INFORMATION ABOUT SSRIs – PROZAC, LOVAN (fluoxetine)
Aim: This medication is intended to correct the chemical changes in your body, which are associated with depressive illness. This normally takes 3 to 4 weeks, but may take 6 weeks. This medications is part of a new generation of antidepressants known as the group Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac was the first. At present, it is not possible to predict which particular medication is best suited to any individual patient’s chemistry, so that the antidepressant first prescribed may need to be changed after some time if it is not effective. Statistically, any antidepressant has a 70% chance of helping an individual patient.
Dosage: Most people only need one tablet a day, usually taken in the morning. The normal maximum dose is 4 tablets/day . Liquid and soluble tablet preparations of Prozac are avaialable
Length of treatment: Once you recover, you will need to keep taking the tablets for some months afterwards, to prevent the chemical imbalance from returning. These tablets are not at all addictive.
Side effects: Side effects of this medication are usually much less than with older antidepressants. You may experience some or none of the following:
- Agitation, restlessness or anxiety: this side effect usually subsides over a few weeks. Temporarily reducing or splitting the dosage or taking half tablets should resolve this problem. Starting with ½ doses for a few days lessens this problem.
- Difficulty sleeping: this symptom usually subsides when the depressive illness has been eradicated. Take the medication in the morning, as the medication usually makes your mind more stimulated.
- Sexual difficulties: these are usually related to the dose of the medication you are taking, and occur in about 50% of people.
- Headache, nausea: usually mild. Stop the medication if severe.
- Less common: increased or decreased appetite, dry mouth, blurring of vision, excessive sweating, shakiness, diarrhoea, vaginal bleeding.
- Weight gain: occurs in many people with long term use.
Need to vary dosage: This medication will eventually overwhelm your symptoms, if it works for you. With no symptoms left to absorb the powerful medication, you may experience yawning, drowsiness, difficulty finding the right word, or simple errors in spelling or calculation. Reduce the medication for 2 or 3 days, until these problems resolve, and continue at a lower dose. At times of extra stress, you may need to increase the dose (so that your concentration and memory are back to normal, being good indicators or good symptom control).
Precautions: Do not take these tablets:
- If you develop a rash or hives while taking this medication.
- If you have taken Parnate or Nardil etc., within the previous 2 weeks.
- If you intend becoming pregnant in the next 2 months.
Use of Alcohol: You can have a small amount of alcohol quite safely with these tablets, but do remember that you will probably become drunk or sleepy much more easily.
Stopping the medication: Prozac is unique in having a very long duration in your bloodstream, so withdrawal reactions are very rare even if you suddenly stop the medication, or take it very irregularly.
This information is intended to improve your knowledge of the treatment you are receiving. Any further points can be discussed at your next consultation with your doctor.
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.