Even with all of our wellness bells and whistles, anxiety is still a common mental health condition in the modern age. For some, anxiety can be a minor condition that flares up during stressful periods of life, and usually dissipates once the moment is over. For others, it can be a chronic condition that becomes the new status quo. In these cases, many people (understandably) turn to pharmaceuticals, namely Prozac, for relief. However, Prozac is not a cure-all and in some situations can actually make anxiety worse. In this article, we’ll look at the way Prozac works on the brain, the more troubling side effects, and some natural alternatives to help treat anxiety.
What Is Prozac?
Prozac also known as Fluoxetine is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). According to Science Daily, “More than 100 million people worldwide use SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft.” Although Prozac has a black box warning AKA the most serious warning about a medication from the FDA; it is also approved by the FDA for the the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
How Does Prozac Work?
To be honest, the way SSRIs work (including Prozac) isn’t exactly known. One theory is that it boosts mood by increasing the amount of serotonin to the brain. Therefore, many doctors turn to Prozac prescriptions for mood-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Why Can Prozac Make Anxiety Worse?
Although thought to increase serotonin and boost mood, many patients report the opposite upon taking Prozac and actually find their anxiety or depression worsens. It’s a mysterious side effect that’s not entirely explained by science. One new study, published in Nature, theorizes that while yes, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has an essential role in the regulation of emotion, some brain circuits activate positive mood and some create an adverse state putting a patient into enhanced fear and anxiety. Understanding the way Prozac activates these more negative circuits is still unclear.
Are There Natural Anxiety Alternatives to Prozac?
The ATMC shares many holistic health supports for those experiencing anxiety that range from cognitive behavioral therapy, to lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and decreased caffeine.
Equally, there is much discovery on the role nutrition can positively impact mental health, in particular supporting a healthy gut microbiome. However, one thing to note is that taking yourself off an SSRI is a delicate process and it is incredibly important for it to be done under the guidance of a licensed medical professional.
If you’ve been taking Prozac even for a short time, there is potential for withdrawal symptoms so gentle transitioning is key. Please read our full disclaimer at the bottom of this article.
The Science of Saffron For Anxiety & Depression
One natural treatment that has been shown to be just as effective as Prozac for treating moderate anxiety and depression is saffron. Outside of increased anxiety, saffron doesn’t come with the other Prozac side effects that include weight gain, suicide risk, and feeling emotionally muted. Other studies have confirmed saffron has an antidepressant effect at only 20mg and 30mg per day. Due to this research, many of THE FULLEST products have been specifically formulated at the clinical dose including Warm Feelings™ saffron latte and Kinder Thoughts™ saffron capsules. You can learn more about saffron’s clinical research in the treatment of mental health conditions here and here and explore our full saffron product line here.
Disclaimer: If you are currently taking SSRIs, do not abruptly quit the medication. As dangerous as SSRIs are, even at small doses, quitting all at once can result in drastic withdrawal effects. Talk to your doctor about tapering off the medication until you’re free of it. During the process, it’s crucial to keep loved ones informed of how you’re feeling on a daily basis. Share with your doctor information about integrative therapies for depression such as restoring gut health, hormone balancing, dietary changes, meditation, and others. There are many ways to treat depression naturally without placing yourself under the influence of highly powerful and toxic psychotropic drugs like SSRIs.