A new study has emerged from England, questioning the efficacy of Prozac and other SSRIs. According to the lead researcher on the study, University of Hull Professor Irving Kirsch, "The difference in improvement between patients taking placebos and patients taking anti-depressants is not very great." The study concluded that "depressed people can improve without chemical treatments...[and] there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit." And seriously? No shit. I thought we decided last month that Prozac, along with other anti-depressants, are over-prescribed, at least in the United States, by a health care system that does not provide the resources for talk-therapy.
They're also over-prescribed by a health care system that's in bed with big pharma. Eli Lilly, the makers of Prozac, were accused earlier this year of suppressing a third of the drug trials they performed in order to win FDA approval. From the New York Times report, it sounds like some of Lilly's original trials had results similar to the University of Hull: "In published trials, about 60 percent of people taking the drugs report significant relief from depression, compared with roughly 40 percent of those on placebo pills. But when the less positive, unpublished trials are included, the advantage shrinks: the drugs outperform placebos, but by a modest margin."
According to Dr. Paul Keedwell, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, the fact that Prozac might not work is a good thing, because depression only makes you stronger. "In its severe form [depression] is terrible and life-threatening, but for many it is a short-term painful episode that can take you out of a stressful situation for a while, according to Keedwell. "It can help people to find a new way of coping with events or your situation, and give you a new perspective, as well as making you more realistic about your aims."
Again, a resounding No shit. Being happy all the time is not only impossible, but dreadfully boring and creatively stifling. There is a range of human emotions that we're all meant to feel. Dealing with post-modern malaise will, for most of us, be a life-long struggle, and severe depression (as anyone who has ever experienced it knows) is a different animal entirely. So to conclude, Prozac doesn't work for everyone, it's normal to be depressed sometimes, and big pharmaceutical companies are filled with crooks and liars. Call me when they discover that Prozac makes you grow a second vagina.
[Image via AdBusters.]
Anti-Depressants 'Of Little Use' [BBC News]
Depression Makes Sufferers Stronger' [Telegraph]
Researchers Find A Bias Toward Upbeat Findings On Antidepressants [New York Times]