Prozac- Good or Bad?

Updated on July 11, 2009
J.S. asks from Kansasville, WI
18 answers

Hi all, I was recently prescribed a small dose of Prozac. I told my doctor that I have alot of emotional issues- mainly the week prior to my period. I get pretty angry easily, and I feel like my temper explodes at the smallest things. I am not on birth control because our insurance doesn't cover it, but I am a little leary about taking this. Does anyone have input from experience- did it help, any bad side effects... I know I definitely need something to help me a little, not sure if this is the route I should take. I most likely have PMDD, and I don't beleive I have depression- maybe I do and just don't know it. I am also confused because my doctor said I could just use it for the week or 2 weeks out of the month when I am in my cycle, but the pharmacist said it takes 3 weeks just to kick in and you have to take it every day. Any help would be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the responses. I am going to hold off on the Prozac right now and try out some of your suggestions. Maybe I could try the exercise- I do notice that after I do my cleaning job for 2 hours that I feel pretty good. That would be wonderful if a little more exercise was the key. I will also call my insurance company to see if they would cover birth control for a medical reason. Go figure- they covered a vasectomy but not the pill. Thanks again everyone you were helpful.

Featured Answers



answers from Milwaukee on

Prozac was a life saver for me. I also had a ton of emotional issues. After just one week of 10mg, I couldn't believe how much better I felt. I am now on 20mg, and have been for two years, and wish I would have done it SO much sooner. It has changed my life!



answers from Chicago on

taking Prozac the week before my period and the first few days of my period worked really well. Effexor is another good medication to take before you period but the side effects of stopping it after a few days are worse, in my opinion. Good Luck!

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answers from Cedar Rapids on

I realize Prozac has helped many many people with depression and am in no way saying it is a bad drug. But it sounds to me like you don't want to take it, and I wonder if taking it will make you seem like you have "failed" in some way. That is for you to know. I am baffled that your insurance won't cover the pill however. Have you considered a clinic? There are many good generics available that may be within reach as well (Nortrel 1/35). Getting a pill with a low steady dose of estrogen and progesterone may be the answer. Especially since the warnings on Prozac say to not stop taking it suddenly, as it can cause suicidal thoughts, so going on it and off it seems counter-productive. I don't know about this first-hand, but have family that have needed Prozac and others before. I understand your caution with the prescription. It sounds like you may need another medical opinion. Good luck to you.



answers from Minneapolis on

You have to take it every day. My husband is on it, not for depression, and if he doesn't take it, he has emotional issues he didn't have before he started it. Prozac keeps him very steady emotionally, no big ups or downs. His psychologist said if you stop and start it will not work anymore.
The good thing about prozac is that even without insurance you can find it for $4 a month at some pharmacies. (we get it at Coborns, but I think Walmart is $4, too)

As far as your cycle goes, I have actually had some great success with a very strange switch I made. I switched off of disposable pads and tampons and went to the Diva Cup and cloth washable pads. My period is now about 4-5 days, no cramping, and I can barely ever tell it is coming! I rarely have the mean PMS streak.

If you want a little relief but don't want every day, ask your doctor to switch you to Wellbutrin. That is milder, and has much less side effects, and can be taken for the few days before your cycle.



answers from Milwaukee on

Hi J.,

I have the same problem. My doctor put me on Lexapro. My doctor said that Lexapro does not have withdrawl side effects and it works within a couple of hours. It is a low dose of antidepressent and anti-anxiety without a lot of side effects. From what I heard about Prozac you should take it continouslyand and yes it does take 2 weeks to work. Just be careful. I would do some research first. I hope this helps. I found that Lexapro(10mg) works for me. Good luck.


answers from Janesville-Beloit on


I just started mine yesterday. i was told for it really to work well I needed to take it every day. I am hoping it works as I can't stand my PMS/PMDD or what ever it is they wanna call it.



answers from Rochester on

I was under the impression it took a few weeks to kick in and then it must be taken daily (it has to stay in your system to work). I have PMDD and take Yasmin for it. There are generic forms of it available (and I know Walmart, Target, etc has some 4.00 pills for use). I also used to work for an insurance company. If your doctor would argue you taking the pill is not primarily for pregnancy prevention but to treat a medical issue, sometimes insurance will cover it under that exception. You just have to ask the insurance for a prior authorization and have your doctor submit that form and a documentation of your problem from your medical records. This doesn't always work, but is worth a try.



answers from Minneapolis on

I cannot function without my antidepressant. My depression manifests itself in much the manner that you described - I blow up at the tiniest provocation, yell, get so angry that I'll cry, etc - not the weepy, etc type of depression.

