are legally able to prescribe medications, consumers need to practice due diligence. One should fully research a drug before taking it. One can look into non-drug-based therapies for treating depression. This could apply to all age categories. For someone who has decided to stop taking Prozac, medical oversight is strongly advised. Alternative to Meds Center has designed programs using non-harmful, effective techniques to get off Prozac, Educational components in the program teach clients and practitioners alike how to stop Prozac safely and as comfortably as possible.

Strategies for Successful Prozac Withdrawal

Some persons will have a tougher time than others trying to come off antidepressant medications. This population most likely includes those who have been taking the medication for a long time. Additional concerns arise if a person is taking multiple medications. Additionally, persons who have an impaired microbiome, poor diet, sleep issues, or other ongoing difficulties with mood, energy, and lingering symptoms may indicate toxic overload. This is a tangle that is best-treated inpatient, where a step-by-step program can be designed to untangle all such issues in a logical sequence.

We understand that not everyone may be in a position to seek inpatient treatment. At the very least, get medical oversight from a doctor who understands and is sympathetic to your situation, and who is familiar with coming off antidepressants safely. Before reducing medication, you should aim to stabilize some health basics, described below.

Here are some preparatory points to put in place before the withdrawal process, to ease the transition to medication-free:

  • improved sleep for prozac withdrawalSleep: Do what you can to improve your sleep hygiene before you begin the withdrawal process. Provide yourself with well-ventilated sleeping quarters. Select comfortable pillows and a mattress that fits your body well. Hang some black-out curtains. Try a comfortable eye mask or earplugs for light and noise reduction. Remove electronic gadgets from the sleeping area. Avoid screens for a period of time before bed. Some find melatonin, herbal teas such as chamomile or passionflower, or a glass of warm milk taken before retiring can help induce relaxation before sleep. Other options include stretching, yoga or other mild exercises, a warm bath or shower, meditation, soothing music, and aromatherapy.50,51

Pay Attention to Diet and Nutrition

  • Diet:  Ensure you are getting adequate proteins, fruits, and vegetables daily. Avoid sugars that can cause energy spikes and crashes, and eliminate stimulants such as caffeine, colas, or energy drinks that can delay REM sleep. The “Mediterranean” diet can provide nutrition guidelines to follow, and will also provide adequate Omega-3 oils that are associated with better mood regulation.43,44,52
  • Microbiome health:  Medications and other factors compromise the microbiome, the “second grain.” To offset a compromised gut take yogurt or other fermented foods, or probiotic supplements daily to give the gut the raw materials to get back to proper functioning. Most of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, so this support is vital.53

Strategies that can help day to day

  • Simplify your life. You may need to take time off work or school so that day-to-day pressures and the normal rush and stress factors are minimized, and there is an adequate allowance for rest and relaxation. At the; very least, reduce your workload, and postpone social events or other stressful obligations for a time, if possible. Plan to engage in pleasant hobbies, reading, listening to music, keeping a journal, catching up with letter writing, spending time in nature, or other enjoyable and relaxing activities. Rest and relaxation are highly therapeutic in healing. Even in clinical settings, rest is fundamental to recovery. Before you begin your recovery journey, carve out enough time that you will need for physical and mental rest.51,54

Enlist the help of others

  • You need a team. Create a trusted network or small team of supportive people around you and explain your goals. Most people will be generous with help if you request it. Now, more than ever before, there are resources for telehealth and online support you can look into for additional support. Let friends or associates know you may need to call on them for errands or shopping or just to offer companionship for a period of time. For severe health conditions, consider hiring a professional nurse or caregiver to come in several times a week to assist you. Along with your medical support persons, do stay in touch with close friends who you can rely on for assistance and company if desired.54,55
  • Physical therapies can be extremely useful during the withdrawal process. Before you begin, you may want to arrange appointments for therapeutic massage or acupuncture treatments, or you may want to learn Qi Gong or Tai Chi which you can do either in local classes or on your own. Taking warm mineral baths may be another useful relaxation therapy. A cup of Epsom salts in the bath is quite therapeutic for muscle relaxation and is especially pleasant before retiring. 48,49


