Ph.D. Plans Derailed on Zoloft

“Being “Zoloft free” has allowed me to see the negative side effects not easily seen while on the medication.”

 

I am a 28 years old and currently residing in Michigan. I most recently was studying as a graduate student in Cellular and Clinical Neurobiology Ph.D. program at Wayne State University located in Detroit, Michigan. However, I recently learned I would no longer be allowed to continue the program due to my poor performance in each of my enrolled classes during this, my first semester as a graduate student. Since learning, a month ago, about the termination of my appointment as a graduate student, I have reasons to believe my performance in the courses was influenced greatly by a medication I was taking. Two years prior to my entering the graduate program, I had a rather distressing situation in my life occur. So distressing was this particular situation, I found myself unable to sleep well at night, nor study for upcoming exams in the classes I was attending at my undergraduate institution (Brigham Young University). I chose to see a school physician. After hearing of my condition, he suggested I begin taking a medication called Zoloft (Sertraline) and didn’t hesitate to write me a prescription. I later learned this medication belonged to a family of medications called Serotonin Selective Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

Another factor, which I’m sure influenced my physician’s decision to prescribe Zoloft, was that I had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) about 10 years prior to this incident. My physician suggested I begin with a 50mgs/day dose and increase the dosage in 50mg increments weekly until reaching a maximum dosage of 200mgs/day. Admittedly, some of my OCD symptoms decreased, however, over the course of time, the side effects would soon greatly outweigh the benefits.

I began taking Zoloft during the last three weeks of my second to last semester at Brigham Young University (BYU). I needed only to finish two courses to graduate, which I took the following semester. During the weeks beginning Zoloft, my physician wanted to visit with me at least once a week to follow-up on the Zoloft’s affects. During these visits I was consistently told what a wonderful medication Zoloft was and how much of a decrease in my OCD symptoms and anxiety I would see after a few weeks. The before mentioned distressing situation, which involved a disheartening ending of a relationship with my girlfriend, would virtually disappear my physician told me. In fact, my physician went so far as to say my OCD was likely the cause of my breakup with my girlfriend and that once the Zoloft helped me gain control of my OCD, I would most likely decide trying our relationship again. Looking back now, nothing is further from the truth. I think because of this positive rhetoric about Zoloft’s acclaimed benefits, I naively began believing I was experiencing a reformed and changed self, freed from the bonds of OCD and able to finally be “normal”. However, after two years of being on the medication, getting C grades in my final two classes at BYU, and most recently, kicked out of my graduate program, I’ve learned the harsh reality that Zoloft has only served to make things worse than before.

I want to make clear that I’m not an irresponsible student nor am I lacking in intelligence. I graduated from BYU with a 3.4 GPA in Pre-Physical Therapy. Some of my classes included Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Medical Physiology, Anatomy, Genetics, and Calculus. The competition for good grades at BYU speaks for itself. The average GPA and ACT scores for the incoming freshman class last year were a 3.7 and 27 respectively. There are very intelligent students at BYU and the competition is fierce. My respectable graduating GPA of 3.4 clearly demonstrates my ability as a student. Remember, only two of my classes at BYU were taken while on Zoloft, both of which I received C grades.

Since my arrival here in Michigan, I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist. Interestingly, she is a member of the department (department of psychiatry) I belonged to as a graduate student. She specializes in mood and anxiety disorders. It is interesting to me that while I was struggling so hard to study, concentrate, and deal with other issues (what I know believe to be the side effects of the Zoloft), she didn’t once suggest I discontinue the Zoloft to see if my condition would improve. In other words, it’s very ironic that psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Wayne State University (considered a “prominent” research institution) couldn’t help one of the departments own graduate students who was dealing with a condition in which their department claims they specialize in for research. How remarkable that a research scientist in psychiatry, working at a prominent research university, specializing in mood and anxiety disorders did not think to ask the question, “maybe the Zoloft is the reason for this young man’s problems”. This is clear and conclusive evidence that medications such as Zoloft have not been thoroughly studied or tested.

