Has anyone been on Prozac long term? - My OCD Community

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Has anyone been on Prozac long term?

OCDee
OCDee

Greetings to all. I am new to this forum and am thankful that I have come to find it. I wish every one of you the best in your battles with the OCD beast. I wanted to ask if there is anyone who had been treated with Prozac and stayed on it long term. I was on Prozac for a bit and it helped my OCD tremendously. I discontinued it only to be diagnosed with depression (went back on then discontinued) and then again with insomnia (went back on and discontinued). Since the pandemic began I am again exhibiting the same old symptoms of OCD and I'm wondering if I will ever be okay without the Prozac. I hear that SSRIs are not for long term use and some people have reported that it stops working over time. My fear is that the Prozac will "poop out" and I will end up worse than I started off. However the medication does help, although not without a few unwanted side effects, and if I know I can have a normal life and the medication will work in the long term, then I will gladly take it forever. I have heard alot of horror stories surrounding antidepressants and I would really appreciate some guidance from anyone who may have experience with Prozac long term.

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read my post.

25 Replies
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I have taken it for about 15 years, but at low doses. For a while I tapered off to what was probably a placebo dose, and then restarted with a low dose (20mg/day) last year when my OCD became more disruptive. I do think it takes some of the edge off, but I have always struggled with OCD in spite of it, probably because I've only taken low-moderate doses.

I suspect a larger dose would help me more, but I have started ERP therapy this year and I think it has the potential to help me control my OCD more than medication (or maybe in conjunction with continued low doses of medication). I think there are studies that confirm this, and my therapist, as well as a few members of my local support group, has said that ERP can provide longer-lasting help than medication alone.

As far as your specific questions, I'm sure reactions vary from individual to individual. I have not noticed the Prozac having less effect for me now than it did when I first started, and my family doctor (who doesn't necessarily prescribe medication like candy) has never indicated that it's a problem for me to stay on it long term. The only side effect I've ever really noticed is that it lowers my platelet count to just below normal when I get my blood checked (but never down anywhere near a dangerous level).

If you've never done ERP therapy for OCD, I'd highly recommend trying it (preferably with a therapist), especially if you'd like to avoid long-term medication. I'm in my 40s and wish I'd done it 20 years ago. ERP can be challenging and requires determination and a willingness to endure short-term anxiety as you face your obsessions, but the techniques have helped me change the way I view and handle my intrusive thoughts, and are thus more versatile than medication alone. Prozac helped me handle my "routine" obsessions, but when something new popped up, I just did compulsions because I didn't know any other way to deal with it.

This might not really answer your questions very well but I hope it helps. (And welcome to the forum!)

3BirdLover
3BirdLover in reply to MothFir

Hi MothFir.

Nice to read your comments. For me there was no question that Prozac pooped out on me and I needed something else.It had always done a good job (at least kept me in check) up til the time I mentioned.

I'm really interested to hear about your experience with ERP sometime.

MothFir
MothFir in reply to 3BirdLover

I'm happy to talk about ERP -- anything specific you're wondering about?

3BirdLover
3BirdLover in reply to MothFir

I'm curious about which types of OCD you did ERP with and some of your experiences. You can private message me if you would like to :)

MothFir
MothFir in reply to 3BirdLover

No problem -- I'll just answer here since OCDee asked as well.

I've had many OCD themes over the decades, but the one that finally caused me to get serious about therapy last year was a bizarre fear of contracting rabies without knowing it. I love the outdoors and have always spent much of my free time hiking, camping, photographing, etc., and my job involves outdoor work about half the time. Suddenly I became worried about everything I felt touching me -- leaves and grass along trails, insects, routine sensations from sweating and muscle twitches. Every time I've felt something I've been compelled to stop and look around to be sure that what I felt was not a rabid bat (or other animal) on the ground, scratching me as I went by. I've also had to investigate dead leaves and bits of wood that looked like they might be bats lying around, even if I had no contact with them. On bad days I was stopping once every couple minutes.

Eventually it got to the point that I was nervous indoors as well - if I felt some weird sensation I had to check under desks, under chairs, in the couch, etc., to make sure there wasn't a bat around. Of course when I type this it all seems very silly, but you know how OCD works. My fears have been really far-fetched, but not technically impossible, and that "what if" zone is where OCD seems to thrive.

