How Fluoxetine Works and How It Performed in Clinical Trials
Fluoxetine is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. SSRIs, such as fluoxetine, 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. Fluoxetine 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.
There have been several studies looking at the effects of fluoxetine on a variety of conditions.
Fluoxetine for Depression
Studies have shown the drug to be effective for depression treatment in children, teens, and adults. These studies included children as young as eight years old. Another study showed that a long-acting form (Prozac Weekly) was also effective for treating depression in adults.
Fluoxetine for OCD
In studies, 28 percent of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) who took fluoxetine felt their OCD was "much improved," compared to only 8 percent of those who were not taking it. None of the people taking the medication felt that their OCD was worse, compared to 8 percent of people not on fluoxetine. In other studies, it was also shown to be effective for OCD in children and teens.