The Effects of Long Term Use of Prozac for Depression

Medication Spilling Out A Bottle

As one of the most common mental health disorders in America, depression is a reality that many people face every day. Because depression is thought to be triggered by a lack of the neurotransmitter Serotonin in the brain, drugs have been developed to essentially treat this issue, including the more well-known medication Prozac.

Generally known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), drugs in this class work to maintain increased levels of serotonin in the brain to correct the imbalance.

Prozac as a Treatment for Depression

Depressed Young Woman Sitting With Her Head in Her Hands - Addiction HopeFluoxetine was the first SSRI drug established by scientists and was later marketed under the prescription drug name of Prozac. While the options for SSRIs are extensive today, Prozac continues to be one of the more widely used medications for the treatment of depression.

Prozac has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

In fact, Prozac is the third most prescribed antidepressant medication after sertraline and citalopram, with almost 25 million prescriptions for generic forms of Prozac filled in the United States in 2011 [2].

Concern Over the Long-Term Effects of Prozac

With the widespread use of Prozac for the treatment of depression and other conditions, there is concern over the long-term effects that may result from this antidepressant. While Prozac is not considered to be addictive, many side effects can result from overuse or withdrawal, including:

  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Agitation

Psychological, Social, and Physiological Consequences of Prozac

The chronic use of antidepressants can also lead to psychological, social, and physiological consequences for the user, including the following:


The longer an individual uses an antidepressant, the greater the likelihood that a dependency on the drug will develop, both physically and psychologically. Dependency on a medication to treat depression may decrease motivation efforts to make positive life changes.

Research has shown the Americans treated with antidepressants have remained on the medication for more than a year, perhaps demonstrating poor outcomes for treatment with medication alone [3].

Physiological effects:

The long term use of Prozac has been associated with damaging changes to the brain and/or improper brain development. Some research has shown that the use of SSRIs, such as Prozac, has been associated with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease [4].


The chronic use of antidepressants like Prozac could lead to a blunted emotional response, changes in mood, and increased experience of agitation, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and nervousness, with the highest rates among people taking the highest doses [5].

Talk with a Doctor About Options for Depression

Doctor An Young Woman Discussing The Effects of Long Term Use Of ProzacIndividuals considering the use of Prozac as part of a therapeutic treatment plan should discuss all options with their doctor or health care professional. While Prozac can be a beneficial medication, the use of this drug, both in the short and long term, does not come without risks.

Be sure to make an informed decision by educating yourself about the pros and cons of this prescription before use.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you had been prescribed Prozac by your doctor?  Did you notice any side-effects?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author:

Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


  1. “Prozac Pharmacology, Pharmacokinetics,Studies, Metabolism”. 2007.
  2. Verispan. “Top 200 Generic Drugs by Units in 2010” (PDF). Drug Topics.
  3. Antonuccio, David, et al. Antidepressants: A Triumph of Marketing Over Science? Prevention and Treatment, 2005. Volume 5, Article 25.
  4. Gerber, PE; Lynd, LD. Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor-induced movement disorders. Ann Pharmacother, 1998 Jun; 32(6): 692-8.
  5. Beasley, CM Jr, et al. High-dose fluoxetine: efficacy and activating-sedating effects in agitated and retarded depression

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 20, 2016
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