Symbyax is typically prescribed to treat depression associated with bipolar disorder. It contains two different medications: olanzapine (an antipsychotic) and fluoxetine (an antidepressant). The medication blocks or lessens the effects of several chemicals in the brain that may be elevated in people with bipolar disorder. Symbyax comes in capsule form, and is typically taken in the evening. Side effects can include drowsiness, weight gain, and diarrhea.
What Is Symbyax?
Symbyax® (olanzapine and fluoxetine) is a prescription medication approved for the following uses:
- Depression associated with bipolar disorder (bipolar depression)
- Treatment-resistant depression (depression that has not responded to treatment with at least two different antidepressants).
How Does It Work?Symbyax contains two different medications (olanzapine and fluoxetine). Olanzapine belongs to a group of medications called atypical (or second-generation) antipsychotic medications. It is not entirely known how Symbyax works for the treatment bipolar disorder. However, it is known that the drug blocks or lessens the effects of several chemicals in the brain. These chemicals (such as dopamine and serotonin) may be elevated in people with bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression).
Fluoxetine is part of a class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. SSRIs affect a specific chemical within the brain known as serotonin. Serotonin is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin. The serotonin enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin that remains in the gap between the cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. However, when the levels of serotonin become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions, including bipolar disorder. Fluoxetine helps to block the reuptake of serotonin so that more serotonin remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the serotonin a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
Symbyax is not a cure for bipolar disorder or depression; it only helps to control symptoms (see Bipolar Disorder Symptoms).