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Is Luvox for OCD effective and should you try it?

Written by Dr. Geralyn Dexter

Published: Mar 26, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sheelu Bhatnagar

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Luvox is an effective medication for the management of OCD. But, before talking to your provider, it’s helpful to know how Luvox for OCD works, what the research says, and to understand the potential risks and side effects. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about Luvox so you can have an informed conversation with your provider. 

What is Luvox (fluvoxamine) and OCD?

Luvox is an antidepressant medication in the class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that can help manage the obsessions and compulsive behaviors of OCD. 

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition marked by persistent, unwanted intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and ritualistic behaviors (compulsions). About 2.3% of adults have OCD in their lifetime. And women are more likely to have OCD than men. 

People living with OCD experience distress related to their obsessions and the compulsions they engage in to alleviate them. The symptoms of OCD can cause significant disruption to a person’s life, including at home, work, school, and relationships. In fact, data on the statistics of OCD shows that more than half of adults with OCD report serious impairment to their daily lives. 

To diagnose OCD and distinguish it from other conditions, like anxiety disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and how they’re affecting your daily functioning is usually needed.

What is Luvox?

Luvox, which contains the active ingredient fluvoxamine, is an SSRI commonly used as a first-line treatment option in the management of OCD. Immediate-release (IR) fluvoxamine was approved to treat OCD by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994. An extended-release (XR) formulation was FDA-approved for OCD in 2008.

Luvox is also used off-label (to treat a condition it’s not FDA-approved to treat) to treat other mental health conditions, including social anxiety, major depressive disorder, eating disorders, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

How is OCD treated with Luvox?

Luvox is often a critical part of treatment for people with OCD because of its positive effects and ability to reduce symptoms.

Luvox’s action in the brain

OCD is significantly influenced by serotonin, a major neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation. People with OCD often have an imbalance in serotonin, leading to low serotonin levels. Luvox works on the brain’s serotonin system.

Luvox ensures that more serotonin is available in your brain to help with communication among neurons by blocking its reuptake. This can lead to better mood regulation and management of obsessions and compulsions. 

Luvox’s effect on OCD symptoms 

Luvox can considerably lessen the frequency and intensity of the obsessions and compulsions that are characteristic of OCD by raising serotonin levels. People taking Luvox frequently report feeling less anxious and distressed by their symptoms, which improves their well-being and quality of life. 

It’s crucial to remember that different people respond to Luvox for OCD in a few weeks, while for others, it may take months to see noticeable improvements. For patients with both OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), response to Luvox can make months.

Is Luvox for OCD effective? 

Luvox is an effective medication for the treatment of OCD. Its effectiveness is evidenced by both clinical research and user experience. 

What clinical trial data shows

Research shows that Luvox is effective in treating OCD symptoms. 

A review of the effectiveness of Luvox for OCD and other disorders published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found that several randomized, double-blind, controlled studies support the efficacy of Luvox. The review cites that studies done over a 6 to 12 week period consistently show that OCD patients respond much better when taking 100 to 300 milligrams of fluvoxamine a day than to those taking a placebo. Improvement was based on the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), National Institute of Mental Health Obsessive-Compulsive (NIMH-OC) scale, and the CGI scales — 3 commonly used scales to assess the severity of OCD symptoms.

The review confirmed that Luvox is as effective as Anafranil (clomipramine), for managing OCD symptoms. However, Luvox was found to be better tolerated by patients. 

In addition to being effective with adults with OCD, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that Luvox is beneficial for children and adolescents with OCD, as well.

What patients who take Luvox report

Along with clinical data, patient reviews attest to Luvox’s efficacy in treating OCD symptoms. In reviewing sites like and, we found that patients generally find Luvox helpful for their OCD symptoms. 

Most users who reviewed Luvox for OCD on and in discussions on emphasized how the medication helps them regain a sense of normalcy in their lives and gives them more control over their thoughts and behaviors. 

On, Luvox has an average rating of 7.7 out of 10, with more than 60% of people using the medication sharing that they had a positive experience. 

Some patients do report irritability and other issues when taking Luvox, an important reminder that no one drug works for everyone. We cover possible side effects below.

How effective is Luvox compared to other OCD medications

SSRIs and their effectiveness in treating OCD are well-studied. Finding out how Luvox stacks up against other medications for OCD can help you make an informed decision about taking it.

The following table is based on a meta-analysis of 13 studies including 2,697 participants with OCD. The analysis found that individuals treated with an SSRI had a higher rate of response than individuals taking a placebo. It also found that SSRI medications, including Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Celexa (citalopram), had similar rates of effectiveness for treating symptoms of OCD.

