Prozac Use for Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder have recurrent, unexpected feelings of extreme fear and dread that strike for no apparent reason, causing a racing heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, and shakiness. These "attacks" can send people to the hospital believing they are having a heart attack. A panic attack may even occur when the person is not in a situation that would normally create stress, anxiety, or fear.
Prozac is approved for the treatment of panic disorder in adults. Panic disorder is a form of anxiety, and antidepressants (such as Prozac) are often useful in treating anxiety disorders.
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. Serotonin 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 to block the reuptake of serotonin so more serotonin 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.
Prozac is approved for the treatment of depression in children age eight and over. It is also licensed for the treatment of children with OCD age seven and over. The medication is also approved for use in combination with olanzapine for treating depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder in children age 10 and older.
Prozac has not been studied in children or teens with bulimia or panic disorder and is not approved for these uses. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using Prozac in children.