Awake for 800 Hours Straight and Unable to Function after just 25mg of Paxil

“Did I undergo a ‘chemical lobotomy?'”

 

In January of 2000 I fell into a deep depression over complications following laser eye surgery.

[Note from Dr. Tracy: Keep in mind that many go into depression after surgery as an after effect of anesthesia and/or pain killers – many of which are also serotonergic medications. The logical thing to do in this instance is to rest, get good nutrition and wait out the after/withdrawal effects rather than adding yet another serotonergic drug as is done so often.

I had no family locally, and was calling them daily for support. I became unable to focus at work, so they urged me to get medical treatment. I asked my psychotherapist for a reference; he sent me to a family practice MD. That is when things went from bad to worse.

I had no psychiatric history prior to this and had always been a healthy, physically active (a real athlete), artistic (songwriter), productive individual. I am a software engineer, and so I also had a mentally demanding job which I excelled at. That all changed after taking Paxil, which this MD gave me after only a 5 minute consultation (he had never seen me before). Unfortunately I was a nervous wreck at that point, and did not ask any questions. He did little more than read from the “starter kit” literature:

“Paxil – indicated for depression, indicated for OCD…”. If it had been Prozac the alarm bells may have gone off, but I had never heard of ‘Paxil’ and was desperate for help. I left with the twenty-one day starter kit.

I took the first 10 mg pill on a Friday, and only took 25mg (2.5 tablets) of Paxil over the next four days. But this seemingly innocuous amount made my life hell. I could no longer sleep, EVEN A MINUTE, for five weeks! That’s correct, I was up 24hrs a day for the next five weeks, staring at the ceiling and locked in a mental fog around the clock. I emphasize this because it is so amazing. I would not have believed that it was humanly possible to go that long without sleep, but I lived through it. It would be five weeks before my eyes would close again.

I should have known I was in trouble when the first pill started the insomnia, made me hop around like a rabbit, while the second 10mg pill gave me the sensation of my frontal lobe being set on fire. It sent me into a drug trip, fantasizing about my death constantly. I didn’t seem to have control of my thoughts either, as my mental processes seized up like gears that haven’t been oiled. My drug sensitivity probably made me very vulnerable to adverse effects. But my very pure organic diet should have helped to counter the adverse effects. I had eliminated all caffeine from my diet years ago due to this chemical sensitivity. It also took much longer than normal to awake from anesthesia after any surgery, and my natural energy level was always very high.

Because of being trapped in this zombie-like state, I was having suicidal urges for the first time in my life. Also, I tried to work, but I would just come in to the office, sit for a few minutes in front of the monitor and then turn around and leave. I couldn’t initiate and complete anything even of moderate mental complexity, even responding to e-mails, so it was hopeless. Thoughts would just fizzle out.

How to escape this living hell? After day four my feeling was “I have to get these things out of my system!”. So I took nothing else (although the MD said “cut it back to half a tablet”). Every day I was desperately wanting to fall asleep, even for a few minutes, but it just wouldn’t happen. When would the Paxil leave my system — what was happening? As the sleepless days progressed, I got foggier and foggier, finally to the point that even dialing a phone number became a mental feat.

This downward spiral progressed for the full five weeks, until my parents came to get me. I was no longer eating, no longer leaving the apartment for anything, and was simply wasting away. So, five weeks after quitting cold turkey and getting zero sleep in that time, I was admitted to a hospital as I was unable to function.

In the psychiatric ward I was given Zyprexa, Klonopin and Depakote, having been diagnosed there as manic (who wouldn’t be after being up day and night for five weeks?). This was a misdiagnosis, I believe, and more drugs in my system just fanned the fire. I was able to finally get 2-3 hours of sleep a night, but I found that a drug induced sleep is not a restful, refreshing sleep.

I then went home to stay with my parents as I was unable to care for myself for the first time in my life (I am 36). A psychiatrist in my parents hometown kept me on these three medications for another week until he switched to Effexor for a week, followed by Neurontin for several weeks, and then he added Zoloft in mid-March. I was reluctant, but my well-meaning parents were completely trusting and would not let me skip any prescribed medication as I was still suicidal. I took just one 50mg dose of Zoloft and I immediately “locked up again” mentally as before. The insomnia resumed, too. I begged my parents to take me to see someone else. Unfortunately this guy was the only psychiatrist in a 50 mile radius, but we persisted and found someone an hour away.

This MD was the first medical professional to actually acknowledge that the psychotropics made me suffer. She recommended that I have nothing else, and return to an organic diet (which I had been on since 1990!). She gave me dietary guidelines for depression, most of which I had been following already. It took less time to get back to sleeping at night after the Zoloft (was my body building a tolerance?), but after a week or so I was sleeping 3-4 hrs. a night.

It is now July and I have had no medication since. Yet, I have a foggy feeling still, my memory is not as sharp, and my abstract reasoning/problem solving ability is compromised. I feel a vague numbness in my forehead also, similar to a mild hangover, a lingering reminder of the near catatonic state I was in originally. Nothing is the same, nothing is as sharp or clear or enjoyable as it was before. Dr. Joseph Glenmullen’s book “Prozac Backlash” has given me some insight into what may have happened to me. Did I undergo a ‘chemical lobotomy’ and lose axons or other brain tissue? It is a scary thought. But I have learned some things.

I now know that the chance of a doctor completely informing you is slim. He may not even be withholding information: He just may not know himself of all of the possible side affects. I also know that there is no “standard dosage” that is safe for everybody. If you are drug sensitive, perhaps it is better to start with a half a tablet of a new medication than to risk an extreme reaction as I did? Or, better still, to avoid drugs at all costs… to be used only as a last resort.

Good health to you all.

Bruce

7/25/2000

This is Survivor Story number 16.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

621 total views, 1 views today

Is there a steroid effect with Prozac

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I regain my desire to write and paint when I finally get off Prozac?”

 

I was placed on Prozac a few years ago and tried to stop using it several times. Each time I did, I begin feeling dizzy at times and nauseous. Not long after I begin using Prozac, I started to ‘itch’. My ears itched especially, and the palms of my hand began to appear dry. Are there some ‘corticosteroids’ in Prozac?

[Note: You will find in Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? that there is a DOUBLING of Cortisol levels with only one 30mg dose of Prozac. This would give a VERY powerful corticosteroid effect.]

Now there’s a claim that antidepressants help women in menopause. What’s next?

Prozac is supposed to be now OKed for OCD. Well, it didn’t work for me. I did realize a particular habit it produced for me that was OCD. Every day at noon, I would drive to the same thrift shop stay for about 45 minutes then return to work. If I didn’t go I felt as though something was wrong. I really felt I had to go.

I must say, I believe MOST individuals have some form of OCD. Of course if a company can market a drug, initially meant for one disease, for another disease (problem) whatever euphemistic title applied, then the more $$$ for their corporation. I wonder if someday there will be a “Antidepressant,” rebellion because of the medicines/drugs/chemicals prescribed to persons.

Children are being doped up to keep them quiet so their parents can go to work and not worry about their ‘normal’ activities. I suppose certain mental problems are a continuing trend. “My kid is more of a problem than yours?” “I’m on more med that you?”

I realize I am ranting by writing, but I am so frustrated and disappointed. And, when one complains about such things, what’s one of the first, if NOT the first question one is asked, “How old is the person.” Then, too often, it’s the VICTIM on whom the FAULT is placed.

I know there was a time while taking alprazolam that showed bizarre conduct on my workplace in NJ. I told my supervisor I would apologizes to the person, but I was told NOT to because apparently my conduct was to be kept quiet. I was placed on leave of absence because of my condition. While that conduct occurred, I was under treatment and had been for some time. My conduct was definitely out of character, impulsive, and destructive to my reputation.

The snowball began when I commenced having panic attacks and was ultimately depressed I needed to see a doctor/psychiatrist/counselor. I saw all three. The first med. I was given was Xanax, then Imipramine, I have a list written somewhere, although the list may be got from my former physician, in NJ. Although, with the patient/physician confidentiality law, I suppose one has not access to the files.

I truly hope I can stop using Prozac. Presently I am not under a Dr care and auspices. When we left NJ nearly a year ago, I was given a Prozac prescription 3 month supply, I have been opening the capsules and dividing the contents by thirds. Every other day I would use a third. I suppose when the company I worked for 12 years downsized me in March 1999, I was also egotistically downsized.

