Prozac (fluoxetine) is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While it is most often used to address the symptoms of mood disorders such as depression, Prozac is also sometimes used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, certain eating disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
If you suddenly stop taking fluoxetine, you will likely experience certain withdrawal symptoms, or what is more appropriately called SSRI discontinuation syndrome.
Common Prozac Withdrawal Symptoms
SSRI discontinuation syndrome can cause many unwanted symptoms, including the following:
- Agitation and restlessness
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Excessive sweating
- Mild to severe headaches
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Mood swings
- Impaired memory
- Impaired concentration
- Numbness or tingling
Prozac Withdrawal Timeline
The number and intensity of withdrawal symptoms from fluoxetine can vary. It frequently depends on the length of time the medication was taken and at what dosage. Prozac has a longer half-life than many other drugs in its class, meaning that it remains in the system longer. Therefore, someone who has been taking fluoxetine for an extended period is more likely to experience withdrawal than a person who has been on it for a shorter term.
Also, those who have been on a higher dose of Prozac, such as 60 mg, will be more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms than someone who has been on a lower amount, such as 10-20mg. Some people may begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms immediately after discontinuing use, but it may take up to two weeks for others to start noticing symptoms.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms of Prozac
For some, the symptoms of Prozac withdrawal will steadily improve without the need for additional treatment. Those who continue to suffer from symptoms may try some of the following methods to help with relief:
Eat serotonin-boosting foods – Prozac works to regulate the body’s serotonin levels. Since serotonin has a calming effect, eating high serotonin foods can help counteract the effects of Prozac withdrawal. Some examples of foods that help maintain ideal serotonin levels include whole grains, spinach, and lentils.
Foods that help boost serotonin also include carbohydrate-rich options, such as oatmeal, and options high in the amino acid L-tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin), such as turkey, eggs, tofu, nuts, and avocados. Other foods are known to fight depression, such as spinach and almonds high in magnesium, which can help counter stress and anxiety. Other foods that may be beneficial are bananas, mushrooms, milk, and other dairy products.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine – It’s an excellent idea to avoid foods and drinks that can alter one’s mood. While caffeine and alcohol may help boost a person’s mood for a short tie, they can have unfavorable side effects of their own in the long term.
Exercise – Among the many health benefits of exercise is that it can positively impact mood and help relieve Prozac withdrawal by helping to reduce stress and tension.
Anyone who is planning to discontinue Prozac should be under the supervision of a licensed health provider. Doctors will usually recommend an incremental decrease in dosage to help mitigate the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.
Stopping “cold turkey” is ill-advised, especially if the patient is on a high dose or has been on fluoxetine for an extended period, as the patient will be more likely to suffer more pronounced withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms may not be exceedingly physical in nature, but rebound depression and anxiety may occur. It’s essential to stay emotionally balanced during antidepressant withdrawal because thoughts of self-harm and suicide are also possible.
Choosing the Right Treatment Center
If you need further help while going through fluoxetine withdrawal, it’s essential to speak with your health provider. It is important to consider whether an outpatient or inpatient program is right for you. What works for one person may not work for another, and treatment options exist. It’s also important to remember that even if they are powerful, withdrawal symptoms will eventually end.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers customized, integrated addiction treatment programs in residential and intensive outpatient format. Our evidence-based approach includes a multi-faceted treatment plan that also addresses co-occurring disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Our programs feature a comprehensive array of therapeutic and supportive services, including psychotherapy, group support, art and music therapy, counseling, aftercare support, and much more.