Fluoxetine, is an oral drug prescribed to those who face the problem of depression. The FDA approved Fluoxetine in December 1987 and now it is also available in generic form. One should consult his/her doctor immediately, if any side effects are observed after taking this medicine. Also, one should not suddenly stop taking this medicine, as sudden withdrawal may result in headache, nausea, dizziness, and anxiety.
Our brain has its own communication system, which consists of the neurotransmitters (chemical used by the nerves to communicate among themselves). Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter, that has various functions. Release of serotonin from the nerve cells of the brain, helps to lighten the mood. If it is reabsorbed in the nerve cells or if insufficient amount of serotonin is released from the brain, then it may lead to depression. This medicine is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) and it prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the nerve cells, which in turn helps to relieve depression.
It is also used for the treatment of bulimia nervosa (nervous eating disorder) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in adults. OCD is a condition in which the affected person excessively repeats a particular task.
Fluoxetine with Caution
It should be used with caution in:
- Children and adolescents
- Young adults
- Elderly people
- People taking anti-psychotic medicines
- People with diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, and decreased liver function
- People with history of seizures, bleeding disorders, suicidal behavior, mania, hypo-mania, or manic depression
- People receiving electro-convulsive therapy
- People taking medicines that affect blood clotting
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers
It is possible that each individual is affected by this medicine in a different way. But this does not mean that everyone using this medicine will experience some side effects. Some people may not notice any side effect. Some of the side effects of this drug include:
- Anxiety and agitation
- Dry mouth
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Hair loss
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
- Skin rash
- Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat
- Sexual problems
- Small purplish blood spots in the skin
- Vision problems
Also, one should always read the information provided with the medicine or consult his/her doctor or pharmacist, to know about any other possible risks associated with it.
Side Effects in Women
Its intake is a cause of concern, if pregnant women or lactating mothers are taking the medicine regularly. The medicine can be used during pregnancy, but it should be administered cautiously. It is recommended during pregnancy only if the benefits to the mother outweigh any risk to the fetus. Its side effects or withdrawal symptoms can be noticed in the newborn, if the medicine is taken during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester or before labor. Studies suggest that, during breast feeding, this medicine is transferred to the infant through breast milk and may have adverse effects on the infant. Hence, mothers should discuss the risks and benefits of this medicine with their doctor, if they need to take this medicine.
Side Effects in Children
It is not recommended to children unless and until, moderate to severe depression is noticed. Children and adolescents tend to be hostile or develop suicidal tendency, as an initial side effect of this antidepressant. Hence, one needs to talk with such children and encourage them to report any distressing feelings, thoughts about suicide, irritability, and mood changes. Any type of unusual change in behavior while taking this medication, should be monitored. Also, it is important to consult the doctor immediately.
Insomnia, weakness, nausea, and loss of appetite are the most common side effects of this antidepressant drug. In some cases, diarrhea may also be noticed. All these side effects can cause weight loss, which can lead to other complications. According to the studies, weight loss may occur in 2% of people taking this drug. Since, weight gain can be a symptom of bulimia and depression, treating these conditions can naturally lead to weight loss.
According to the studies, weight gain was reported as a frequent side effect of this medicine, in more than 1 percent of people. If weight gain is noticed, then your physician may suggest you to exercise more and limit the consumption of alcohol.
Every reaction related to fluoxetine intake should be consulted with your physician. This medicine remains in the blood for a few weeks after one stops taking it, and then slowly decreases over time. Hence, there are few chances of noticing any withdrawal symptoms. But some people may exhibit withdrawal symptoms like headache, nausea, anxiety, etc.
In case, the side effects are severe, the physician may recommend a switch to another antidepressant. Generally, side effects of this drug are minor and can be treated easily.However, if any serious problems, such as suicidal thoughts or behavior, hallucinations, or panic attacks occur, one should consult his/her health care provider immediately.