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Prozac

PROZAC

PROZAC (or fluoxetine) was the first of a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) to be introduced for the treatment of depression and other psychological disorders. These drugs work by increasing the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to be involved in the biochemical mechanism of depression, available in the brain. Researchers hoped that because these drugs specifically targeted serotonin without affecting other neurotransmitters, they would have fewer undesirable side effects than earlier generations of psychiatric drugs.

First introduced in Belgium by the Eli Lilly Company in 1986, Prozac was made available in the United States the following year. It enjoyed remarkable early success—within five years, 4.5 million Americans had taken Prozac. Although the Food and Drug Administration had only approved the drug to be prescribed for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, it soon became common for physicians and psychiatrists to prescribe Prozac for eating, anxiety, and panic disorders and posttraumatic stress as well.

With this rapid acceptance, Prozac became a cultural phenomenon. Patients using Prozac reported feeling beyond well, suggesting that the drug had not only eased their depression but had also led them to new levels of awareness of their personalities. Prozac users reported the loss of social inhibitions: the shy became bolder, the lazy more diligent, the cautious more confident. For the first time, a drug seemed as if it might be able to improve personalities and suggested a future where pharmaceuticals could allow patients to reshape themselves to meet social expectations.

Although usage of Prozac and related drugs remained high in the late 1990s (an estimated 40 million patients worldwide were treated with Prozac during its first fifteen years on the market), a cultural backlash did arise against its early success. Some patients claimed that the drug made them feel suicidal. Others made even darker claims, suggesting that Prozac led them to commit murder and other crimes. Popular belief that Prozac could perfect otherwise normal personalities waned, but the use of the drug did not.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kramer, Peter D. Listening to Prozac. New York: Penguin, 1997.

Wurtzel, Elizabeth. Prozac Nation: Young & Depressed in America. New York: Riverhead Books. 1995.

Loren ButlerFeffer

See alsoMental Illness .

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prozac

prozac Trade name for one of a small group of antidepressants, known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is a neurotransmitter involved in a range of functions. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. See also drug

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Prozac

Prozac, trade name for fluoxetine hydrochloride. See antidepressant.

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Prozac

Prozac (proh-zak) n. see fluoxetine.

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Prozac

Prozac •ransack • knapsack • Barsac • Cossack •Husák • woolsack • rucksack •cul-de-sac • haversack • hard tack •haystack • tic-tac • chimney stack •smokestack • Blu-Tack • thumbtack •counter-attack • Medevac •Czechoslovak, Slovak •Sarawak • bushwhack • Arawak •cognac • Armagnac • Balzac • Anzac •Prozac • Muzak

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