I have been on antidepressants for the last 12 years, and have been on Prozac, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Zoloft, and am currently taking Lexapro. I've also taken Abilify added onto my antidepressants.

Each drug interacts with each person differently. Prozac was NOT for me - but it certainly works well for many, many people. I, personally, went CRAZY taking prozac. I drove to Los Angeles (at the time I was living 10 hours from LA) naked, crying the whole way. Not pleasant. No other drugs or alcohol involved. I've never heard anyone else reacting to Prozac like I did, so I'm pretty sure the risks are slim to none. I have also never reacted to another antidepressant the way that I did to Prozac.

Your doctor sounds like s/he doesn't really understand how these drugs work. Even Lexapro, which works the most quickly of the antidepressants that I've been on, takes several weeks before levels stabilize in your bloodstream and give the best effect. You cannot start and stop taking them. Lexapro also has pretty severe withdrawal effects - I get sick to my stomach if I don't take it more than 2 days in a row.

Your pharmacist is correct. I would look for a new doctor - this would be enough to make me lose trust in him/her. And I would *never* take a prescription for an antidepressant from anyone other than a psychiatrist, who does nothing but think about these drugs and how they affect people all day long. I have two suggestions for wonderful psychiatrists that I trust (and there aren't many that meet my unreasonably high standards). If you are interested in them, I would be happy to share their phone numbers and names.

However, I do think that your symptoms sound like they could be improved from the use of an antidepressant.

I wish you a lot of luck!
Take care!



answers from St. Cloud on

I have similar issues - depression can definitely manifest itself in anger, which I didn't know. I took prozac for about 3 months to help with my bad PMS, and it made me feel AWFUL. I had 3 horrible blow-ups at my husband and I felt completely out of control, and out of my mind. I read the ghastly amount of info that came with it after my 3rd blow up and in the fine print it mentioned hostility and anger as a side affect. I quit taking it! Now that I've had 2 babies, I started having similar troubles again and started taking Fish Oil and KOREAN Gin Seng. They are both mood stabilizing vitamins/supplements and are natural, so I don't have to worry about drinking a glass of wine with it or whatever. This was just my experience, and everyone's different, but that is just what worked for me. Best luck to you!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would suggest seeing another doctor. As I understand, for it to work correctly, it takes time to build in your system and only taking for one week will not be effective. It can be very helpful though. I used to be on it but found that a big part of my stress came from my environment and the fact that I let things get to me. I am no longer on it and haven't been for a while. I have known several other people on it and some people truly need it to balance themselves. It sounds like you need a better diagnosis of what is truly going on so you can treat it appropriately.



answers from Omaha on

listen to the pharmacist. ive been on prozac since '94 for clinical depression. prozac is an accumulative medication. it takes usually 4 weeks to be fully beneficial. it remains in your system even after you stop taking it. after a month off of it you would still have approx. 1/2 dose in your system.

the first two weeks i lost my appetite completely and did nothing much more than sleep. went through this 3 times. initial, then twice we tried going off it but to no avail.

please talk to your dr again or a different dr. if they think you need something only a couple weeks a month then it would be something other than prozac.

