Introduction History and Brain Basics

Destroy Depression

Depression Causes and Treatment

Get Instant Access

Again, no man amongst us so sound that hath not some impediment of body or mind. There are diseases acute and chronic, first and secondary, lethal, salutary, errant, fixed, simple, compound, etc. Melancholy is the most eminent of the diseases of the phantasy or imagination; and dotage, phrensy, madness, hydrophobia, lycanthropy, St. Vitus's dance and ecstasy are forms of it.

At one time or another, almost every teen may appear to be depressed. Usually, the depression is slight and goes away with time. But some kinds of depression need medical intervention. With such an intervention, writing a prescription for Prozac or some other antidepressant drug (Figure 1.1) has become the first order of business. Yet, less than twenty years ago, adolescents were rarely diagnosed as depressed, much less given antidepressants. Today, however, teenagers are now receiving medications almost routinely for symptoms that can hardly be termed "depressive"—attention deficit disorder, social anxiety, or drug addiction, for example.

Thanks to the "Prozac revolution" of the 1980s and 1990s, a majority of people in America know someone who has used antidepressants. Over 34 million people in the United States have been issued prescriptions for Prozac or another selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). In other words, one American in ten has used

Richard Burton, 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy

Antidepressants in Common Use

Drug Name

Trade Name









P roth i ad en"












Zispin, Remeron®



Seroxat. Paxil®









Molipazin, Desyrel1'






SSRI = Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor

SNRI = Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor

MAOI = Monoamine oxidase inhibitor

NaSSA=Noradrenergic and Specific Serotonergic Antidepressant

Figure 1.1 Antidepressants have become very popular over the last twenty years, and there are many different types and brands. SSRIs, tricyclics, and MAOIs are some of the more frequently prescribed types of antidepressants and will be discussed in detail in this book. The chart above lists some, but not all, of the most commonly used antidepressants. These as well as other antidepressants will be discussed in this book.

Percentages of Adults Aged 18 or Older with Past Year Serious Mental Illness, by Age Group

14 12 10

at ra




18-25 26-49 50 or Older Age Group

Figure 1.2 Teenagers and young adults (ages 18-25) appear to be most susceptible to mental illness, including depression. In addition, as can be seen in the graph here, people over the age of 50 are much less likely to have a serious mental illness.

antidepressants and studies have estimated that one in six people will have a major depressive episode in their lives (Figure 1.2).

The term "depressive" does not just signify a simple feeling of sadness, but can also refer to any mental disorder with symptoms of moodiness and melancholy—anxiety or eating disorders, for example. Depression is no longer a disease that is shameful or that must be kept hidden. Depression is also no longer as debilitating as it was in the early twentieth century, before the development of antidepressant drugs. Still, the costs of depression to society in terms of lost work, treatment, and other associated expenses have been estimated to be in excess of $30 billion per year. Even with all the progress in antidepressant research, there is an even bigger push to find more antidepressants that work faster and better since rates of depression appear to be growing every year.

But how can a chemical change a person's outlook on life? If the root of depression is caused by a problem in a person's life, is it right to take a pill rather than confront the problem? Or is depression something organic, a brain imbalance that can only be cured by taking antidepressants? Are antidepressants, in essence, changing a person's personality? Furthermore, how well do they work (all hype aside)?

Antidepressants became a media obsession in the early 1990s largely following the publication of Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel's memoir of adolescent depression and its unexpected "cure" by a new kind of antidepressant called fluoxetine, better known as Prozac. Listening to Prozac, psychiatrist Peter Kramer's best-selling book, continued the drug's run of publicity with its descriptions

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment