Can Prozac be self-tapered? (+3 precautions)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can Prozac be self-tapered?”. We will discuss the benefits and risks of the self-tapering process and some precautions that should be taken before starting sefl-tapering of Prozac.

Can Prozac be self-tapered?

Yes, Prozac can be self-tapered but it is not recommended. Prozac is an antidepressant that may cause a discontinuation syndrome during tapering. It is advised to not try to self-taper this medication and always seek medical guidance from your healthcare providers.

Prozac (also known as Fluoxetine), belongs to the antidepressant class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is used in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa and panic disorder (PD) with or without agoraphobia (1).

Why does Prozac need to be tapered?

Prozac requires gradual tapering if the medication has to be discontinued. It cannot be stopped cold turkey. Self-tapering is a technique of tapering medications without the assistance of any healthcare provider.

Individuals do self-taper because it gives them full control of the duration of taper, but this process is not recommended because when coming off an antidepressant the discontinuation syndrome may occur, which can prove to be fatal if not recognized and treated.

Some symptoms of the discontinuation syndrome are fatigue, lethargy, sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, dizziness, anxiety, agitation, shock-like sensations, irritability, aggression, tingling hands and feet and mania (2).

In the absence of guidance from a healthcare practitioner, the signs and symptoms of the discontinuation syndrome may be overlooked leading to severe and potentially fatal consequences. It is recommended to always seek medical assistance during the tapering process of any medication.

What does research suggest?

Various research studies have been published assessing the occurrence of discontinuation syndrome while undergoing the discontinuation of Fluoxetine. These studies also strengthen the fact that all antidepressants should be discontinued under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Research examining the antidepressant discontinuation syndrome in individuals who withdraw from therapy reported that Fluoxetine produced the least amount of symptoms and was also prescribed to those patients who had trouble coming off another medication (2).

A research study examining the occurrence of discontinuation syndrome symptoms when the therapy of Fluoxetine and Paroxetine was interrupted. Individuals on Paroxetine treatment experienced more symptoms than those taking Fluoxetine. This can be due to the longer half-life of Fluoxetine (3). 

Another study analysing the safety of the abrupt discontinuation of Fluoxetine treatment in individuals taking it for depressive illnesses reported very mild and self-limiting discontinuation side effects. This study concluded that due to its longer half-life, Fluoxetine may be a better alternative to other short-acting antidepressant medications (4).

What precautions should be taken for tapering off Prozac?

The following precautions should be taken before starting the tapering process:

Consult your healthcare provider

Before tapering off Prozac you should consult your healthcare provider. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to taper your medication and how to do it properly.

Develop a tapering plan

Another thing that should be done before starting to taper off Prozac, is the development of a tapering plan. You should consult with your doctor and mutually come up with a tapering plan according to your specific needs.

Monitor yourself

If you are undergoing the discontinuation process of Prozac, you should constantly monitor your physical and mental well-being throughout the process. You should monitor and record any such mental and physical symptoms that may be alarming.

Communicate with your healthcare

Open and effective communication is the key to the safe usage of medication. If you experiencing any discomfort or unusual symptoms, communicate your condition openly to your healthcare provider. Your doctor will assess the situation and the risks and benefits associated with the discontinuation of Prozac.

What can help you with the successful tapering of Prozac?

A few helpful tips for the successful tapering of Prozac are as follows:

Lifestyle factors

Changing your lifestyle to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits and adequate exercise can help you relieve some of the symptoms related to the discontinuation of Prozac.

Dietary factors

Taking a healthy diet can help improve your overall health and also help manage symptoms of Prozac withdrawal.

Limit caffeine, drugs and alcohol

Any type of recreational drugs, alcohol and even caffeine are harmful to your health. They may interact with Prozac and complicate the tapering process with more side effects.

Develop a creative hobby

Sometimes, to keep your mind busy and increase your creative thinking, it is suggested that you start a creative hobby. Art, reading, writing a journal, painting, gardening etc. are some such hobbies that can take your mind off stressful situations. 

Have a support group

Having a support group or someone you can talk to is very helpful during medication withdrawal. Reaching out to a friend, family member or anyone you love and telling what you are going through can relieve stress and take some weight off your shoulders.

Get enough sleep

Try getting enough sleep because sleep deprivation can increase stress levels. When your body is well-rested it can function in a better capacity. 

Try relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises can relax your mind and help manage symptoms of Prozac discontinuation syndrome.

In my opinion. self-tapering of Prozac is possible but not recommended. You should always have a doctor on board to help if things go wrong. Self-tapering can cause some serious symptoms of discontinuation syndrome to be overlooked.

If you plan on discontinuing Prozac, you should consult your healthcare provider and mutually come up with a tapering plan. You should always monitor your symptoms during the process and use various tips and techniques to help you manage the symptoms.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. PROZAC® (fluoxetine capsules) for oral use. Available from: 


Gabriel M, Sharma V. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Cmaj. 2017 May 29;189(21):E747-.


Judge R, Parry MG, Quail D, Jacobson JG. Discontinuation symptoms: comparison of brief interruption in fluoxetine and paroxetine treatment. International clinical psychopharmacology. 2002 Sep 1;17(5):217-25.


Zajecka J, Fawcett J, Amsterdam J, Quitkin F, Reimherr F, Rosenbaum J, Michelson D, Beasley C. Safety of abrupt discontinuation of fluoxetine: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology. 1998 Jun 1;18(3):193-7.

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