Fluoxetin is the active component of Prozac. This drug became the most widely used antidepressant in the 1980s. This was thanks to its effectiveness and a few side effects.
When fluoxetin was introduced in the 1980s, people lost their fear of antidepressants. In fact, the active ingredient in Prozac has become a success story in modern pharmacology for many. And what was the reason for that? Scientists have finally discovered an effective antidepressant molecule with more tolerable side effects.
Fluoxetin has been with us for 30 years. It is insufficient to say that the arrival of this new pharmacological resource is a turning point. In fact, it quickly became the best-selling drug, a position it maintained until quite recently. Indeed, with the development of fluoxetine, Eli Lilly laboratories have achieved much more than just developing the first SSRI drug (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
With the advent of fluoxetinin, the approach to depressive disorders has completely changed. This meant a better quality of life for millions of patients treated for depression.
Until the advent of fluoxetinin, most of these psychiatric conditions were treated with drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. The side effects associated with these drugs were remarkable. For example, cardiovascular problems, seizures, liver problems, fatigue and serious urinary problems, among others.
In addition, the popularization of fluoxetinin meant that the stigma of depression began to decrease. In the end, there was a method on the market that could treat depression with ‘acceptable’ side effects. Thanks to this fact, thousands of people lost their fear and started asking for help. In fact, they began to talk about their depression without feeling shame or discomfort.
Fluoxetin and its uses
It’s called the happy pill. It is effective, well tolerated and, even more interesting, not only for the treatment of depressive disorders. Fluoxetin is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders, bulimia and panic attacks. It is also a powerful antiviral and a drug that can restore brain function.
In fact, fluoxetin stimulates brain plasticity, as various studies have revealed, such as those published on the Psychology Today website. In other words, it promotes brain development and neuronal connections. Still, there’s a downside. Since its launch, this drug has become an ‘all-treating’ remedy, with doctors and psychiatrists (almost) having to over-prescribe for any clinical and subclinical disorder.
This resulted in abuse, so much so that many people came to the specialist’s office for a reason and asked for fluoxetin: to feel better. However, before we get too caught up in the idea of this ‘miracle’ drug, it is important to know how it works and what side effects it has.
Fluoxetin is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This means that its main action is to increase serotonin levels. This neurotransmitter improves our health and brain balance.
We know it is effective in the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders and bulimia. In addition, it is a good antiviral and a valuable resource in developing neurogenesis. It is also useful in many other clinical cases. For example:
- Eating Disorders.
- Lack of attention.
- Sleep problems.
- Chronic headaches.
- Post-traumatic stress disorders.
- Sexual dysfunctions.
As we mentioned earlier, until the arrival of fluoxetinin, depression treatment was limited to tricyclic antidepressants. As anyone who was treated for depression in the 1970s will know, the side effects of these drugs were quite negative. But with drugs like Prozac, everything changed. Nevertheless, this does not mean that fluoxetinin has no side effects.
In fact, the main side effects of fluoxetinin are:
Dryness in the mouth.
Blurred vision or sensitivity to light.
Short-term memory problems.
These side effects undoubtedly depend on the duration of treatment and the correct administration of the drug by the patient. Fluoxetine, for example, should not be used with certain other drugs such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s) or with natural remedies such as St John’s Wort. In addition, patients who take fluoxetin for a long time may experience hypotension problems.
Prozac is not for everyone
In the 1950s and 1960s, barbiturates were applied for the treatment of an extremely wide range of psychological diseases. The effects of the use and misuse of these sedatives on the central nervous system, as we now know, had a high cost. In the last 20 years, almost the same thing has happened with Prozac. We know that the side effects are not so harmful, but there is a fundamental problem. Fluoxetin cannot be prescribed for all the problems of life.
In another article on the Psychology Today website, they note that Prozac has long been seen as ‘mood illuminating’. There are also people who go to a psychiatrist and ask them to prescribe this drug to improve their personality, to be more open, optimistic and happy. Indeed, most often, it is enough for them to just feel a little bad, to ask their doctor for this ‘magic’ drug.
That’s not the right way to look at it. Fluoxetin is not a natural element of the body, but a chemical source. Also, we must bear in mind that for most psychological disorders, the drugs are only a band-aid. Intervention requires more approach. For example, psychotherapeutics, social, welfare strategies, etc.
We can’t finish this article until we’ve indicated that Prozac has been deposed. In fact, there is currently a large army of third-generation antidepressants, the best known is Paroxetine (heir to fluoxetine). The advantages of these are that they act faster and have fewer side effects.
The content in this publication is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to be diagnosed in any way or to replace the work of a qualified professional. For this, we recommend contacting a trusted specialist.