Headline of the day: Suicidal shrimp on Prozac

While this headline from the London Daily Mail seems funny on first glance, it’s anything but on closer reading.

Shrimps ‘becoming hooked on

Prozac that is flushed into the sea’

Journalist Fiona Macrae reports that scientists believe that antidepressants — Big Pharma’s massively prescribed cure for depression depression — are being flushed down the toilet and infiltrating the ecosystem, where they are altering the behavior of sea-dwelling critters.

They fear the ‘happy pills’ are tinkering with the creatures’ brain chemistry, making them more vulnerable to being eaten by other fish and birds.

The Portsmouth University researchers looked at the effect of the anti-depressant fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, on the behaviour of shrimps.

The shrimps are widely found in British coastal waters, close to treatment plants where the water may be contaminated with Prozac.

The researchers found that the crustaceans, which are usually happiest when hiding under rocks or clumps of seaweed, were drawn out into the open.

It is thought that just as in people, Prozac is altering levels of the brain chemical serotonin.

But, while in people this lifts mood, in shrimps, it draws them towards light — and into harm’s way.

“Harm” being critters which prey on the small crustaceans, presumably ingesting the Prozac already concentrated in the bodies of their prey and, perhaps, altering the behavior of predators as well.


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