That’s another thing, in the past I wrote poetry well, and in an instant. While using Prozac, I lost so much of my artistic desire that I actually became more depressed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I regain my desire to write and paint when I finally get off Prozac?

Sincerely

Lorraine B. Jacobs

 

7/2/2000

This is Survivor Story number 17.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

398 total views, 2 views today

Is there a steroid effect with Prozac

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I regain my desire to write and paint when I finally get off Prozac?”

I was placed on Prozac a few years ago and tried to stop using it several times. Each time I did, I begin feeling dizzy at times and nauseous. Not long after I begin using Prozac, I started to ‘itch’. My ears itched especially, and the palms of my hand began to appear dry. Are there some ‘corticosteroids’ in Prozac?

[Note: You will find in Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? that there is a DOUBLING of Cortisol levels with only one 30mg dose of Prozac. This would give a VERY powerful corticosteroid effect.]

Now there’s a claim that antidepressants help women in menopause. What’s next?

Prozac is supposed to be now OKed for OCD. Well, it didn’t work for me. I did realize a particular habit it produced for me that was OCD. Every day at noon, I would drive to the same thrift shop stay for about 45 minutes then return to work. If I didn’t go I felt as though something was wrong. I really felt I had to go.

I must say, I believe MOST individuals have some form of OCD. Of course if a company can market a drug, initially meant for one disease, for another disease (problem) whatever euphemistic title applied, then the more $$$ for their corporation. I wonder if someday there will be a “Antidepressant,” rebellion because of the medicines/drugs/chemicals prescribed to persons.

Children are being doped up to keep them quiet so their parents can go to work and not worry about their ‘normal’ activities. I suppose certain mental problems are a continuing trend. “My kid is more of a problem than yours?” “I’m on more med that you?”

I realize I am ranting by writing, but I am so frustrated and disappointed. And, when one complains about such things, what’s one of the first, if NOT the first question one is asked, “How old is the person.” Then, too often, it’s the VICTIM on whom the FAULT is placed.

I know there was a time while taking alprazolam that showed bizarre conduct on my workplace in NJ. I told my supervisor I would apologizes to the person, but I was told NOT to because apparently my conduct was to be kept quiet. I was placed on leave of absence because of my condition. While that conduct occurred, I was under treatment and had been for some time. My conduct was definitely out of character, impulsive, and destructive to my reputation.

The snowball began when I commenced having panic attacks and was ultimately depressed I needed to see a doctor/psychiatrist/counselor. I saw all three. The first med. I was given was Xanax, then Imipramine, I have a list written somewhere, although the list may be got from my former physician, in NJ. Although, with the patient/physician confidentiality law, I suppose one has not access to the files.

I truly hope I can stop using Prozac. Presently I am not under a Dr care and auspices. When we left NJ nearly a year ago, I was given a Prozac prescription 3 month supply, I have been opening the capsules and dividing the contents by thirds. Every other day I would use a third. I suppose when the company I worked for 12 years downsized me in March 1999, I was also egotistically downsized.

That’s another thing, in the past I wrote poetry well, and in an instant. While using Prozac, I lost so much of my artistic desire that I actually became more depressed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I regain my desire to write and paint when I finally get off Prozac?

Sincerely

Lorraine B. Jacobs

 

This is Survivor Story number 17.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

7/2/2000

363 total views, no views today

Unprepared for the Horrendous Withdrawal from Effexor (update 4 months later)

“Sometimes it felt as if my brain was shuddering in my skull…”

 

I realize that this is what most would consider a long letter. However, it is only a brief summation of my own personal experience. Please, especially those of you who are parents or grandparents, teachers or counselors, just take the two minutes it takes to read it, then just put it in the back of your mind. Or pass it on.

Anti-depressants are quite often being cavalierly dispensed to the population in general. Also, they are prescribed to help kids who’ve been on Ritalin for years get through the difficult process of the cessation of that drug. And now the manufacturers of these drugs are planning to produce it in smaller doses for their next target population: pre and elementary school aged children! These drugs have a very high percentage rate of undesirable and sometimes dangerous side effects.

Several years ago I broke my wrist, which caused me to develop a rare condition known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. One of the medications I was given to try to control the pain was Effexor. Effexor is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or an SSRI. These drugs are commonly known as anti-depressants. Prozac is probably the most commonly known drug in this class. I was on this drug for less than 6 months when, for reasons of my own, I decided I wanted to get off. That’s when my nightmare began.

One cannot just stop taking these drugs. There is a tapering off process which must be followed. This is because there are very often serious and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. However, I was not told of these symptoms, and I now know that the doctor did not know about them, either. He told me only that nightmares were a common occurrence during this process, and that I might also experience “mild, flu-like” symptoms and “slight confusion.” During this initial, original prescribed tapering off process, which was supposed to take about 2 weeks, I experienced vivid and terrifying nightmares. I could not shake these off for hours after I had wakened. Since I was extremely tired, I napped a lot. Each time I napped, there would be a nightmare, and the process would repeat itself several times daily. I really was unprepared for their intensity and lasting after-images.

Then came the day I was to stop taking it. To make a long story short, these were some of my symptoms: A weird visual thing would happen for about a second, about 4 times a minute. I can only compare it to what it feels like to try to track the arrow of the mouse across the page. But I knew it was not my eyes that were doing this, I could feel it was my brain. (October, 2000: I’ve just found out that the term for this is “staccato vision”). I also experienced what people who have this call a sensation “like electric shocks” or “jolts” to my whole body which also occurred for a split second every 15 seconds or so. When these occurred at night, in the dark, they were accompanied by a flash of white light. It’s as if I were “whiting out” (instead of “blacking out”) for just a split second every 15 seconds or so. These incidents began to increase in intensity and began to be accompanied by panic and/or paranoia flashes. Eventually, just moving caused such dizziness and disorientation that I had to hold onto whatever was around me to walk. Sometimes it felt as if there were a magnet to one side of me, pulling me that way. The “slight confusion” I experienced is something I can only imagine is what beginning Alzheimer’s patients must feel like during the initial stages of their eventually terminal mental decline during the time when they are still aware that something is really going wrong. Sometimes it felt as if my brain was shuddering in my skull a sensation that has come to be called “Brain Shivers” or “Brain Flips” by many. Numerous other things were happening as well, but I don’t want to get too long-winded here. I just want to give you all some idea of some of the kinds of things that were happening.

So, I made an appointment with the prescribing doctor, and a friend was kind enough to take me there. But the doctor did not believe me! He said that it couldn’t be the Effexor, that I probably had some neurological problems and that if the symptoms persisted, I should see a neurologist. But I KNEW it was the Effexor, so I went home, took another pill, and felt fine within the hour. Then I got on the ‘net. What I found there was astounding! Tons of people, all with the same things happening to them, reaching out to anonymous others and saying, “Help! What is happening to me?” These I found on bulletin boards, NOT on product information sites put up by the people who are selling the stuff.

I tried calling the Drug Company to find out what was happening to me and how to stop it. I never did reach them. Fortunately for me, my primary care physician had heard of these symptoms and knew how to deal with them. She advised a long, slow tapering off process, telling me that it could take one to two months for me to be able to get off. Also fortunately for me, she told me to take as long as I needed.

It took me 10 MONTHS! During that time, the symptoms mentioned above continued, although diminished enough for me to be able to function almost normally. But other things began to happen. I saw things out of the corners of my eyes, which were not there. We all do that, but this was pretty constant. One thing I saw which I never told anyone about until it had stopped was a big, hairy rat about 1 foot long, scurrying around corners. Keep in mind that I was not on this drug because I was in any way mentally unbalanced, it was merely to help with the pain. I saw, and still see occasionally, a pinpoint of violet shimmering light. Also, things would seem to be moving out of the corners of my eyes. A spot on the wall, for example, I would think was a spider crawling until I looked directly at it, when I would realize it was just a spot on the wall. These things did not scare me, but they were frequent and startling and bothersome.

I took my last little crumbs of Effexor in September of 1999. End of story?

Unfortunately, no. It is now the end of July, 2000, and I still experience some of the same symptoms, although they are manageable. I also have experienced monstrous headaches. The first one, back in September, lasted 4 days. I thought I was going to die. I even told my son that I might die. I debated about that for a while, but did not want him to wake up and find me dead one morning. Fortunately, I’m still here. My headaches began to decrease in length, and now they seem to last only 2 hours or so. They go away within one minute. Sometimes I’m just achy all over. I guess that experience is the “mild, flu-like” symptoms I’d been warned about. I still have days I call “my stupid days”, and they usually signal the beginning of episodes lasting several days, involving vertigo, dizziness, short anxiety attacks, some euphoria occasionally, the “brain shivers”, and numerous other weird symptoms, and culminating in a headache. Then I’m fine for however long it lasts. Sometimes I feel whole body tremors, not enough to make me twitch, and they are not unpleasant, but they’re there and they shouldn’t be.

