What is the most important information I should know about Prozac?
With every refill of my prescription, I receive five pages of tightly spaced information about the drug. The document starts off harmless enough with directions: Take one capsule by mouth one time daily. This is what is I read on the bottle every morning when I take it. Next is the generic name.
Fluoxetine (floo OKS e teen) Hcl 20 Mg capsule: Generic for Prozac 20 mg.
It turns out I am super focused on taking my medicine correctly. This includes waking up at the same time every day, so I can take my daily dose of depression-fighting Prozac. And I still double check the bottle before I put the pill in my mouth, to make sure it says Generic for Prozac.
Then once the pill is in my mouth, I still roll it out to the end of my tongue just before I take a drink of water from my 4-ounce paper bathroom cup. I’m not sure what OCD stands for, but this behavior may qualify.
Each morning, I am very, very focused on making sure I take my medication as prescribed.
Now back to the five-page cautions, and instructions. The next information is written in capital letters. BEFORE USING THIS MEDICINE: WHAT DO I NEED TO TELL MY DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING THIS DRUG? It goes on to talk about five different things you should tell your doctor before you start taking the drug.
When this was prescribed in the hospital, I do not remember getting this. Of course, I was wound so tight that I would not have focused on five tightly spaced pages of cautions, warnings, and read this first information.
In the hospital, the nurse came to my room, made sure it was me, and I took the Prozac.
Now that I have been home for almost nine weeks, I feel like I should read the fine print. Unhelpful thinking is telling me everyone else read this before they began taking their medication, that I am the only one who has not read the five pages of tightly written cautions about my medication.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the first two pages.
Just know there are many Capitalized sections. It seems that everything they want to get across about the use of, and possible side effects of the Prozac, is important enough to use all CAPS. Next is the MEDICATION GUIDE. It starts off:
It starts off by reminding the reader to “Read the Medication Guide” that comes with PROZAC before you start taking it and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. I have been doing it all wrong. I did not read any of this before I started on the drug, and I was too intimidated by the five tightly spaced pages that came with the refills.
I knew it would be better if I read it, but it was just too much to take on.
So, the first two refills I just threw away the five-page guide along with the bag the refill came in. This time, I saved the guide but didn’t read it right away. In fact, it has been sitting on the corner of my desk for almost a week. This morning, I looked at it and said to myself, “either read it or throw it away.”
I picked up the Guide to throw it away, but then carried it out to the front porch along with my coffee.
By the time I went in and got a refill for my coffee, I had read the entire document. My takeaway is one of gratitude. This is because there are 10 major possible side effects and despite that, I am feeling more like myself.
Serious side effect #1: Suicidal Thoughts or Action.
Having these thoughts was one of the reasons I sought professional help. Feeling “up against the wall,” I saw only three choices. While I never acted on the suicidal thoughts, they were a big part of my mornings leading up to my decision to seek professional help.
The second choice was the crazy one. It was to continue to do what I had been doing and expect a different result. I had tried that for 43 years, so I finally saw that the odds of that working this time were extremely low, probably even less than the 4.3 million to one odds of winning last night’s Powerball.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the number one side effect of the Prozac is one of the key things I am taking the drug to avoid.
Luckily, it is working. In the past three weeks, I have not had any suicidal thoughts. This is a huge step forward for me. Let me say it again.
In the past three weeks, I have not had any suicidal thoughts.
Of the other major side effects, I will ask my doctor about low salt levels (sodium) in the blood. I’m not a big salt user, to begin with, so I should have him check this.
My head still hurts from reading all the fine print in the five-page medication guide.
But I do feel like I have a better understanding of the drugs effects and possible side effects. This makes me a stronger advocate for myself when speaking with my doctors and gives me more control over what happens to my body.
I am supposed to be proud of this accomplishment and not dwell on the fact that it took me nine weeks or more to read the fine print. But that’s an unhelpful thinking style and I am still working on that by asking better questions.
I am so glad I faced the five-page, tightly spaced small print medication guide. I feel much more empowered. Or the feeling could just be the side effects of two big mugs of black coffee. Either way, I am excited about the day, and my new life where I get to say, “Depression is not my Boss.”
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