What Happens If Someone Overdoses on Prozac?

Prozac overdose

Verywell / Catherine Song 

Prozac (fluoxetine) is a popular medication used in the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and some eating disorders. Fluoxetine—the active ingredient in Prozac—is also available under the brand name Sarafem for treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

If taken as prescribed, the risk of Prozac overdose is low. If a person takes more than prescribed either accidentally or intentionally, however, an overdose is possible.

What Is Considered an Overdose of Prozac?

Several factors—including age, weight, current state of health, and whether the person has also taken any other drugs along with Prozac—will determine whether any given dose will be harmful to an individual. 

This makes it impossible to generalize about what particular dose would be considered to be an overdose. It is quite possible that one person will make a complete recovery from a particular dose while another may not. 

In general, however, if a person has taken more than what they have been prescribed, especially in the presence of overdose symptoms, they should seek out immediate medical attention.

If you believe that you or someone else has taken too much Prozac or more than the prescribed dose, seek immediate medical care.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a Prozac overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Unsteadiness

Possible Complications

Some of the possible medical complications that can occur following an overdose include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (widespread blood clotting in the
    small blood vessels, leading to tissue death and organ damage)
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Rhabdomyolysis (rapid skeletal muscle breakdown, leading to the release of substances into the bloodstream which can cause kidney failure)
  • Seizures

Getting Medical Assistance

Due to the fact that emergency room visits can be quite expensive, people will often hesitate to seek emergency help for a possible overdose, especially if the person does not seem to be experiencing any symptoms. One very good resource for these cases is your local Poison Control Center.

Poison Control Center phone lines are staffed by individuals with training to assess your situation and provide you with advice. You can reach the help lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-222-1222. There is no charge for the service.

Information to Have Ready

When you are calling either Poison Control or emergency services, you should have the following information available, if possible:

  • Amount of time since they took the medication
  • Any other drugs or substances that they might have taken
  • How much of the medication they may have swallowed (actual amount or your best guess)
  • Information about whether the person might have had suicidal intent
  • A list of their symptoms
  • The person's age, sex, and weight
  • Their prescribed dosage

Prozac Overdose Treatment

If the overdose occurred fairly recently, then the emergency room will probably pump the person's stomach to remove any remaining medication. They may also give them activated charcoal to absorb any remaining traces of the drug.

Since no antidote for Prozac exists, the goal of treatment is to monitor and support the patient's vital functions—such as heartbeat, breathing, and blood pressure—until the person has recovered. Treatment may also involve counteracting any complications that have developed, such as seizures.

Next Steps After Overdose Treatment

After a person has received treatment for Prozac overdose, there are common questions such as how to prevent future overdoses, what to do if the overdose was intentional, and whether the person can continue taking Prozac.

Preventing Future Overdoses

You can prevent future overdoses by always taking your medication exactly as prescribed. Avoid combining Prozac with alcohol or illicit substances, which can make overdose more likely or worsen any adverse effects that you might experience. Also, be careful to take your medication at the same time each day and never take two doses at the same time to make up for one that you missed.

Some medications may interact with Prozac. Always inform your doctor of any other medications or supplements that you may be taking.

An Intentional Overdose

If the overdose was on purpose, it is important to get help from a mental health professional to address suicidal thinking and behavior. If there is an immediate danger of self-harm or suicide, hospitalization and stabilization may be necessary.

Further treatment depends upon your doctor's or psychiatrist's advice but may involve the use of another type of antidepressant, psychotherapy, or some other treatment.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Continuing Prozac After an Overdose

Whether you continue on your medication depends upon your doctor's recommendations. In many cases, you may need to continue taking your medication for a time as you gradually reduce your dose while your body adjusts. You should never stop taking Prozac suddenly, since you may experience symptoms of withdrawal such as insomnia, headache, irritability, and mood swings.

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Article Sources
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