I am concerned about this. I want to know why, after not taking this drug for so long, I am experiencing this “discontinuation syndrome”, and when will it stop? I have not yet found the answer.

I finally did get in touch with the Drug Company to ask them these questions and they took down all my information. They have never explained why, and they have never followed up. They would not talk to me about my symptoms, they would only talk with my doctor. And this was not OK because the doctor did not believe me! (This was not the prescribing doctor who hadn’t believed me when I first tried to get off, this was the doctor who’d prescribed the tapering off process.) But I told her to call them and talk to them, and it was pretty easy for them to shine her on, since she didn’t believe me anyway. And they sent her a letter advising a slow tapering off of the drug, which I’d already done, of course, AND a “report” from a closed symposium on SSRIs sponsored by the a drug company ‘way back in 1996! (Which, of course, did not address the issue.)

The more research I’ve done on these things, the angrier I become. Because the drug companies have known about these things for years. Many people and their families have gone through much, much worse than I have. Some people have never been able to get off the drugs.

Now, what would YOU do if you were manufacturing these things? You’d probably say’ “Whoa! We need to stop selling these things until we can find out what’s causing this. We’d better get in touch with each and every one of those people who are having these extreme reactions, do whatever we can to help them, and to identify what it IS about them that makes them react differently than those who have no problems with the medication.” Well, not only are these companies not doing this, they are manufacturing the drugs in smaller doses so that CHILDREN can take them! Yes, Prozac is currently being tested on pre-school aged children! And although these drugs have not YET been approved for use in children, the numbers of children aged 6-12 being prescribed Prozac has risen from 41,000 in 1995 to 203,000 in 1996. Currently, in 2000, 2.3 million children in the U.S. are on anti-depressants. The official literature on these drugs says that they are safe for pregnant women to take! And there are documented cases of newborns being born with the more evident withdrawal symptoms (which the drug companies are ignoring because nobody can prove it. Isn’t that horrible?!). The companies that manufacture these things are re-naming Prozac “Seraphim” or something and doctors are prescribing it for PMS!

Are these drugs harmful to absolutely anyone who takes them? Of course not. And for many, these drugs have proven to be beneficial. However, they are NOT only being prescribed for major, long-term depressions, but for such things as the Holiday Blues and teenage angst! But the percentage risk for horrible and even deadly side effects is extremely high. (See the 3rd link below.)

Please, unless you are chronically depressed or have something really, really severe, stay away from this class of drugs. And please, NEVER EVER put a child on these things! I am an intelligent, articulate, resourceful middle-aged woman. When a wave of panic starts to wash over me, or any other of these weird things start to happen, I can tell myself to just hold on, it’s just the after-effects of the drug, it will go away, I should take a deep breath and relax, etc. Do you think a child or a newborn could do the same? I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a child in school and to suffer the kind of confusion I’ve been through and manage to learn anything, let alone be involved in a physical activity or sport! This has been going on for nearly 2 years with me, and I don’t know when it will end!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. This has been a BRIEF synopsis of what my life has been like for the past two years. And it’s nothing compared to what others have been through.

Update, October, 2000:

In the few months since I wrote this, I found that these continued withdrawal effects after not haven taken the drug for a long time is a phenomena which has not one but two names: PANES (Persistent Adverse Neurological Effects) and “Intractable Withdrawal”. This phenomenon was noted as early as 1996, before I began taking Effexor. How can the pharmaceutical companies deny the existence of something that has occurred enough to even have a name?

Several months ago I was driving with my son on the freeway at night and I felt fine. Out of the blue, a wave of disorientation and that peculiar form of dizziness I associate with my “Effexor Episodes” came upon me. I found myself in the middle of two lanes with no remembrance of which one I had come from. I was too scared to look in the rear view mirror to see what was behind me. I heard my son yell, “What are you doing?” A car was breaking to the left of me. I asked my son which lane I should go into and he told me to go right. Fortunately the freeway was not crowded. I was dizzy and scared and felt as if I was going to pass out. Soon there was an exit and I took that off the freeway and my son continued the drive home. I have not driven at night since.

I am a 50 year old woman with an excellent driving record. I made it. I feel sure that if there had been more cars on the freeway there would’ve been a terrible accident. Children from the ages of 6 up are being prescribed these drugs. They are getting their learners permits and at age 16 are given driver’s licenses after passing very easy tests. Maybe you or a loved one will be in a car next to one someday. Maybe you’ll be in an airplane piloted by a pilot who’s missed a dose, directed by an air traffic controller who’s trying to get off this stuff. Maybe you’ll be next to a taxicab driver or a bus driver or a commuter who is suddenly euphoric or has a momentary panic attack. I won’t drive at night, and am careful about where and when I drive in the daytime. But I really don’t think that many can afford to do that. I think they’ll just drive and hope for the best. And that is really, really scary to me.

Louise Mangan

7/1/2000

This is Survivor Story number 19.

Total number of stories in current database is 96

430 total views, no views today

Staccato Vision, Whiting Out and Brain Shivers on Effexor

“Please, unless you are chronically depressed or have something really, really severe, stay away from this class of drugs.”

 

Dear Friends and Acquaintances,

I realize that this is what most would consider a long letter. However, it is only a brief summation of my own personal experience. Please, especially those of you who are parents or grandparents, teachers or counselors, just take the two minutes it takes to read it, then just put it in the back of your mind. Or pass it on.

Anti-depressants are quite often being cavalierly dispensed to the population in general. Also, they are prescribed to help kids who’ve been on Ritalin for years get through the difficult process of the cessation of that drug. And now the manufacturers of these drugs are planning to produce it in smaller doses for their next target population: pre and elementary school aged children! These drugs have a very high percentage rate of undesirable and sometimes dangerous side effects.
As many of you know, several years ago I broke my wrist, which caused me to develop a rare condition known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. One of the medications I was given to try to control the pain was Effexor. Effexor is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or an SSRI. These drugs are commonly known as anti-depressants. Prozac is probably the most commonly known drug in this class. I was on this drug for less than 6 months when, for reasons of my own, I decided I wanted to get off. That’s when my nightmare began.

One cannot just stop taking these drugs. There is a tapering off process which must be followed. This is because there are very often serious and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. However, I was not told of these symptoms, and I now know that the doctor did not know about them, either. He told me only that nightmares were a common occurrence during this process, and that I might also experience “mild, flu-like” symptoms and “slight confusion.” During this initial, original prescribed tapering off process, which was supposed to take about 2 weeks, I experienced vivid and terrifying nightmares. I could not shake these off for hours after I had wakened. Since I was extremely tired, I napped a lot. Each time I napped, there would be a nightmare, and the process would repeat itself several times daily. I really was unprepared for their intensity and lasting after-images.

Then came the day I was to stop taking it. To make a long story short, these were some of my symptoms: A weird visual thing would happen for about a second, about 4 times a minute. I can only compare it to what it feels like to try to track the arrow of the mouse across the page. But I knew it was not my eyes that were doing this, I could feel it was my brain. (October, 2000: I’ve just found out that the term for this is “staccato vision”). I also experienced what people who have this call a sensation “like electric shocks” or “jolts” to my whole body which also occurred for a split second every 15 seconds or so. When these occurred at night, in the dark, they were accompanied by a flash of white light. It’s as if I were “whiting out” (instead of “blacking out”) for just a split second every 15 seconds or so. These incidents began to increase in intensity and began to be accompanied by panic and/or paranoia flashes. Eventually, just moving caused such dizziness and disorientation that I had to hold onto whatever was around me to walk.
Sometimes it felt as if there were a magnet to one side of me, pulling me that way. The “slight confusion” I experienced is something I can only imagine is what beginning Alzheimer’s patients must feel like during the initial stages of their eventually terminal mental decline during the time when they are still aware that something is really going wrong. Sometimes it felt as if my brain was shuddering in my skull a sensation that has come to be called “Brain Shivers” or “Brain Flips” by many. Numerous other things were happening as well, but I don’t want to get too long-winded here. I just want to give you all some idea of some of the kinds of things that were happening.

