Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: “The Pros of Prozac: A Faith-Based Memoir of Overcoming the Stigma” by Beca Mark

Here you will find a book review of the above mentioned book. This review is written by a man named Mack Kreps. He is the administrator of a fabulous mental health related page on Facebook and I offered to share this review for him on both my Facebook page and my blog. So, enjoy!


It is amazing that I actually have the opportunity to do my first book review on a mental health related book. When I was first presented the opportunity to review the book I was very excited as mental health is a subject that is very important to me. The book is called the “Pro’s of Prozac: A Faith-Based Memoir of Overcoming the Stigma,” by Beca Mark.

The book is very short, concise and well-written. It is about taking Prozac for mental issues and the stigma associated with this, specifically postpartum depression and anxiety. The author Ms. Beca Mark also uses her Christian faith to help guide her and justify her actions in taking Prozac for her depression and anxiety.

When I first began reading the book I was a little unsure whether I was qualified since I know nothing of postpartum depression and I’ve never taken Prozac. However, the more I thought about it the more I thought this would be the best way to approach it even if I were an expert on either subject. I needed to view the book from the standpoint of someone who knows nothing and determine whether or not this book would be helpful for me or not if I was looking at taking Prozac or another anti-depressant. And while I have plenty of experience with depression and anti-depressants, I took it as a challenge to review the book and give an accurate review. 

I don’t want to say that the book is just about postpartum depression because it is not. It just happens to be what the author of the book suffers from initially until she realizes that she has suffered from depression and anxiety most of her life. The book is made up of 16 concise and succinct chapters. Each chapter has a quote at the top which I personally like because I have an affinity for quotes and the quotes pertain to each corresponding chapter. The book is written, according to Ms. Mark, “So someone dealing with depression or heightened anxiety can easily start, finish, apply and then recommend this book.”

Ms. Mark begins the book with a confession that she takes Prozac. Throughout the book she is very cognizant about the stigma associated with taking anti-depressants. She moves on through her back story and her issues after having her first child. It is during these first chapters that she reveals her issue with postpartum depression as well as how different people react to the thought of taking medication as a “crutch.”

Before she breaks down to go seek help she tries to break down every single issue that she can think of, ranging from exercise and diet to sleep and prayer and many things in between. She seems to have been convinced that she was doing or not doing something to cause her depression. She tries exercise and gets her weight back down to her pre-pregnancy weight. But there were other issues still lingering and she still didn’t feel right.

She moves on through her first experience with Prozac when she gets her first prescription for generic Prozac (fluoxetine) from her midwife. She didn’t have a physician she visited on a regular basis so she went where she was the most comfortable and she wasn’t comfortable at all. The midwife was not very supportive on the medication front but relented and gave her a prescription.

She moves on through the book at a quick pace covering only the basics. While she lists the warnings on the label or warning page that came with her first prescription and discusses the few side effects she experienced; she proceeds to make a strong case for the “pros of Prozac.” It is at this time that she opines that she suffered from “unfounded depression and anxiety from a very young age.” For Ms. Mark, the fog lifts and she provides six pros that she experience from taking Prozac. She also summarizes them in a “before and after” manner.

Ms. Mark discusses her family history which gives insight to her personal struggle and a possible reason for her suffering. This is also substantiated when she discusses three of her four adult sisters who also take Prozac and have found relief in doing so. She speaks very candid and openly about her pregnancies of which there were three. It was during the second that she was switched to Zoloft because her midwife thought it was safer than Prozac. This did not go over well as she went back to suffering. It was at this time that she switched to a gynecologist who not only puts her back on Prozac but at a much higher dosage. However it was at this time she candidly reveals a great tragedy and how she dealt with it and how she recovered. 

The book continues as Ms. Mark briefly runs through some negatives of taking Prozac.  She also provides a chapter on some friends whose names are changed to protect their identities but that suffer from various issues and either take Prozac or don't and discusses needless suffering. She also lists some famous people who suffer from clinical depression or anxiety. She moves on through one of the longer chapters of the book and it is still quite short and that is on stigma. While she talks about God throughout the book, she expounds on more of her Christian faith in the final chapters of the book. She also explains how many people see depression as a weakness and taking medications as a crutch. The final two chapters are about the responsibility of taking Prozac and that understanding Prozac is “not a solve-all.” As previously noted, this is where she reveals most of her Christian based views and reveals four areas in which an individual must make “continual and balanced improvements” in order for an individual to realize her “greatest joy.” She concludes by pointing out that Prozac is not a solve-all but helps makes things and situations easier to dissect and handle.

The final two sections of the book are Appendices A and B. These are very informative as Appendix A is a list of discussion questions for which no answers are provided but are provided to allow the reader to use the information in the book to reach her own conclusions. Appendix B contains “Frequently Asked Questions,” in addition to information on clinical depression, anxiety disorders, medications, therapies, and additional information on Prozac and its safety during pregnancy. The book concludes with some informative statistics on mental health and Prozac.

In conclusion, the book “Pros of Prozac: A Faith-Based Memoir of Overcoming the Stigma” is a well written book that is a good read for someone new to depression or Prozac. It would be especially helpful for women suffering from postpartum depression or anyone who has suffered from depression and is trying or thinking of having a child.

I also found the book very useful in doing exactly what the title says and that is listing the pros of Prozac. Ms. Mark does not focus too much on the potential negatives, but there really aren’t many for her and she does note that there is the potential for negative side effects. It is important to point out that the book is based upon her experiences with the medication. She also mixes in her Christian beliefs and gives a solid overview of potential benefits as she has experienced them. The Appendices in the back of the book make up for any lack of clinical support within the body of the book but she clearly states that she is not a doctor and the book is based upon her experience. As a person familiar with Prozac in name only, I found the book to be very informative and would recommend this book to anyone interested in the potential overall benefits of Prozac.

No comments: