Prozac is the common name of the drug Fluoxetine, which is a popular antidepressant. It increases Serotonin concentration, which is a substance your central nervous system uses for communication. With increases levels of Serotonin, depression and other psychiatric diseases can be prevented.
Just like with any other drug, Prozac is not free from side effects. However, the severity of the side effects differs from one individual to another. Majority of patient tolerate prozac well and can take 20mg of Prozac a day without seeing any side effects of Prozac. Some patients might notice a few small treatable side effects that can be controlled by changing the dosage and timing of drug intake. However, there are a few cases where the side effects can be lethal and life changing. So, let us understand the side effects of Prozac, starting from the common ones and dwell deeper in to the more serious side effects.
Side Effects of Prozac:
Prozac has been studied in depth in clinical circles so that doctors are better able to help patients suffering from the common side effects of this drug. In order for your doctor to analyse and track the severity and consistency of the side effects, you will need to document any changes you notice in your body as soon as you start taking this drug. Based on the analysis, your doctor might change the dosage or add extra medicines to combat the common side effects which are not very serious. Below are most common side effects of Prozac : –
- Headache and Nausea
- Indigestion and Diarrhoea
- Anxiety or Insomnia
- Drowsiness and Weakness
- Decreased appetite
- Increased sweating and Nervousness
- Decreased sex drive and Ejaculatory problems
These are all common side effects of Prozac and are no reason for you to be alarmed. If you notice one or more of these, talk to your doctor and discuss what can be done. Sometimes by reducing the dosage or by breaking a single large dose to two smaller doses can bring immediate relief. For those with gastric problems, the doctor might recommend you to take your Prozac dose after a meal. However, most patients notice that these side effects wear off after being on the drug for a few weeks. If you feel the side effects are interfering with your normal routine and reducing the quality of your life, you can discuss alternate medication with your doctor.
Less common side effects of Prozac:
Not everyone responds in the same way to a medicine, and this is why you also need to be aware of the less common and more serious side effects of Prozac. If you notice any of these, get medical attention immediately and stop taking your Prozac dosage.
- Impulse and incoherent thoughts
- Agitation and irritability
- Tremors and restlessness
- Allergic reaction like difficulty in breathing, swelling or a rash
- Coordination and balance problems
- Suicidal thoughts
All the above are very serious side effects of Prozac and must not be ignored. They can endanger your life in more ways than one, and should you notice even one of these you need to meet with your doctor immediately so he/she can change your prescription to try a new antidepressant.
Specific side effects of Prozac:
Prozac can have some sex specific side effects as well, which must be discussed with your doctor. The severity of the side effects and the way it affects your daily life will determine whether you need to decrease the dosage or go off the medicine completely.
In men – Some men will notice erectile dysfunction or ejaculation problems. These usually subside after being on the drug for a few weeks, but if the problem persists your doctor might have to reanalyse your dosage. More severe side effects in men are pain and difficulty while urination or reduced sensitivity in the penis.
In women – Some common side effects of Prozac seen in women are decreased libido and decreased sensitivity to any sensation in the vagina. These can decrease naturally with time, but if these side effects persist and interfere with a normal healthy sex life, your doctor can help you out. Some women might notice acyclic uterine bleeding and for this, you need to get immediate medical attention.
It has been noticed that in some cases, these specific side effects of Prozac continue months after the medication has been discontinued. However, these cases are very rare, and should this happen to you; your doctor will be able to prescribe other drugs and therapies to take care of the problem.
Acute side effects of Prozac:
Sometimes, Prozac can have acute side effects that will need immediate emergency treatment. Some of these are:
- Asthma and respiratory impairment – The patient will have trouble breathing and will need immediate medical assistance. If you notice that you have trouble breathing right after you started your Prozac, head to a hospital and alert your doctor immediately.
- Serotonin Syndrome – Just like decreased levels of Serotonin are dangerous, high levels of serotonin can be equally damaging. This is a very dangerous condition and is noticed within a few days of starting Prozac or after you have just increased your dosage. Serotonin syndrome can have 3 types:
- Motor disorders – Accompanies by muscle twitching, grinding of teeth, pronounced tendon reflexes, impaired balance and trembling of limbs
- Mental disorders – Accompanied by mental confusion, severe excitement, disorientation or increased depression
- Autonomic disorder – Accompanied by vomiting, shivering, sweating, reddening of the face, increased perspiration, dilated pupils and fluctuating Blood Pressure levels.
Serotonin syndrome in a mild form will naturally go away once the medication is discontinued. However, in severe cases seizures, renal failure and epileptic attacks have been noticed. In some serious cases, serotonin syndrome can result in Coma and heart failure and this is why the minute you notice any of the above symptoms you need to alert your doctor immediately and discontinue the drug.