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Prozac: Pro and Con

continued...

The antidepressant naysayers also point to a small body of research that, they say, shows that the benefits patients experience on antidepressants are no greater than those they might get taking a placebo or through other kinds of therapy. That is hogwash. About 60% to 70% of studies show that antidepressants outperform placebos in reducing and managing depression. The likelihood of such a result happening by "accident" is remote.

Do antidepressant side effects exist? Of course they do, and they must be taken seriously. Do some physicians prescribe antidepressants without careful diagnosis and evaluation of the patient's condition? Unfortunately, that is also true. Yet this carelessness is not a common occurrence, and it is better remedied by ongoing education of physicians.

A book that discussed responsible use of antidepressants wouldn't be a danger -- it would be a public service. But something called Prozac Precautions wouldn't fly off the shelves as Prozac Backlash has. At what cost? I, for one, am deeply concerned that as a result of this overhyped book, people with serious depression may forgo the treatment they desperately need.

Frederic Quitkin, MD, is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of the Depression Evaluation Service of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

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