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Fluoxetine (SSRI)

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Fluoxetine is an antidepressant, used to treat symptoms of depression. It works by affecting the level of serotonin in your brain, altering your mood.
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What is Fluoxetine?

Fluoxetine is an antidepressant, used to treat depression and anxiety. Depression is where a person feels unhappy or sad for an extended period of time, often over a period of weeks or months. People with depression usually don’t know why they are unhappy, and it’s thought that depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

Symptoms of depression include lack of sleep, loss of appetite, feeling constantly tired and a decreased sex drive. Fluoxetine can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Additionally Fluoxetine is used to treat the eating disorder bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD.)

Fluoxetine is available as a generic medication on prescription from your doctor. It is also available under the brand name Prozac. You are not able to buy Fluoxetine without a prescription. Fluoxetine comes as tablets, a liquid or as capsules, to be taken internally through your mouth.

For more information, please refer to the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Fluoxetine is one of several antidepressants called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs.) SSRIs work by altering the balance of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for mood and social behaviour, so it’s thought that SSRIs reduce the effects of depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

It usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks after you start taking it for you to feel the full effects of Fluoxetine. Fluoxetine comes as tablets in strengths of 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 60 mg, and capsules of 10 mg, 20 mg and 40mg. It’s also available as delayed release capsules, in a strength of 90 mg.

Before you take it

You must not take Fluoxetine Prozac if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. There have been cases of severe allergic reactions to Fluoxetine and other antidepressants. You can read more about this in the patient information leaflet. Consult your doctor for an alternative treatment for your symptoms.

If you are pregnant, taking Fluoxetine can increase the risk of harm to your baby. You must inform your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. The effects of Fluoxetine, including whether the benefits of taking it outweigh the risks, must be closely monitored, especially in the third trimester of your pregnancy. An alternative treatment may be more suitable for your condition.

Fluoxetine can pass into breast milk. You should avoid taking Fluoxetine if you are breast feeding.

Fluoxetine can sometimes cause weight gain. It’s unknown whether this is a side effect of the medication itself, or as a result of increased appetite associated with taking Fluoxetine. If you are concerned about potential weight gain while taking Fluoxetine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

It’s possible for other medicines to interact with Fluoxetine. It’s dangerous to take Fluoxetine with other types of antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs.) A drug interaction can occur, and this may be fatal. You must inform your doctor if you have taken any monoamine oxidase inhibitor drug within the past 14 days.

Fluoxetine can also cause dangerous drug interactions with other medicines you're taking, including thioridazine and pimozide (causing an irregular heartbeat,) and linazolid (methylene blue.) Don’t take Fluoxetine if you are taking these drugs, and discuss with your doctor an alternative treatment. Make sure you do not take Fluoxetine with St John's Wort, as this can cause a health problem called serotonin syndrome.

Fluoxetine can cause withdrawal symptoms. It is very important that you don’t stop taking Fluoxetine without talking to your doctor. There can be serious side effects that may affect you if you stop taking Fluoxetine suddenly.

People taking Fluoxetine can also drink alcohol, however you should consume in moderation. It’s possible for alcohol to worsen the symptoms of depression.

Fluoxetine may cause an increase in suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self harm within the first couple of weeks of treatment. You must talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Worsening depression and behaviour changes
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Anger, irritability, violent behaviour or agitation
  • An increase in activity levels
  • Constantly talking, excitability
  • Feeling like you don’t need to sleep

You must speak to your doctor before taking Fluoxetine if you have a history of glaucoma, heart problems, liver disease, diabetes, or a history of suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide.

Dosage Instructions

You must take Fluoxetine capsules and tablets exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Your dose of Fluoxetine will depend on your age and your symptoms. You must not exceed the prescribed dose.

Fluoxetine must be swallowed with water, with or without food. Take it once per day, at the same time every day. It’s not important when this is, as long as you stick to the same time each day. If you’re having issues sleeping, it’s best to take Fluoxetine in the morning.

Your doctor may start a low dose and periodically adjust it depending on your body’s response to the medication. For the delayed release capsule, consult your doctor as to when you should take it and how much you should take.

You may need to take a lower dose if you are aged 65 or older. Your doctor will advise you further.

Fluoxetine must be stored at room temperature, away from heat and moisture. It must also be kept out of the reach of children.

Common Side Effects of Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine can cause serious allergic reactions. This is an emergency, and you must seek medical advice immediately. Symptoms can include:

  • A skin rash that includes peeling, blistering, red or itchy skin
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Tightness in your throat
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the facial area
  • Blurred vision
  • Sore throat
  • Fast heart rate or irregular heart rhythm

For a full list of allergic reaction symptoms, please read the patient information leaflet.

There is also a risk of side effects in patients using Fluoxetine. You must call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following serious symptoms:

  • Headaches, trouble concentrating or memory loss
  • Losing balance or not thinking clearly
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Liver problems or stomach ache
  • Dizziness, drowsiness or feeling faint
  • Changes in menstrual periods, including heavy bleeding or spotting
  • A painful erection or an erection that lasts more than 4 hours
  • Signs of internal bleeding - vomiting blood, black or red stools
  • Bleeding profusely or bleeding that won’t stop

Fluoxetine has more common, mild to moderate side effects. These are not usually serious, and go away on their own as your body becomes used to the medicine. However, if they do not go away, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. Possible side effects include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea or feeling sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Dry mouth

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Fluoxetine suitable for children?

Yes. Fluoxetine is safe to be used in children and adolescents over 8 years old to treat depression. It should not be given to younger children, and should never be given to someone else to whom it has not been prescribed. Consult your doctor for more information.

I’m pregnant or breastfeeding. Can I take Fluoxetine?

You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking Fluoxetine. There is an increased risk of harm an unborn baby in some circumstances. You should not breastfeed while taking Fluoxetine. Please ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any further questions.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take a dose, this is not a cause for concern. Skip the missed dose and take your next dose at your usual time. You must never double up to make up for a missed dose. Remember to take Fluoxetine at the same time each day.

What happens if I take too much?

It is possible to overdose on Fluoxetine. An overdose can have adverse effects, which can begin mildly and rapidly get worse. Symptoms related to an overdose include seizures, hallucinations, trouble breathing, dilated pupils and mania or hysteria. You must call an ambulance or go to hospital straight away if you believe you have overdosed on Fluoxetine. An overdose can be life-threatening.

More Information
Dosage Instructions Take ONE as directed by your doctor.