Everything You Need to Know About Prozac Withdrawal
Antidepressants are incredibly common in the United States. In fact, 1 in every 10 Americans makes use of some form of antidepressant. Out of all the antidepressants out on the market today, there’s no questioning that Prozac is one of the most popular.
Because of how popular it is, it’s in your best interest to learn more about it. Whether or not you are currently taking it or if a person you know is taking it, learning about these things is vital and could really prove to be beneficial when it comes to helping people struggling with this medication. If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about, read on as we break down everything that you need to know about Prozac and Prozac withdrawal.
What is Prozac?
Prozac is the brand name for fluoxetine. It is an antidepressant that is usually prescribed to deal with depression, bulimia, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prozac is used to treat both adults and children that are over 10 years old. It can come in a slew of different forms including, liquid, tablet, and capsule.
It’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Essentially, what this means is that Prozac balances the chemicals in the brain and hinders the absorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Ideally, this is supposed to help users maintain a positive disposition and a less erratic mood. For the most part, Prozac, when taken properly under the supervision of a doctor, can be incredibly helpful for people afflicted with depression. It can help boost their mood, improve their appetite, and help them sleep better.
What Are the Side Effects of Prozac?
Despite its usefulness, Prozac does not come without drawbacks. There are a number of possible side effects that come with taking the drug. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Dry Mouth
- Extreme Sweating
- Erratic Weight Gain and Loss
- Sexual Dysfunction and Disinterest
Aside from the side effects listed above, there are studies that have shown a link between Prozac and suicidal ideation. What this means is that Prozac can increase the risk of suicidality, especially among children and adolescents. This is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning that Prozac usage may increase the risk of suicidality.
To combat this, it’s important to closely monitor individuals that are taking Prozac for any potential signs of suicidality. It’s crucial to do this at the beginning of treatment and whenever a user’s dosages are either increased or decreased. To help make this easier, we’ve compiled a list of the most common signs of suicidality that should be closely monitored:
- Thinking and planning about suicide.
- Mentioning suicide casually.
- A general feeling of hopelessness.
- Erratic and violent mood swings.
- Self-destructive or reckless behavior
Given its many side effects, it’s important to reiterate that Prozac can be really beneficial for people with depression and other mental illnesses. If a doctor prescribes Prozac, then it means that its benefits outweigh the many side effects attached to the drug.
While Prozac isn’t classified as an addictive drug, it’s important to note that it can be psychologically addictive. To be more specific, users develop a psychological dependence on the drug. Dependence is different from addiction as it refers to the process wherein your mind and body depend on a substance due to how it makes you feel. And while it may not be physical drug addiction, it still comes with a multitude of different withdrawal symptoms.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Prozac?
As we’ve stated above, Prozac comes with quite a number of withdrawal symptoms. With that being said, it’s important to note that Prozac is the least likely to cause withdrawal symptoms among the many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors out on the market today. This is because of Prozac’s long half-life. Half-life refers to the span of time that it takes for half of the drug to be expelled from your body. Withdrawal happens when a person suddenly stops taking a drug. Other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have a half-life of one day but Prozac’s is significantly longer at six days.
With that being said, this can also cause more serious withdrawal symptoms if ever they do occur. Withdrawal usually happens a couple of weeks after you stop taking the drug. Unlike other withdrawal symptoms, Prozac withdrawal tends to last particularly long. So much so that there are cases that detail withdrawal symptoms lasting for longer than two months.
Another tricky thing about Prozac withdrawal is that it can often be confused for other conditions. In fact, it can even be confused for relapse. This makes it harder to help users, which prevents them from getting the help that they actually need.
Now, the key here is to recognize the symptoms of withdrawal as soon as they occur. To help you out, we’ve put together the different systems that Prozac withdrawal effects. Here are a few things that you should be keeping an eye on:
- Digestive: Withdrawal can cause many complications with your digestive system. If you’re quitting Prozac, then you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping.
- Balance: Quitting Prozac can also affect your balance. So much so that you may find yourself feeling dizzy or extremely lightheaded. In more serious cases, users even find it difficult to walk properly.
- Sleep Problems: Aside from insomnia, quitting Prozac can bring about strange and extremely graphic dreams.
- Mood: Because Prozac helped with stabilizing a person’s mood, you may find yourself being more irritable than usual when tapering off the drug. This can also go in an entirely different direction as Prozac withdrawal can also induce bouts of extreme mania. Lastly, suicidal ideation is still something that’s of concern when quitting Prozac.
- Motor Control: Quitting Prozac can also affect muscles. Tremors, muscle tension, and restless legs are all common withdrawal symptoms.
Take note that the severity of the symptoms may vary from mild to completely incapacitating. To accurately gauge this, be sure to use the Discontinuation-Emergent Signs and Symptoms Scale.
What’s the Best Way to Deal With Prozac Addiction?
Tackling Prozac addiction can be vastly different from other drugs. Due to the fact that the “addiction” in this case is linked to a person’s psychological dependence on the drug. This is why rehab programs are geared towards behavioral treatment and peer support. By doing things this way, individuals struggling with addiction have a better shot at long-term sobriety.
Now, it’s important to note that rehab programs that last fewer than 90 days won’t be as effective. The best way to treat addiction is to commit to it for the long term. This means either making use of a long-term addiction treatment regimen or 90 days of continuous treatment.
The last thing we want is to demonize a drug. Like all prescription drugs, Prozac was created with the goal to help individuals living with mental illnesses. The main takeaway here should be to use these drugs under the strict supervision of your doctor. The same goes for quitting, as it is not wise to cease taking the drug without the guidance of a medical professional.