Sarafem is a prescription medication that is licensed to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), it works by helping to keep the levels of a certain chemical in the brain (serotonin) balanced. The medication comes in the form of a tablet that can be taken once a day every day or just during the two weeks before your period. Side effects can include headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite.
What Is Sarafem?Sarafem® (fluoxetine hydrochloride) is a prescription medicine used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
(Click Sarafem Uses for more information on what it is used for, including possible off-label uses.)
How Does It Work?Sarafem is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. SSRIs, such as Sarafem, affect 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 the cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. However, when the levels of serotonin become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions, including PMDD. Sarafem 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.