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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Antidepressants

Question: Fluoxetine and hallucinations

 lizzy302 - Mon Nov 10, 2008 8:34 pm


I'm hoping I can help as I have looked everywhere to no avail.

My partner has recently been prescribed fluoxetine for depression and is taking 20mg daily. She has been on them for about 4 weeks and I noticed a change in her. After much persuading she has confide in me that she having hallucinations and seeing a person that hurt her in other people. This is causing her to push people (including me) away but she won't go to the doctors again to discuss it. I have read the leaflet and it is listed as one of the possible side effects but I am getting increasingly concerned.

Has anyone experienced a similiar problem? How long do the side effect usually last? What is the best course of action I can take?

Thanks for any help.
 Dr. E. Seigle - Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:28 am

Hi lizzy302,

Your partner's hallucinations could possibly be a side effect from the fluoxitene, but one needs to be sure of the following as possible causes:

1. The hallucinations are due a worsening of the depression.
2. The hallucinations existed before starting the fluoxitene. In this case, they could be due to depression, another psychiatric condition, or a medical condition (unlikely, but possible).
3. The hallucinations are caused by a "switch" from depression to what is called "mania". This is an agitated psychiatric condition marked in part by decreased need for sleep, excessive activity, speaking a great deal and rapidly, impulsiveness, and an elated or irritable mood. (It does not sound as if this is the case with your partner).This switch is occasionally caused by people taking antidepressants, and can signify an underlying vulnerability to a bipolar disorder rather than simple depression.

Hallucinations from fluoxitene and other antidepressants as a side effect are unusual, but not extremely rare. If this is determined to be the case, your partner's provider will likely want to stop the fluoxitene, lower the dose, and perhaps later switch to a different antidepressant. Since fluoxitene is eliminated from the body very slowly, it may take up to 1-4 weeks for the hallucinations to go away, if they are a side effect. It is possibly that your partner's provider may want to use another medicine to treat the hallucinations if they are very disturbing are problematic in a serious way, while waiting for the fluoxitene to "wash out" of your partner's system.

Good luck; please have your partner, or help him/her to speak to the provider about these upsetting symptoms.

-E. Seigle MD

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