MedicationDrug classEfficacy in treating OCD
Luvox (fluvoxamine)SSRIHigh
Zoloft (sertraline)SSRIHigh
Prozac (fluoxetine)SSRIModerate to high
Paxil (paroxetine)SSRIModerate to high
Celexa (citalopram)SSRIModerate
Lexapro (escitalopram)SSRIModerate to high
Anafranil (clomipramine)Tricyclic antidepressantHigh
Effexor (venlafaxine)SNRIModerate

Keep in mind that the best medication and dosage will differ from person to person. 

While SSRIs, such as Luvox, generally show high efficacy in treating OCD, studies, like one published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, frequently find that the best medication choice depends on the patient’s specific symptoms, side effect profiles, and other individual factors.

What are the side effects of Luvox?

As with other medications, Luvox may cause side effects. Your provider will discuss potential side effects with you before having you start Luvox for OCD. Remember, you can always reach out to your provider and let them know what’s working and what’s not once you start a medication. 

In this article we cover the main side effects and precautions to know about taking Luvox. For a full understanding of adverse events and other potential issues, refer to DailyMed.

Common side effects of Luvox

The common side effects of Luvox are usually mild and often diminish as the body adjusts to the medication. Side effects here are specific to extended-release fluvoxamine as reported by DailyMed. Common side effects can include: 

  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling anxious
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sexual problems
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Throwing up
  • Upset stomach
  • Yawning

Children may experience additional side effects, including an abnormal increase in muscle movement or agitation, depression, heavy menstrual periods, flatulence (gas), and/or rash.

Let your provider know if any side effect causes you discomfort or disrupts your life. 

Serious side effects

Though less common, some people experience serious side effects while taking Luvox that can require immediate medical attention. Serious side effects can include: 

  • Symptoms of serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening, including agitation, hallucinations, coma or other changes in mental status; coordination problems or muscle twitching (overactive reflexes); racing heartbeat, high or low blood pressure; sweating or fever; nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; and/or muscle rigidity
  • Visual problems, such as eye pain, changes in vision, and/or swelling or redness in or around the eye
  • Severe allergic reactions characterized by trouble breathing, swelling of the face, tongue, eyes, or mouth, and/or rash, itchy welts (hives) or blisters, alone or with fever or joint pain
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising, which is be more likely if you also take blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin or Jantoven), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs, like ibuprofen or naproxen), or aspirin
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Manic episodes
  • Changes in appetite or weight — children and adolescents should have their height and weight monitored during treatment.
  • Low salt (sodium) levels in the blood
  • Sexual problems (dysfunction), such as decreased sex drive or delayed ejaculation or inability to have an ejaculation for men or delayed orgasm or inability to have an orgasm for women

Elderly patients are also more likely to have headaches, to be weak or feel unsteady, and/or to suffer from confusion, problems concentrating or thinking, or memory problems.

Always seek medical help immediately or call 911 if you experience unusual side effects or have a medical emergency. 

Boxed warning

Luvox comes with a boxed warning. The FDA issues these warnings to inform providers and patients about the risks and dangers associated with a medication. The boxed warning for Luvox warns of the possibility of suicidal thoughts and behaviors while taking it. These thoughts can happen in kids, teens, and young adults up to age 23 especially during the first few months of treatment for young people with depression. 

The warning encourages providers to monitor patients closely for any signs of worsening symptoms, thoughts of suicide, or unexpected behavioral changes, particularly in the first few months of treatment or when the dose is changed. 

Before starting Luvox, especially for younger patients, it’s important to weigh the advantages of using Luvox to treat OCD or depression against any possible negative effects. 

Risks and precautions when taking Luvox

Luvox can be effective for OCD, but you should be aware of the risks associated with the medication. This information can help you make an informed decision and ensure you safely use the medication while benefiting 

Contraindications for Luvox

Luvox shouldn’t be taken in a number of circumstances since it may cause serious side effects or make some medical issues worse. It should also not be taken if using IV methylene blue, astemizole, cisapride, mesoridazine, ramelteon, or terfenadine.

Let your provider know if you have a known allergy to fluvoxamine or any of its ingredients. 

If you’re currently taking or have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, rasagiline, or tranylcypromine, in the last 14 days, tell your provider. Taking MAOIs with Luvox can lead to serotonin syndrome. Taking Luvox with rasagiline can also cause a spike in blood pressure.

Talk to your provider if you’re pregnant. Luvox can lead to complications (such as respiratory issues), especially during the third trimester, that may pose risks to you and your baby. 

Let your provider know if you take thioridazine, tizanidine, alosetron, or pimozide. Taking these medications with Luvox may cause dangerous cardiac issues. 

