The antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) is often prescribed to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) but researchers have found it has absolutely no beneficial effect.
In fact, 15 per cent of those taking part in the trial had to withdraw because of side effects from the drug. Those who stayed on the treatment reported suffering increased perspiration and tremors.
Researchers from University Hospital in Nijmegen in the Netherlands based their findings on follow ups with 96 depressed and non depressed CFS sufferers; half were given a placebo for eight weeks, and the rest were given a daily dose of 20 mg of Prozac.
They discovered that Prozac did nothing to alleviate problems such as fatigue, depression, functional impairment or sleep disturbance.
They have told their fellow professionals that the continuation of the treatment is "unwarranted", the conclusion of the very first randomized, double blind study.
The treatment of CFS with Prozac has been based on supposition, on case reports and uncontrolled studies. One group of doctors reported that Prozac helped a third of their CFS patients after eight weeks.
The choice of Prozac was also based on the fact that it is not a sedative and does not come with so many nervous system side effects.