What Is Fluvoxamine And What Does It Treat?

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

What Is Fluvoxamine And What Does It Treat?

Fluvoxamine is an antidepressant medication that works in the brain. It is approved for the treatment of the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adults and children ages 8 and older.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) occurs when a person experiences the following symptoms at the same time:

  • Obsessions (unwanted, recurrent, and disturbing thoughts)

  • Compulsions (repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform to lessen the anxiety produced by the obsessions)

Fluvoxamine may also be helpful when prescribed “off-label” for major depressive disorder (MDD), social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and eating disorders including bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. “Off-label” means that it hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this condition. Your mental health provider should justify his or her thinking in recommending an “off-label” treatment. They should be clear about the limits of the research around that medication and if there are any other options.

Symptoms of depression include:



  • Depressed mood - feeling sad, empty, or tearful

  • Feeling worthless, guilty, hopeless, and helpless

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in your usual activities

  • Sleep and eat more or less than usual (for most people it is less)

  • Low energy, trouble concentrating, or thoughts of death (suicidal thinking)

  • Psychomotor agitation (‘nervous energy’)

  • Psychomotor retardation (feeling like you are moving and thinking in slow motion)

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder) is a fear of situations where one may feel as if they are being judged by others. Symptoms include:

  • Blushing

  • Difficulty talking

  • Nausea

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About Fluvoxamine?

Do not stop taking fluvoxamine, even when you feel better. With input from you, your health care provider will assess how long you will need to take the medicine.

Missing doses of fluvoxamine may increase your risk for relapse in your symptoms.

Stopping fluvoxamine abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, nightmares, headache, and/or paresthesias (prickling, tingling sensation on the skin).

Depression is also a part of bipolar illness. People with bipolar disorder who take antidepressants may be at risk for "switching" from depression into mania. Symptoms of mania include "high" or irritable mood, very high self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, pressure to keep talking, racing thoughts, being easily distracted, frequently involved in activities with a large risk for bad consequences (for example, excessive buying sprees).

Medical attention should be sought if serotonin syndrome is suspected. Please refer to serious side effects for signs/symptoms.


Are There Specific Concerns About Fluvoxamine And Pregnancy?

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, notify your health care provider to best manage your medications. People living with MDD who wish to become pregnant face important decisions. Untreated MDD has risks to the fetus, as well as the mother. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor and caregivers. For women who take antidepressant medications during weeks 13 through the end of their pregnancy (second and third trimesters), there is a risk that the baby can be born before it is fully developed (before 37 weeks).

For mothers who have taken SSRIs during their pregnancy, there appears to be less than a 1% chance of infants developing persistent pulmonary hypertension. This is a potentially fatal condition that is associated with the use of the antidepressant in the second half of pregnancy. However, women who discontinued antidepressant therapy were five times more likely to have a depression relapse than those who continued their antidepressant. If you are pregnant, please discuss the risks and benefits of antidepressant use with your health care provider.

Caution is advised with breastfeeding since fluvoxamine does pass into breast milk.


What Should I Discuss With My Health Care Provider Before Taking Fluvoxamine?

  • Symptoms of your condition that bother you the most

  • If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

  • Medications you have taken in the past for your condition, whether they were effective or caused any adverse effects

  • If you experience side effects from your medications, discuss them with your provider. Some side effects may pass with time, but others may require changes in the medication.

  • Any other psychiatric or medical problems you have, including a history of bipolar disorder

  • All other medications you are currently taking (including over the counter products, herbal and nutritional supplements) and any medication allergies you have

  • Other non-medication treatments you are receiving, such as talk therapy or substance abuse treatment. Your provider can explain how these different treatments work with the medication.

  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding

  • If you drink alcohol or use drugs

How Should I Take Fluvoxamine?

Fluvoxamine is usually taken two times per day with or without food. The extended-release formulation may be taken one time per day with or without food.

Typically patients begin at a low dose of medicine and the dose is increased slowly over several weeks.

The dose usually ranges from 50 mg to 300 mg. Only your health care provider can determine the correct dose for you.

Consider using a calendar, pillbox, alarm clock, or cell phone alert to help you remember to take your medication. You may also ask a family member or friend to remind you or check in with you to be sure you are taking your medication.

The extended-release forms should be swallowed whole. They should not be chewed, crushed, or broken.


What Happens If I Miss A Dose Of Fluvoxamine?

If you miss a dose of fluvoxamine, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is closer to the time of your next dose. Discuss this with your health care provider. Do not double your next dose or take more than what is prescribed.


What Should I Avoid While Taking Fluvoxamine?

Avoid drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs while you are taking antidepressant medications. They may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your condition) and increase adverse effects (e.g., sedation) of the medication.


What Happens If I Overdose With Fluvoxamine?

If an overdose occurs, call your doctor or 911. You may need urgent medical care. You may also contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

A specific treatment to reverse the effects of fluvoxamine does not exist.


What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Fluvoxamine?

Common side effects

Headache, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, dizziness, increased sweating, feeling nervous, restless, fatigued, or having trouble sleeping (insomnia). These will often improve over the first week or two as you continue to take the medication.

Sexual side effects,

such as problems with orgasm or ejaculatory delay, often do not diminish over time.


Rare/serious side effects

Low sodium blood levels (symptoms of low sodium levels may include headache, weakness, difficulty concentrating and remembering), teeth grinding, angle-closure glaucoma (symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma may include eye pain, changes in vision, swelling, or redness in or around the eye), serotonin syndrome (symptoms may include shivering, diarrhea, confusion, severe muscle tightness, fever, seizures, and death), seizure

SSRI antidepressants including fluvoxamine may increase the risk of bleeding events. Combined use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen), warfarin, and other anti-coagulants may increase this risk. This may include symptoms such as gums that bleed more easily, nose bleed, or gastrointestinal bleeding. Some cases have been life-threatening.


Are There Any Risks For Taking Fluvoxamine For Long Periods Of Time?

To date, there are no known problems associated with the long-term use of fluvoxamine. It is a safe and effective medication when used as directed.


What Other Medications May Interact With Fluvoxamine?

Fluvoxamine should not be taken with or within 6 weeks of taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These include phenelzine (Nardil®), tranylcypromine (Parnate®), isocarboxazid (Marplan®), rasagiline (Azilect®), and selegiline (Emsam®).

Although rare, there is an increased risk of serotonin syndrome when fluvoxamine is used with other medications that increase serotonin, such as other antidepressants, migraine medications called “triptans” (e.g., Imitrex®), some pain medications (e.g., tramadol (Ultram®), amphetamines, and the antibiotic linezolid (Zyvox®). Fluvoxamine may decrease the effects of clopidogrel (Plavix®).

Fluvoxamine may increase the effects of other medications that can cause bleeding (e.g., ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), warfarin (Coumadin®), and aspirin).

Combining fluvoxamine with ramelteon (RozeremTM), tizanidine (Zanaflex®), thioridazine (Mellaril®), pimozide, or alosetron (Lotronex®) is not recommended.


How Long Does It Take For Fluvoxamine To Work?

Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve.


 



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