Questions and Answers about Taking Prozac for Panic Disorder

Basically, it’s a trademark name of fluoxetine, a medicine that belongs to a group of antidepressants called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. First, they became available in the US in the 1980s, and they became the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants quite fast. Their popularity keeps growing because of their safety, effectiveness and limited side effects. Prozac is the first SSRI introduced in the US, so it’s the most prescribed and popular antidepressant.

Initially, doctors prescribed this medicine to treat depression. According to studies, it can also treat a number of mental and other medical conditions. Nowadays, Prozac is taken to treat the following health problems:

• Bipolar and major depressive disorders;
• Migraines and chronic pain;
• Anxiety and eating disorders;
• Panic and obsessive-compulsive disorders;
• Agoraphobia and irritable bowel syndrome.

How Can Prozac Treat Panic Disorder?

This medication works by stabilizing serotonin levels, which is a naturally-occurring brain chemical. Serotonin is connected to how people regulate their mood, and it’s believed that patients with anxiety and mood disorders have its imbalance. Being a SSRI, Prozac influences it by inhibiting its proper absorption in nerve cells. By balancing serotonin levels, this medicine helps patients improve their mood and alleviate anxiety. It also helps decrease the severity of panic disorder symptoms and signs of some widespread co-occurring conditions, including IBS and depression.

What Are Its Side Effects?

Prozac has a risk of side effects, but it often varies for different patients. Some of the most common ones include:

• Headaches and sleep disturbances;
• Fatigue and dizziness;
• Nervousness and dry mouth;
• Lightheadedness and increased sweating;
• Nausea and blurred vision;
• Sexual side effects.

Many patients experience certain symptoms that become less bothersome and subside over time. It’s worth noting that these are only some of the common side effects linked to the intake of Prozac, so you should consult doctors if you have any symptoms that don’t go away or become unmanageable. Doctors need to monitor your response to this medicine, especially when you only start using it or when changing your regular doses.

As with any other meds, there’s a certain potential to have allergic reactions. You need to be cautious when taking Prozac with other meds, because possible drug interactions may result in serious health problems. Keep doctors updated on current drugs and contact them when you start experiencing any of these rare and serious side effects:

• Seizures and vomiting;
• Hives and skin rash;
• Confusion and increased heart rates;
• Swelling of your tongue, mouth and face;
• Difficulty swallowing or breathing;
• Anxiety and extreme nervousness;
• Suicidal behaviors and thoughts.

How Fast Does Prozac Start Working?

Don’t expect this medication to make you feel better instantly, because clear improvements are noticed only days or weeks after its first intake. Furthermore, it may take up to a few months to get its full benefit. Give Prozac some time before deciding if it helps you or not.

What If You Want to Stop Its Use?

It’s not recommended to stop using Prozac abruptly. Although it’s a long acting drug that tends to taper itself, discontinuing it suddenly may result in unwanted withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, increased irritability and anxiety, lightheadedness and confusion. Different panic disorder symptoms may worsen too, so your regular dose should be safely and gradually decreased.

Are There Any Important Precautions?

1. Black box warming, The FDA issued it for all SSRIs in 2007. Consumers are cautioned that their intake has a certain potential to increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This problem is specifically concerning for young adults and adolescents taking these meds. That’s why doctors need to closely monitor them for any signs of suicidal thoughts and worsening mood.

2. Alcohol. Patients who take Prozac need to avoid alcoholic beverages, because they may reduce its effectiveness and increase toxicity.

3. Nursing and pregnancy. This medicine can pass onto unborn babies during pregnancy and newborn babies through breast milk. If you’re nursing or pregnant, discuss possible health risks with your physician.

4. Older adults. They face a higher risk of experiencing certain side effects, so their regular doses may be adjusted. In some cases, Prozac may lower their sodium and blood sugar levels.

5. Dizziness, lightheadedness and drowsiness. This medication can make users feel tired, dizzy and lightheaded, so they need to be careful while driving or doing other things that require their full concentration.

This information is a brief overview of common FAQs about the intake of Prozac for panic disorder. They don’t cover all possible issues, such as potential precautions, side effects and contraindications. Always consult your doctor about any concerns and questions that you have.

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