Prozac for Social Anxiety Disorder

Side Effects, Interactions and Risks

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Prozac (fluoxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) proven effective in the treatment of depressionobsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and bulimia nervosa. It is also sometimes used to treat other conditions such as anxiety, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, sleep disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and Tourette's syndrome. Prozac is also prescribed to help treat social anxiety disorder (SAD).

How Does Prozac Work?

Like other SSRIs, Prozac works by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. This boosts mood, which can help symptoms of anxiety. It may take several weeks until you notice any benefits from Prozac, so be patient and give your body time to adjust.

How to Take Prozac

Prozac should be taken as prescribed by your doctor, usually once per day or once per week, if you get the delayed-release version. You may take Prozac with or without food. Prozac is available as capsules, oral solution or tablets.

Who Shouldn’t Take Prozac

Prozac should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefit outweighs the risk to the fetus. Nursing mothers should not take Prozac. The safety and effectiveness of Prozac for use with children younger than 18 years of age has not been established. Patients with cirrhosis may require lower or less frequent dosing.

Medication Interactions

Prozac should not be combined with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or taken within 14 days of discontinuing an MAOI.

Allow at least 5 weeks after stopping Prozac before starting an MAOI. Use of pimozide and thioridazine also increases the risk involved in taking Prozac. The result of medication interactions can be serious and potentially fatal, so you should discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor or psychiatrist to determine whether potential interactions exist.

Side Effects of Prozac

Potential side effects of taking Prozac include:

  • abnormal dreams
  • abnormal ejaculation
  • anorexia
  • anxiety
  • asthenia
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • impotence
  • insomnia
  • decreased libido
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • rash
  • sweating
  • tremor
  • yawning

Associated Risks of Taking Prozac

Use of Prozac can carry risks, including the potential for clinical worsening and in rare cases, increased thoughts of suicide. Serotonin syndrome can occur, particularly if used in conjunction with certain other medications. Close monitoring by your psychiatrist or doctor is important.

Other Medications Used for Anxiety

Other SSRIs that are sometimes prescribed for anxiety include  Paxil (paroxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Luvox CR (fluvoxamine) and Zoloft (sertraline).

Effexor XR (venlafaxine) is another antidepressant called a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that may be effective in treating social anxiety disorder.

Benzodiazepines are another class of medication often used for anxiety, but they are generally a short-term solution because of their risk for dependence.

Typical medications in this category include  Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam),  Klonopin (clonazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam).

Psychotherapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

Research has shown that psychotherapy in the treatment of social anxiety disorder is particularly helpful, and most people who receive therapy show improvement. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, is a great choice for anxiety disorders because of its short-term focus on specific problems. CBT helps you learn how to change your thinking to better cope with your fears.

Sources:

Eli Lilly. Prozac Medication Guide. Accessed June 23, 2009.

Eli Lilly. Prozac Prescribing Information. Accessed June 23, 2009.

"Fluoxetine." MedLine Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine (2014).

"Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)." Mayo Clinic (2014).

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