Eternal Sunshine

Anna Moore in The Observer:

Untitled1Prozac hit a society that was in the mood for it. National campaigns (supported by Eli Lilly) alerted GPs and the public to the dangers of depression. Eli Lilly funded 8m brochures (Depression: What you need to know) and 200,000 posters. Previous antidepressants were highly toxic, lethal if overdosed on and had other nasty side-effects. Prozac was pushed as entirely safe, to be doled out by anyone. It was the wonder drug, the easy answer, an instant up, neurological eldorado. When launch day dawned, patients were already asking for it by name.

Twenty years on, Prozac remains the most widely used antidepressant in history, prescribed to 54m people worldwide, and many feel they owe their lives to it. It is prescribed for depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, eating disorders and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (formerly known as PMT). In the UK, between 1991 and 2001, antidepressant prescriptions rose from 9m to 24m a year.

Strangely, depression has reached epidemic levels. Money and success is no defence: writers, royalty, rock stars, supermodels, actors, middle managers have all had it. Studies suggest that in America, depression more than doubled between 1991 and 2001. In the UK, an estimated one in six people will experience it – and it costs more than £9bn annually in treatment, benefits and lost revenue. Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation, depression is set to become second only to heart disease as the world’s leading disability by 2020.

More here.