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How Do I Use Fluoxetine for Anxiety?

Andrew Kirmayer
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fluoxetine, often used to treat anxiety disorders, is an antidepressant that can regulate chemical imbalances in the brain. Panic attacks and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are conditions that the medication is used for as well. Fluoxetine for anxiety can be administered in various ways depending on whether a capsule, tablet, or liquid form is taken. It is typically ingested once a day if taken in the morning, while twice a day regiments may include a dose in the morning and one around noon-time depending on the therapy. Some capsules have a delayed release formula, and these are generally taken once a week.

The benefits of fluoxetine for anxiety are sometimes not felt until up to five weeks into treatment. A person often feels fine while on the medication, and may be tempted to stop taking it. Other times someone can have serious side effects such as increased depression, anxiety, or changes in their behavior such as suicidal thoughts that should be reported to a medical professional immediately. Some patients may experience tremors, nausea, and headaches when taking the drug, symptoms that often subside after taking it for a period of time. In more serious cases, some people hallucinate when taking fluoxetine, faint, or can even go into a coma.

Many patients who take fluoxetine for anxiety may feel drowsy or have an upset stomach. Dry mouth and trouble sleeping are sometimes experienced, but it is generally important to follow a physician’s instructions on the dosage required for the condition. Other instructions might include guidelines on what to do if one dose is missed; usually it can be skipped if the time for the next pill is close. To stop taking the medication, doctors typically advise weaning off it by lowering the dosage. Suddenly going off fluoxetine can lead to withdrawal which can affect mood, balance, and sleep patterns.

Fluoxetine sometimes causes health issues if used with other medicines for anxiety and those for inflammation, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. You should usually be careful when driving, because it can cause drowsiness, which is often enhanced by alcohol. Fluoxetine for anxiety can also be harmful to unborn babies, and be problematic for people with liver, kidney, and bipolar disorders or epilepsy.

If you take fluoxetine for anxiety, you should let a physician or pharmacist know about other medications taken. Even vitamins or other supplements should be written down. The effects of the medication can be unpredictable, so a having list of these is generally helpful if an emergency does happen.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Andrew Kirmayer
By Andrew Kirmayer
Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various industries and disciplines. With a degree in Creative Writing, he is skilled at writing compelling articles, blogs, press releases, website content, web copy, and more, all with the goal of making the web a more informative and engaging place for all audiences.
Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Jul 25, 2013

@fBoyle-- Fluoxetine makes me sleepy too. But it has been better since I started taking it before going to sleep.

By stoneMason — On Jul 24, 2013

@fBoyle-- Actually, fluoxetine is also an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). So it doesn't work very differently than the medication you're taking now. 20mg/day of fluoxetine is a low dose, so it could be that you needed to increase your dose for effectiveness.

Fluoxetine is usually the first choice of doctors for anxiety because it doesn't cause dependence and is easy to withdraw from because of its long half-life. Especially for younger people, fluoxetine is a safe medication for the treatment of anxiety. I understand that it didn't work for you, but it does work for a lot of people.

By fBoyle — On Jul 24, 2013

I'm not sure why doctors are so keen to prescribe fluoxetine for anxiety when it's an antidepressant.

I've had anxiety since I was young. I took fluoxetine 20mg/daily for anxiety for two years in high school. I can't say that it helped. I still had anxiety attacks from time to time. And the medication would make me very tired and sleepy and I had to take naps during the day.

There are much more effective anti-anxiety medications out there. I'm on an SSRI medication right now and it's working great. I think fluoxetine is best for mild depression, not anxiety.

Andrew Kirmayer
Andrew Kirmayer
Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various...
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