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Prozac consumer information giving you everything you need to know

What is Prozac?

This drug, also sold under the generic name Fluoxetine Hydrochloride, is one of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression and reduce the risk of panic attacks, continuing anxiety, the disruptive symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders, and eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa. It is also prescribed in combination with other drugs to treat bipolar disorder.

What is the risk of suicide?

There is a general problem with antidepressants that, when people first begin taking them, they feel more depressed. Particularly in young patients, there is an increase in the number of people who commit suicide. Because of this, you should stay in close touch with your regular physician during the first three months of taking Prozac. If you are aware of any mood changes or you feel more anxious or irritable, contact your doctor immediately.

Are there risks during pregnancy?

You should contact your doctor immediately if you find yourself pregnant. There is clear evidence linking Prozac with birth defects. But there can also be problems of withdrawal if you just stop taking the antidepressant. So you need to discuss how quickly you can reduce the drug without the depression returning.

What are the risks of interaction with other drugs?

Some of the interactions with other antidepressants can be serious. To get a complete picture you should discuss the drugs you take with your regular physician, but you should understand that there will have to be waiting periods between ending, say one of the monoamine oxidase inhibitors and starting Prozac. This will allow one drug to clear your body before the new one comes in.

Dosage

When starting and finishing the course of treatment, it is very important you follow the exact dosage instructions given to you. Do not be tempted to increase or suddenly decrease the dose because you do not immediately feel better or because you do suddenly feel better. It can take up to four weeks before you feel an improvement. There can be withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Prozac.

What are the side effects?

Remember all these side effects can be triggered if you drink alcohol while taking Prozac. The less serious symptoms mimic the common cold, make you drowsy or upset your stomach. The more serious see a significant change in your moods bringing confusion and, in some cases, hallucinations.

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