issue 13

In Issue 13 of Taking Sides, the controversial question Have Antidepressant Drugs Proven to be Effective is analyzed. Psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer argues in this issue that antidepressant drugs "can transform depressed patients into happy people with almost no side effects" (p.212). On the contrary, professors of psychology Seymour Fisher and Roger P. Greenburg "claim that the studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of antidepressants are seriously flawed" (p.212). Kramer\'s agreement with the statement above is due mostly to the testing he did with his patient Tess and antidepressant drugs. However Fisher and Greenberg disagree with the statement mainly because of the bias drug studies that are done.
Psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer experienced with the antidepressant drug Prozac with one of his patients Tess. In doing this, Kramer learned many things about Prozac and it\'s effects on people. The experience also leads him to ask many other questions about the drug. Tess was a patient who came from an abusive childhood and therefore as adult suffered from depression, which made Kramer feel she was a candidate for the antidepressant drug Prozac. In Tess taking the drug Kramer found out very quickly what remarkable changes it had on her. Kramer learned that the drug had a "quickly alteration in ordinary intractable problem of personality and social functioning" (p.218). Kramer also learned that Prozac enabled a person to understand what was important to them and who they were and wanted to be. Although Kramer saw the effects Prozac had on Tess, Tess also taught him to look at the border picture. Tess made Kramer think what if this "redefinition of self led to a culture in which this biologically driven sort of self understanding becomes widespread" (p.222). Kramer found it unbelievable what the drug Prozac could do to a patient, something that psychiatrists have always hoped to accomplish. The main thing though that Tess taught Kramer and what the drug itself taught him was that the effects of the drug would have to re examined and our sense of what is constant in the self to be revised.
As earlier stated, Fisher and Greenberg disagree with the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs which is mainly due to the bias studies. As Fisher and Greenberg state, "no one actually knows how effective antidepressants are. Confident declarations about their potency go well beyond the existing evidence" (p.223). One of the main biases on antidepressant drugs is that "patients learn to discriminate between drug and placebo largely from body sensations and symptoms" (p.225). Another point Fisher and Greenberg point out in their argument is that many doctor\'s strong beliefs in the power of a drug has a strong affect on the power it really has on a patient. Many of the testing that are done with antidepressant drugs are a lot of the times used with bias sampling. For example when testing the effects on newer drugs and older drugs, researchers are more bias to see a greater effectiveness in the newer drugs. As Fisher and Greenberg say, "the present double-blind design for testing drug efficacy is exquisitely vulnerable to bias" (p.228).
In reading about the two sides of this controversial issue, my opinion on the subject became confused. On one hand I feel that if a person suffering from severe depression has tried everything accept for antidepressant drugs and nothing seems to help them, their doctor should prescribe Prozac. On the other hand I feel that there is too many instances that a person not necessary suffering from depression is prescribed this drug and changing themselves as a person. I guess, to sum it up, before I would prescribe Prozac to a patient they should under go many other treatments and a full evaluation on what the person is really suffering from and if it really is "clinical depression."