good luck



answers from Appleton on

I feel that you should do two things, first get a second opinion, second stop the prozac. Also go on a low salt, sodium, diet and don't eat anything with MSG in it. I had horrible PMS all my life, I am finally menapausal and it is a relief not to go through the emotional highs and lows every month. I took St John's Wort for many years, everyday. The St. John's Wort evened out my PMS symtoms and I didn't suffer the highs and lows. It doesn't work like magic it will take a while to build up in your system but it is a lot safer than prozac. You can find it in the aisle with the vitimins and herbs at most grocery stores and places like Wal-mart or Target.
Good luck, serious PMS or PMDD sucks the life out of you for 2 weeks every month. If I can be of any more assistance please feel free to contact me. I have been studying herbal remedies and holistic medicine for about 15 years. Herbs work very well, I had a miscarriage 15 years ago and my doctor couldn't get the bleeding under control. After a month of hormone supplements at $90 a month (no insurance) in went to an herbalist and my bleeding was under control in 3 days.



answers from Minneapolis on

I would definitely talk to a psychiatrist. I feel very strongly about GPs prescribing antidepressants. That's not their specialty, and this is your brain we're talking about--not something you want to mess with without being certain.

Most antidepressants require a certain blod level to work, and for most, that takes time to build up. I went through a bunch of them trying to find the one that worked best for me, and I know that they vary a lot; sometimes I couldn't sleep, sometimes I cried all the time anyway, and some shattered my libido. If you think your problem is PMDD, talk to a psychiatrist or OB. You can see about getting something (like Yaz) preapproved; you can even call your insurance company directly and explain to them the reason you would want it preapproved and ask what the process would be. You can also look into generics.

Definitely don't trust this one doctor's treatment; it sounds like there are too many other, better options. See a doctor who specializes in this more, and see if you can get better help!



answers from Minneapolis on

I take prozac for depression and I up the dose the week before my period by one tablet, this works very well for me!!!!



answers from Minneapolis on

30 Minutes of Exercise a Day is as effective as many drugs for depression, anxiety, ADD, and just about everything else! Read the book "Spark" for all the research results. Doctors are way too quick to hand out drugs without taking time to understand what is going on. You are a SAHM of 3 - how much time are you taking for yourself? Are you getting fresh air, exercise, and quiet time each day? What about anger management therapy - there are specialists in this area.

And yes, you need to take Prozac every day for it to be effective. Your body will go through adjustment symptoms and withdrawal symptoms otherwise. My ex is clinically depressed and I have watched him go through these phases everytime his medication was changed.



answers from Minneapolis on

I told my family doctor about moodiness around the new cycle and she put me on the same thing and thought I had PMDD. I did see a therapist and I didn't think I was depressed but after my 500 questionaire I'm mild to moderate depressed. I was told to take the Prozac all the time as you shouldn't come on or off it quickly. I read it takes 6-8 weeks to kick in and leaves the body slowly when you come off. I felt great after it started kicking in around 4-6 weeks but they took me off. If you're bi-polar it can cause mania and in rare cases it can cause mania even if you don't have bi-polar and I don't have bi-polar nor did I ever think or my therapist think I had mania. Anyway, I don't trust the regular doctors. I'd see a Psychiatrist for a proper evaluation and dispense of medication. I'm on Effexor XR now. Just my experience and what I did.



answers from Minneapolis on

are you serious?? i think you need to find a different dr.some these docs.just give that stuff out like candy-prozac is a harsh drug-got couple friends on it-for true depression...get a new dr.get the right treatment...for what you suffer-i had the same issues-they had no help for it back then-i ended up having a full hysterectomy..what a relief...i suggest you not take it....



answers from Minneapolis on

I was on Lexapro for a year and a half for anxiety, and when I would talk with other women about being anxious and on something, I didn't get a lot of positive feedback about Prozac, but I do know these meds can affect different people differently. I was also told by my OBGYN that there is a pill you can take 1 - 2 weeks before your period, so maybe you should investigate that a bit more. I can't say for sure whether it's Prozac or not. I will offer this too, if you don't think you're depressed (and be extremely honest with yourself) then try not to go on a med like this b/c it's really hard to get off of.

One other thing I learned from my midwife: a study was done on women and anxiety that showed the following natural remedies were as effective as an anti-depressant:

1. Fish Oil/DHA
2. Vitamin D
3. 30 minutes of exercise a day

My advice to you is to do some more research, take your vitamins and get some fresh air! Good luck!

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