Life as a Blonde: The Use of Prozac in the 90's


  • Colleen Cebuliak



With the rapid rise in the use of such anti-depressant drugs as Prozac comes a host of legal and ethical issues for psychiatrists prescribing the drugs. This article examines the implications of prescribing mood-altering drugs from the standpoint of professional ethics and the law. The author discusses the side-effects of Prozac and the current trend towards "cosmetic psychopharmacology" - the use of the drug to alter or enhance the personalities of patients who are technically healthy but looking for an "edge" or mood-improver. The article explores the controversy surrounding the claim that Prozac patients experience suicidal and violent thoughts as a result of the drug; the author goes on to discuss the issue of the psychiatrist's potential liability when something goes wrong and when the drug has been prescribed to a patient who is well. Following is a summary of current civil and criminal litigation surrounding the Prozac controversy. The author concludes that in most cases, the legal and ethical implications of prescribing Prozac to the "normal" patient should prohibit psychiatrists from doing so; however, the reality is that the prescription of Prozac to patients who are not clinically depressed is already widespread. Thus, the author concludes that the psychiatric community must encourage public debate and education.