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About fluoxetine

Fluoxetine is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It's often used to treat depression, and sometimes obsessive compulsive disorder and bulimia.

It works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is thought to have a good influence on mood, emotion and sleep.

Fluoxetine helps many people recover from depression, and it has fewer side effects than some other antidepressants.

Fluoxetine is available only on prescription. It comes as tablets, capsules, or a liquid that you swallow.

Key facts

  • Fluoxetine usually takes around 4 to 6 weeks to work.
  • Common side effects include feeling sick, headaches and trouble sleeping. These side effects are usually mild and go away after a couple of weeks.
  • If you and your doctor decide you should stop taking fluoxetine, your doctor may recommend reducing your dose gradually. This helps to prevent withdrawal side effects.
  • Some people cannot concentrate properly while taking fluoxetine. It might be best to stop driving, cycling or using machinery for the first few days of treatment until you know how this medicine makes you feel.
  • Fluoxetine will not change your personality, it will simply help you feel like yourself again.

Page last reviewed: 10 February 2022
Next review due: 10 February 2025