Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Prozac Bad For You?

Also Known As: Fluoxetine



Short answer

Prozac, like any SSRI antidepressant, carries a load of potentially serious side-effects. However, for those who need it and use it responsibly, it can work wonders.



Long answer

Prozac (generic name: fluoxetine) is an SSRI (selected serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant that was the first of its kind to be approved by the FDA in December 1987. Since then, Prozac, along with other antidepressants, is required to carry a black box warning label due to its many possibly dangerous side-effects, including increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in people 24 and under who just start taking it. Prozac is used to treat a host of problems, such as bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. Its most common use, however, is for treating depression (it may be combined with Zyprexa to treat manic depression). An SSRI, Prozac counteracts depression by keeping levels of serotonin in the brain high. While normally safe if taken as directed and under the guidance of a doctor, Prozac is subject to abuse and can have several dire consequences either on its own or when taken in combination with other drugs. 

On its own, Prozac is possibly dangerous for unborn children and is not recommended for pregnant women. Prozac may also produce side-effects such as dizziness, nausea, and restlessness, among others. Serious side effects like rapid heartbeat and blurred vision are also possible. In some people, Prozac may cause an allergic reaction, identifiable by skin rash/hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. It is absolutely vital to not take more than the prescribed amount as excess Prozac can lead to Serotonin Syndrome, a condition in which too much of the chemical is in the brain at one time. Taking just minutes to occur, this affliction causes high blood pressure, hyperthermia, and a fast heartbeat, leading to shock and ultimately, death. 

With hundreds of drug interactions (well over 200 of which can lead to serious consequences), it is crucial you let your doctor know of any medications you are taking before starting Prozac. Conversely, since fluoxetine stays in the system for a long time even after the last dose, tell your doctor if you've taken Prozac in the past 5 weeks before starting any new medicine. Some common medications that may cause serious health complications when taken with Prozac include MAO inhibitors, blood thinners, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Robitussin, Alka-Seltzer, Acetaminophen, Adderall, and Vicks DayQuil (and NyQuil). 

It is also important to remember that Prozac, like all antidepressants, can be addictive with withdrawal symptoms ranging from nausea to lethargy.

Possible short-term side effects

  • allergic reaction
  • suicidal thoughts/behavior
  • upset stomach
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • nervousness
  • heart palpitations
  • loss of appetite or increase in appetite
  • weight changes
  • cold symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat)
  • dry mouth
  • decreased sex drive
  • impotence
  • difficulty having an orgasm
  • serotonin syndrome

Possible long-term side effects

  • dependency

Possible withdrawal symptoms

  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • insomnia


  • may treat:
  • depression
  • bulemia nervosa
  • manic depression
  • panic disorder

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-22-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-22-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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