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Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Other Antidepressants with Safe, Effective Alternatives Paperback – April 17, 2001


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Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Other Antidepressants with Safe, Effective Alternatives + The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and "Addiction" + Your Drug May Be Your Problem, Revised Edition: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743200624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743200622
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It seems like it was just yesterday that Prozac was a miracle pill, a medication that could not only make sick people well, but "better than well."

By the end of the 1990s, Prozac and similar drugs--Paxil, Zoloft, and others--were being prescribed for everything from depression to anxiety to drug addiction to ADD. About 70 percent of prescriptions for these antidepressants were being written by family physicians, rather than psychiatrists.

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a psychiatrist who has a private practice and also works for Harvard University Health Services, sees this antidepressant mania as dangerous, even reckless. He notes that these drugs can have severe side effects, including uncontrollable facial and body tics, which could be signs of severe and permanent brain damage. About 50 percent of patients suffer often-debilitating withdrawal symptoms from them, and about 60 percent end up with sexual dysfunction. And Prozac may make a small number of people homicidal or suicidal, or both.

But there are alternatives: in Germany, for example, St. John's wort outsells Prozac 25 to 1, showing that doctors and patients there understand that the herbal remedy works as well as the synthetic ones for mild to moderate depression. [Editor's note: St. John's wort has been shown to interfere with the actions of the transplant rejection drug cyclosporin and the AIDS drug indinivir.] And diet, exercise, 12-step programs, and good old-fashioned psychotherapy can work well, too. Even for severe depression requiring medication, Dr. Glenmullen shows how the drugs can be used with other treatments and then discontinued after a year or less.

Moreover, Prozac Backlash discusses exactly what depression is and isn't; Dr. Glenmullen reviews hundreds of scientific studies, and discusses numerous case studies from his practice and others. Because of that detail, medical professionals may be this book's most likely readers, but anyone who has been on an antidepressant, or is close to someone who is, will also want to give Prozac Backlash a careful read. The brain you save could be your own. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In recent years, a growing number of books, such as Peter Breggin's Your Drug May Be Your Problem, have sounded an alarm about the long-term dangers of popular new psychiatric medications. Glenmullen (The Pornographer's Grief), a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, joins their ranks with a lucid, wide-ranging survey of recent studies on the negative effects of antidepressants and their less-publicized alternatives. His title refers not to the growing skepticism toward psychiatric medications but to the brain's compensatory reactions to the artificial elevation of serotonin, including potentially permanent tics, dependence, sexual dysfunction, memory problems, sudden suicidal feelings and violence. In the first half of the book, Glenmullen focuses on four serotonin boosters known as the Prozac group, while in the second half, he explores the efficacy of individual, couples and family psychotherapy, herbal remedies, diet and exercise and 12-step programs. According to Glenmullen, clinical trials of drugs last as little as six to eight weeks, while side effects can take decades to emerge. In addition, he charges that a profit-minded pharmaceutical industry has under-reported side effects, misrepresented theories of "chemical imbalance" as fact and expanded diagnostic definitions to increase a drug's potential customer base. While his accounts of his own experience with patients is helpful, Glenmullen's most valuable contribution is his reporting on what little monitoring has been done. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 110 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After reading the customer reviews of this book, I am left to wonder if some of the customers actually read the book (or truly read it from cover to cover). Dr. Glenmullen is not anti-medication-- he recognizes the benefits of medication in the treatment of moderately and severely depressed people. Dr. Glenmullen's concerns relate to the overprescription of medication, for example, to people undergoing situational stress such as a break-up with a boyfriend, etc, or the long term use of medication (the type of studies used by the FDA to evaluate a drug typically last only several weeks-- what is safe for several weeks may not be safe for several years).
The book advocates patients talking to their doctors about the best available treatment for depression and other illnesses. This means talking to a medical professional who will listen to the patient and evaluate all of the options (medicine, therapy, herbal remedies, exercise, etc) and the risks associated with each option, to determine the best treatment plan for each individual patient.
Nothing in this book encourages people to suddenly stop their medication-- to the contrary. I am shocked at the customers who describe the book this way. It is understandable that patients are reluctant to look at the flaws (ie. potential negative side effects) of medications that have helped them feel better, but it must be done. This book provides good information considering what is available, citing to hundreds of scientific research studies published in reputable medical journals (anyone who states the book relies on anecdotes must have missed the 35 pages of footnotes).
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Doubting Thomas on April 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a specialist in drug safety I reviewed this book prior to publication and found it immensely readable and scientifically sound. But because it embarrasses the drug companies and the many doctors who have used these drugs indiscriminately, I have already seen erroneous charges that this book is "irresponsible" or lacking in scientific merit. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By SamuraiMom on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was taken aback by the viciousness of many of the reviews here, but not really surprised. This book says what many people do not want to hear--and backs it up with research from people *not* in the drug industry's pocket.

Glenmullen knows the real value--and equally real pitfalls--of these drugs--and shares his knowledge in this valuable and disturbing book. He explains the issues in laymen's terms, and includes scientific citations for those who wish more detail.

Not anti-drug per se, Glenmullen sees SSRIs as a temporary bandaid for acute crisis. He refers to research showing therapy to be equally effective for long term solutions. I've personally observed that no matter what the problem, the majority of mental health providers use drugs as a primary and often permanent answer. Glenmullen's is a valuable second opinion, and especially useful for those who have already discovered some of these drugs' many problems.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Castillo on May 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Glenmullen has correctly identified the popularity of Prozac and the other SSRIs has a cultural phenomenon. The "chemical imbalance" and "serotonin deficiency" so widely promoted by the pharmaceutical companies have never been proven. Yet millions of people believe in these fictions because Westerners, and Americans in particular, have a cultural bias toward biological explanations for emotional distress. Managed care companies have taken advantage of this by reducing the time therapists can spend with patients and restricting care to prescribing drugs. Psychiatric drugs are not safe. They all affect the properties of neurotransmitter systems in the brain. The problems of withdrawal, dependence, wearing off, and permanent brain damage are well known to professionals in the field and well documented in the scientific journals cited by Dr. Glenmullen. These drugs should only be taken by people with significant psychiatric illness. They are not for the worried well or those who want to be "better than normal." Dr. Glenmullen has done a great service by finally making the dangers of psychiatric drugs known to the general public.
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130 of 152 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Unlike some of the critics of this book, I have actually read it. Moreover, I have Ph.D. in environmental science, and teach at an international public policy school.
I am disturbed by some of the comments made by other 'reviewers' that this book is not 'scientific' or that it is only 'anecdotal'. I believe these comments are attempts to discredit the book. After all, if you read the book you will see that there is much at stake here: the drug manufacturers are making a fortune from prescriptions of anti-depressant medication, yet the evidence is mounting almost daily as to their mis-use and side effects. Indeed, the book even describes a payment by one drug company in 1994 to a potential witness in a trial in order to avoid bad publicity. This book presents the evidence for questioning the value of the current belief in certain anti-depressants like Prozac and Zoloft. The book is loaded with references to internationally-regarded medical journals and researchers, and to available surveys on the potential side effects. If there is anything 'anecdotal' about the book, it is that it is written in a easy-to-read styles that actually reports on real-life stories (anonymized).
Furthermore, it is false to say the author advises that anti-depressants should not be used at all. He makes it very clear that they should be reserved for severe cases of depression. In my opinion, the interesting points he makes are that prescribing anti-depressants for cases of less-than severe depression (or similar conditions such as anxiety, etc) may actually create more problems than they solve.
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