Does Prozac affect memory? (3+ evidences)

In this article, we will discuss whether the use of Prozac affects memory or not. Prozac (fluoxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which means it acts by preventing serotonin reabsorption in the brain. This aids in mood regulation and alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Does Prozac affect memory?

Yes, Prozac can affect memory. It depends on whether you are taking the prescribed drug or are in a state of withdrawal. Some studies suggest that Prozac improves memory and learning during treatment, while other studies suggest that you might experience changed memory when you stop taking Prozac.

Studies have shown that Prozac increases memory recall in patients suffering from depression. This improvement could be attributed to the drug’s ability to alleviate depression, which impairs cognitive functioning.

There is evidence that Prozac can lower anxiety and stress levels, which can improve memory indirectly. Prozac has also been shown in studies to increase memory recall in patients suffering from depression. This improvement can be attributed to the drug’s ability to alleviate depression symptoms, which can impair cognitive functioning.

What does the research suggest about memory improvement?

In clinical research, Prozac has been reported to reduce matrix metalloprotease activation and reduce blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) disruption after spinal cord injury. This decreases the transitory global ischemia-induced hippocampus cell death and memory impairment by preventing blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption (1).

In another study, it was established that 5-fluorouracil impairs both cell proliferation and hippocampal-dependent working memory, although these deficiencies were repaired by co-administration of Prozac. It was also established that Prozac itself did not influence the proliferation or behaviour on its own (2).

Prozac has also been shown to be effective in the memory and learning impairment associated with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). However, the authors stressed further research to determine whether Prozac can address an unmet therapeutic need in TLE patients (3). 

Another trial compared the improvement in memory tasks performed by major depressive patients receiving treatment with either Prozac or Deprexan (selective nonadrenergic tricyclic antidepressant) during an acute episode.

While depression scores improved similarly in all groups, the researchers discovered that only patients receiving Prozac showed a substantial improvement in memory task performance after 6 weeks of starting treatment (4). 

What does the research suggest about memory loss?

In one of the in vivo studies on rats, researchers reported that the repetitive administration of Prozac demonstrated normal learning and short-term memory (1 hour post-learning). However, depending on the task, either recent (24 hours) or remote (17 days) memories were impaired. Surprisingly, following 6 weeks of Prozac cessation, the spatial memory impairment spontaneously reversed (5).

The behavioural data show that chronic Prozac administration specifically impacts the formation or the storage of enduring memories, and the long-term effects of Prozac are likely related to processes in which cortical areas play a major role (5). 

One of the clinical cases reports severe reversible memory deterioration and loss in an elderly patient taking Prozac. After Prozac was discontinued from her regimen, the subject’s memory improved significantly over the next 2 months (6).

Memory impairment is also connected with hyponatremia which is one of the side effects of Prozac. Patients who exhibit symptoms of hyponatremia may benefit from stopping Prozac, and appropriate medical care should be provided. 

What happens if Prozac is suddenly discontinued?

Prozac’s abrupt withdrawal or discontinuation can cause a variety of psychological conditions including anxiety, depersonalization, psychomotor agitation, heart palpitations, and memory problems (7). The rapid changes in serotonin levels in the brain that occur after stopping antidepressants may be the source of these symptoms.

What factors influence memory impairment while taking Prozac?

Some of the factors affecting memory impairment while taking Prozac include:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse,
  • sleep deprivation,
  • head injuries,
  • heavy cigarette smoking,
  • vitamin B12 deficiency,
  • old age,
  • illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, and
  • medications like opioids.

What to do if Prozac causes memory impairment?

If Prozac impairs memory, directly or indirectly, it should be immediately discussed with the healthcare provider. Prozac is a good antidepressant, but it might not suit everyone. The healthcare provider will examine the current symptoms and alter the dosage regimen.

Discontinuing Prozac on the recommendation of a healthcare provider and slowly tapering it off can prevent these withdrawal symptoms. Also, if the patient suffers from memory loss due to Prozac, its discontinuation would lead to the reversibility of such conditions and restore memory after a few weeks or months.

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Lee JY, Kang SR, Yune TY. Fluoxetine prevents oligodendrocyte cell death by inhibiting microglia activation after spinal cord injury. Journal of neurotrauma. 2015 May 1;32(9):633-44.


ELBeltagy M, Mustafa S, Umka J, Lyons L, Salman A, Tu CY, Bhalla N, Bennett G, Wigmore PM. Fluoxetine improves the memory deficits caused by the chemotherapy agent 5-fluorouracil. Behavioural brain research. 2010 Mar 17;208(1):112-7.


Drew CJ, Postans M, Petralia C, McNamara R, Pallmann P, Gillespie D, Evans LH, Muhlert N, Winter M, Hamandi K, Gray WP. A protocol for a randomised controlled, double-blind feasibility trial investigating fluoxetine treatment in improving memory and learning impairments in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy: Fluoxetine, Learning and Memory in Epilepsy (FLAME trial). Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 2019 Dec;5:1-2.


Levkovitz Y, Caftori R, Avital A, Richter-Levin G. The SSRIs drug Fluoxetine, but not the noradrenergic tricyclic drug Desipramine, improves memory performance during acute major depression. Brain research bulletin. 2002 Aug 15;58(4):345-50.


Ampuero E, Stehberg J, Gonzalez D, Besser N, Ferrero M, Diaz-Veliz G, Wyneken U, Rubio FJ. Repetitive fluoxetine treatment affects long-term memories but not learning. Behavioural brain research. 2013 Jun 15;247:92-100.


Joss JD, Burton RM, Keller CA. Memory loss in a patient treated with fluoxetine. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2003 Dec;37(12):1800-3.


Blum D, Maldonado J, Meyer E, Lansberg M. Delirium following abrupt discontinuation of fluoxetine. Clinical neurology and neurosurgery. 2008 Jan 1;110(1):69-70.

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