So, I made an appointment with the prescribing doctor, and a friend was kind enough to take me there. But the doctor did not believe me! He said that it couldn’t be the Effexor, that I probably had some neurological problems and that if the symptoms persisted, I should see a neurologist. But I KNEW it was the Effexor, so I went home, took another pill, and felt fine within the hour. Then I got on the ‘net. What I found there was astounding! Tons of people, all with the same things happening to them, reaching out to anonymous others and saying, “Help! What is happening to me?” These I found on bulletin boards, NOT on product information sites put up by the people who are selling the stuff.

I tried calling the Drug Company to find out what was happening to me and how to stop it. I never did reach them. Fortunately for me, my primary care physician had heard of these symptoms and knew how to deal with them. She advised a long, slow tapering off process, telling me that it could take one to two months for me to be able to get off. Also fortunately for me, she told me to take as long as I needed. It took me 10 MONTHS! During that time, the symptoms mentioned above continued, although diminished enough for me to be able to function almost normally. But other things began to happen. I saw things out of the corners of my eyes, which were not there. We all do that, but this was pretty constant. One thing I saw which I never told anyone about until it had stopped was a big, hairy rat about 1 foot long, scurrying around corners. Keep in mind that I was not on this drug because I was in any way mentally unbalanced it was merely to help with the pain. I saw, and still see occasionally, a pinpoint of violet shimmering light. Also, things would seem to be moving out of the corners of my eyes. A spot on the wall, for example, I would think was a spider crawling until I looked directly at it, when I would realize it was just a spot on the wall. These things did not scare me, but they were frequent and startling and bothersome.

I took my last little crumbs of Effexor in September of 1999. End of story?

Unfortunately, no. It is now the end of July,2000, and I still experience some of the same symptoms, although they are manageable. I also have experienced monstrous headaches. The first one, back in September, lasted 4 days. I thought I was going to die. I even told my son that I might die. I debated about that for a while, but did not want him to wake up and find me dead one morning. Fortunately, I’m still here. My headaches began to decrease in length, and now they seem to last only 2 hours or so. They go away within one minute. Sometimes I’m just achy all over. I guess that experience is the “mild, flu-like” symptoms I’d been warned about. I still have days I call “my stupid days”, and they usually signal the beginning of episodes lasting several days, involving vertigo, dizziness, short anxiety attacks, some euphoria occasionally, the “brain shivers”, and numerous other weird symptoms, and culminating in a headache. Then I’m fine for however long it lasts. Sometimes I feel whole body tremors not enough to make me twitch, and they are not unpleasant, but they’re there and they shouldn’t be. I am concerned about this. I want to know why, after not taking this drug for so long, I am experiencing this “discontinuation syndrome”, and when will it stop? I have not yet found the answer. I finally did get in touch with the Drug Company to ask them these questions and they took down all my information. They have never explained why, and they have never followed up. They would not talk to me about my symptoms, they would only talk with my doctor. And this was not OK because the doctor did not believe me! (This was not the prescribing doctor who hadn’t believed me when I first tried to get off this was the doctor who’d prescribed the tapering off process.) But I told her to call them and talk to them, and it was pretty easy for them to shine her on, since she didn’t believe me anyway. And they sent her a letter advising a slow tapering off of the drug, which I’d already done, of course, AND a “report” from a closed symposium on SSRIs sponsored by the a drug company ‘way back in 1996! (Which, of course, did not address the issue.)

The more research I’ve done on these things, the angrier I become.
Because the drug companies have known about these things for years. Many people and their families have gone through much, much worse than I have. Some people have never been able to get off the drugs. Now, what would YOU do if you were manufacturing these things? You’d probably say’ “Whoa! We need to stop selling these things until we can find out what’s causing this. We’d better get in touch with each and every one of those people who are having these extreme reactions, do whatever we can to help them, and to identify what it IS about them that makes them react differently than those who have no problems with the medication.” Well, not only are these companies not doing this, they are manufacturing the drugs in smaller doses so that CHILDREN can take them! Yes, Prozac is currently being tested on pre-school aged children! And although these drugs have not YET been approved for use in children, the numbers of children aged 6-12 being prescribed Prozac has risen from 41,000 in 1995 to 203,000 in 1996. Currently, in 2000, 2.3 million children in the U.S. are on anti-depressants. The official literature on these drugs says that they are safe for pregnant women to take! And there are documented cases of newborns being born with the more evident withdrawal symptoms (which the drug companies are ignoring because nobody can prove it. Isn’t that horrible?!). The companies that manufacture these things are re-naming Prozac “Serafem” or something and doctors are prescribing it for PMS! Are these drugs harmful to absolutely anyone who takes them? Of course not. And for many, these drugs have proven to be beneficial. However, they are NOT only being prescribed for major, long-term depressions, but for such things as the Holiday Blues and teenage angst! But the percentage risk for horrible and even deadly side effects is extremely high.

Please, unless you are chronically depressed or have something really, really severe, stay away from this class of drugs. And please, NEVER EVER put a child on these things! I am an intelligent, articulate, resourceful middle-aged woman. When a wave of panic starts to wash over me, or any other of these weird things start to happen, I can tell myself to just hold on, it’s just the after-effects of the drug, it will go away, I should take a deep breath and relax, etc. Do you think a child or a newborn could do the same? I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a child in school and to suffer the kind of confusion I’ve been through and manage to learn anything, let alone be involved in a physical activity or sport! This has been going on for nearly 2 years with me, and I don’t know when it will end!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. This has been a BRIEF synopsis of what my life has been like for the past two years. And it’s nothing compared to what others have been through.
Yours,
Louise Mangan

Update, October, 2000:
In the few months since I wrote this, I found that these continued withdrawal effects after not haven taken the drug for a long time is a phenomena which has not one but two names: PANES (Persistent Adverse Neurological Effects) and “Intractable Withdrawal”. This phenomenon was noted as early as 1996 before I began taking Effexor. How can the pharmaceutical companies deny the existence of something that has occurred enough to even have a name?
Several months ago I was driving with my son on the freeway at night and I felt fine. Out of the blue, a wave of disorientation and that peculiar form of dizziness I associate with my “Effexor Episodes” came upon me. I found myself in the middle of two lanes with no remembrance of which one I had come from. I was too scared to look in the rear view mirror to see what was behind me. I heard my son yell, “What are you doing?” A car was breaking to the left of me. I asked my son which lane I should go into and he told me to go right. Fortunately the freeway was not crowded. I was dizzy and scared and felt as if I was going to pass out. Soon there was an exit and I took that off the freeway and my son continued the drive home. I have not driven at night since.
I am a 50 year old woman with an excellent driving record. I made it. I feel sure that if there had been more cars on the freeway there would’ve been a terrible accident. Children from the ages of 6 up are being prescribed these drugs. They are getting their learners permits and at age 16 are given driver’s licenses after passing very easy tests. Maybe you or a loved one will be in a car next to one someday. Maybe you’ll be in an airplane piloted by a pilot who’s missed a dose, directed by an air traffic controller who’s trying to get off this stuff. Maybe you’ll be next to a taxicab driver or a bus driver or a commuter who is suddenly euphoric or has a momentary panic attack. I won’t drive at night, and am careful about where and when I drive in the daytime. But I really don’t think that many can afford to do that. I think they’ll just drive and hope for the best. And that is really, really scary to me.

Louise Mangan

7/1/2000

This is Survivor Story number 18.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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Withdrawing from Prozac after Eleven Years

“I credit (finding the ICFDA web site) with saving my life.”

I am grateful to you and your colleagues for warning people about the dangers of SSRI’s I am withdrawing from Prozac now after taking it for eleven years. Until January of this year I was taking 60 mgs/day of Prozac. I have taken doses as high as 80 mgs/day! After experiencing a psychotic episode (one of many). In January I found the ICFDA website. I credit that discovery with saving my life and I am grateful to you and your colleagues for warning people about the dangers of SSRI’s. After tapering off of the drug for four months I took my last dose of Prozac nineteen days ago. I have experienced all of the major SSRI withdrawal effects. Right now my biggest problem is disturbed sleep patterns and extreme fatigue.

I know that it might be beneficial to seek the help of a medical doctor but after my experience with Prozac I don’t know who to trust. I know that most MDs or DOs are probably part of the medical/pharmaceutical establishment that got me into this position in the first place.