So my "intentional" ERP has basically consisted of walking and trail-running every day and limiting my number of "bat checks." At this point I'm allowed to check once for a few seconds every 30 minutes. When I get triggered by something I see or feel, I really have to decide if I want to spend my one check on it. This has helped me eliminate all the compulsions where I'm 99.9% sure I just felt a leaf, bug, or whatever. I get anxious because I don't get to check and feel 100% sure, but of course that's the point of ERP. The anxiety usually lasts anywhere from a few seconds to an hour or so, but eventually I forget about it. I do have to be careful not to endlessly replay each situation in my head for reassurance that nothing happened. (Of course if there's something genuinely concerning, like the time a forked stick somehow grabbed my leg and felt very much like a raccoon or something attacking me, I can check it out without it counting toward my limit.)

I also tend to have obsessions throughout the day regarding rabies and some of my "old classic" themes (checking stoves, scrupulosity, catastrophizing run-of-the-mill problems), so I have taken every opportunity to do ERP in those situations as well. Basically, if I get an OCD urge to do things a certain way, or go beyond normal human behavior just to "make sure" of something, or ruminate on an issue until I'm 100% satisfied that everything is okay, I try to resist it.

The results have been pretty convincing. When I consistently resist compulsions, I get short-term anxiety but it's followed by a feeling of satisfaction and relief. It's empowering to discover, after decades of doing whatever OCD dictated, that I can resist its demands and the anxiety goes away on its own. After a few mostly successful days in a row, I notice the intrusive thoughts becoming less frequent and easier to just ignore. When I give in and do some compulsions here and there, I can often catch myself and get back on track okay. But when I have a bad day and do many compulsions in a row, it's amazing how quickly I end up back in OCD Land, where everything is threatening and I can't imagine NOT doing another compulsion. (Fortunately, with practice it's easier to get out of such ruts than it was the first few times.)

The basic concept of ERP is ridiculously simple (Don't Do Compulsions), but it seems that the challenge is finding a system and attitude that enables you to do that consistently enough that the ERP can "rewire" your thinking and you learn not to take the obsessions seriously. Different approaches seem to work for different people, and after a bunch of reading, therapy, and experimenting I've come up with a few basic principles that seem to work for me: 1) Expect the anxiety anytime, 2) Welcome the anxiety, 3) Decide whether the anxiety is about a real threat or OCD, and, assuming it's OCD, 4) Separate the physical feelings of anxiety from the content of the obsession. And as always, 5) Accept that I can never be 100% sure that my actions are the right ones, or that everything will be okay with 100% certainty.

I know I'll always have OCD, but I'm hopeful that ERP will help further quiet my thoughts and give me a more natural control over my compulsions in the long term. But even the benefits I've gotten after a few months have been worth it.

LuvSun
LuvSun in reply to MothFir

Thank you for sharing your personal experience with ERP. You explain things very well.

3BirdLover
3BirdLover in reply to MothFir

Thank you for sharing this. I especially like the part where you talk about limiting your checking to a specific time, or number of checks. I like that you have to decide if you want to use a particular experience as 'your one check'. That seems like such a do-able thing. It certainly does make sense to realize that no matter what, you will still be uncertain. I think that is key. I appreciate your sharing this.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to MothFir

Thanks so much for sharing. ERP sounds very promising. Im sorry you still struggle sometimes. It sounds like overall you are doing very well. I hope to get a handle on this OCD without the use of drugs and its good to know that it can be managed with alternative therapies. I guess for me, the hardest pill to swallow is that OCD is for life 😕. I'm very grateful to have found this community. It helps alot to be able to have these conversations and know that other people know how it is to live with such issues. I dont think your rabies OCD is silly at all. I've had some pretty crazy obsessions in the past as well.

MothFir
MothFir in reply to OCDee

It is sometimes tough to think about OCD being a lifelong condition, but I try to remember that everybody has something they struggle with. And it really is great to connect with other people with OCD. If you've never been to a local support group, I'd give that a try too (with everything virtual at the moment, you don't necessarily need one that's local). The first meeting I attended, I was amazed to think that I could have said, "Hey, you ever get a weird thought in your head that you just can't let go?" and for the first time in my life everyone would actually know what I was talking about!

OCDee
OCDee in reply to MothFir

Hi MothFir,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I will definitely look into ERP, as I hear it is the gold standard in terms of OCD treatment. I have been told several times by psychiatrist that 40 mg would be the standard starting dose for OCD. I was on 40 mg the first time but the two times after that I was okay with only 20 mg as well. I have been off of it for about a year now but recently I got triggered and feel like I'm back at square one.

