Prozac At first it was the cure all people were looking for. Then it became the drug they were afraid to take. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the truth about the drug Flouxetine, better known as Prozac, the most widely prescribed drug on the globe. It is mainly prescribed to patients suffering from clinical depression. It was first brought to the market in 1988 by the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly co.

Even though it was originally prescribed for depression, it has been prescribed for everything from eating disorders to insomnia. It was first considered the wonder drug of the new decade because of the way it helped depression patients when no other anti-depressant could and then also found to help many other personality disorders as well. But now it is frowned upon by many. Some of the side effects contributed to the growing opposition of Prozac include nausea, constipation, memory impairment, and excess sweating, just to name a few. What is depression? Depression can result from a physical disease, a mental illness, or it can be a recurring reaction of the body.

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive illnesses are often the result of imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain. It is these critical chemicals that send messages between nerve fibers and control mood (Creamer, 3). Older anti-depressants worked on three different neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinepherine, and dopamine. However, it has been found that serotonin is the specific chemical in the brain that controls moods. It-s job is to carry an impulse from one nerve fiber to the next.

Serotonin is released by the nerve into the space between nerve fibers, carries the impulse to the next one, and is then reabsorbed by the first. when it is reabsorbed to quickly, a person feels depressed (6). ?Clinical depression¦ includes at least five of the following nine symptoms: 1. Feelings of sadness or irritability. 2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. 3.

Changes in weight or appetite. 4. Changes in sleeping pattern. 5. Feeling Guilty, hopeless or worthless. 6.

Inability to concentrate, remember things, or makes decisions. 7. Fatigue or loss of energy. 8. Restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others. 9.

Thoughts of suicide or death. Dr. Brian K. Martin, President of the Mental Health Association of Hawaii, recommends that anyone who has suffered five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer see a doctor (7). Nationally, the Mental Health Association estimates that only one-third of those suffering from depression actually seek help.

Most are restrained, according to the association, ?by fear, lack of knowledge, misinformation, and stigma.¦ Depression is also the leading cause of suicide. It is estimated that 15 percent of seriously depressed people take their own lives (7). The cons of Prozac Historically, the use of drugs as fixers of the world-s private ills has run into serious, if unanticipated, snags. At the turn of the century, the medical community thought that Cocaine was a completely appropriate, nonaddictive drug, and widely prescribed it. In the 1950s and -60s, first barbiturates and then amphetimines were recommended for various psychological ailments.

we now know that each of these drugs came with significant risks. So what yet-to-be-imparted knowledge may cause science, once again, to admit sheepishly that the exuberance over Prozac was somewhat premature, if not wholly overblown? Possibly, the biggest argument against this drug is merely the fact that it is prescribed for just about anything. It is estimated that it brought in over 1 billion dollars last year to Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company that brought us this wonder drug about ten years ago. It is prescribed for everything from eating disorders to panic to helping with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). David Dolan, Clinical director of one of the psychiatric programs at Jefferson Hospital in Jeffersonville Ky., agrees with many that Prozac is way oversold as a cure-all when it first hit the market.

?All of a sudden, Prozac was the medication for everything, then all of a sudden it was anything but. Almost overnight, a new phenomenon hit Louisville: Prozac panic. Instead of asking for, people were afraid to take it¦ (Aprile, 2). The change occurred in the weeks following Joseph Wesbecker-s rampage, where he fatally shot eight people and injured 12, only to finally kill himself. After the shooting, lab tests revealed therapeutic levels of Prozac in his blood. Three other antidepressants and two other prescription drugs were also found in his blood in tiny amounts.

Wesbecker-s medical charts indicated that his psychiatrist thought Prozac may have been contributing to his worsening condition. At that time, Jefferson County Coroner Richard Greathouse rose speculation about Prozac-s possible link to Wesbecker-s violent behavior. No connection was ever established, although the inquest jury later ruled that side effects from various drugs ?may have been a contributing factor¦ (2). Researchers from Harvard Medical school issued a sort of warning about Prozac in an issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. In a case study report of six depressed patients with complicated psychiatric histories, researchers from the school-s psychiatry department describe what they call a ?surprising¦ and unusual side effect of taking Prozac. ?Persistent obsessive and violent suicidal thoughts¦ were experienced in patients not having those thoughts prior to taking the prescription.

Though they admit much further study is needed to determine whether this is a ?widespread or valid concern,¦ they urge other doctors to ask about suicidal thoughts in patients who the study suggests may be at risk, including those who develop intense fatigue, restlessness or hypersomnia while taking Prozac (4). In February, 1990, Dr. Martin Teicher, a psychiatrist at the highly regarded McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and two of his colleagues reported that six depressed patients began to have suicidal thoughts after using Prozac. Writing in The American Journal of Psychiatry, Teicher said that when they began taking the drug, none of the six patients were suicidal and all were ?hopeful and optimistic¦ about the treatment. After that, a sudden flow of reports told of violence and suicide among Prozac users.

And the drug acquired a tenacious enemy in the Los Angeles-based Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which has ties to the Church of Scientology, a movement that, amongst other things, opposes some aspects of psychiatry. The Scientologists claim that by Sept. 16, 1993, no fewer than 1,089 suicides had been recorded among patients taking the capsule. If that figure is correct, than it works out to be about .01 percent of the 11 million people who have used the drug (Nichols, 3) Dr. Lorne Brandes, A Winnipeg cancer researcher, claims to have evidence that Prozac may promote the growth of cancerous tumors. ?I-m very concerned about Prozac,¦ says Brandes, who reported in 1992 that rats and mice with artificially induced cancer showed an increased rate of tumor growth when they were given Prozac and another antidepressant not mentioned.

Brandes-s findings alarmed some cancer researchers and prompted federal scientists to launch similar studies (Nichols, 1). Although Prozac has fewer side-effects that earlier antidepressants, it does have some. Users may experience nausea, ner …


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