Aaron L. Swinger
5152 Burgoyne Lane
Columbus, Ohio 43220-7345
(614)459-5281

6/21/2000

This is Survivor Story number 20.

Total number of stories in current database is 96

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5-Year Old’s Unusual Reaction to 5-htp

“I read about 5-htp and under the recommendation of a friend.”

I have read about your research and articles about the harmful effects of Prozac, etc., and wonder if you can help me figure out why my 5-yr old son had an unusual reaction to 5-htp –a supposedly safe natural supplement.

My son Alex has is mildly autistic and has sleep problems in that he takes a long time to fall asleep (1-2 hours) and ends up going to sleep around midnight every night. I read about 5-htp and under the recommendation of a friend decided to try it to see if it would help Alex to sleep and to calm down. (At that time, he seemed to have gotten a little immune to melatonin which we used to give him once in a while to help him sleep, which was why we were looking for other means.) On the first night we gave him 100mg at 6:30 p.m. and he resisted going to bed till 9:30p.m., then fell asleep at 10p.m. However, he woke up at 3a.m. that night and stayed awake all night and all of the next day, falling asleep at 10p.m.! We didn’t give him anything that night, but to convince ourselves that his reaction was not a coincidence (he does have the tendency to wake up in the middle of the night once in a while), We gave him another 100mg on the third night at around 8:30p.m. This time he fell asleep at 9:30p.m., but woke up at 11p.m., 2 hours later! He only managed to fall asleep at 5a.m. the next morning, then woke up at 8a.m. During the time that he was awake on the medication, he looked quite disoriented and tired, but didn’t have any aggressive or extreme behaviors just real out-of-sorts.

Do you think Alex has a problem metabolizing the serotonin? Have you come across any other incidences like his?

A Note from Dr. Tracy
As those of you who have read the research in my book (Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?) know, elevated levels of serotonin are found in those who are autistic. This indicates an inability to metabolize serotonin. Therefore, ANYTHING that increases serotonin – whether you are told it is natural or not – should be expected to produce adverse effects in someone who has autistic symptoms.

L. L.

6/20/2000

This is Survivor Story number 21.

Total number of stories in current database is 96

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6/3/2000 – Prozac-induced death of child via impaired liver function

Finally reports are being made of deaths of children due to the toxicity
associated with Prozac. Below is an abstract on the death of a child due to
Prozac (fluoxetine). If you have not read my article entitled “The Next
Generation of Medical Guinea Pigs – Our Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil Babies” be
sure to do so. It is on our website and was published in the summer of 1998
and warns of the deadly effects of this liver enzyme system and children on
the SSRIs.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org
__________________________________

“Fluoxetine-related death in a child with cytochrome P- 450 2D6 genetic
deficiency” Sallee FR, DeVane CL, Ferrell RE J Child
Adolesc Psychopharmacol 10(1):27-34 (2000)

ABSTRACT:

The clinical course of a 9-year-old diagnosed with attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s
disorder and treated with a combination of methylphenidate, clonidine, and
fluoxetine is described. The patient experienced over a 10-month period,
signs and symptoms suggestive of metabolic toxicity marked by bouts of
gastrointestinal distress, low-grade fever, incoordination, and
disorientation. Generalized seizures were observed, and the patient lapsed
into status epilepticus followed by cardiac arrest and subsequently
expired. At autopsy, blood, brain, and other tissue concentrations of
fluoxetine and norfluoxetine were several-fold higher than expected based on
literature reports for overdose situations. The medical examiner’s report
indicated death caused by fluoxetine toxicity. As the child’s adoptive
parents controlled medication access, they were investigated by social
welfare agencies. Further genetic testing of autopsy tissue revealed the
presence of a gene defect at the cytochrome P450 CYP2D locus, which results
in poor metabolism of fluoxetine. As a result of this and other evidence, the
investigation of the adoptive parents was terminated. This is the first
report of a fluoxetine-related death in a child with a confirmed genetic
polymorphism of the CYP2D6 gene that results in impaired drug metabolism.
Issues relevant to child and adolescent psychopharmacology arising from this
case are discussed.

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The Aftermath of Antidepressants

The Aftermath Of Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Fen-Phen, & Many Other Serotonergic Drugs

By Ann Blake-Tracy – Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness

Ann Blake-Tracy has specialized for 10 years in adverse reactions to serotonergic medications. She is the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness (www.drugawareness.org) and author of the book PROZAC:PANACEA OR PANDORA?

WARNING: IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT A GRADUAL TAPERING OFF OF MEDICATIONS IS SAFEST WITHDRAWAL METHOD TO AVOID SERIOUS WITHDRAWAL EFFECTS

Often there is the terrible withdrawal associated with the SSRIs. Unless patients are warned to come very slowly off these drugs by shaving minuscule amounts off their pills each day, as opposed to cutting them in half or taking a pill every other day, they can go into terrible withdrawal which is generally delayed several months. This withdrawal includes bouts of overwhelming depression, terrible insomnia and fatigue, and can include life-threatening physical effects, psychosis, or violent outbursts.

Note: Keep in mind that these drugs are all serotonergic agents and clones or “copy cat” drugs of Prozac – the first SSRI antidepressant introduced to the market in America. Basically what applies to one, applies to the others. For instance we have more data out on Prozac because it has been around longer, but as the mode of action is the same for all of these meds the effects will be the same for the other drugs on this list as it is for Prozac. If we are discussing one drug, similar effects would be expected from any other company’s version of the drug. In fact it would be more honest to give them the titles of Prozac #1, Prozac #2,Prozac #3, etc. rather than the brand names they have been given, from the second clone, Zoloft, to the latest Prozac clone, Celexa.

My concern is that each new SSRI introduced seems to be a little stronger on serotonin reuptake and therefore potentially more dangerous. And the all too common practice of going from one SSRI to another blocks additional receptors and magnifies the harmful effects of these medications. It is crucial to learn that according to medical research the theory behind this group of drugs is invalid. Known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are designed to block serotonin in the brain, thereby increasing brain levels of this neurotransmitter. Yet for three decades researchers have been intensely interested in serotonin because LSD and PCP produce their psychedelic effects by mimicking serotonin. Elevated serotonin is found in: psychosis or schizophrenia, mood disorders, organic brain disease, mental retardation, autism and Alzheimer’s. While low levels of the metabolism of serotonin (which also produces high serotonin), are found in those with: depression, anxiety, suicide, violence, arson, substance abuse, insomnia, violent nightmares, impulsive behavior, reckless driving, exhibitionism, hostility, argumentative behavior, etc. The drugs increase serotonin and decrease the metabolism of serotonin leading to any and all of the above results. This information is extremely crucial for patients and physicians to learn as soon as possible. We have a high rate of use of these drugs nationwide. Raising serotonin and lowering the metabolism of serotonin in such a large number of people can produce very serious, widespread and long term problems for all of society.

So why are we now in the 90’s being told that increased serotonin is good for us? Is it because it is good for the pocketbooks of the manufacturers? One manufacturer is running full page newspaper and magazine ads and half hour TV infomercials to bring in over $7 million daily, while on the other hand they are settling Prozac suicide cases for huge amounts of money in exchange for silence from victim’s families on the details of those settlements. The silence in the court cases insures that the drug will be allowed to finish out its patent time, thus bringing in the highest possible profits for the company. They know that with $7 million coming in daily, they can afford to settle a large number of lawsuits and still come out “smelling like a rose” financially.

Eli Lilly has been sued for Prozac related deaths in numerous state and federal courts with most of these cases being settled or dismissed – many were dismissed due to the unethical manipulation of the Wesbecker verdict
(see time line for details).

We have witnessed no decrease in suicide, but increases in murder/suicide, suicide, unwed pregnancies, domestic violence, manic-depression, MS, hypoglycemia, diabetes, bankruptcies, divorce, mothers (parents) killing children, road rage, school shootings, cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia since these serotonergic drugs have become so popular and I relate it directly to the effects of these drugs.

