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Prozac for treating depression

Back in the dark ages of the 1980's there was terrible social disgrace for anyone who admitted to any symptoms of mental illness. People feared being exposed and refused to carry drugs around with them. Then, in 1987, the FDA approved Prozac. It had been invented in 1974 but it came to the US late. In the following twelve months, 2.5 million prescriptions were written. Now antidepressants are third in the table of the most prescribed drugs in the US. The attitude to mental illness has been radically changed. Except there is an emerging backlash. Many now think the virtues of Prozac and antidepressants in general have been exaggerated. Consumer protection groups blame the pharmaceutical industry for selling the idea a pill can cure all ills. There is a movement to move away from the idea of the quick fix and to take a more careful approach to the treatment of often complicated mental problems.

The reaction of the drug companies would be more convincing if they were able to explain how the drugs work. At present, there are no more than vague ideas that adjusting the levels of the neurotransmitters in the brain help people take a more positive view of the world. Prozac has always been sold on the basis that increasing the level of serotonin improves the connections between different parts of the brain. Yet there is absolutely no scientific evidence that this is what Prozac does nor that it is an effective treatment for depression. So far, the best explanation for the great word-of-mouth on Prozac is the placebo effect. Everyone knows the effect the drug is supposed to have and so that is the effect they experience.

The problem with depression is that it is a subjective condition. Something like a heart attack is objectively verifiable. People get sad because a parent dies or they lose their job. The use of an aspirin reduces the risk of another heart attack no matter what you think. But how do you assess whether your grief is a mental disorder and what factors may help you feel better? Writing in 2012, the evidence seems to indicate Prozac is most effective when the symptoms of depression are most severe. It seems of less use when the depression is only mild. If you are interested in this controversy, discuss these issues with your regular physician before beginning treatment with Prozac.

Prozac consumer information

Prozac consumer information giving you everything you need to know »

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Prozac for treating depression

Prozac for treating depression »

Prozac was approved by the FDA in 1987 for the treatment of depression and, overnight, it transformed our attitude to antidepressants. Prozac was a revolutionary drug.

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Prozac for anxiety

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