Since discontinuing the Zoloft I’ve noticed some remarkable discoveries. I began tapering by 50-mg increments. I decreased my dosage to 150mg beginning November 2, 1999. I then tapered down to 100mg beginning November 5, 1999. I then went down 50mgs every nine days (November 5-14: 100mgs; November 14-23: 50mgs; November 24: 0mgs). During my first week of tapering (around November 4th or 5th), I had an experience were I was driving down the street I live on after school when I noticed a group of teenagers in the middle of the road. There was about five of them walking side-by-side spanning from one side of road to the other. For some unknown reason, I became extremely mad about this situation. I was mad these teenagers felt they could “hog” the whole street. During this fit of anger I stepped down on the accelerator and speed up. I remember I had a burst of rage, which I would say was uncontrollable, come over me. I thought the teenagers would hear my car accelerate and move out of the way, thus I would scare them good. However, I didn’t slow down in time enough and the teenagers didn’t move fast enough. My anger had impaired my rational judgement. I ended up clipping one of the teenagers with my right front bumper, knocking him to the ground and just about running over a second teenager. I ended up backing up my car and scolding the teenagers for walking in the road. However, during the rest of the drive home, I was dumbfounded about what I had just done. This kind of anger and uncontrollable rage was very unlike me. What was I thinking? I came inches from killing two teenagers. The experience really shook me up. After thinking about what had just occurred I could only attribute this rage and anger to my tapering of the Zoloft. I decided from that time forward, I would pay special attention to controlling my anger until I was completely off the medication.

It is now day 42 since completely discontinuing the Zoloft. Being “Zoloft free” has allowed me to see the negative side effects not easily seen while on the medication. While on the medication I saw a significant decrease in the quality and quantity of my sleep at night. I began to see large dark circles under my eyes. I was also quit lethargic during the day. I remember sitting in my graduate school classes and fighting very hard to stay awake. I remember looking around the lecture room and asking myself why the other students were not as exhausted as I was. Before beginning Zoloft I would exercise about 3-4 times/week. Since beginning the medication I struggled to exercise once or twice a week. I began to develop a rather severe chronic muscle pain in my neck and shoulders. This pain became so great I would avoid studying at times because of the position my neck and shoulders would have to be in for long periods of time. This neck and shoulder pain persisted even after two months of physical therapy. Not long after beginning Zoloft I noticed fungus infections underneath a couple of my fingernails.

However bad the physical side effects were, they couldn’t compare with the mental side effects of Zoloft. After beginning Zoloft, I noticed a significant decrease in my motivation to accomplish goals I had before set. I noticed a significant decrease in my ability and desire to concentrate. I also noticed a significant increase in my forgetting things such as appointments, where I put things, names, and other information people had told me. I noticed a very significant increase in addictive behaviors. I became addicted to the Internet, video games, sugary foods, sex, and highly stimulating activities. All of these behaviors were completely unlike me. So why didn’t I discontinue Zoloft much sooner than I did? Because over the course of several months my physician had coached me about the positive side effects of Zoloft. After listening to his counsel I believed I would never function at complete normalcy throughout life without the medication. Therefore, I attributed any bad effects to my own personality and not to the medication. That conclusion, looking back now, is far from the truth.

The side effects that interfered most with graduate school, were the increase of my addictive behaviors, decreased motivation, and my decreased ability to concentrate. These side effects combined to virtually eliminate my ability to take notes, study from the texts, or study for exams. As stated before, I attributed these side effects to being my own personality. I began to believe my personality had become flawed in some manner and that I needed to learn more self-control or self-discipline. Since being off the medication, I have learned I didn’t develop a inherently flawed personality (comparing how I was in graduate school to how I was during my undergraduate school years). I’ve learned the difference in my personality was due directly to the effect Zoloft was having on my mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this until just before being terminated as a graduate student.

