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What is Fluvoxamine?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fluvoxamine is a medication intended to treat mental health issues, like obsessive-compulsive and social anxiety disorders. It is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This drug works by affecting the balance of chemicals in the brain. In the U.S., it is available by prescription only.

This antidepressant is taken orally, in the form of a capsule or tablet. It is to be taken once or twice daily, according to a doctor's instructions. Patients may take fluvoxamine with or without food. They may not feel the full effect of the medication for several weeks.

While taking fluvoxamine, patients should be aware that consuming alcohol can heighten the drowsiness that the drug can cause. Tobacco products may decrease this antidepressant's effectiveness. Patients should be careful to wear sunscreen and limit exposure to sunlight, as it can increase skin sensitivity.

Fluvoxamine has the potential to cause some serious side effects. In some studies, patients, especially those younger than 24 years old, experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Patients and their family members or caregivers should watch out for this side effect, and notify a doctor immediately if it develops.

Other serious side effects also warrant a doctor's immediate attention. Patients should get help if they experience seizures, rapid heartbeat, and excessive sweating. Hallucinations, high fever, and the loss of coordination, as well as hives also require medical care. Panic attacks, aggression, and hyperactivity may occur.

Patients should report less serious side effects to the doctor as well. These can include weight loss, upset stomach, and gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea. Insomnia, dizziness, and impotence may also occur.

Before using fluvoxamine, patients should inform their doctors of all other medications and herbal supplements they use. This medication may interact with sleeping pills, allergy or cold medicines, and muscle relaxers. It should also not be used with narcotic pain medications, or any drugs intended to treat seizures, depression, or anxiety. If the patient has taken an monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor within the past two weeks, he must wait for a full 14 days before using fluvoxamine. Otherwise, a life-threatening reaction could occur.

Fluvoxamine is not intended for women who are pregnant or nursing, because it could cause birth defects. It may also be unsafe for patients who have epilepsy, liver disease, or bipolar disorder. Patients who have a history of suicidal thoughts or drug abuse may need to consider other medications.

This drug could cause withdrawal effects if it is discontinued abruptly. People who wish to stop taking fluvoxamine should consult their doctor first. While taking any medication, patients should strictly follow the physician's instructions for use.

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