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. 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