The death toll has continued to climb drastically since I wrote PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? Some of the cases you may be familiar with are:

1. Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hartman (Zoloft), Prozac was found in the van of Mark Barton, the Atlanta day trader, who recently killed his family and others in a shooting spree before taking his own life;
2. Neal Furrow, in LA Jewish school shooting was reported to have been court ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications;
3. The Salt Lake Family History Library shooting;
4. School shootings in Littleton, Colorado (Luvox), Atlanta, Georgia, Springfield, Oregon (Prozac), and Caldwell, Idaho;
5. Another boy in Pocatello, ID in 1998 who in seizure activity from Zoloft had a stand off at the school;
6. 15 year old Chris Shanahan (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman;
7. The shooting at the lottery in Connecticut last spring by Matthew Beck (Luvox) that left five dead in a murder/suicide;
8. The New York City Subway bombing by Edward Leary (Prozac);
9. Nick Mansies (Paxil) in New Jersey who was convicted of killing a little boy who was selling cookies door to door;
10. In Orange County, CA Dana Sue Gray (Paxil) who co-workers described as a very caring nurse killed several elderly people;
11. Officer Stephen Christian (Prozac) one of the finest officers on the Dallas Police force, who ran into a police substation shooting at fellow officers and was killed;
12. 13 year old Chris Fetters (Prozac) in Iowa who killed her favorite aunt;
13. David Rothman (Prozac) killed two co-workers and himself at the Dept. of Agriculture in Ingelwood, CA;
14. Williams Evans (Zoloft) shot one co-worker at the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services before shooting himself in Columbus, OH;
15. Winatchee, WA where 43 people were wrongfully imprisoned in a false accusation of sexual abuse “witch hunt” fury started by a child under the influence of Prozac and Paxil;
16. Christopher Vasquez (Zoloft) killed Michael Morrow in Central Park;
17. Megan Hogg (Prozac) duct taped the mouths and noses of her three little girls and took a handful of pills; Vera Espinoza (Prozac) in Randolph, VT shot her small son and daughter before shooting herself;
18. An elderly man (Prozac) in Layton, UT axed his wife and daughter to death;
19. Margaret Kastanis (Prozac) used a knife and hammer to kill her three children before stabbing herself to death;
20. An elderly man (Paxil) in Dallas, TX strangled his wife before shooting himself twice in the chest;
21. Larramie Huntzinger (Zoloft) blacked out and ran his car into three young girls killing two in Salt Lake City, UT;
22. Mary Hinkelman (Prozac), a nurse in Baroda, MI shot her two small daughters and her sister before shooting herself;
23. Lisa Fox (Prozac) shot her small son and her dog before shooting herself in Brighton, MI;
24. Debi Louselle (Zoloft) shot daughter and then herself in Salt Lake City, UT;
25. A father in Wyoming shot his wife, daughter and baby grand-daughter then himself after only days on Paxil;
26. A mother (Prozac) in Pleasant Grove, UT killed her 17 year old son with a sledge hammer while he slept before she attempted suicide by drinking Drano;
27. Larry Butz, a superintendent of schools in Ames, IA shot his wife, son and daughter before shooting himself – many cases pending in court are not mentioned.

This is only a handful of MANY, MANY more cases – there would not be room for anything else if I continued listing the cases.

A few additional famous victims: Princess Di (Prozac) and Dodi Fayed -via their driver Henri Paul (Prozac), Monica Lewinsky (Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Serzone and Phen-Fen), Chris Farley (Prozac), Pres. Clinton’s ex-partner Jim Mc Dougal (Prozac), Abby Hoffman (Prozac), Del Shannon (Prozac), Danielle Steele’s son (Prozac), INXS singer Michael Hutchence (Prozac), Sarah – Dutchess of York (Phen-Fen)

The latest figures show Prozac has about 44,000 adverse reports filed with the FDA. Out of those reports there are about 2,500 deaths with the large majority of them linked to suicide or violence.

The suicide statistics relating to women are shocking. According to the CDC there are about 30,000 suicides yearly in the United States. Out of those about 6,000 are women – a ratio of about 4.3 to 1, male to female. About twice as many women as men are treated for depression demonstrating that generally men are more than 8 times as lethal in their suicidal gestures as women. Women were known to use less lethal means until the SSRI antidepressants hit the market. But on Prozac and Paxil, women committed 40% of the suicides – many were strikingly violent and clearly leaving no
means for rescue. (Remember that because Prozac was the first of this group of drugs its track record gives us a vision of what is to come with other serotonergic antidepressants, especially when they are so powerful in the reuptake of serotonin.)

TIME LINE OF CRITICAL INFORMATION DISCOVERED SINCE THE BOOK:

*NOTE: Any documents beginning with PZ are Lilly documents on Prozac which have been ferreted out by attorneys and are now being used in lawsuits against the drug company. (Christian vs. Eli Lilly, by Vickery & Waldner, Houston, TX)

* Mid 1950’s: Dr. Felix Sulman began his research on those who suffer from high serotonin levels because of an inability to metabolize serotonin. He found that serotonin is a stress neuro-hormone leading even rabbits, the most docile of creatures, to be aggressive. He coined the term “serotonin irritation syndrome.” He found that those who were unable to break down serotonin would have the levels increase. They were in effect being poisoned by the serotonin produced by their own bodies, the irritation victims suffered from migraines, hot flashes, irritability, sleeplessness, pains around the heart, difficulty in breathing, a worsening of bronchial complaints, irrational tension and anxiety. . . horrifying nightmares. It also caused his volunteers to sleep badly – that is, always on the edge of consciousness so that they were not properly rested – and to wake after only a few hours of sleep.” (sleep apnea) He also found it caused pregnant women to abort.
* October, 1977: Slater, et.al., Inhibition of REM Sleep by Fluoxetine, a Specific Inhibitor of Serotonin Uptake, October 1977, at p. 385 – Prozac was found to affect sleep habits, specifically to suppress deep sleep, which the scientists call REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in cats. By the fourth day of drug treatment the cats receiving the larger doses, which had been friendly for years, began to growl and hiss. After cessation of the drug treatment, the cats returned to their usual friendly behavior in a week or two; those on the higher doses recovering more slowly. – – 1977: [PZ 1298 1999] “A total of six dogs from the high dose group were removed from treatment … due to severe occurrences of either aggressive behavior, ataxia, or anorexia.”]
* July 31, 1978: [PZ1061 1025-28, July 31, 1978] Human subjects began to be used by Lilly in controlled clinical trials. The first group of patients showed no improvement in their depression, but there were a “large number of reports of adverse reactions.” The first human to receive Prozac experienced “dystonia resembling an extrapyramidal reaction” – an uncontrollable, Parkinson-like shaking or trembling.
* July 23, 1979 [PZ 1297 969] The clinical studies in depression showed that “some patients have converted from severe depression to agitation within a few days; in one case the agitation was marked and the patient had to be taken off drug. In future studies the use of benzodiazepines to control the agitation will be permitted.”
* August 3, 1979: The clinical trials excluded patients who had serious suicidal risk. [E.g. control #001519, IND Protocol No. 14, August 3, 1979; PZ1135 695, July 2, 1986 memorandum of Dr. Wernicke].
* December 17, 1984: [PZ 65 449, report of Lilly to FDA] Lilly reported to the FDA that benzodiazepines and other sedatives were given with Prozac throughout the clinical trials. This was to help offset the stimulant effect of the drug. In a memorandum of Lilly scientist Charles Beasley [PZ 541 2007-08] issues of “agitation vs. sedation” and concomitant sedative medications like benzodiazepines (to control the agitation) are discussed. Concerns are that agitation in a suicidal patient can induce suicide.
* March 3, 1986 Lilly controlled the flow of information to the FDA and decided that suicide data on Prozac should not be evaluated, “in the safety-update for the FDA the number of suicides and suicide attempts will not be especially evaluated.” [PZ 879 1966, March 3, 1986 telex]
* September 12, 1986: German BGA very concerned with the risk of suicide and ultimately approved Prozac on the condition that physicians be warned of the risk of suicide and told to consider using sedatives and closely monitor patients. [PZ 878 1383, report of Lilly consultant Pohlmeier; PZ 2467 299, September 12, 1986] Lilly actually warned physicians in Germany and other countries that this measure “can be necessary” to minimize the risk of suicide, [PZ 1341 402, December 6, 1989 German warning; PZ 2469 490]
* February 7, 1990: In response to the Harvard study, Teicher, et al., Lilly’s top scientist, Leigh Thompson, told his fellow executives that “Lilly can go down the tubes if we lose Prozac”. [PZ 1941 827, February 7, 1990]. In the ensuing months Dr. Thompson spoke frequently with his principal FDA regulator about the issue, once at 6:15 in the morning. [PZ 391 1959, July 18, 1990]. Lilly later described the man as “our defender”. [PZ1941 2256, September 12, 1990]
* May 29, 1990, Lilly added “suicidal ideation” in the section dealing with post-marketing reports. [PZ883 562, July 26, 1990 memorandum]
* September 14, 1990: Contrary to the advice of his staff, Dr. Thompson told the Eli Lilly Board of Directors that suicide and hostile acts were probably, caused by the patients’ underlying disorders rather than Prozac. [PZ542 2101, September 14, 1990; PZ4002 889, Board Minutes]. The staff was concerned because they knew that this issue was never studied during the clinical trials.
* September 11, 1990: Note from Dr. Bruce Stadel, Chief of the Epidemiology Branch, attaching an analysis done by Dr. David Graham, Section Chief within the Epidemiology Branch, of Lilly’s July 17, 1990 submission to the FDA on the Prozac/suicidality/violence issue. The following factors were (a) brought to the attention of those in the higher echelons of the FDA, but (b) ignored, discounted or “trashed” by them: #1 Lilly’s analysis improperly excluded 76 out of 97 suicides; as Dr. Stadel expressed it, “[i]t is inappropriate in a safety analysis to exclude such a large proportion of case”; #2 Lilly admitted that its clinical trials “were not designed for the prospective evaluation of suicidality” and that “[i]n these trials, patients with current suicidal ideation were excluded”; #3 Lilly admitted that the HAMD-3 rating scale it used to assess suicidality in clinical trials was inadequate; and that Lilly’s statements about violence only demonstrated “how great under-reporting is” and that “[t]he actual data showed a higher percentage of treatment-emergent suicidality among fluoxetine (2.9% than tricyclic (0.8%) patients . . . [which percentage] was similar to that reported by Teicher.”
* July 1, 1992: A study lead by Dr. Lorne Brandes of the Manatoba Institute of Cell Biology in Winnipeg, Canada was published in CANCER RESEARCH linking the two most popular anti-depressants, Elavil and Prozac to cancer.
* 1994: A study headed by Howard Markell published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed LSD flashbacks and LSD reactions induced by Prozac.
* June 9, 1994: The New York Review of Books article by Dr. Sherwin Nuland slams Peter Kramer for pushing Prozac in his book Listening to Prozac. He pointed out that all docs are taught in med school this little poem about serotonin: “This man was addicted to moanin’, confusion, edema, and groanin’, intestinal rushes, great tricolored blushes, and died from too much serotonin.” He listed constriction of lungs and intestines, diarrhea, wheezing, flushing, mental confusion, tightening of bronchioles, and lessening conscious control over behavior from increases in serotonin. “Moreover, . . . it is still too early to arrive at a reliable estimate of possible dangers that may appear in the long term,” and 15% dropped out of the clinical trials on Prozac because of adverse reactions. He also discussed the similarity of serotonin to the psychedelics like LSD and PCP.
* November, 1994: Krystal JH, Webb E, Cooney N, et al., “Specificity of Ethanol-like Effects Elicited in Serotonergic and Noradrenergic Mechanisms,” ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY, Vol. 51, Issue 11, pgs 898-911, 1994 demonstrated that an increase in brain levels of either of two neurotransmitters, serotonin or noradrenalin, produces:
#1 a craving for alcohol,
#2 anger,
#3 anxiety.
They found this to be especially true for those who have a history of alcoholism. An increase serotonin in turn increases noradrenalin. Numerous reports have been made by reformed alcoholics who are being “driven” to alcohol again after being prescribed a serotonergic drug. And many other patients who had no previous history of alcoholism have continued to report an “overwhelming compulsion” to drink while using these drugs.

