Not so depressing: Prozac for stroke patients?

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Yesterday brought news, first reported in the medical journal Lancet Neurology, that patients suffering a stroke recovered better when they were prescribed fluoxetine, the anti-depressant medication more commonly known by its trade name Prozac, than if they were prescribed a placebo. Selected for the study were patients with paralysis or weakness on one side of their body who underwent rehabilitation.

Only 118 patients participated in the study, and the researchers were not certain if patients who were given Prozac did better as it provided treatment for depression or because of still-uncharacterized regenerative effects of the drug. ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross notes that “the effects were significant, but not jaw-dropping” and should be regarded with caution at present. However, because stroke affects about 15 million people globally each year, the findings are obviously encouraging, especially since side-effects were minor.