  • Learn and practice mindfulness/meditation. Reducing stress is one aim of mindfulness meditation, which has been shown highly effective in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other discomforts associated with drug withdrawal. Learn how to do these types of practices so you are well-prepared as you begin the process of Prozac withdrawal.51

Once you are sleeping well, or at least better, and you are eating well, this is a good point to team up with your medical professional to start the withdrawal process. Medical doctors are not trained in nutrition for mental health, so be diligent, do your own research, and you will be doing the heavy lifting in this area. But the medical doctor should be familiar enough with antidepressant withdrawal to know how to step down your dosage or be attentive enough to make adjustments throughout the process. Below you will find some additional information that may be useful for such research, covering frequently asked questions and concerns, and additional data about safe Prozac withdrawal strategies. Please contact us to provide more information on these or other topics by request.

When to Consider Prozac Withdrawal

When Prozac doesn’t work as well as had been hoped, or when adverse effects become hard to tolerate and seem to outweigh any benefits, a person may decide to discontinue Prozac.

Prozac withdrawal can be safely done but a gradual approach with adequate and attentive support can greatly ease the process. There are strategic ways to rebuild the neurochemistry naturally to help brace for the withdrawal process

Always seek medical assistance from your doctor, or a competent and licensed health practitioner to get guidance on how to get off Prozac safely. Alternative to Meds Center specializes in Prozac withdrawal treatment and other programs to achieve mental health naturally. Stopping Prozac can be surprisingly gentle and comfortable with the correct protocols and support in place.

Some people report only mild reactions from taking antidepressant medication. Others experience a range of adverse reactions from mild to moderate to severe. Such might signal it is time to consider getting off Prozac. Never do so abruptly.

Prozac Withdrawal

At ATMC I was always supported. The staff was great at providing opportunities for me to work towards stability. What helped me here was always keeping a positive outlook and the constant encouragement and reminders to keep faith in myself.



What Is Prozac 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 that 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. Alternative to Meds Center specializes in alternative treatments for Prozac withdrawal, and for recovering natural mental health without prescription drugs.

Nonpharmacological Treatments for Depression

Nonpharmacological Treatments for DepressionAccording 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 compared to lesser improvements from taking antidepressants. For example, two-thirds of adolescents reported relapse phenomena (return of original symptoms) after completing a course of SSRI treatment in the absence of psychotherapy.3

How does CBT Help?

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 Slang/street names

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 is used as an adjective to describe “someone lively and excited.”

Prozac and Suicide

Research has revealed one of the most troubling adverse reactions to Prozac, that of the increased risk of suicide. The Black Box label notes suicide risk in the pediatric population, but recent medical literature shows adult suicidality is also a risk, often overlooked by prescribers.7,58 Medical literature also describes unexpected episodes of rage or violence, especially in the initial period of starting to take the drug.20-25

Prozac (fluoxetine) Withdrawal FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions about Prozac and some additional information about the characteristics of the drug.

Ask your doctor if you have more questions about Prozac or if you have concerns about whether to consider Prozac withdrawal. These are important questions requiring qualified medical advice.

Is Prozac Highly Addictive?

Prozac is not considered to be addictive according to the organizations that regulate prescription medication. Regulatory bodies that oversee prescribing medications do not classify Prozac as habit-forming or addictive. However, recreational users do report being attracted to its speed-like high and do at times seek treatment for what they are viewing as pleasure-seeking behavior or drug dependence. These problems can develop and intensify over the course of taking Prozac.

Are Prozac and Xanax (benzodiazepine) the Same?

No. Drug regulators class Xanax as a benzodiazepine, and Prozac as an SSRI antidepressant. For some users, Prozac has a sedating effect that may resemble a benzodiazepine-type effect. Prozac withdrawal has been compared to benzodiazepine withdrawal in terms of the harsh effects that can occur, and that can linger over time without proper and gradual cessation methods and support.

Can Prozac Make You Sleepy?

