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      A Family of Doctors--by David J. Hellerstein, MD 


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Interns, circa 1910, from  A Family of Doctors, by David Hellerstein, MD
                                                                                           © 2000, David Hellerstein
  David Hellerstein, M.D.              Psychiatrist and Writer

So, Does Prozac Change Your Personality?

Do the new antidepressants make you "better than well"?

A downloadable e-essay

by David Hellerstein, MD

In his 1993 bestseller, Listening to Prozac, psychiatrist Peter Kramer, MD, described the wondrous effects of a new drug.  Prozac, a new type of antidepressant medication, which has highly specific effects on the neurotransmitter serotonin, swept through the United States, with cover stories in many newsmagazines, and breathless reports on TV and radio. Not the least of Prozac's appeal came from Dr. Kramer's compelling tales of patients whose lives had seemingly been transformed by this powerful new drug. A shy, withdrawn, fearful woman magically became outgoing, bubbly, sociable. No longer dour and pessimistic, now she was breathlessly optimistic. She was not only better--she was "better than well."

Not only did Prozac treat depression and other disorders, it seemed almost guaranteed to re-sculpt people's very personalities! Dr. Kramer's felicitous term for this sort of change was "cosmetic psychopharmacology." In our cosmetically-obsessed culture, continually enhancing the contours of breasts and noses, such a phrase turned allure into mystique. No wonder one of Dr. Kramer's patients announced to him that she was changing her name to "Ms. Prozac"! And so, a great mythology was born.

The purpose of "DOES PROZAC CHANGE YOUR PERSONALITY?" is to look in a serious way at the question that Peter Kramer raised.  Prozac has been on the American marketplace for over a decade. Does Prozac (and related SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft or Celexa) change personality?  Do they make you "better than well"?  And if so, how?

"DOES PROZAC CHANGE YOUR PERSONALITY?"attempts to answer these questions using findings from clinical practice and the latest research studies.

Does Prozac Change Your Personality? is now available at

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David Hellerstein, MD,   135 Central Park West #1B, New York, NY 10023

DJHell, © 2000, David Hellerstein