Prozac Side Effects and Lawsuits

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Prozac, generic name: fluoxetine, is an antidepressant belonging to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  It is used to treat pediatric depression, major adult depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, anorexia, panic disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder and is the most popular treatment in the nation with over 22.2 million served.  Prozac alters chemicals in the brain that may have become unbalanced to thereby cause depression, panic, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.  This drug only works where an actual brain chemical imbalance has been successfully diagnosed as most depressions are caused by adverse environmental factors over which the drug can reasonably have no genuine effect except to create a perilous dopamine imbalance where previously there was none.  It is important to note that there is currently no clinical test to accurately determine the level of serotonin in the brain.

What does Prozac Do?

A number of clinical researchers have concluded that while Prozac boosts serotonin levels in the brain it also then directly inhibits another key neuro-chemical messenger called dopamine. That means that Prozac may actually create a brain chemical imbalance in some people.  Dopamine inhibition underlies several of the rare, serious side effects linked to the Prozac class of drugs such as akathisia, a kind of extreme restlessness that has been linked to suicidal impulses and attempts in children and adults.  The FDA requires all antidepressants, including Prozac or fluoxetine, to carry a black box warning stating that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicide in persons younger than 25. This warning is based on statistical analyses conducted by two independent groups of the FDA experts that found an increase of the suicidal ideation and behavior in children and adolescents.  Clinical studies have determined that there was a fifty percent increase in suicide-related events concerning children and adolescents on Prozac as compared to the children taking a placebo.  In contrast, adults taking Prozac did not change the pre-existing rate of self-harm and statistically decreased suicidal tendencies while taking this drug.

Risks and Side Effects

Drug marketers have been extraordinarily adept at selling SSRIs such as Prozac to people who may not need them.

A drug once limited to treating major depression is now routinely prescribed for frivolous "off label" disorders such as anxiety disorder (excessive shyness) and premenstrual dysphonic disorder (bad moods due to hormonal level drop in premenstrual females).  So why should the general public fear increasing the levels of serotonin in their brain without benefit of any test to predetermine that the levels are clinically low?  The answer is because raising serotonin levels too high can cause serotonin syndrome or serotonin toxicity, a potentially fatal condition that is difficult to diagnose until it has progressed to a stage poisoning by overdose the normal levels of serotonin in the brain and this condition is life threatening.

Serotonin syndrome involves two categories of symptoms:

  • Cognitive-behavioral symptoms like confusion, disorientation, agitation, irritability, unresponsiveness and anxiety.
  • Autonomic nervous system symptoms like fever, profuse sweating, rapid heart rate, raised blood pressure and dilated pupils.

Patients taking Prozac must strictly monitor their dosage level to avoid accidently building up toxic levels of serotonin in the brain to thereby cause serotonin syndrome.  The problem is that there is no clinical test to accurately determine the brain’s serotonin levels and so this important clinical determination must be done by guess only, and in view of the huge push by pharmaceutical companies to market these types of drugs there may be no psychiatrists not working for a big drug company to make the clinical guess with any genuine truth or benefit to the patient at risk.

Prozac is not an innocuous chemical, its use will alter essential brain chemical levels and may serve to cause a chemical balance adversely effecting brain function.  Those wishing to maintain healthy brain chemistry will not readily submit to ingesting chemicals intended to alter their chemistry without genuine verification by some kind of accurate clinical testing that there is in truth exists a brain chemistry imbalance that can be appropriately treated by such chemicals.

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