A few personal accounts:

#1 A young woman, a recovering alcoholic, reported that during the eight month period she had been using Prozac she found it necessary to attend AA meetings every day in order to fight off the strong compulsions to begin drinking again.
#2 In the Southeastern United States a middle aged psychologist, also a recovering alcoholic, after being prescribed Prozac, found herself needing to attend AA meetings morning, noon, and night to keep from destroying the sobriety she had achieved.
#3 A young father, who was Mormon and had never before in his life used alcohol, found himself drinking Ever Clear and exhibiting bizarre as well as violent behavior, after being prescribed Prozac and Ritalin.
#4 A young mother who had never used alcohol before began drinking large amounts within weeks of being prescribed Prozac and quickly found herself committed to a mental institution due to the psychotic behavior that resulted. Added to her Prozac prescription were anti-psychotic meds and electric shock treatments. She then began to experience seizures and was started on anti-seizure meds.
#5 A concerned neighbor reported her friend was drinking straight Vodka on a regular basis after being prescribed Zoloft. #6 A daughter reported her father, sober for 15 years, began drinking again on Prozac.

* December, 1994: Not guilty verdict on Wesbecker wrongful death suit against Lilly’s Prozac.
* Treatment emergent suicidality with Prozac has been demonstrated to be two to three times higher than any other anti-depressant. (Jick, et al., Antidepressants and Suicide)
* May, 1995: Judge John Potter who presided over the Wesbecker case filed documents to demand that Lilly be forced to disclose the secret deal they made with the plaintiffs to withhold very damaging evidence in exchange for settlement. In his pleading to the court Potter stated, “Lilly sought to buy not just the verdict, but the court’s judgment as well.” Potter accused Lilly of “giving the verdict the widest possible publicity” accompanied by the claim that Lilly had “proven in a court of law that Prozac was safe.” Furious with Lilly’s attempt to turn his courtroom into an advertising agency for Prozac, he claims his motion reflects “the court’s duty to protect the integrity of the judicial system.” He believes, as do prominent legal ethicists, that a full and open disclosure of the terms of the settlement is a necessary public safety issue.
* July, 1997: Mayo Clinic found that the increased serotonin, which produces blood clotting, was causing a gummy glossy substance to build up on heart valves. Dr. Heidi Connolly with the Divisions of Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine, who headed the study stated, “We do know that fenfluramine and phentermine [Fen-Phen] alter the way the brain chemical serotonin is metabolized, and serotonin that circulates in the blood can cause valve injury.” Fenfluramine produces a rapid release of serotonin, inhibits serotonin reuptake, and may also have receptor agonist activity. The study’s revelations should send a loud and very clear warning throughout the medical community concerning all serotonergic medications.
* August 25, 1997: Letter to Ann Blake-Tracy, “I caught the last part of your presentation on Radio Station KEX, Portland, while flipping through the dial last night. I was flabbergasted to hear you speak of the horrible potential side effects from Prozac, which I have been taking for approximately four years, particularly since I have been diagnosed recently with cardiomyalgia, severe artery disease, congestive heart failure and also Fibromyalgia. (I was a very “well” person prior to taking the Prozac and am now exhausted all the time, with horrible aching joints and considerable pain and a massive heart problem.) The adverse cardiovascular effects from Prozac, the one drug in this class of drugs out long enough to have somewhat of track record, are listed in the drug information sheet put out by the manufacturer. The “frequent” effects listed are hemorrhage and hypertension. The “infrequent” effects include very serious adverse effects: congestive heart failure, myocardial infarct, tachycardia, angina pectoris, arrhythmia, hypotension, migraine syncope and vascular headache.
* September, 1997: Redux and Phen-Fen were pulled from the market.
* October 20, 1997: Dr. Candace Pert, Research Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, past head of the brain chemistry department at the National Institute of Health, and author of the new book, MOLECULES OF EMOTION, sounded an alarm in TIME, October 20. She stated, “I am alarmed at the monster that Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon Snyder and I created when we discovered the simple binding assay for drug receptors 25 years ago. Prozac and other antidepressant serotonin-receptor-active compounds may also cause cardiovascular problems in some susceptible people after long-term use, which has become common practice despite the lack of safety studies.”
As we are being led to believe these drugs produce effects only in the brain, Dr. Pert accuses the medical profession of oversimplifying the action of these drugs and adds that “the public is being misinformed about the precision of these selective serotonin-uptake inhibitors.” It is critical that both physicians and patients be made aware of these adverse physical reactions. She points out that the medical profession not only oversimplifies the action of these drugs in the brain, but “ignores the body as if it exists merely to carry the head around!” And that, “these molecules of emotion regulate every aspect of our physiology.” The body plays a very significant role in how we feel and act the way we do. This fact can no longer be ignored. Serotonin and serotonin receptors exist throughout the body, as well as the brain, and every aspect of the body’s physiology is affected by these serotonergic medications. In fact approximately 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract. According to Dr. Michael Gershon of New York’s Columbia Presbyterian, this is the reason why Prozac produces so many gastrointestinal side effects.
* March, 1998: Two new studies published. One that shows Prozac so strongly inhibits one particular serotonin receptor that this produces both obesity and seizures and the other discusses the blockage of muscle and neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors indicating interactions between the serotonergic and cholinergic systems in the central nervous system.
* April, 1998: Our next generation of guinea pigs – one month before a 15 year old on Prozac, Kip Kinkel, in Springfield OR killed his parents and two classmates the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Psychiatrists asked the FDA to consider the serotonergic antidepressants for use in children as young as two and drugs for anxiety, aggression and manic depression in babies only one month old! The use of Prozac among young children ages 6 – 12 has increased an alarming 400% from 1995 (51.000 new prescriptions) to 1996 (203,000 new prescriptions).
* June, 1999: CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY NEWS reported that Dr. Malcolm Bowers a psychiatrist at Yale has found that physicians are not paying enough attention to patient factors that could make initiation of SSRIs dangerous. He found that “SSRI-induced psychosis has accounted for 8% of all general hospital psychiatric admissions over a recent 14-month period.” And “What is surprising is that this particular group of side effects is really underplayed.” (The 8% figure represents over 150,000 SSRI induced psychotic breaks per year!!!!!!!)