One known Prozac adverse effect is that it can cause the person to feel sleepy or drowsy. This common Prozac reaction may make it difficult to drive a car, or operate heavy machinery safely. CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome is defined as chronic fatigue of unknown cause. However, if Prozac was the known cause of chronic drowsiness and the drug was continued for a substantial period of time, it is possible that chronic fatigue syndrome may have been diagnosed in error.

In clinical trials done, aerobic exercise has been proven more effective in the treatment of CFS than Prozac, and even when exercise and Prozac were combined, there was no further improvement than that attained with exercise alone.5

Is Prozac Dangerous?

Prozac is not recommended for all cases of depression, and the medical community has raised questions about guidelines in the DSM-5. These guidelines determine who should and should not be prescribed Prozac as the first line of treatment.45 Especially where a person is taking multiple medications, and suffers from other health conditions exist, these types of factors can heighten certain risks. Physicians should take a number of things into consideration before prescribing Prozac, but in the rush of a short appointment, this is not always the case.

Many users have reported the euphoric high of Prozac which makes Prozac abuse a dangerous yet frequently overlooked potential consequence.

Overstimulation Reaction

Some factors can increase the risk of what is called the “overstimulation reaction.” Case reports show people acting in dangerous ways to themselves and/or others after taking this medication. Other reports show medication-induced disinhibition. Medications like Prozac may induce a lack of normal self-control, which can lead to risky sexual or other behaviors, in dangerous or even violent ways. Careful assessment of these potentials in an individual may preclude Prozac as the right choice in such cases.46

Only a competent medical doctor who has access to patient history and current information can assess and determine the risk-to-benefit ratio for the individual.

Researchers have raised concerns about the content of fluoride in Prozac and other medications and health products. There are unresolved questions concerning the safety of fluoride in products made for ingestion, and this area remains under discussion within the FDA and is also of interest to outside health advocacy groups.6

Treatment for Prozac Abuse

In 2014, the Journal of Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation expressed concern that on the whole, antidepressant misuse and abuse showed a growing trend. Twelve years later, in 2022, a new report that the Pharmaceuticals Journal published showed this trend has not abated and that US and Europe both suffer from this phenomenon. Authors of the study named Fluoxetine (Prozac) as one of the most prevalent drugs of misuse and abuse.56,57

Many persons struggle with dependence and other cascading issues from multiple medications and polydrug use. We are here to help design the unique pathway that gets you safely out of the morass.

Prozac Withdrawal — Holistic Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center

neurotransmitter rehabilitation to aid addiction recoveryAt Alternative to Meds Center, programming and assessment are done on an individual basis to design a set of protocols designed to assist a person to safely benefit from Prozac withdrawal help. Prozac withdrawal can be comfortable as well as safe by utilizing natural mental health protocols to replace prescription medication.

Many people seek relief from depression, or other unwanted symptoms, for which prescription drugs may not have provided a complete answer. At the center, we know that recovery from mental health symptoms can be achieved without relying on drugs to mask symptoms, We focus on discovering and addressing the root causes. Prozac withdrawal treatment may be significantly beneficial in such a situation.

Removal of neurotoxic accumulations from the body, and corrective nutrition can provide a good starting point for the recovery of health at Alternative to Meds Center. We specialize in holistic neurotransmitter repair — another treatment delivered at Alternative to Meds Center. Our holistic protocols may be of interest when a person is seeking relief from symptoms without being encouraged to resort to prescription drugs to suppress or mask these types of symptoms.

How Alternative to Meds Center Helps

At Alternative to Meds Center, we can work in many ways to help individuals attain bettered natural mental health. A gentle Prozac discontinuation is one important area. But, it is not the only area to address during our Prozac withdrawal treatment program. We aim to help our clients achieve natural mental health through a wide array of therapies. These include the correction of diet, supplementation, counseling, and many other therapies that can be viewed on our services overview pages. We invite you to contact us at Alternative to Meds Center, and we would be happy to supply more information about how our holistic, inpatient Prozac withdrawal programs may be just the help you or your loved one are looking for.


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Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

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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