Prozac Side Effects

Prozac (fluoxetine) was marketed as a problem-free wonder drug to physicians for patients with major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bulimia nervosa, among other off-label uses. However, Prozac is associated with numerous problems, not the least of which is increasing the risk of suicide for patients below 25 years of age, which is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the manufacturer to place a black box warning on the product stating precisely that.

Aside from thoughts of ending it once and for all, common side effects frequently balance off the euphoric effect of the drug. One of the most frequent of these side effects is sexual dysfunction, a reaction shared by many patients who are on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, a class of drugs to which Prozac belongs. This dysfunction manifests as a lack of sexual interest, difficulty in getting aroused, or inability to achieve an orgasm. This may seem like a strange common denominator for a “feel-good” drug, but the mechanisms of SSRIs in general and Prozac in particular is not really known.

Another major concern for physicians and patients alike is the mounting evidence that pregnant women taking Prozac have an increased risk of having a child with birth problems such as breathing problems, underweight, cleft palates and heart problems. Fetuses unwittingly exposed to Prozac by their mothers are also more likely to have autism.

Other not-so-happy but mostly mild effects of Prozac include increased anxiety, abnormal dreams, sweating, diarrhea, physical weakness (asthenia), rashes, tremors, insomnia, flu syndrome, feelings of nervousness, drowsiness, indigestion (dyspepsia), dry mouth, sinusitis, nausea, and vasodilation.

Slightly more serious side effects include arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), bruxism (grinding of teeth), photosensitivity, memory loss, visual and auditory disturbances, hair loss, chills, breathing difficulties, hyperactivity, mania, hypomania, fever, weight loss and confusion.  Rare but still possible adverse effects include neuroleptic malignant syndrome, serotonin syndrome, prolonged Q-T interval, stomach or intestinal ulcers, and hallucinations.