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PROZAC - a patient's guide


Prozac belongs to a new group of anti-depressants known as SSRIs. This article profiles the drug and its side effects.

DRUG NAME: fluoxetine

USE: Antidepressant

This medicine is known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), where it is used mainly for the treatment of depression and anxiety, bulimia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These disorders are thought to be a result from a chemical imbalance in parts of the brain, where Prozac works by correcting the chemical imbalance via reducing the uptake of serotonin by nerve cells.


  • History of seizures (epilepsy)
  • Heart disease and diabetes
  • Liver and kidney impairment
  • Agitation and mania
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Major mood disorder

Side effects:

Side effects are often dose-related and vary from patient to patient. Unwanted effects include stomach upset, drowsiness or weakness, insomnia, shakiness, changes in sex drive, anxiety, weight loss, sweating, headache, dry mouth and impaired concentration.

Overdose: Seek urgent medical advice.


Some common interactions include other antidepressants, MAOIs (e.g. Nardil, Parnate, Aurorix), lithium, warfarin, digoxin, phenytoin, oral antidiabetic agents and insulin.

Patient information:

  • Follow the instructions carefully on the label of this medicine (do not exceed recommended dose).
  • Take this medicine regularly as directed by your doctor.
  • Food: Taken with food if it upsets your stomach.
  • Missed dose: Wait until the next dose (do not take an extra dose).
  • Alcohol: Avoid (additive effects with alcohol).
  • Storage: Keep out of reach of children in a cool, dry place.
  • Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • The medication usually takes from 2 to 4 weeks (sometimes slightly longer) to take effect. Patients should stay in close contact with their doctors or mental health workers.
  • The usual duration of recommended treatment is from 4 to 6 months and upwards.
  • Always discuss discontinuing the medication with your doctor; sometimes the dosage needs to be reduced slowly.
  • Tell your pharmacist that you are taking Prozac if you intend on taking any over-the-counter medicines.
  • Contact your doctor or seek urgent medical help if side effects are severe (skin rash), or ongoing.

See also:

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