Antidepressants are drugs that alleviate or prevent depression. Before the discovery of antidepressants for the treatment of depression, substances with an exciting effect, capable of causing a state of euphoria (opium and other opiates, caffeine, ginseng) were actively used. To reduce anxiety and excitability, valerian was used, and bromine salts were also used. But a real coup in psychopharmacology was the discovery of antidepressants in the early 50’s. Since then, for half a century, these drugs are the main means to combat depression. Despite the fact that the era of antidepressants began recently, it already has its own “myths of creation.”
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, researchers have experimented with various substances, trying to synthesize a drug that alleviates the symptoms of depression, but all experiments ended in failure. The first antidepressant was “discovered” in 1957 by accident, when doctors drew attention to the action of the drug and iprniazide, which was used in the complex treatment of tuberculosis. In addition to the main effect of the drug, there was a side effect, which was an unusual increase in mood in patients with tuberculosis. Soon this drug was used to relieve the symptoms of depression, especially as a remedy for tuberculosis, the drug did not justify itself.
According to another version, the drug was discovered by Nathan Kline, and his discovery was also more than random – he tried to prove the theory of the location of the “ego” with the help of the drug. During psychoanalytic sessions, Klein noticed that some of the patients he gave the drug suddenly stopped worrying about the problems they were working on. Iproneazid was released for sale, but soon it turned out that it increases the risk of jaundice, and drug sales were discontinued.
At the same time, in Germany Ronald Kuhn was discovered imipromine. Kuhn gave his patients various drugs in order to build a global classification of mental illnesses, according to their reactions, to which German psychiatrists of that time were literally obsessed. As in previous cases, the drug was “open” when patients began to improve their mood. Unlike iproniazid, imipromine is still on the list of WHO official preparations and before prozac was the best-selling antidepressant.
When the first antidepressants were discovered, no one could have imagined that in just a few decades, antidepressant therapy would almost replace all other types of depression therapy, and according to a survey conducted in the late 20th century in the United States, the greatest discovery of the last century would not be the theory of relativity , and not the Internet, but a small capsule of Prozac.