Prozac is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It is prescribed to treat major depressive disorder, bulimia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It works by affecting the chemicals in the brain that can become unbalanced through different conditions. Since its FDA approval in 1987, Prozac has been taken by approximately 40 million people.

Serious side effects have recently been linked to the use of Prozac, especially in pregnant women. Studies show that when taken in the first three months of pregnancy, Prozac can cause severe birth defects. Defects that have been shown are ventricular outflow abnormalities, septal defects, hypoplastic left ear syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension and spina bifida. Studies also showed that newborns that were exposed to SSRIs in the womb have a 60 percent higher chance of developing a congenital heart defect.

Prozac has also been seen to affect younger patients in a different and more severe way than in adults. Reports of suicidal thoughts in patients ages 18-24 have been noted after taking Prozac. When reviewing 372 different studies of over 100,000 patients, it became clear to the FDA that there was a direct correlation between the use of SSRI antidepressants and suicidal thoughts in young adults. In 1988, Prozac was the only antidepressant approved for use in children and young adults.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash
  • Very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, overactive reflexes
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination
  • Headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat
  • Drowsiness, dizziness, feeling nervous
  • Mild nausea, upset stomach, constipation
  • Increased appetite, weight changes
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm
  • Dry mouth
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