Since Prozac was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987, it has gone on to become one of the best-selling, well-known antidepressants on the market. 

Three decades after its introduction in the U.S., Prozac remains a popular prescription choice by doctors to treat symptoms of major depressive disorder. 

Fluoxetine, the generic version of Prozac, was the 29th most prescribed medication with nearly 24 million prescriptions written in 2016, according to ClinCalc.com. The World Health Organization (WHO) also includes fluoxetine on its List of Essential Medicines. Prozac’s inclusion on this list means that it is among a select group of medications needed in a healthcare system. 

Prozac belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). However, unlike other SSRIs, Prozac has an exceptionally long half-life. Most SSRIs have a half-life of about one day, while Prozac’s estimated between two to four days or longer after long-term use. 

Because Prozac remains in your body for such a long time, it can show up in urine screenings a month to two months or more after last use. 

Prozac’s long half-life has its advantages. You can skip a dose and not worry about the unpleasant effects of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. However, should the drug cycle out of your system after abruptly stopping your use, those symptoms can, eventually, still manifest.  

If you wish to safely get off Prozac, the best solution is a medically-supervised detox and therapy, two options offered in professional treatment. 

Read on to learn more about Prozac and available treatment. 

What is Prozac? 

Prozac is the brand name for fluoxetine. It is an SSRI drug, along with Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), and Celexa (citalopram). 

In addition to treating symptoms associated with major depressive disorder (MDD), it also addresses obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Prozac is also used in combination with olanzapine to treat the depression that comes from bipolar disorder. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, Prozac is available as a capsule (immediate and delayed-release), tablet, syrup, and solution.

The dose range for depression and anxiety disorders is 20 to 60 milligrams (mg) a day, stated by the Psychopharmacology Institute. The recommended starting dose for depression is 20 mg a day, which can be titrated up to 60 mg a day. For bulimia, the daily dose amount of Prozac is 60 mg. It’s worth noting that other sources place the dose range of Prozac at between 10 to 80 mg. 

The exact mechanism of action for Prozac is not known. However, it works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that modulates reward, learning, cognition, memory, and various physiological processes. This action increases the levels of free serotonin which stimulates the nerve cells in the brain, reports MedicineNet. Ultimately, this is how Prozac relieves depression symptoms.  

How Long Does Prozac Stay in Your System?

how long does prozac stay in your system

After a single-use of Prozac, the half-life of the drug can range from one to three days. Half-life refers to the time it takes for half the dose of a drug to be metabolized and eliminated from the bloodstream. With long-term Prozac use that range can increase to between four and six days.  

Overall, it takes 25 days for 99 percent of Prozac to be eliminated from the body, says Harvard Health. However, the primary metabolite of Prozac is norfluoxetine, which stays in the body a lot longer. Norfluoxetine has nearly double the half-life of Prozac at four to 15 days. 

In other words, the average time span it takes for Prozac and norfluoxetine to completely clear the system can be anywhere between 22 and 82.5 days, according to Mental Health Daily. In essence, it can take anywhere from one to three months to completely eliminate Prozac and its metabolites, from the body, after a final dose. 

Prozac and Drug Screenings

Prozac is not considered a drug of abuse, so they are not typically included in urine drug screens. However, Prozac is capable or triggering false positives for targeted drugs, says Verywell Mind.   

False positives can occur when a prescription drug is broken down into some of the same components as a targeted and often illicit drug. For instance, Prozac can show up as amphetamine, methamphetamine, or LSD.

Prozac Withdrawal Effects  

Prozac’s exceptionally long half-life means that a user would have to go without using it for a number of days before withdrawal symptoms show up. However, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that abruptly stopping Prozac use can result in the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Prickling, tingling sensation on the skin

How Professional Treatment Can Help You

The unpleasant effects of Prozac withdrawal can be mitigated through professional treatment. Reputable, professional programs offer medical detox, where a team of physicians, nurses, and other staff help you to safely taper off antidepressants like Prozac. They also treat any withdrawal symptoms that occur.

As you go through treatment, medical staff will gradually reduce your Prozac dose in increments. They can also prescribe the best medication to switch to as you gradually lessen your Prozac use.

Another critical component of treatment is psychotherapy, a critical component of treatment that addresses depression in clients and helps them avoid recurrence, according to Harvard Health

Treatment can be administered through outpatient treatment, which affords clients access to comprehensive therapy and care without having to put their lives on hold.

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (855) 251-0493