I definitely do want to avoid long term medication if it's possible. How is ERP going for you so far?

MothFir
MothFir in reply to OCDee

Hi OCDee,

3BirdLover asked about my ERP experiences too, so you can check out my answer up the page a notch. I tend to be pretty long-winded, but if there's anything else you want to know I'm happy to talk about it :)

Welcome! I have been taking Prozac off and on for over 30 years. I say off and on because sometimes I don’t take it regularly or run out and not get refilled right away. ( not the best way to take medication, I know). Prozac has really helped me overall all these years. I have always taken a higher dose (80 mg /day). Don’t really notice side effects. I hadn’t heard about the negatives of long term use. I do agree with MothFir that ERP would probably be more helpful along with the medication. I can’t really comment on ERP as much since I do not practice it like I should. The Prozac does make a difference to me even though I still struggle on a daily basis with OCD. You have to find what works for you.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to LuvSun

Hi LuvSun

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad medication works for you overall after taking it for 30 years. Sorry you still struggle some of the time with OCD. I'm starting to see that it is really about what works for every individual. I was very curious to see how many people reported the "poop out effect". Seems like a few people here did.

Hi and welcome to the group. I was on Prozac for probably 25 years and it worked great. In 2017 for some reason, it seemed to stop working and I went through a huge time of depression and OCD became out of control. My psych started me on Trintellix and after a period of some nausea, the drug kicked in and I am SO MUCH better now. I think prozac is a very good drug....it's just for me, it appeared I needed something else.

For myself, I don't believe I will ever be able to be without some type of med for the OCD, but that is OK with me, because it's better than going through h*** without it.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to 3BirdLover

Hi 3BirdLover

Sorry the Prozac stopped working for you. That is exactly my fear. I fear that the Prozac won't work forever and then not being able to find anything else that works. I'm glad you were able to find something that worked well for you after the Prozac stopped working? What did that feel like? Was it seemingly out of nowhere that it started to lose effect?

3BirdLover
3BirdLover in reply to OCDee

Well I had a traumatic incident with one of my pets that really set offmy OCD and it was during that time that I noticed my OCD was out of control and the Prozac wasn't helping... I was getting worse.

Please don't let it stop you from going with it.....this probably can happen with any meds for our condition. Prozac has been around a long time and it works wonderfully for very many people as it did for me. There are tons of new meds coming out on the market. My experience is that doctors are very open to keep trying until you find the right one that will work for you. Believe me....it is sooooooo worth feeling better. I tried many different ones.

I would like to invite you to the OCD Support Network.

We are here to offer help and give hope.

We are in this together.

I am taking Prozac for a long time, and it has not helped my OCD at all.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to desipurple19

Hi desipurple19

Thanks for the invite. I'm happy to have found a community that offers support.

I appreciate that everyone has been so welcoming. How long have you taken Prozac? Have you ever tried asking for anything else, since it doesn't help?

desipurple19
desipurple19 in reply to OCDee

I have been taking Prozac for many months.

I am treatment resistant for OCD.

I have already tried many different medications, since many years, and nothing has worked on me.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to desipurple19

Sorry to hear that nothing works for you. I hope you are able to get some relief through the support network. I plan to be an active member of this community and want to also support others as much as possible. I am a stay at home mom also so if you ever need someone to listen or reality check with, I am here for you.

I have been on it for 22 years, usually I am good, at times I still have to fight the beast of OCD. I am 40 mg, I could up it but don’t want.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to Jackiemm1

I'm glad it has helped you and I hope that it continues to help you.

I have used it for a couple of years, I haven't really have an issues with it. I will say that sometimes meds can just stop working for no reason, you kind of have to find what works for you, maybe taking it for a bit and then regulating it from there. Maybe talk with a Psychiatrist or your doctor.

OCDee
OCDee in reply to DeathtoOCD

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad it works well for you.

I can't take Prozac because it interferes with my anti-epilepsy medication, the same applies to Clomipramine, and some dopamine blockers.

I started off on Paroxetine for 8 years but because it was addictive, I went on to Venlafaxine that didn't do anything, then Citalopram which was fine but I was in an OCD unit and everyone who was taking the lattter had to switch to Escitalopram I have been taking since 2011 because it was a better version of Citalopram which apparently was linked to heart disease but OCD Action said theres no evidence for it.

Thats my experience of medication.

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