Second paragraph reads: "After about a month on Prozac, wild thoughts came into my mind, especially while driving. I wanted to ram into other cars, -----"

FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 3, 2005 (COL. 1 OF 3)


Seven years ago I was prescribed Prozac after several other antidepressants had not helped. I was hesitant, as I had heard of a man who'd committed suicide on Prozac. But I went ahead with the minimum dose. I had side effects immediately -- headaches, constipation and loss of sexual feelings.

After about a month, wild thoughts came into my mind, especially while driving. I wanted to ram into other cars, "to show them they shouldn't drive so rudely." At work, I would start laughing at random while walking alone down a hall. I wanted to get a gun and kill a co-worker who irritated me. My memory became faulty, and I would leave my credit card or my purse behind in stores.

The final side effect was loss of continence. It was unnerving to be at work and feel myself dribbling in a meeting, so I stopped taking Prozac.

Taking it didn't help me feel better, anyway. I just stopped caring about everything -- work and housework. I didn't care what or how much I ate, and gained about 30 pounds during the three months I took it.

The side effects went away gradually, and I finally lost those 30 pounds. Everyone who takes Prozac should be monitored closely, not just children.

Incontinence is a rare side effect of some antidepressants, but it has been noted. Hostility and violence have also been reported, but the connection remains controversial. Your experience, though, suggests that some people react badly to serotonin-type antidepressants. Monitoring is essential with all antidepressants.

All my life, until a few years ago, I was tired, sleepy and listless. Then in 1998 I noticed nodules on my thyroid gland. To shrink the nodules the doctor prescribed Synthroid.

Since that time I have felt much more alive! I have energy now. I was so pleased to read in your column that someone else also got benefit from Synthroid.

People who don't have enough thyroid hormone often complain of low energy. Other symptoms might also be nonspecific -- constipation, dry skin, hair loss, depression, weight gain. As a result, a thyroid condition might go undiagnosed.

Most people with this condition feel better and have more energy when they take a replacement such as Synthroid or Levoxyl. Others need different medication, such as Armour Thyroid.

We discuss other symptoms of thyroid imbalance, tests to detect it and treatment options in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. T-4, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

I heard a report on the radio about the effectiveness of magnetic bracelets for arthritis pain. My 85-year-old dad suffers terribly and has been taking Celebrex. We're concerned about reports linking Celebrex to heart attacks and strokes. Heart disease runs in our family, so I want to find the bracelets for him.

Others in our family have similar concerns. I had my knees replaced in my mid-50s, and my son, in his 30s, is already miserable. I need to know more.

What journal published the study? What are the specifics about the type of magnetic bracelet? I'll be grateful for any information you can send me.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal (Dec. 16, 2004). Patients were randomly assigned to wear a standard-strength magnetic bracelet (neodymium), a weak magnetic bracelet or a bracelet with nonmagnetic steel washers.

After 12 weeks, those who wore the full-strength magnetic bracelet had significant improvement of knee and hip pain. The authors conclude that the bracelets provided relief comparable to that from standard arthritis pain medications.

Acupuncture is another option. An article in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Dec. 21, 2004) demonstrates that it too can significantly ease arthritis of the knee.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at pharmacy(at sign) or via their Web site: Their latest book is "The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies" (St. Martin's Press).