Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Prozac Goose Chase. Why Prozac Probably Works Differently Than We Thought

The Boston Globe reports on a theory that I'd heard about a while back that seems to be gaining traction, amassing evidence to support it, Head Fake: How Prozac Sent the Science of Depression in the Wrong Direction. The idea is that rather than depression being due to a shortage of some neurotransmitter or other, that it is actually due to neurons (brain cells) shrinking and dying in much the same way as they do in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The only difference being that with depression the damage appears to be reversible. This new theory also might account for the phenomenon known as the "Prozac lag" where despite the serotonin levels increasing in patients hours after taking the drug, the decrease in depression takes weeks. This points to the serotonin explanation just not explaining what is going on. Fascinating stuff. It will be interesting to see how things shake out with the evidence over time.
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