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Prozac Addiction and Treatment for SSRI Abuse

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What Is Prozac?

Prozac is an antidepressant from the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class.

A branded version of fluoxetine, Prozac works on certain neurotransmitters – chemical messengers – helping some people with depression, anxiety disorders, panic disorders, or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Prozac can improve the following:

  • Mood
  • Energy levels
  • Appetite
  • Sleep

While SSRIs are considered generally safe, the abuse of medications like Prozac – especially in combination with opioids or alcohol – can lead to psychological dependence. This guide highlights the benefits and drawbacks of SSRI antidepressants like Prozac and shows you how to engage with Prozac addiction treatment in Southern California.

Fluoxetine was approved by the FDA in late 1987. Prozac was first marketed in the United States in 1988, paving the way for the approval of other SSRIs like Celexa, Zoloft, and Paxil.

Like all selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Prozac works by impeding the brain from reabsorbing the serotonin that naturally occurs. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone involved in the regulation of mood. This mechanism of action allows Prozac to help the brain to maintain serotonin levels sufficient to induce a sense of wellbeing as a result of streamlined communication between brain cells.

Studies show that medications like Prozac may be beneficial for treating depression, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders in combination with psychotherapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

Fluoxetine is a prescription medication that comes in the following forms:

  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Delayed-release capsule tablet
  • Solution

 

All forms of fluoxetine are taken orally.

Prozac is available as a branded oral capsule. Generic versions of the oral capsule are also available.

Fluoxetine oral capsule can be used as one component of a combination therapy that involves other medications. As an example, Prozac must be used together with olanzapine for treating depressive episodes associated with TRD (treatment-resistant depression) or bipolar I disorder.

What are SSRIs?

SSRIs are a type of antidepressants considered a first-line treatment for major depressive disorder and other mental health disorders. This class of antidepressants tends to be effective for most people, and leads to fewer side effects than many other types of antidepressant.

The main way in which SSRIs like Prozac help with the management of conditions like depression is by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. Researchers believe that serotonin plays a critical role in depression.

Informally known as the feel-good chemical, serotonin can induce a sense of relaxation and wellbeing. Under normal conditions, serotonin is absorbed into the bloodstream after circulating in the brain.

Individuals diagnosed with depression often have low serotonin levels, as well as reduced levels of other vital brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine.

SSRI antidepressants work by stopping your blood from taking serotonin from the brain, leading to higher levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain. This can help relieve the symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions. This class of medication does not lead to the production of more serotonin. Rather, Prozac helps your body to use naturally occurring serotonin more efficiently.

SSRIs are similar in terms of overall effectiveness, although there is some variation in what they are indicated to treat, their dosage, and their side effects. This guide focuses solely on Prozac (fluoxetine).

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What is Prozac Used For?

Prozac is approved by the FDA for the treatment of:

  • MDD (major depressive disorder)
  • Panic disorder
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)
  • Bulimia nervosa

MDD (major depressive disorder)

The most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Sadness
  • Emptiness
  • Tearfulness
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities (anhedonia)
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Appetite loss
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Problems with focus
  • Suicidal ideation

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Recover from Prozac Abuse with Gratitude Lodge

Panic disorder

Panic disorders involve the sudden and unexpected presentation of episodes of intense fear and panic.

Panic attacks are characterized by overwhelming fear together with physical symptoms like:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations

 

Also central to panic disorder is a fear of future panic attacks that can be disruptive to functioning.

OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

OCD is diagnosed if an individual experiences a simultaneous presentation of the following symptoms:

  1. Obsessions (recurrent and unwanted thoughts).
  2. Compulsions (repetitive and ritualized behaviors performed to reduce the anxiety triggered by obsessions).

 

PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)

PMDD is a condition experienced by some women before menstruation begins. Symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Tension
  • Irritability

 

The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than the symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome)

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating immediately followed by vomiting in order to prevent weight gain.

How Common is Prozac?

Prozac remains one of the most popular SSRI antidepressants in the United States. Fluoxetine data show that physicians wrote 23.4 million Prozac prescriptions for 4.7 million U.S. adults and children in 2020, making Prozac the 25th most prescribed psychotherapeutic in the U.S. in that year.

A 2017 study on the use of antidepressants indicated that 11% of participants reported using Prozac to treat the symptoms of depression.

Prozac is one of the few antidepressants that has gained FDA approval for children and teens.

Prozac Side Effects

If you have been wondering what is the most common side effect of Prozac, consider the following list of potential adverse reactions. If any of these symptoms persist, consult your prescribing physician.

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Weakness
  • Yawning
  • Heartburn
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Stuffy nose
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Reduced libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory lapses

If any of the below serious side effects present, you should call your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Blisters
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Problems swallowing
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Seizure

Fluoxetine in children can cause appetite loss and weight loss.

Prozac may also cause other side effects. Consult your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms while taking this antidepressant.

Is Prozac a Controlled Substance?

Prozac is a prescription medication, but it is not a controlled substance.

The CSA (Controlled Substances Act) of 1970 defines controlled substances as drugs with a potential for abuse and addiction. Substances that meet this definition are listed on one of five schedules of controlled substances. Scheduling is based upon the following factors:

  • Medical utility
  • Potential for abuse
  • Safety liability
  • Potential for dependence

 

Controlled substances are determined by the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration). The DEA does not consider that Prozac meets the above definition, so it is not a controlled substance.

Prozac Misuse and Abuse

Since its introduction in the mid-1980s, Prozac has been touted as a miracle cure for depression. The most prescribed antidepressant in history, it is nevertheless possible to abuse Prozac.

Prozac is not a controlled substance and it is not considered a chemically addictive substance. That said, some people may develop a psychological addiction to fluoxetine because of the way in which it impacts mood and behavior.

Data from NSDUH 2021 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) show that 14.3 million U.S. adults misused prescription medications such as Prozac in the previous year.

Any abuse of Prozac can be dangerous and may include:

  • Using Prozac in combination with alcohol or drugs.
  • Doctor shopping to obtain multiple prescriptions for Prozac.
  • Using another person’s Prozac prescription.
  • Faking symptoms to obtain another Prozac prescription.
  • Taking larger doses of Prozac than prescribed or taking more frequent doses.
  • Using Prozac with the aim of getting high,
  • Taking Prozac as a quick fix for problems in everyday life.
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Long Term Effects of Prozac

When taken as prescribed by your physician, Prozac should be safe to use for the conditions outlined above.

Although antidepressants like Prozac were developed for short-term use, many doctors and psychiatrists have been prescribing medications to patients for years. The New York Times reports that 7% of U.S. adults have taken an antidepressant like fluoxetine for five years or more.

 

Some people who try to stop using Prozac after long-term use find it challenging to stop taking the medication, even with a tapered reduction in dosage under the supervision of a doctor. It is possible to experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking Prozac after sustained use. One study shows that almost half of the 180 participants claimed that they felt addicted to antidepressants, while 130 participants experienced withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing use.

Although fluoxetine is not classified as an addictive drug, the medication triggers changes to brain chemistry that lead some people who take it to develop a dependence on the medication.

Discontinuation Syndrome

Discontinuation syndrome is a clinical term for the withdrawal symptoms that present when the use of Prozac or another substance is ended.

The symptoms that manifest can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares

 

The symptoms of discontinuation syndrome may persist for a week or two, depending on the elimination half-life of the substance. All of a substance is removed from the body after four to five half-lives. Fluoxetine has the longest elimination half-life of all SSRIs and it is also associated with triggering the fewest withdrawal symptoms.

Studies suggest that roughly 20% of those who use antidepressants for one month or more may experience withdrawal (discontinuation syndrome) when they stop using the medication.

Always exercise caution and seek the guidance of a physician when discontinuing Prozac or any other antidepressant.

Treatments to End Prozac Dependence

Various treatments may be used to end Prozac dependence.

In the event of Prozac abuse or self-medication, treatment should target any other substances of abuse and the conditions that the medication is being taken to alleviate. Those who have been taking Prozac to suppress appetite, for instance, should be treated for disordered eating. Those who use Prozac in combination with opioids or alcohol should be treated for the abuse of those substances.

It is inadvisable to abruptly stop taking Prozac. A tapered reduction in dosage under medical supervision can mitigate the majority of withdrawal symptoms, reducing the likelihood of discontinuation syndrome. The longer you have been using the medication, the longer it will take for a successful and comfortable taper. In some cases, it may take several months.

During the tapered reduction, it is possible that the symptoms fluoxetine was used to treat may present. Symptoms should be closely monitored and managed.

It is recommended that the following services are in place before you stop taking Prozac:

  • Counseling
  • Therapy
  • Education services
  • Social support
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Prozac Addiction Treatment at Gratitude Lodge

If you started taking Prozac or another SSRI antidepressant and developed an addiction, we can help you move forwards at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California.

We have pet-friendly luxury rehab centers located in Newport Beach and Long Beach.

For those with co-occurring disorders – addictions with co-occurring mental health conditions – we provide integrated dual diagnosis treatment, proven the most effective approach.

Engage with our supervised medical detox program to benefit from clinical supervision and emotional care as you withdraw from alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit narcotics. After a week or so, you will be ready to shift into one of the following treatment programs:

  • Inpatient program (30-day residential rehab)
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)

 

Whether you require the structure of inpatient treatment or the flexibility of an IOP, you can access these EBTs (evidence-based treatments) and holistic therapies at Gratitude Lodge:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapies such as CBT or DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

 

Reach out to admissions today for immediate assistance by calling 888-861-1658.



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Prozac Addiction and Treatment FAQS

No, Prozac (fluoxetine) is not classified as a controlled substance in the United States. It is an antidepressant medication that belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and is available by prescription from healthcare professionals.

No, Prozac (fluoxetine) is not considered addictive. It is an antidepressant medication that works by regulating serotonin levels in the brain and does not cause the same type of dependence or cravings as addictive substances.

The best way to stop taking Prozac (fluoxetine) is to follow the guidance of a healthcare professional, typically by gradually reducing the dosage over time. Abruptly stopping Prozac can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so it’s essential to work with your doctor to create a safe and gradual tapering plan to minimize any potential side effects.