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Is Prozac Addictive? Understanding the Pros & Cons

Even with all the progress we’ve made toward accepting mental illness, a stigma looms in the shadows that makes individuals feel judged. Depression can be a severe mental health disorder that affects anyone from all backgrounds. The condition does not discriminate, and it can affect any age group.

Another common mental health condition is anxiety, which is the most common form of mental illness in the United States. However, depression isn’t far behind. The two disorders go hand in hand, and an estimated 300 million people struggle with some form of depression. Many of us are fighting invisible battles others aren’t always aware of. 

According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 17.3 million adults have experienced a major depressive disorder in the past year, translating to 7.1 percent of all adults in the United States. While most cases will dissipate, others will linger on and affect every facet of a person’s life. 

Eleven million more adults reported events that caused severe impairment, and 50 percent of people diagnosed with depression also report an anxiety diagnosis. Unfortunately, 15 percent of the population will experience depression at some point in their adult lives. 

It’s impossible to deny the widespread nature of depression in our society, but medications like Prozac were formulated to help improve the quality of life for a person who’s struggling. The same study shows that 800,000 people will take their lives each year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young adults aged 15 to 29.

Fortunately, medications like Prozac help individuals adequately manage their depression symptoms, but is the medication addictive? If you’ve been diagnosed with depression and your doctor has suggested the drug, it’s important to understand the pros and cons if you’re going to use the medicine.

What Is Prozac?

The most common antidepressant drug in the United States is known as Prozac, which is also known as fluoxetine, its generic name. Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. It alters the proportions of chemicals that might be unbalanced in the brain, leading to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, or panic attacks. The drug is known for providing calm effects and anxiety relief. 

When you follow doctors’ orders and use Prozac as prescribed, it can provide a sense of calm, restore your appetite, and establish a regular sleep pattern. It’s routinely used to treat compulsive disorders, severe depression, and in some cases, bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder. It’s also used to treat menopause, anorexia, and postpartum depression. 

Despite its wide range of use and popularity in the medical community, you have to stop and wonder if Prozac possesses any addictive qualities.

Is Prozac Addictive?

The daily use of Prozac is not habit-forming, and you will find that it is not chemically addictive, which is why the medication is not designated as a controlled substance. Although it’s not considered chemically addictive, many individuals find themselves psychologically addicted to the antidepressant. 

Those prescribed the drug won’t notice immediate therapeutic effects, but it could cause adverse effects immediately after your first dose. You could experience a wide range of side effects or adverse reactions, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These could occur from regular use and lead to unpleasant feelings where the drug causes more harm than good.  

During the transitional phase, when a person starts using the drug and feeling its effects, they report becoming irate and feelings of distress. Once this passes and the therapeutic effects kick in, they can determine if the pros outweigh the cons. 

Once the medication provides its calming effects and the person can cope with their disorder, they’ll notice improvements in sleeping and eating habits, as well as their overall focus. The person may feel they need to use the medication to concentrate or sleep normally. There are connections between Prozac and weight loss because users report a decreased appetite when using the medicine. In some cases, they may believe Prozac helps them lose weight. 

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Signs of Prozac Dependence

All the factors we’ve discussed above may lead to psychological addiction. Some of the signs we’ll discuss below indicate ongoing dependence. They include:

  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Insomnia
  • Talkativeness
  • Jitters
  • Aggression

Signs of psychological dependence include:

  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Incoherent thoughts
  • Nervousness
  • Suicidal thoughts

The physical signs of Prozac abuse might include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness

What Are the Consequences of Prozac Addiction?

Although Prozac may be viewed as the cure-all that allows them to cope with their issues, there could be adverse effects as well. The medication can alleviate the worst symptoms attached to anxiety and depression. Still, some who end up abusing the drug and using more than prescribed can experience a social fallout. For those who abuse Prozac, they can expect some of the following:

  • Losing contact with family
  • Losing their career
  • Withdrawing from society and becoming a recluse
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or personal activities that once brought them joy
  • Losing friends or other important relationships
  • A loss of financial opportunities

What to Do If You Develop Prozac Addiction

Despite the drug being formulated to cause more good than harm, there is always a chance something can go wrong. Addiction is a disease of the brain, and despite the medication not possessing addictive qualities, it can cause dependence. If you experience any of the symptoms we’ve listed above, you must immediately reach out to your primary care physician. It could mean checking into rehab to help overcome the acute withdrawal symptoms. 

Prozac pills in a blister pack

Even when you follow the instructions and take Prozac as prescribed, it can produce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. You must remember that although it’s mostly safe, there is a risk when you take any medication. 

Dealing with anxiety and depression can be life-changing and cripple you from living life, but getting the right help can be the difference between life or death. If you’re experiencing any suicidal thoughts, you must reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or call 911 immediately. 

You’re only a phone call away from getting the help you need and changing your life. If Prozac doesn’t work for you, there are other medications available. However, only a licensed medical professional can make this determination. Without calling, you can’t know. Get help today.

Sources

FDA (N.D.) Prozac from https://www.fda.gov/media/72878/download

NIH (April 2012) Behavioral Addiction Versus Substance Addiction: Correspondence of Psychiatric and Psychological Views from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354400/

National Institute of Mental Health. (2019, February). Major Depression from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

MedlinePlus (December 2020) Fluoxetine from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a689006.html

NIMH (December 2020) Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml

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