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What Is Prozac?

Prozac is one of the best-known drugs among the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Prozac, which is the trade name for fluoxetine as manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, works by increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain, which helps your brain to send the signals it needs to maintain proper mood balance.

Important Information About Prozac

While many people are familiar with Prozac’s use as an anti-depressant, this is not its only medical indication. It can also be prescribed for people with certain behavioral disorders such as OCD, binge-eating, or bulimia; and anxiety and panic disorders.

There are certain cases in which Prozac may not be a good fit for you. If you have an allergy to the drug itself or any of the inactive components in the pill or liquid dispensation, you should not take Prozac. It also should not be taken in combination with any of the anti-depressants known as MAO inhibitors – because of the dangerous interaction that may occur between these two types of medications, you should wait at least two weeks after finishing taking an MAO inhibitor before you start taking Prozac.

Several other drugs can cause dangerous interactions (other anti-depressants, certain antipsychotics, tryptophan, blood thinners, arrhythmia medications, diuretics, and some antibiotics); the only way to be sure none of the medications you are taking will cause a problem is to inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking or plan to begin taking. Though not a medication, another concurrent treatment that should be avoided is electroconvulsive therapy – in rare cases, people undergoing ECT in combination with Prozac experience seizures.

Certain medical conditions may also mean that Prozac may not be the best choice for you. Liver disease, for example, may prevent you from clearing the drug from your system quickly enough. Make sure your care provider has your full medical history, including diabetes or pre-diabetic syndrome, glaucoma, heart arrhythmia and other heart conditions, and epilepsy and other seizure disorders. If you have ever been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or have considered or attempted suicide, discuss this with your doctor to help make sure you get the prescription that will be best suited to your needs.

If you are currently pregnant or may become pregnant during your treatment with Prozac, discuss this with your doctor. While there are some side effects for the fetus, the benefits may outweigh the potential dangers. This medication is also known to be passed to infants by breastfeeding, so let your doctor know if you are nursing.

Because of its effects on the nervous system, some people may find that they are not alert enough while taking Prozac to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery. You may be experience tiredness or mental fogginess that can slow your reactions and muddle your thinking too much for you to be able to safely continue these and certain other routine activities. It’s also unwise to drink alcoholic beverages while taking Prozac. Because alcohol is a stimulant as well as a sedative, its effects on the nervous system can interfere with the efficacy of Prozac.

Prozac Side Effects

The side effects of Prozac can be mild, or they can be very severe. Most often, side effects are fairly minor; you may experience sleep disturbance (strange dreams, difficulty falling asleep, drowsiness while awake), sexual side effects (erectile dysfunction, lowered libido), and various gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, nausea). Some other common issues include feelings of muscular weakness, a sore throat, swollen or uncomfortable sinuses, facial flushing, or abnormal sweating.

Prozac may cause you to experience changes in mood or activity levels. This can be a warning sign in advance of more serious problems – let your doctor know right away if you begin to suffer panic attacks; if you feel new or increased depression, aggression, or anxiety; if you suffer sleep changes like insomnia; or if you begin to think often about death, suicide, or engaging risky activities. You should also call your doctor immediately if you experience unusual or excessive bruising or bleeding, seizures, appetite loss, severe panic attacks, or your heart begins racing; or if you find yourself engaging in reckless behavior.

One very serious side effect that you may experience taking Prozac, especially if you are a teenager or younger adult, is that you may begin to think about suicide. This is most common during the first few months that you begin taking Prozac, or soon after your doctor modifies your dose. If you are thinking about suicide, contact a care provider, friend or relative, or suicide hotline right away to seek help. Any smaller mood changes should also be reported to your doctor for monitoring.

How To Take Prozac

Because Prozac can take a month or more to fully take effect, you may feel as if the drug is not working – continue taking your medication as prescribed, and discuss any concerns you have with your doctor. Quitting the drug before you are supposed to can be dangerous.

Your Prozac prescription may be dispensed in a tablet, a delayed-release capsule, or as a mint-flavored liquid. Your doctor will work with you to set the correct dosage based on your symptoms, your age, and the rest of your current health status. Typically, you will be prescribed a once-a-day dosage of Prozac, which you can take with a meal or in between meals.

Overdosing On Prozac

If you ingest too much Prozac, you may start to lose motor and speech control, begin to vomit, and experience tremors or even seizures. If you think you may have overdosed, you should call emergency medical services or a poison hotline immediately, as an overdose of Prozac can be fatal; you should call as quickly as possible, as later stages of overdose may leave you confused and unconscious.

Missing A Dose

If, on the other hand, you realize you have forgotten to take one of your doses, take it when you realize what has happened. Do not take the dose you missed if you are close to the time when you are scheduled to take the next dose, and never make up for a missed dose by increasing the amount of Prozac you take the next time.

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