Fluoxetine is a prescription antidepressant drug commonly known by its brand name, Prozac. Fluoxetine belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Fluoxetine and other SSRIs are highly effective in treating depression and anxiety disorders. There are, however, a number of side effects common with fluoxetine use. A physician should explain such potential complications before the start of fluoxetine or any other antidepressant therapy.
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The National Library of Medicine warns that the use of fluoxetine and other antidepressants may be associated with an increase in thoughts, plans and actions of suicide. The potential for suicidal behaviors while using fluoxetine is most prevalent in children, teenagers, young adults and individuals with a prior history of bipolar disorder. Friends and family members of people taking fluoxetine should watch fluoxetine users for any abrupt changes in mood while using antidepressants and seek assistance from a physician if any suicide-related thoughts or behaviors manifest. Drug safety information provided by Prozac.com lists a number of warning signs that may indicate an increased risk of suicide. These signs include unusual changes in mood, increased depression or anxiety, increased thoughts of suicide and a family history of suicidal ideation.
Loss of appetite is a common side effect of fluoxetine. MayoClinic.com explains that appetite-related complications of fluoxetine are not medically urgent but should be reported to a physician if loss of appetite becomes severe or troublesome. Drugs.com notes that about nine percent of individuals taking fluoxetine will become anorexic, which, in some rare cases, can cause dangerous reductions in body weight. In addition to loss of appetite and anorexia, about 21 percent of people taking fluoxetine may also experience symptoms nausea and vomiting.
Decreased Sexual Activity
Sexual complications are commonly reported by both men and women as a consequence of fluoxetine use. Up to 34 percent of individuals using fluoxetine may experience sex-related side effects, explains Drugs.com. Such side effects include loss of sexual desire, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, genital anesthesia and anorgasmia. Sexual side effects rarely pose any medical danger to those with a fluoxetine prescription. If sexual side effects become troublesome, a physician may recommend switching from fluoxetine to another antidepressant drug.
Reduced Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
Most antidepressant drugs, including fluoxetine, markedly reduce rapid eye movement, or REM sleep. This deeper stage of the sleep cycle helps the body and mind maintain themselves and achieve optimal restfulness. Lack of quality sleep may lead to general feelings of tiredness and drowsiness. The effect of antidepressant drugs on sleep quality is typically most severe in the beginning of antidepressant therapy. Abnormal dreams are also common in people taking fluoxetine. In cases where sleep disturbances becomes an issue, a physician may recommend switching from fluoxetine to another antidepressant with fewer sleep side effects.
The American Hair Loss Association explains that drug-induced hair loss is often reported by individuals taking antidepressants. Hair loss is experienced by both men and women using fluoxetine. The effects of fluoxetine on the hair may be permanent but are usually temporary and subside after the end of fluoxetine therapy. If hair loss is a particularly sensitive issue for a patient seeking antidepressant therapy, a doctor may be able to prescribe a different antidepressant with a lower incidence of hair loss or balding side effects.