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Antidepressants: The Pros and Cons

SSRIs: Prozac Works, But The Side Effects Are Depressing
As we now know, serotonin, "the civilizing neurotransmitter," plays a vital role in mood, memory, appetite, sleep, pain perception, and sexual desire. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, block the neuron's reabsorption of serotonin. This makes more of the neurotransmitter available, with a resulting elevation in mood. Currently prescribed SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and citalopram (Celexa).

While the SSRIs don't have the same side effects as the tricyclics, they do bring their own problems. First, they often compromise libido and sexual performance in most men and women. Second, they are not euphoriants, but rather mood stabilizers, and even mood flatteners. They often limit the highs along with the lows, and many people taking them end up with a zombielike lack of emotion, as well as a host of other side effects (see the downsides below).

Here is what one Prozac user's husband describes:

My wife was on Prozac. It led her to have an "I don't give a darn" attitude about important things, and she had stomach pain the entire time she was on it. She then went off Prozac and started on St. John's wort. The stomach problems went away the day she stopped Prozac. Now that she's on St. John's wort, her depression hasn't returned. She is relaxed and cares again about the important things in her life.

And here is what Jan, another user of SSRIs, has to say:

I've suffered from "the blues" all my life. I took the antidepressant Zoloft, 100 mg twice a day. It worked, but it was expensive and I couldn't stand the side effects. I am also not sure I liked the leveling off of all my emotions! So, a month ago I began substituting St. John's wort, two tablets at night instead of the Zoloft. I'm very happy with the results. I no longer have debilitating PMS, either.

Downsides of Prozac and Other SSRIs
Prozac and other SSRIs can compromise libido and sexual performance in men and women; can "flatten" moods to the point of zombielike emotionlessness; can bring on forty-five other side effects, including nausea, nervousness, insomnia, headache, tremors, anxiety, drowsiness, dry mouth, excessive sweating, and diarrhea; and can have long-term withdrawal effects that look a lot like the above-mentioned side effects.


From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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