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On and off anti-depressants – the relief and discomforts of emotional blunting when on, and the return of sexual appetite when off.

July 12, 2010

In a social situation a week or two ago, someone was canvassing me for advice on a low patch and remarked casually that she had been on anti-depressants (Prozac variants) for 20 years. I reflected that there must be thousands of people living in London who have been pretty consistently on SSRIs since they first came out just over two decades ago.

Ingesting mood-altering substances is a human habit that is probably as old as the invention of fire, and several mood altering substances (such as sugar) are such a part of our culture that we don’t even take into account their effect on us. But SSRIs (such a Prozac, Zoloft, Citalopram, etc.) are a very particular phenomenon. These drugs have been massively marketed (Interbrand came up with the name Prozac) and hugely adopted for a wide range of mild mental health issues including depression, anxiety and even OCD.

Many people have had their lives changed for the better, by these medications which seem to take the-edge off dark moods while leaving the patient perfectly able to face the rigours of their day. There have also been controversies, horror stories and, recently, clinical trials which seem to suggest that SSRIs have little more than a placebo effect.

Whatever, your opinion of SSRIs, if you are a mental health professional they are now a firmly established part of the landscape and in a busy practice you are certain to have one or more clients who are taking SSRIs. Some will be happy to stay on them, some will want to stop taking them and some will wonder what your opinion is. All to be worked with of course, but I have gathered a few links whihc might make interesting reading.

One woman tells her story about coming off SSRIs:

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/07/06/sex_and_antidepressants/index.html

Some basic information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_serotonin_reuptake_inhibitor

http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Antidepressants-SSRIs.htm

A History of Prozac:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/may/13/socialcare.medicineandhealth

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