Prozac (fluoxetine) is an antidepressant. When stopping Prozac, people may experience withdrawal symptoms such as tiredness, irritability, and headaches.

As with many other antidepressants, fluoxetine carries a black box warning. This warning alerts doctors and patients to the drug’s possible effects, such as suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Doctors refer to withdrawal symptoms as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. A person who feels ready to discontinue the drug needs to discuss this with their doctor, who may recommend gradually lowering the dosage to help avoid severe discontinuation symptoms.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms of Prozac withdrawal, including how long they last. This article also looks at what causes the symptoms, tips for managing symptoms, and more.

A closeup of Prozac, or another antidepressant, medication.Share on Pinterest

Research suggests that anywhere from 56% to 80% of people who attempt to come off antidepressants experience symptoms of medication withdrawal or discontinuation.

Withdrawal symptoms typically occur around 2 to 4 days after a person tapers their dosage. Common symptoms relating to reducing the dosage of Prozac include:

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The reason for withdrawal symptoms is that suddenly stopping an antidepressant can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, which can have physical and mental effects.

Antidepressants with a longer half-life, such as Prozac, are less likely to cause problems on discontinuation. The term half-life refers to how quickly the amount of a drug in the body reduces by half.

Prozac has an approximate half-life of 4 to 6 days, which is much longer than that of many other antidepressants.

A 2020 study notes that severe withdrawal symptoms are less common with fluoxetine than with other antidepressants. However, withdrawal from Prozac typically lasts longer than it does for drugs with a shorter half-life.

Learn more about fluoxetine withdrawal.

Although there is no specific Prozac withdrawal timeline, Prozac discontinuation symptoms typically begin around 2 to 4 days after reducing the dosage and usually lasts for around 1 to 2 weeks. However, in some cases, symptoms can occasionally continue for up to 1 year.

As fluoxetine has a longer half-life than other antidepressants, it may take longer for a person to develop withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms may also last longer, though they do not tend to be severe.

Certain factors, such as the speed of a person’s metabolism, may also cause withdrawal symptoms to appear more quickly or gradually.

Tapering dosage is the best way to manage symptoms of withdrawal. When a person decides that they are ready to discontinue Prozac, a doctor will likely recommend gradually reducing their dosage.

Tapering usually lasts several weeks. A doctor may suggest tapering the medication over 6 to 8 weeks to help reduce the risk or severity of symptoms.

Due to the long half-life of Prozac, some people may not need to taper off and can simply stop taking it. However, a person should only do this under the guidance of a doctor.

According to Mind, self-care tips for a person coming off antidepressant medication include:

  • telling family and friends about plans to come off antidepressants
  • following a healthy diet, with a focus on foods that release energy slowly to help keep blood sugar levels stable
  • getting enough quality sleep
  • getting enough regular physical activity or exercise
  • avoiding alcohol and recreational drug use

Learn more about how to stop antidepressants safely.

Antidepressants, such as Prozac, typically carry a black box warning, as they may worsen symptoms of depression or suicidal ideation and cause unusual changes in behavior in adults less than 25 years of age.

People taking Prozac and their loved ones or caregivers need to watch for certain signs and symptoms. These may include:

  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • aggressiveness
  • a preoccupation with death or dying
  • getting affairs in order
  • feeling trapped or hopeless
  • talking about suicide
  • intense mood swings

If a person experiences these symptoms and behaviors, they need to speak with a doctor.

Prozac may also interact with other medications or supplements and increase the risk of side effects. It is advisable to make a doctor aware of any other medications a person is currently taking, particularly:

Additionally, Prozac may result in problems if a person:

Learn more about the possible side effects of Prozac.

Discontinuing an antidepressant can increase the risk of relapse of anxiety or depression. The long duration of Prozac withdrawal symptoms may also increase the likelihood of the person mistaking them for returning symptoms.

Abruptly stopping antidepressants can lead to rebound depression, in which symptoms return more intensely than before. It is important for doctors to determine the difference between withdrawal symptoms and returning symptoms, such as the recurrence of depression.

A person needs to talk with their doctor if Prozac withdrawal symptoms are:

  • severe
  • disabling
  • lasting longer than a few weeks

Additionally, it is important to seek help if individuals experience suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or any other unexpected symptoms.

A person also needs to seek help if the symptoms of the condition for which they were taking Prozac redevelop or worsen.

Stopping Prozac (fluoxetine) can lead to withdrawal symptoms. These can include brain zaps, dizziness, mood changes, irritability, anxiety, headaches, confusion, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts.

Due to the long half-life of Prozac, it is less common for people to experience withdrawal symptoms than it is with other antidepressants. These symptoms may have a longer duration, but they are typically less severe. They may include dizziness, confusion, and headaches.

When a person decides that they are ready to stop Prozac, they can discuss this with their doctor and follow their advice on discontinuation strategies.

A doctor may consider tapering the dosage of Prozac to help avoid or reduce withdrawal. People can also try using self-care strategies, such as exercising, getting regular sleep, and following a balanced diet, to help minimize potential symptoms.