How Does Prozac Work?

Many people may wonder, "How does Prozac® (fluoxetine hydrochloride) work?" Prozac is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. SSRIs act on a specific chemical within the brain known as serotonin. This is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
 
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin. The serotonin enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
 
Normally, this process works without any problems. When the levels of serotonin become unbalanced, however, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression. Prozac helps block the reuptake of serotonin so more remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the serotonin a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
 
As a result, Prozac can help treat the symptoms of the following conditions:
 

 

When used in combination with Zyprexa® (olanzapine), Prozac is approved for the following uses:
 
  • Depression associated with bipolar disorder
  • Treatment-resistant depression (depression that has not responded to treatment with at least two different antidepressants).

 

(For more information on how Prozac works, click Prozac. This article provides a complete overview of Prozac, including information on how it works, what it is approved to treat, general precautions, and potential side effects.)
 
 
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