WARNING: Children so often get coughs and colds, yet using a cough or cold medication with dextromethorphan could cause the serotonin syndrome, a very serious and potentially fatal adverse reaction and/or produce PCP reactions.

Serotonin syndrome remains an often misdiagnosed or unrecognized fatal reaction due to the medical profession being so uninformed about this drug-induced disorder.

Developing brains are far more vulnerable than adult brains and brain damage generally becomes more apparent after the brain is fully developed, rather than immediately. Increases in cortisol produce brain damage while medical research shows that one single 30mg dose of Prozac DOUBLES the level of cortisol. This drastic increase in cortisol causes a multitude of serious physical reactions including impairment of linear growth, as well as impairing the development and regeneration of the liver, kidneys, muscles, etc. In light of so many unspeakable tragedies, I have grown weary of all the silly philosophical discussions we have heard since Kramer’s LISTENING TO PROZAC came out. Patients are dying or having their health destroyed mentally as well as physically (when do we begin to discuss the very serious physical side effects associated with high levels of serotonin?). These patients and their families are frantically searching for answers while this research sits right under our noses and could easily be made available to them. The widespread use of Prozac and its clones is not a statement of either their safety or their effectiveness. It is a statement about the effectiveness of an infinite marketing budget and incredible advertising campaign! These drugs have very serious physical side effects, as well as dangerous psychiatric side effects.

To prevent further tragedy this medical research must be acknowledged and addressed in headline news without delay rather than remain buried in seldom read medical research documents as has been the case in the past with other mind- altering medications, once thought to be safe, which were subsequently prohibited by law, i.e. LSD, PCP, cocaine, etc.

PRAISE FOR PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?

“I started having bad reactions . . . Oct ’96 I found Prozac to be causing joint and muscle pain itself . . . signs of Cushing’s Syndrome. . . I was very pro-Prozac until last October and wouldn’t have listened to anything said against it until I got problems (thought it was saving my life, while all the time it was insidiously and interested but quite skeptical. However, since reading it and having suffered so many problems with Prozac, I have come to the conclusion that the book is brilliant, and a life-line as far as I am concerned. I tried to fault the research and reasoning, but could not and still can’t. I would like to extend my thanks to you for your heroic stance on this enormously important issue. I have tremendous respect and admiration for your hard work, determination and courage in pursuing this subject so vigorously, against so much powerful opposition for the benefit of people like me. Your integrity puts many, if not most doctors and psychiatrists to shame. It is reassuring to find that there are a few people who are prepared to fight for the truth for the benefit of mankind.” Oct. 1998 note from a British nurse

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? is an incredible compilation of medical data that will lay the groundwork to educate other professionals and the general public about the new SSRI antidepressants – Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Effexor and Serzone.” (Jeff Wise, psychologist, Salt Lake County Drug and Alcohol Abuse )

“In 15 years of reading books on drugs I have never read a book with more information or so well documented as PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?” (Dr. Kevin Millet, Bountiful, UT)

“As I lecture to physicians nationwide on the medical use of psychoactive drugs PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? always accompanies me in my brief case.” (Dr. Bruce Woolley, neuropsychopharmacologist, Brigham Young University)

“I found PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? fascinating reading and the most complete analysis of the various factors pertaining to the Prozac controversy.” (Attorney Donald Sokol, Susanville, CA)

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? literally saved my life, and if I’d known about it a year earlier, could have saved me untold grief and agony as well. It is the only collated, comprehensive source I know of for this information , . . .. this book described everything that had happened to me in great detail, gave scientific reasons why it happened, backed it all up with solid research, included testimonials from hundreds of others in the same situation, it immaculately details, explains, and refers one to the latest research on a whole hornet’s nest of ‘atypical’ side-and/or after-effects from the use of these antidepressants. It also contains information on how to reduce the severity of problems encountered while starting on or going off these meds.” (Nick Jameson, Prozac patient)

“Magnificent! This text is a monument to Ann Tracy’s tenacity and love for her fellow human beings.” (Dr. Paul Kennedy, N.J.)

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? has not left one question about these drugs unanswered! Ann Tracy has covered them all.” (Margaret McCaffery, N.Y. who lost her daughter, a neurosurgeon, in a Prozac suicide)

“The work Ann Blake-Tracy is doing is very important and she is truly a heroine.” (Dr. Candace Pert, Washington, DC, one of the two developers of the serotonin binding process which made possible the development of the serotonergic drugs. Dr. Pert has boldly stated, speaking of these serotonergic medications, “I am alarmed at the monsters I created!”)

WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

The FDA also now warns that any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant can produce suicide, hostility or psychosis. And these reactions can either come on very rapidly or even be delayed for months depending upon the adverse effects upon sleep patterns when the withdrawal is rapid! You can find the CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: http://store.drugawareness.org/

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Redux caused my Pulmonary Hypertension

“I had never been diagnosed with any of these things before taking Redux.”

 

Hi, My name is Bev and I took Redux for approximately 9 weeks ending with the drug recall 9/12/97. While on the drug I had a lot of symptoms of flushing especially in the face, dizziness when laying down where the room would spin around. I was told this was just getting use to the drug. I was more agitated than usual, but I did not notice any other physical problems until a few month off the drug when I had heart fluttering and what felt like skipping beats. I started having one flu like symptom one after another for about 9 months and was told I had bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma during this period. I never related any of this to the drug. During this time I had 3 echoes done two by the drug manufacturer since I was on a clinical trial and it showed that my valves had 3 valves with trivial insufficiency. I thought I got off pretty lucky.

However, by the close of the summer of 1998, (one year later) I was getting short of breath and having problems just driving to the store a few blocks away and stepping down on my feet, my ankles would hurt. There was some swelling but I believe I was hoping it was from arthritis. I also had trouble with tingling in my hands and feet almost like little needles poking you. I would toss and turn and have a difficult time falling asleep and when I did I would sometimes jump up feeling like I could get any air. I remember when we lit a fire in the fire place that winter that I went into a real allergy attack from the smoke. I was diagnose with dyspnea (shortness of breath) in 9/99. I had a scan done to see if I had an embolism and there was none. Blood work was completed and they check for arthritis and many other types of conditions and the only thing that was abnormal was my blood gases which said my oxygen was at 67 very low. I was suffering from confusion and forgetfulness. I had stopped menstruating for almost a year and then had terrible bleeding for 8 days straight. That has not finished with me yet. I am 53 years old and I know it should stop I hope soon. I was encouraged by friends to get another echo done but to have a stress echo done this time. I went to UC San Diego and had my echo performed and at that time it was discovered that my mitral valve was now mild and my tricuspid valve was moderate and that it appeared to be normal left ventricular systolic function but the right heart was now mildly enlarged and the baseline echocardiography suggests mild pulmonary hypertension with stress. The doctor wanted to perform a right heart Catherization soon and I went back there again for that procedure and to perform a sleep study. It was determined at that time that I did have pulmonary hypertension, but secondary to sleep apnea.

Now the problem is what caused it. I had never been diagnosed with any of these things before taking Redux so why would they all start to show up now. Anyway, now I must were a mask to bed every night that lets in enough air so I can breath. I believe that this is all related to taking that drug. I wonder how many others out there have had similar experiences.

Bev

5/5/2000

This is Survivor Story number 22.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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