A recent National Geographic headline made me do a double take: “Prozac Making Shrimp Reckless.” Now I know that Big Pharma is always looking for a new profit angle…seeking new victims to peddle its wares to…but isn’t giving antidepressants to shrimp going way too far?
Of course, when I skimmed the article I quickly learned that it’s the antidepressant pollution being flushed into our waterways that’s causing the shrimp to misbehave. Apparently, shrimp on Prozac can lose their self-protective inhibitions (kind of like some people I know), exposing themselves to dangers they would normally avoid.
Despite evidence that antidepressants are dangerous and in most cases even useless for treating the conditions for which they are prescribed (see my “Big Pharma: Poisoning for Profits“), antidepressant use in the United States is unfortunately still on the climb. The most recent estimates say that approximately 27 million Americans are on them. And, of course, these drugs…and countless others…are making their way into our water supply and eventually us.
Scientists wanted to see what kind of effect fluoxetine, the key ingredient in Prozac and Sarafem, would have on common estuary-dwelling shrimp. They exposed the shrimp to levels of fluoxetine that can be detected in average sewage-treatment waste.
The researchers found that the antidepressant-dosed shrimp, who under normal conditions would protect themselves by staying in safe dark corners, were suddenly five times more likely to expose themselves to bright areas in the water. This risky behavior, of course, makes them much more likely to be picked off by predators like fish and birds.
Many of us don’t have any clue as to how to properly dispose of unused mediations. And really it’s no wonder that we’re confused. There’s very little information available and much of what does exist is conflicting, without even a consensus among government agencies…with some saying don’t flush and others like the FDA saying you should for certain drugs.
We may not have intended to put our seafood on Prozac, but now that we have we need to do something about it. Naturally, the best first step is to reduce our reliance on medications, which will continue to find their way into the environment both through normal bodily functions and through disposal. Next, check with your local pharmacy to see if it has a drop-off program where you can return unused medications. If you have unexpired non-narcotic medications you can’t use, consider donating them to a program like Aid for AIDS International. Check for drug reuse or recycling programs in your state (this listing may help). And finally you can check back with your prescribing doctor to see if he or she participates in a take-back program.
Let’s just hope that this risky behavior by shrimp serves as a wake-up call to stop our own risky behavior.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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