Prozac, or also commonly known by its generic name Fluoxetine Hydrochloride, is an anti-depressant drug. Prozac is in the class of drugs called selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors also known as SSRIs for short. SSRIs act on a specific chemical within the brain known as Serotonin. It works by increasing the amount of Serotonin, in the brain that helps maintain mental balance. Prozac affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Why is Prozac Prescribed?
Prozac is a prescription medication used to treat the symptoms of severe depressive disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa (an eating disorder) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphonic disorder). In the case of severe depressive disorder, it is only prescribed to patients with symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. This is when their depression has proved resistant to at least two different types of anti-depressant medications.
Prozac may also be prescribed to treat Bi-polar Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, Menopause, and Post-Partum Depression. In rare cases it has been prescribed for obesity, binge eating disorder, Cataplexy (a sudden loss of muscle tone triggered by emotional distress) and alcoholism. Prozac is the third most prescribed anti-depressant in the United States.
Statistics Relating To Prozac
Prozac is a medication that has shown to be an effective treatment for severe depression. In-patients with severe depression it has also been shown to help them sleep and improve their levels of anxiety. In patients suffering from panic disorder, Prozac has been proven to decrease the frequency of panic attacks by 50%. Patients prescribed Prozac to treat Bulimia Nervosa had a significantly decreased number of binge eating episodes while on this medication.
Prozac is sometimes used in combination with another medication called Olanzapine (Zyprexa). This is usually prescribed to treat depression caused by bipolar disorder (Manic Depression). This combination may also be used to treat depression after the treatment by at least two other anti-depressant medications have been proven ineffective.
Like any medication, Prozac users may experience side effects. Generally patients who are prescribed Prozac tolerate it well. If side effects do occur, they are minor and can be easily treated by a trip to the doctor. Serious side effects are less common. The most serious side effects include increased depression and/or suicidal thoughts usually occurring during the first several weeks of treatment or if a person's dose is significantly changed.
How Is Prozac Abused?
Prozac is not commonly misused for recreational use. Since Prozac does not "get you high" or produce any immediate feeling of being "high," there is a low risk of abuse. This drug has a low or even nonexistent street value and is unlikely to be addictive. The most likely method of abuse, however, may occur when a person is legitimately prescribed Prozac and develops a dependence or tolerance to this drug.
He or she may begin to take Prozac in large amounts or more frequently. This can be extremely dangerous because an overdose of Serotonin causes toxic levels of this chemical in the brain. This puts patients at risk of severe mental and physical health complications as well as death. When a patient has been using Prozac over a long period of time and wants to stop using it they will experience severe withdrawals from this drug. This may increase their chances of abuse because the patient will choose to remain on this drug even though they don't need it anymore as to not experience the uncomfortable withdrawal effects.
The use of Prozac may cause certain side effects. The following side effects are common and may go away with continued use of this medication. They include:
- Dry Mouth
- Sore Throat
- Body Tremors
- Change in Sex Drive and Sexual Ability
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight Loss
- Excessive Sweating
Some people may experience much more dangerous side effects such as rash, hives, fever, joint pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hallucinations and seizures.
They may also experience swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles and lower legs. If any of these symptoms are experienced, a patient should contact their doctor immediately.
Prozac Abuse Treatment Options
Usually a person using Prozac will not become addicted to the drug, but due to the severe withdrawals that may occur upon sudden cessation of this drug, it is highly recommended to discontinue use while under medical supervision. A doctor may recommend slowly reducing a patient's dose by tapering off this medication. This will provide for much less severe withdrawal.
If a person has developed a psychological dependence to this drug a doctor may recommend treatment at a behavioral health facility or drug detoxification center.