Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression

Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression

Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression

Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression

Synopsis

Prozac. Paxil. Zoloft. Turn on your television and you are likely to see a commercial for one of the many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on the market. We hear a lot about them, but do we really understand how these drugs work and what risks are involved for anyone who uses them?

Let Them Eat Prozac explores the history of SSRIs- from their early development to their latest marketing campaigns- and the controversies that surround them. Initially, they seemed like wonder drugs for those with mild to moderate depression. When Prozac was released in the late 1980s, David Healy was among the psychiatrists who prescribed it. But he soon observed that some of these patients became agitated and even attempted suicide. Could the new wonder drug actually be making patients worse?

Healy draws on his own research and expertise to demonstrate the potential hazards associated with these drugs. He intersperses case histories with insider accounts of the research leading to the development and approval of SSRIs as a treatment for depression. Let Them Eat Prozac clearly demonstrates that the problems go much deeper than a side-effect of a particular drug. The pharmaceutical industry would like us to believe that SSRIs can safely treat depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental problems. But, as Let Them Eat Prozac reveals, this "cure" may be worse than the disease.

Excerpt

The woman sitting in my office was a year or two younger than me. She had written some weeks before to ask if she could visit me to discuss what had happened to her husband.

Gordon, who was almost exactly my age, was a career highflier who could anticipate being promoted to the top of his profession within a few years. But, as in many walks of professional life in the 1990s, reorganization and cost-containment exercises faced him and his colleagues with uncertainties. Jane could see the pressure on him and wondered if anything could be done to help. A year previously Gordon had accompanied Jane, at her suggestion, to see their local general practitioner (GP). Gordon was not a man to seek medical help. His entire medical record consisted of a few lines. There was little in anyone's account of him to think he had a depressive illness, but his GP made a working diagnosis of depression, prescribed Prozac, and asked him to come back in two weeks. Jane could remember no warnings about hazards.

Within twenty-four hours, by her account, he was having difficulty. Even though it was the middle of winter, he complained of the heat and asked for the windows to be opened. He seemed unable to sit down. These problems continued over the weekend. A friend, Alice, left her children over to play with Gordon's children on Sunday. After collecting her children, Alice—a primary-care practitioner—mentioned to her husband that she was worried about Gordon, who didn't look himself.

Gordon's colleagues described him as obviously restless and unable to focus the following day at work. On Monday night, he stayed up changing doorknobs and doing other nonurgent small jobs until the early hours of the morning. Tuesday he went for a haircut before leaving for a meeting some miles away. On his return home, he went up to his study on the fourth floor to get his papers for the meeting. Except for further complaints about the heat, which had led him to open the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.