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What to Know about Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

In this post, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about the medication fluvoxamine (also known as Luvox).

Without access to personalized care, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can feel frustrating, even overwhelming. For many people with OCD, taking medication is a significant step in allowing them to combat the disorder and improve their mental health.

One common prescription medication often used to treat OCD is fluvoxamine (often known by the brand name Luvox). On this page, we’ve outlined some important information about the medication.

What is fluvoxamine (Luvox)?

What is fluvoxamine? How does it work?

Fluvoxamine is an antidepressant approved to treat conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It may sometimes be used off-label to treat major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and eating disorders.

Fluvoxamine belongs to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Medications in this class produce an effect by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps improve mood. 

How is fluvoxamine typically used?

A typical dose of fluvoxamine in adults is 50mg daily taken orally, generally at bedtime. However, your doctor may start you lower and gradually increase the dose as you continue with the medication, depending on how you respond. 

Do not stop taking fluvoxamine without informing your doctor. Stopping the medication all of a sudden can cause some negative reactions in your body. 

If you have been taking fluvoxamine and showed consistent improvement, your doctor might suggest coming off of the medication. This process usually involves gradually reducing your dose over several weeks in a process called “tapering”; tapering can help reduce any negative reactions associated with coming off of the medication too quickly. 

What are some possible side effects?

Some common side effects of fluvoxamine include:

  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting

Some serious (but uncommon side effects) include:

  • Coordination problems
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Bloody stool
  • Muscle stiffness. 

Call 911 or seek emergency care if you notice any severe side effects. To see a fuller list of fluvoxamine side effects, click here

Why do these side effects occur? 

Any medication can potentially lead to side effects, and a person’s likelihood of having side effects depends on many factors, including age, lifestyle, and the type of medication itself. Side effects may occur because drugs often have broad or poorly targeted effects, or the drug target itself may have many downstream effects on the body. 

Fluvoxamine produces its effect by increasing the levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Serotonin is involved in regulating several body functions ranging from mood, sleeping, eating, etc. By increasing the level of serotonin in the brain, fluvoxamine may affect some of these other activities, thus causing side effects. 

Many non-serious side effects of mental health medications like fluvoxamine go away after a few weeks as your body gets used to the medication. However, if a side effect persists, is intolerable, or severely hinders your ability to go about your daily life, talk to your doctor because this might be a sign that the medication is not a good fit. 

How do your genes relate to fluvoxamine? 

Genetics can affect your body’s response to medication. Based on a person’s genes, fluvoxamine may have a significant effect on the way their body breaks down several other medications. The implication of this is that you need to be careful when taking some of these medications alongside fluvoxamine. Your doctor might advise you to avoid taking some of these medications with fluvoxamine altogether. 

One way to predict whether you’ll have a positive outcome while taking fluvoxamine is by taking a genetic test to determine what genetic variations you have and how they affect medication metabolization. Your DNA can help your doctor rule out less suitable medications and make more informed decisions so that you can get better, faster.

Take this free quiz to see if you can benefit from a genetic test

Special Precautions

  • Inform your doctor if you or any other member of your family has any history of bipolar disorder or any other mental conditions. 
  • Fluvoxamine should not be taken with certain other medications e.g. linezolid, tramadol, phenelzine etc. Taking fluvoxamine with these medications can cause severe complications. 
  • The medication can cause some people to feel irritable, agitated, or show other unusual behaviors. Some people may also get suicidal thoughts when taking fluvoxamine. You should notify your doctor if you notice these. 
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you are on fluvoxamine. 
  • The medication may cause you to feel drowsy and tired. It is important to understand how the medication makes you feel and avoid driving or handling heavy machinery after taking fluvoxamine. 
  • Inform your doctor if you have any history of bleeding problems or are on any medication that thins the blood. Taking these medications alongside fluvoxamine can lead to severe bleeding issues. 

If you show signs of an allergic reaction to fluvoxamine (hives, difficulty breathing, rash, swelling), call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

Some medications, vitamins, and herbs may interfere with how fluvoxamine works. Make sure to tell your doctor about all other medications you are taking before starting fluvoxamine to avoid negative interactions. For full details, see the FDA’s full list of precautions

Looking to find the right medication for your mental health? Join Prairie today to connect to expert providers and affordable medication options. 

Thu Dec 02 2021

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