Let’s be real. There are few things in life that work exactly the way we want them to all the time. Luckily, science has come up with some pretty nifty solutions to make us feel a little less crazy. One of those solutions is Prozac, and if you’re one of those people who’s ever looked at your bottle of antidepressants and wondered how the heck they actually work, look no further than this handy guide.
What Is Prozac?
Prozac is a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), meaning it targets the brain’s levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood) by preventing its reabsorption into neurons in the brain (fun fact: SSRIs were discovered by accident while researchers were testing potential antihistamines).
It was first approved for use in 1987 as a treatment option for depression, but since then has become widely used for other mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, bulimia nervosa, and even premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Pretty versatile stuff!
How Does Serotonin Affect Our Mood In The First Place?
Well my friend let me tell you – when it comes to emotions like happiness or sadness, serotonin is where it’s at. When our brains release it in adequate amounts we generally have more positive feelings that keep us chugging on through life.
On the flipside when there isn’t enough being produced or absorbed back into our noggin’ then good times (and functions) can get rather difficult to find (damnit).
Why Do Some People Need More Help Than Others Managing Their Serotonin Levels?
You may well ask young grasshopper! Some genetic predispositions put people at greater risk; along with chemical imbalances caused by lifestyle factors such as prolonged stress or a change in diet, for example. Not all of us are winners when it comes to the genetic lottery!
How Does Prozac Exactly Work?
Now this is where things start getting really interesting! Essentially, by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons, Prozac keeps that lovely little hormone floating around longer than usual (feel free to envision it swimming around like an Olympian making waves).
When serotonin can hang-out just a bit longer auxiliary nerves must be built between transmitters and senders – basically generating new nerve cells over time which help in turn regulate mood better. This process generally takes up anywhere from two weeks to six weeks until you realize what was once chaos now seems suddenly much more manageable.
But Where Is The Chaos Well And Truly Happening In Our Brains?
Good question Sherlock! It turns out that there’s a section in our brain called the amygdala responsible for coordinating our emotional reactions especially when dealing with life’s daily stressors (kinda like triage nurse extraordinaire).
The heads-up thing about extending neurotransmission via delaying their breakdown means we can react quicker and generate positive emotions faster even when under duress setting off fewer panic attacks and anxiety disorders (just another wonderful day at-the-office).
So Why Waste Time Monitoring Serotonin Levels Instead Of Giving Us A Straight-Up Injection Of These Extra Good Vibes?
Wouldn’t something simpler (and less bothersome) work just as well? As much as some policy makers might like such ease-of-use medications; unfortunately altering one hormonal axis has infinite downstream effects on other systems associated with metabolic regulation including wild weight gain, insane amounts of fatigue et cetera.
Medications specifically targeting insulin resistance have consistently shown gross limitations due to side-effects across age-groups (imagine gaining rapid-fire poundage after receiving your “happy shot”). Additionally shooting people full-to-the-brim with hormones is a recipe only for one thing – disaster. Prozac’s elegant simplicity is what allows it to be a reliable tool in the mental health sector.
But What About All Of The Other Unanswered Questions Floating Around In Your Head?
Did we cover everything? No. Is there an infinite amount of information sitting up there waiting to make sense? Yes, but thankfully not every aspect has to be explained to patients as covered above which kinds of gets us back on track with our article…
So You Might Be Thinking Who Should Be Taking This Stuff Anyway?
Great query! Without question anyone thinking they might need psychiatric help due-to-depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, bulimia nervosa or premenstrual dysphoric disorder would benefit greatly from taking this medication.
It’s also worth noting people who have attempted other methods such as modifications in diet/exercise routines or behavioral changes without success could incorporate Prozac into their long-term management plan (they should talk with their doctors and specialists obviously).
# However It Does Come With Some Nasty Side Effects Right?
Not necessarily all fun-and-games cast member material that’s for sure… (que Wonderwall)
With any medication; understated side effects can rear their ugly heads even after week two or three (brilliant). They shouldn’t put you off however – since everyone responds differently based on individual physiology.
Time For A Few Not-So-Fun Facts:
Prozac Can Potentially Cause:
- Dry mouth
- Insomnia / difficulty sleeping
(usually reduced when dosing later during day/evening)
- GI tract disturbances (runs galore)
(unrelated note: never trust the silkiness of new couches)
Are There Any Longer-Term Issues That May Rear Their Ugly Head?
Shall we take a walk on the paranoid side together? Increased prolactin secretion and potential osteoporosis in at-risk patients have been rumored but are largely unfounded when taking Prozac as directed over time.
Ok But What If My Pessimism Kicks In And I Don’t Love It After Two Weeks?
Don’t worry my, my naysayer! Dislike of medication after a few weeks or lack of positive response are usually basic reasons for prescribing changes with completely different medications.
It’s important to remember there is a whole variety of tools available for medical professionals in the mental health realm to assist whatever ailment you happen-suffer-from-in-the-moment (modern science rocks). Regardless, it’s always best to speak with those employed by psychology/psychiatry departments prior-to any abrupt self-injections or therapeutic-procedures (hint: don’t be like Homer Simpson)
So Remember When It Comes To Prozac:
- Use as prescribed-per doctor’s orders
- Expect some adjustments when starting out
- Keep an open dialogue with your Doctor about what works or doesn’t work
Who knows maybe down-the-road clinical investigators will come up-with even more efficacy solutions; either way thanks-for-being both informed-and-amused!
Hey there, I’m Dane Raynor, and I’m all about sharing fascinating knowledge, news, and hot topics. I’m passionate about learning and have a knack for simplifying complex ideas. Let’s explore together!
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