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Fluoxetine capsules and liquid contain the active ingredient fluoxetine, which is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Antidepressant medicines act on nerve cells in the brain. In the brain there are numerous different chemical compounds called neurotransmitters. These act as chemical messengers between the nerve cells. Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter and has various functions that we know of.
When serotonin is released from nerve cells in the brain it acts to lighten mood. When it is reabsorbed into the nerve cells, it no longer has an effect on mood. It is thought that when depression occurs, there may be a decreased amount of serotonin released from nerve cells in the brain.
SSRIs work by preventing serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the nerve cells in the brain. This helps prolong the mood lightening effect of any released serotonin. In this way, fluoxetine helps relieve depression.
Fluoxetine may also be used in the treatment of bulimia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder in adults. It is not fully understood how fluoxetine works in these illnesses.
It may take between two to four weeks for the benefits of this medicine to appear, so it is very important that you keep taking it, even if it doesn't seem to make much difference at first. If you feel your depression has got worse, or if you have any distressing thoughts or feelings in these first few weeks, then you should talk to your doctor.
What is it used for?
In adults fluoxetine is used to treat:
a psychiatric disorder in which tasks are excessively repeated (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
In children and adolescents aged eight years and over fluoxetine is used to treat:
moderate to severe major depressive episodes, if the depression is unresponsive to psychological therapy after four to six sessions. (Fluoxetine should only be prescribed by a specialist and should be used in combination with psychological therapy.)