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Fluoxetine – uses, health risks, and side effects at

Wednesday, September 05, 2018 by

Fluoxetine, commonly known by its brand name Prozac, is a drug mainly used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, certain eating disorders, and panic attacks. It’s also known by the brand name Sarafem, which is used to relieve mood swings, irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness that come with premenstrual dysphoric disorders. When it is used with olanzapine, it can treat depression that does not respond to other types of medication, such as that experienced by people with bipolar I disorder. Other uses include treating alcoholism, attention-deficit disorder (ADD), borderline personality disorders, sleep disorders, headaches, other forms of mental illness, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Tourette’s syndrome, obesity, sexual problems, and even phobias.

Fluoxetine belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which works by increasing the amount of serotonin (a naturally occurring substance that helps with mental balance) in the brain.

Known health risks or side effects of fluoxetine

The use of fluoxetine or other antidepressants may trigger thoughts of suicide. If a patient reports these symptoms or is observed to have changes in mood, immediately seek medical attention.

Patients who have taken an MAO inhibitor (another type of antidepressant) in the past 14 days should not take fluoxetine, as this can cause a dangerous drug interaction. If a patient wishes to switch to an MAO inhibitor, he should wait five weeks after discontinuing fluoxetine before starting treatment.

Additional risk factors are present to people who also take other antidepressants while under fluoxetine treatment, as well as those who have:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Bipolar disorder
  • A history of drug abuse

If you are being treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), consult with a healthcare professional before taking fluoxetine.

Fluoxetine and other SSRI antidepressants could lead to serious complications to unborn or breastfeeding babies. Women under these conditions should seek medical advice prior to treatment.

Individuals below the age of 18 should not take fluoxetine.

The use of fluoxetine can trigger severe allergic reactions in some people. Seek immediate medical attention if a person develops a skin rash or hives; has difficulty breathing; or has a swollen face, lips, tongue, or throat after taking the drug.

If a patient under treatment experiences panic attacks, trouble sleeping; feels impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive; or becomes more depressed during treatment, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.

Severe side effects of fluoxetine include:

  • Problems with vision – blurred vision, tunnel vision, pain in the eye, swelling, seeing halos around lights
  • Abnormally high levels of serotonin – hallucinations, agitation, fever, rapid heart rate, loss of coordination, fainting
  • Low sodium levels – headaches, slurred speech, confusion, severe weakness, feeling unsteady
  • Severe nervous system reactions – very stiff muscles, a high fever, increased sweating, tremors
  • Skin reactions – Burning in the eyes, skin pain, a red or purple skin rash that spreads, blistering, peeling

Aside from these symptoms, the use of fluoxetine can result in problems with sex drive and having an orgasm.

List of organs that might be affected by side effects of fluoxetine

The side effects of fluoxetine commonly affect the nervous system, with reports of insomnia and headaches being common. It also affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, genitourinary, immunologic, cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems. Reports have also indicated that fluoxetine also affects a person’s metabolism, as well as his skin, eyes, liver, kidneys, and bloodstream.

Food considerations while taking fluoxetine

Certain food items can negatively impact fluoxetine treatments, and it can lead to adverse reactions. In particular, increasing fiber or tryptophan in the diet reduces the drug’s efficacy, while consuming alcohol while under treatment can severely impair thinking and judgment.

Consult with a healthcare professional before starting with herbal treatments, especially St. John’s wort – mixing both leads to a potentially fatal condition called serotonin syndrome. The same applies to melatonin, ephedra, and S-adenosylmethionine.

Treatments, management options for the side effects of fluoxetine

One of the main challenges with fluoxetine is discontinuing medication, as it leads to withdrawal symptoms. To manage:

  • Eat foods that boost serotonin. Spinach, lentils and whole grains can help maintain optimal serotonin levels and help attenuate symptoms, while oatmeal and turkey induce the release of the chemical. Avocados and other foods that are high in monounsaturated fats help the brain receive serotonin better.
  • Get more of foods the help battle depression. Almonds, as well as spinach, are high on magnesium that help battle anxiety and stress. Other foods that can help with depression are bananas, mushroom, and other dairy products.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. The caffeine in coffee, as well as alcohol, can only provide a temporary high, but it has their own adverse side effects.
  • Exercise. It’s known to have a positive impact on a person’s mood, which can help manage stress and tension caused by withdrawal.

Where to learn more


Fluoxetine is a drug mainly used to treat depression and other mental disorders.

Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, a type of drug that increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Fluoxetine or other antidepressants can trigger thoughts of suicide.

Fluoxetine and other SSRI antidepressants could lead to serious complications to unborn or breastfeeding babies.

The side effects of fluoxetine damage the nervous, gastrointestinal, respiratory, genitourinary, immunologic, cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems.

Sources include: 1 2


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