Luvox is processed in the liver. So, if you have liver disease, you may need a lower dose of Luvox. Talk to your provider about your treatment options and the best dose for you. 

What to do if you take too much Luvox or overdose

An overdose of Luvox can be serious and even fatal. Symptoms of an overdose can include:

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cardiac issues, including low blood pressure, fast heartbeat, slow heart rate, heart attack, QT prolongation, blockages, and abnormal heart rhythms
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Seizures, tremors, and/or convulsions
  • Coma
  • Low blood potassium levels
  • Respiratory (breathing) difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Liver problems
  • Reflex problems

If you intentionally or unintentionally overdose on Luvox, call emergency services or 911 immediately. Share as much information as you can about how much medication you took, when you took it, other medications you’re taking, and any symptoms you’re having with medical personnel. 

How to take Luvox for OCD: dosage and guidelines

Luvox can be an essential medication for some people living with OCD. Successful treatment depends on knowing and taking the right dosage. Working with a qualified health professional can help you identify your best starting and maintenance dosage and medication schedule. 

Dosages of Luvox for OCD are personalized for each OCD patient. Your provider will consider the severity of your symptoms, your response to the medication, and any other medical or mental health conditions. 

Starting dose and titration

The typical starting dosage of Luvox for adults with OCD is 50 milligrams a day taken at bedtime. If your provider determines you need a higher dose, they may instruct you to increase the dose every 4 to 7 days in increments of 25 to 50 milligrams. 

When adjusting doses, it’s essential to share your symptoms and responses to the medication with your provider to help reduce side effects. Finding the right dose of Luvox for you depends on your reaction and ability to tolerate it. 

Maintenance dose and long-term use

Maintenance begins once you and your provider figure out the ideal dose of Luvox for your OCD symptoms. Your provider will keep you on the lowest possible dose that results in symptom relief. The dosage of Luvox will be unique to you. 

Dose (mg)Usage
50–100 mgStarting dose taken at bedtime
100–300 mgTypical maintenance dose range
Up to 300 mgMaximum recommended daily dose

If your provider recommends a dose over 100 milligrams, they’ll likely instruct you to take your medication twice a day. For example, morning and bedtime.

With Luvox, long-term use has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse with OCD symptoms. At the same time, people who take Luvox long-term should check in with their provider regularly to evaluate how the medication is working and if adjustments are needed. 

Stopping Luvox and potential withdrawal symptoms

Always talk to your provider before discontinuing Luvox. Stopping the medication abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Dysphoric mood characterized by uneasiness and/or dissatisfaction
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Sensory disturbances for example, pins and needle sensation or electric shock sensations
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Emotional lability
  • Insomnia
  • Hypomania

When stopping Luvox, your provider will gradually lower your dosage and monitor your progress. This process is important because it helps your body adjust and reduces potential withdrawal symptoms. 

How to get a prescription for Luvox

Now that you know more about Luvox, you might be curious about how to get a prescription. Getting an accurate diagnosis of OCD is the first step to getting started with treatment. OCD is a complex disorder. To get diagnosed, you need to be assessed by a qualified mental health professional in person or online. 

To determine if Luvox is the right course of treatment for you, a mental health professional will evaluate your symptoms and how they affect your day-to-day life. Once you receive a diagnosis, you’ll talk about treatment options.

If OCD symptoms are disrupting your life, your provider may recommend medication. Luvox is just one option that may help you gain control of your symptoms. You’ll work with your provider to choose the best medication and schedule follow-up appointments to assess whether the medication is helping. 

Key takeaway

Luvox has an established track record of reducing symptoms and enhancing quality of life. For many people living with OCD, this means hope for gaining control and finding some relief from their symptoms. 

Talking to a qualified mental health provider is the best way to determine if you have OCD, learn about treatment options like Luvox, understand the effectiveness and potential side effects of medication, and talk about whether it might work for you. 

Your experience with OCD is unique, so you want to work with a mental health professional to establish a personalized care plan. 

Get a personalized OCD treatment plan with providers on Klarity

Ready to take the next step and get the best care to help you manage OCD? Klarity connects you with trained healthcare practitioners. Through Klarity, a provider can assess your symptoms and share information about treatment options. You’ll work together to create a plan to help you start feeling better. 

Get started on Klarity today to speak with a provider about living with and managing OCD. 

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

If you’re having a mental health crisis or experiencing a psychiatric emergency, it’s crucial to seek immediate help from a mental healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. You can also call your local emergency services, visit your nearest emergency room, or contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by calling or texting 988 or dialing the Lifeline’s previous phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) in the U.S.

How we reviewed this article: This article goes through rigorous fact-checking by a team of medical reviewers. Reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the author.

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