How Proza(i)c : Happiness in a Pill?
[Slide 1]How many of you recognize this pretty young thing? Quite recently , I came across a news article on Britney . She was prescribed Prozac at the tender age of 18 years. This singer, of stunning looks, abundant talent , world-wide fame and multi-million dollars in her kitty, was a nervous wreck just 2 years into her singing career. Hence she was prescribed Prozac for depression and panic attacks. I made an off-the-cuff remark that every American has probably been prescribed Prozac at some time in his or her life. And that America was a pill-popping country and Prozac and Americans were made for each other.
It was only later that I ruminated on my statement and asked myself “How much do I really know about Prozac, except that it is synonymous with modern American dysfunctional culture?” It was time I found out. Fellow ToastMasters and Guests, my topic for today is a little less poetic and lot more prosaic or should I say, a lot more Prozac![Slide 2]
[Slide 3] First, the boring technical details! Prozac is the trade name of the drug Fluoxetine. It is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. It was initially approved by the FDA to treat major depression but is now prescribed for OCD , bulimia nervosa and panic disorder as well. You may refer to the sheets provided for detailed explanations.
[Slide 4]How Is Prozac Taken?
Your physician will prescribe you Prozac to be taken orally, with or w/o food. Prozac makes you either sleepy or wakeful. So your doctor may tell you to take your dose in the morning or at night. You will show improvement in 1 to 2 weeks. You will feel the full benefit after several weeks.
How does Prozac Work?
[Slide 5] It seems that the chemical serotonin is a good chemical as long as it is kept away from the neurons and provided in more quantities to the brain. SSRI’s prevent the neurons in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. It transmits nerve signals to the brain. Once the nerve impulse has been transmitted, the serotonin is reabsorbed. The brain cells then receive the next impulse.
It is believed that in some people, serotonin is reabsorbed too quickly, preventing the transmission of nerve impulses. SSRIs block some of the receptors that reabsorb the serotonin, keeping more of the neurotransmitter available in the synapse for a longer period of time.
Over time, the number and sensitivity of serotonin receptors in the brain changes, and scientists believe that Prozac’s beneficial effect is due to these chemical changes in the brain.
[Slide 6] Now some history! Now, Prozac was not the first! But it is perceived as such, so much so that it is now synonymous with antidepressants. Prozac is officially a word in the English lexicon. The brand name Prozac was created by InterBrand. The name Prozac is antithetical with everything to do with anti-depressants – strong chemicals, side effects, and mood swings. Prozac was created by the pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly. Prozac was launched in 1987 and has achieved iconic status in popular American culture. How many of you are familiar with the book Prozac Nation and the movie of the same name? It outlines the life of a young working class woman and her struggle with depression.[Slide 7]
Newsweek says Prozac has become as familiar as Kleenex and as socially acceptable as Spring Water.
[Slide 8]Why is Prozac Popular With Patients?
1 > Prozac is FDA (Food & Drugs Administration) approved to treat not only depression but also bulimia nervosa (binging and purging) and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. It has become a panacea for our times.
2> Now in the US the elderly are a critical demographic to be targeted by pharmaceutical companies. After all, younger patients are much healthier. Prozac is approved for use in older patients. Elderly patients have slower metabolisms and do not react to medications in the same way as younger adults. Prozac does not cause fainting and dizziness. This is good because, in elderly patients, falls result in broken hips.
3> Finally, never underestimate the power of a smart marketing and branding campaign! Prozac is as much a product of smart, focused marketing as of the laboratory.
[Slide 9]Criticisms of Prozac
Prozac does not work for everyone. Prozac , like most miracle drugs, has many side-effects.
One distressing side-effect is diminished sexual desire and performance.
Prozac’s breakdown products can stay in the patient’s blood stream for weeks after they stop taking the drug. These breakdown products when combined with certain medications may result in the sometimes fatal “serotonin syndrome” which includes a racing heart, high blood pressure, sweating and trembling. Cardiac arrest could occur because of serotonin syndrome.
But What’s Really, Really Dangerous?
Prozac is sometimes used by people to give themselves an edge. One such person says that, faced with looming deadlines and a dozen calls to return, she would find herself paralyzed. “I would be unable to focus,” she says. “I would end up waiting until the last moment to get things done.” Now that she’s on Prozac, she not only handles job pressures more gracefully but sports a more buoyant personality. She now finds herself able to get up and face audiences and make them laugh. She says “In the past, I might have wanted to do it. but I wouldn’t have done it without Prozac.” What an endorsement for Prozac!
So what gives?
It is the search for a quick fix. Prozac and more recently Viagra. Though Prozac is currently licensed only for depression, doctors are prescribing it for gambling, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and [pause] fear of public speaking! (punch-line).
The bigger concern is drugs will become a substitute for fixing what’s wrong with one’s life. Unhappiness can have many causes. Unhappiness can drive personal change. Does a Prozac sedated patient have full control of his or her senses? Isn’t it possible that the feeling of false contentment will cause him or her to plateau both personally and professionally? Are unpleasant feelings really unwanted? Do we want to be so clinically desensitized? Still others find it unnatural to be shielded from their sorrows. They do not want their minds altered; they are afraid that they will live out their lives without a core understanding of how to live. This slide says it all [Slide 10]
Some little known facts about Prozac: “Ounce for ounce, Prozac is worth the same amount as heroin. The end-market value of a kilogram of Prozac is worth over $100,000 USA … it’s more expensive than cocaine.” Also hostile, aggressive cats and dogs are prescribed Prozac![Slide 11]
For every gushing fan of Prozac , there is an equally rabid critic. In fact, you may either feel that there is too much Prozac in the world! Or you may feel that there is not enough Prozac in it! So what are you, (pause) fan or critic? [Slide 12]
Over to you, ToastMaster!