Book Review - Living With Prozac
Continuing along the same general reading theme this week, I finished Living With Prozac by Debra Effenbein. This is a compilation of personal accounts of people who took Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. Each personal account is one to three pages long, and covers a very wide cross-section of situations and conditions. The author is very up-front about this not being a scientific study, and she also recognizes that these are most likely examples from the extreme ends of the experience scale. Still, a reader of this book will start to see some trends..
Most of the stories had individuals coming from severely depressed conditions and hitting rock bottom before going on Prozac. Quite a stretch from dysthymia and where I started from. For many of these people, the effects mirrored my own... It took a few weeks for the effects to kick in, but one day you wake up and think... I'm different. I am finding pleasure in life again. I'm not living at the extremes anymore. I may still be sad at times, but it's "normal" sad. On the other side, there were a number of situations in the book where people started with Prozac and went from bad to worse. The drug exaggerated their existing conditions, and they had to discontinue it before they lost it completely.
You'll also read about the wide range of side effects that may or may not affect a user. Some people had nausea, some didn't. Some people had problems sleeping, some didn't. Some had more vivid dreams (I've noticed this one), some didn't. Some had a marked decrease in their libido (especially women), some didn't. Some lost weight, some gained weight. About the only effect that I have (and that was mentioned by one other person) was a slight ringing in my ears. This whole area of side effects reminds me of one of the statements in the book... "Prozac can make you healthy generally, and make you sick locally." While the overall effect of the drug can be a lifesaver, there are areas in which you'll be worse off than before (sleep, nausea, sex, etc.) It then becomes up to you to decide whether the "local" should take precedence over the "general". Treating conditions such as depression with pharmaceuticals can be as much an art as a science.
The book was published in 1995, so it's been awhile. But the drug is still the same one, and the dosages are still the same. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the real-life experiences with SSRI drugs.