Updated 11 February 2013


Fluoxetine is an antidepressant drug prescribed for the treatment of depression and associated anxiety/panic disorders.


Fluoxetine is the active ingredient of A-Lennon Fluoxetine, Deprozan, Flutinol, Lilly-Fluoxetine, Lorien, Nuzak, ProHexal, Prozac, Ranflocs, Sandoz-Fluoxetine, Trizac and Zydus-Fluoxetine.

General Information

Fluoxetine is an antidepressant drug prescribed for the treatment of depression and associated anxiety/panic disorders. It is of particular use in patients with ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, worthlessness, hopelessness, fatigue, pessimism and difficulty dealing with normal daily life.

Fluoxetine, and products related to it, is as effective as other, older groups of antidepressants, with the advantage of fewer side effects and drug interactions. It also does not lead to the same weight gain associated with the older types of antidepressants.

It may take several weeks for the full benefit of fluoxetine to be achieved. During this period it is important to continue taking this medication.

Fluoxetine is also used for obsessive-compulsive disorder and the eating disorder bulimia nervosa.

How does fluoxetine work?

Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), meaning that it increases the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Increased levels of serotonin are associated with an improvement in emotion, mood and mental state.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 5

Available as: Fluoxetine is available as tablets, dispersible tablets and capsules.

What does it do? Fluoxetine has an anti-depressant and mood elevating action.

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependence risk: Low

Is fluoxetine available as a generic? Yes

Is fluoxetine available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Full benefit should be seen within 14 - 28 days.

Stopping this medicine: Fluoxetine should not be stopped abruptly. Sudden discontinuation may cause symptoms to recur. The dosage of fluoxetine should be gradually reduced according to the advice of your doctor.

Prolonged use: Risks with prolonged use are negligible if the medication is used as recommended. Fluoxetine is generally only used for 6-12 months at a time.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • You have liver or kidney disease
  • You have epilepsy
  • You have bipolar disorder
  • You have a heart condition
  • You are taking or have taken other medication during the last 14 days.

Pregnancy: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 18.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as adverse effects may be more likely. A reduced dose is advised.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases

Sexual dysfunction



Dry mouth


















Skin rash






Chest pain/irregular heartbeat




Drug interactions

Beta blockers

Increased chance of beta blocker toxicity

Verapamil, Nifedipine

Increased side effects of vasodilators

Potential sedative substances e.g. Alcohol, antihistamines, benzodiazepines

Enhanced effect on central nervous system

Oral medication for diabetes

Blood sugar may drop soon after taking SSRI.


Potential risk of Lithium toxicity

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor

High blood pressure, convulsion. Allow 5 weeks between drugs.


Unusual movement disorders


Increased risk of serotonin toxicity

Buspirone, clomipramine, other SSRI's, pethidine, tricyclic antidepressants

Increased risk of serotonin toxicity


Potential warfarin toxicity


Potential terfenadine toxicity

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have liver or kidney disease, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, or if you have a heart condition.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include dizziness, sweating and rapid heartbeat.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 20-60 mg daily

Interesting fact

Fluoxetine is often prescribed for hypochondriasis , an excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness, which does not have any medical merit.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

True or False? »

How to eradicate 'earworms' Hearing aids may keep seniors' minds sharp

Is ‘selective hearing’ actually a thing?

Why can your partner never hear the phone ringing? It could be that their brains are wired to ignore some sounds.

Swollen ankles? »

Gout - from Natural Standard Your ankles Is your ankle starting to rankle?

13 reasons why your ankles are swollen

Are your feet or ankles feeling swollen, heavy and bloated? Here are some causes to look out for.