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Your LIFE: Two months later she was dead; MY DAUGHTER WAS PRESCRIBED PROZAC.

Byline: MONICA CAFFERKY

SHOCKINGLY, 631,000 prescriptions for mindaltering drugs such as anti-depressants were issued to youngsters aged 18 and under in the UK. Here, one mum tells the tragic story of what happened when her daughter took Prozac...

LINDA Hurcombe blames Prozac for turning her daughter Caitlin from a happy, sociable teenager into a chaotic wreck who took her own life.

"I had no idea how much that little pill was going to destroy my life," says Linda, 65, from Clun, Shropshire.

"Now we know that Prozac can trigger self-harming and suicidal thoughts. Tragically, that's exactly what happened to my beautiful daughter. On Prozac she tumbled into a pit of despair."

The only time Caitlin self-harmed, she cut a letter 'S' into her hand - the initial of her ex-boyfriend. When questioned about it by her mum, she insisted it was nothing. Three days later she hanged herself.

"My partner found her hanging from a beam in the guest room," says Linda. "Caitlin had been taking Prozac for 63 days, she was just 19.

"I was devastated, beyond grief. Caitlin was the world to me."

There had been some warning signs, but at the time Linda didn't associate them with the drug.

"Two weeks into her prescription Caitlin was having vivid nightmares," she says. "One night her screaming woke me and she told me, in tears: 'I dreamt I cut off your head with a machete.' I had to rock her like a baby to calm her down.

"I've since learned Prozac works like LSD on the brain, so no wonder she was having nightmares."

Caitlin also suffered twitching arms and legs, and complained that she felt "like something was jumping around inside me".

Linda explains: "This severe agitation is akathisia - another sideeffect.

I should have realised what was happening, but I didn't know the drug was so dangerous then."

Caitlin had first heard of Prozac on a trip to America. Her mum remembers her remarking that lots of people in the US were taking it.

Several months later, when she split up with her boyfriend, she again mentioned Prozac.

Linda says: "I didn't think the doctor would prescribe an antidepressant to a teenager. But later she told me it took five minutes to get the prescription and she wasn't offered any counselling. It's chilling now when I look back."

Understandably, Linda is angered by yesterday's report claiming that drugs like Prozac are no more effective than placebo pills.

She says: "The report says the placebo works just as well as the real drug. But while a placebo is always risk-free, the same cannot be said for the active drug.

"I'm not against anti-depressants for extreme cases, but we have to look at how these drugs are marketed to doctors and why doctors are under pressure to prescribe them. We must also address the way that patients want a quick fix for their depression.

"My daughter died as a result of taking Prozac - I wish she'd never heard of the drug. In my opinion, she didn't need it and she should never have been prescribed it."

Depression: Healing Emotional Distress by Linda Hurcombe (Sheldon Press), pounds 7.99)

AS TOLD TO MONICA CAFFERKY

A spokesperson for Lilly, one of the makers of Prozac, adds: "Lilly UK has not, and will not, actively promote the use of fluoxetine (Prozac) in children and adolescents. Medication should be prescribed only after careful diagnosis is made and only if it clearly benefits the child. Because suicidal thinking is an inherent part of depression, we believe careful monitoring of patients is very important."

Prozac made Caitlin tumble into a pit of despair

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CHERISHED: Mum Linda and Caitlin having fun
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2008
Words:616
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