What is Prozac?
Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescription drug developed by the Eli Lilly Company. The FDA approved its use in 1987 for the treatment of mood disorders, anxiety and depression. In 2000 it was also approved for use in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Since Lilly’s patent expired, fluoxetine hydrochloride the active ingredient in Prozac is also sold under the generic names Rapiflux, Sarafem and Selfemra.
Most people experience sadness or depression from time to time and as their moods change, the feelings pass. However, major depression is much more severe than just a sad feeling. Prolonged depression can include ongoing feelings of despair, lack of interest in activities that once were enjoyable, inability to make decisions, spells of crying for no apparent reason, reduced sex drive, and frequent thoughts of suicide or death. These symptoms can be effectively treated and alleviated with Prozac.
Prozac and PMDD
Women who suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) experience extreme mood swings along with persistent anxiety, anger and irritability. It is not known if the physical changes that accompany a normal menstrual cycle can also cause the underlying depression that is present with PMDD, but Prozac and other SSRIs have been shown to alleviate these symptoms.
How does Prozac Work?
Prozac modifies the way in which serotonin is used by the brain cells, thereby allowing serotonin levels to remain high and prevent depression. Production of serotonin in the body remains the same; it is the use or uptake of the serotonin that Prozac addresses. Prozac does not create more serotonin; it enables the body to use the available serotonin more effectively.
Other SSRIs that work the same way as Prozac are marketed as Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxel (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline).
Success with Prozac
The majority of people who are prescribed Prozac have good results. In some cases due to genetic or other reasons, Prozac does not affect any changes. If this happens, other SSRIs may be tried and may produce the desired results. It is necessary to take the SSRI for 3 to 4 weeks before any changes may be noticed, so caution should be used before deciding to jump from one drug to another. Typically at the outset a physician will require a patient to take the drug for 6 weeks before coming back for an evaluation of its effectiveness.
People who have been diagnosed with clinical depression respond well to treatment with Prozac. Taking Prozac may be required for several years or for a lifetime depending upon which specific form of depression or disorder is diagnosed.