Fluoxetine hydrochloride was the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for obsessive compulsive disorder and depression in 1987. While it has many different brand names, Fluoxetine is mostly recognized by the popular brand name Prozac, as well as Sarafem and Fontex. It is one of the most prescribed antidepressant next to sertaline and citalopram. Fluoxetine has been shown to alleviate anxiety, improve sleep, treat obsessive compulsive disorder, reduce depression, and lessen the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in adults with mild or moderate symptoms. A common side effect of fluoxetine is sexual dysfunction. Other side effects include nausea, insomnia, anorexia, anxiety, asthenia, as well as rashes. This medication also has the ability to cause akathisia (restlessness).
For those with autism, some doctors suggest that anti-anxiety medications, such as SSRIs, be used in combination with behavior interventions. In high-functioning individuals, anti-anxiety medication may be especially effective in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy. Some doctors argue that these types of medications are less effective overall in individuals with autism than they are for the general population. Prior to starting an adult or child on a drug such as fluoxetine, it is highly recommended that it be discussed with a doctor.
Although fluoxetine is the only medication approved by the FDA for childhood major depressive disorder (MDD) in the United States for the use of children aged seven and older, children and teens that take this drug have a greater chance of having suicidal thoughts and/or actions. Those who take this medication should be watched closely and a doctor should be contacted right away if the following signs appear: depression, nervousness, restlessness, panic attacks, or noticeable changes in moods and/or actions arise. Call a doctor immediately if any suicidal thoughts or actions become apparent. Other side effects may include lightheadedness, blurred eyesight, headache, dry mouth, diarrhea, and upset stomach. Caution should be taken when putting a child who is taking other drugs on fluoxetine, as sometimes it is unsafe and can cause negative side affects. A doctor should be consulted before taking fluoxetine with other medications. Individuals who have taken a monoamine-oxidase inhibitor antidepressant (MAOI), who are in a manic episode, have uncontrolled epilepsy, have uncontrolled seizures, or rare hereditary issues such as fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency are advised not to take fluoxetine.
Regardless of the negative side affects, which have been previously stated, fluoxetine is generally well tolerated in children and causes substantial benefits. Fluoxetine has the ability to result in a happier, more focused, and mentally stable individual. This medication has also been found to be beneficial for those who suffer from bulimia and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). As a result of clinical research, fluoxetine was found to be useful in treating a defining symptom of autism spectrum disorder in adults—repetitive, compulsive behavior. This medication has been found to have no effect on children when it comes to autism. Remember, as previously stated, fluoxetine was approved by the FDA for childhood MDD, not autism in children. Therefore, it is not recommended a child be put on this medication unless it is to help reduce MDD.