Effects From Prozac

I had posted last week that I was feeling strange on my new meds for PMDD (Prozac).  I am torn about taking prescription medications at times.  I know from experience that taking some of these prescription medications makes our illnesses worse and that they can cause other problems.  But when I notice that I feel better while on some of these, I go ahead and continue.  I want to feel better.  I know – the medications are only covering up our symptoms, but when you feel bad for so long, you just want that “I feel good” feeling again.

Even though I have been off the Prozac now for well over a week, I am still having problems eating.  I absolutely have no appetite at all – none. I called the doctor and she wants me to give it a little more time.

I am kind of worried about this on again, off again with the Prozac.  I am prescribed to only take it the two weeks before I get my period to help with the PMDD symptoms.  I did notice this past month while on the Prozac that I didn’t have hardly any symptoms at all.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was after I stopped taking the Prozac that the problems began.  I found the following on a website when someone was asking about the long-term effects of Prozac.  Here is the response:

Dear Alice,

What are the long-term effects of taking Prozac? I’ve been taking 20 mg/day for almost a year.

Happy but at what cost?

Dear Happy but at what cost?,

In the last several years, Prozac (fluoxetine) has become the most widely prescribed antidepressant in the United States. Besides treating depression, Prozac is used to treat obsessive-compulsive and panic disorders. It is the oldest SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, meaning it works by altering the action of the neurotransmitter, serotonin), with twenty years of research behind it showing now known long-term side effects. Prozac has few side effects when compared to other antidepressant drugs. These side effects may include dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention, sedation, and weight gain.

Prozac is, however, associated with insomnia, restlessness, nausea, and tension headaches, which normally go away within one to two weeks from the time it was first taken. One possible side effect, which remains for the time Prozac is taken, is its effect on sex life. It often reduces desire and can delay or interfere with orgasm, in both women and men. Fatigue and memory loss are other possible problems. These side effects subside when you stop taking the drug. In some people, the effectiveness of Prozac seems to diminish with time, and an increase in dosage is necessary. In these cases, talk with your prescribing doctor, who may alter your medication.

Stopping Prozac’s use needs to be supervised by a physician. It is not advised to take this drug if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. So, talk with your doctor for an alternative.

Two books available on Prozac, which are written in plain language, are Talking Back to Prozac , by Peter Breggin, M.D., and Prozac: Questions & Answers for Patients, Families and Physicians, by Ronald Fieve, M.D. They present opposing views on the drug, anti- and pro- Prozac, respectively. You can also check out Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book, Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America. Another resource is your pharmacist, who can answer more specific questions about Prozac. For more information, you can also check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research web site.

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