Anxiety Medication Overview of Prozac

Why is this medication prescribed?

Prozac or Fluoxetine is an antidepressant (mood elevator) and is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and some eating disorders. Fluoxetine (Sarafem) is used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How should this medicine be used?

Fluoxetine comes as a capsule, tablet, and liquid to take by mouth. It is usually taken once or twice a day and may be taken with or without food. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take fluoxetine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Fluoxetine oral liquid comes with a specially marked dropper for measuring the dose. Ask your pharmacist to show you how to use the dropper. Dilute the liquid in 4 ounces (120 ml) of water, apple juice, or Gatorade just before taking it.

Continue to take fluoxetine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking fluoxetine without talking to your doctor, especially if you have taken large doses for a long time. Your doctor probably will want to decrease your dose gradually. This drug must be taken regularly for a few weeks before its full effect is felt.

What special precautions should I follow?

Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription drugs you are taking or have taken within the last 2 weeks, especially anticoagulants [warfarin (Coumadin)]; antidepressants; antihistamines; antipsychotics such as haloperidol (Haldol) or clozapine (Clozaril); buspirone (BuSpar); carbamazepine (Tegretol); cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); levodopa (Larodopa, Sinemet); lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid); MAO inhibitors [phenelzine (Nardil); medication for anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures, Parkinson's disease, asthma, colds, or allergies; muscle relaxants; phenytoin (Dilantin); phentermine; pimozide (Orap); sedatives; sleeping pills; sumatriptan (Imitrex); thioridazine (Mellaril); thyroid medications; tranylcypromine (Parnate)]; tranquilizers; tryptophan; and vitamins. You should not take phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), or thioridazine until at least 5 weeks after you stop taking fluoxetine.

Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had glaucoma, an enlarged prostate, difficulty urinating, seizures, diabetes, an overactive thyroid gland, or liver or heart disease.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking fluoxetine, call your doctor immediately.

If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking fluoxetine.

his drug may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.

Remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this drug.

Tell your doctor if you use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may decrease the effectiveness of this drug.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you take several doses per day, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it and take any remaining doses for that day at evenly spaced intervals. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule.

If you take fluoxetine once a day at bedtime and do not remember to take it until the next morning, skip the missed dose. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • constipation
  • difficulty urinating
  • frequent urination
  • blurred vision
  • changes in sex drive or ability
  • excessive sweating

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • jaw, neck, and back muscle spasms
  • slow or difficult speech
  • shuffling walk
  • persistent, fine tremor or inability to sit still
  • fever, chills, sore throat, or flu-like symptoms
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • severe skin rash or hives
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • irregular heartbeat

These are some of the side effects, if you have any side effects that are unusual or that become persistent you should talk to your doctor.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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