Since discontinuing the medication, every one of the before mentioned negative side effects has been reversed. My sleep has improved significantly, both quantity and quality. The dark circles under my eyes have virtually disappeared. My neck and back pain have improved greatly. In fact, I often times forget I ever had neck and back pain. The fungus under my fingernails began clearing up immediately after my discontinuing the medication. My energy level during the day has greatly improved. I no longer feel lethargic. I am back to exercising about 3-4 times/week. I’ve seen, at least, a 40% improvement in my motivation to accomplish goals. My ability to concentrate has increased significantly. One of the biggest improvements has been my ability to remember appointments, where I put things, peoples names, and other extraneous information other people tell me. My addictive behaviors have decreased significantly. I no longer crave sweet foods, the thought of playing a video game makes me sick, I rarely spend time on the Internet. I still struggle with some sexual addictions I developed while being on Zoloft, but even those are far more controllable now. Unfortunately, I discovered this information too late to reverse the consequences Zoloft had on me and my ability to retain my graduate student appointment

I am writing this letter to express my frustration and disappointment about a FDA approved medication that has had such a profoundly negative effect on my life. Something needs to be done so others aren’t mistakenly given treatments, which result in negative consequences. Or even worse, treatments that have potentially devastating consequences because of a pharmaceutical company’s agenda to push a particular drug through the “research red-tape” to get it out to market and make a “buck”. During the difficult time I had with my girlfriend, had one of the health care specialists said, “maybe the problem is that the girl you are dating just isn’t the right girl for you” and encouraged me to stick it out, I wouldn’t have to withdraw from my graduate program. Then again, maybe not. Looking back now, it’s easy to see the girl I had been dating was not the right girl for me, I didn’t need medication to have a relationship, and in retrospect, I didn’t need medication to make a decision either, just someone to help me work things out. In fact, the medication only served to make my life, in a more global sense, worse.

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 74.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

409 total views, 1 views today

How Prozac Shattered My Life.

“I believe that any innocence that I held before these events occurred has now been dashed but I am never without hope.”

 

I have “hummed and hawed” for the last three days about writing to this address – people who have experienced a negative reaction to Prozac are perhaps understandably reticent about publicizing their experience, in the belief that what they will say will be treated with some skepticism, if not disbelief. These preparatory remarks are perhaps my response to the professional incredulity the medical fraternity, rightly or wrongly, give to their patients when anecdotal evidence is offered that contradicts their expected prognosis.

I had great faith in my doctor, in the treatment of what was a reactive depression brought about by work-related stress. I still have that faith, although it is not blind as it was before thanks to your pages on the WWW.

I am prompted to write because of “Patty’s” description of her husband’s course of treatment. The similarities to my own situation, after having spent some two years on Prozac, are remarkably similar. The devastation that has been wrought by my illness is now past, and I am now a sadder but wiser person. I have little to gain by writing other than to add to the growing list of patients who have had an adverse reaction to Prozac. But perhaps by writing others may persist and recognize that Prozac and the serotonergic syndrome are not figments of the patient’s imagination, but worthy of protracted study and explanation. I seek not to apportion blame, but to understand and be understood.

Without going into gross details, I had been taking Prozac with little positive effect for some 8 months from June 1994 until mid-way through 1995 before recognizing the possibility that there was something not quite right with my response to the medication. My agitation had gradually increased from the start of the prescription. It was a slow but steady rise in my tolerance of others, a deepening insomnia and above all the nightmares; nightmares that took me back to events that had happened when I had been a police officer nearly 15 years previously. I would jerk awake or my sleep would be interrupted by hyperreflexia. For some three months my average sleep was no more than one hour per night. The thought of sleep itself began to horrify me. The most obvious signs now as I look back were a feeling of electricity pumping through my body, the feeling that my limbs were charged and tingling.

I had been experiencing a tightness in the chest and was eventually taken into hospital, where blood tests showed that I had had a heart attack. Further tests eliminated this and it was put down to stress.

Sadly, I did not tell my doctor of these events, as I felt these were signs of my continuing decline into a deeper depression. My public life was no different, but my private life deteriorated rapidly as I struggled with the lack of sleep. I was prone to fits of crying and started to inexplicably want to harm myself. I banged my head against walls until I bled, tore shirts from my body, pleaded for help from my partner. My physical rage was barely controllable, but luckily for my partner, directed solely at myself. Verbal abuse at this stage became my only outlet. Anxiety became a single factor in all that I did. Whatever I thought I was about to accomplish in terms of work, I saw was imperfect. I became fearful of the most innocuous of social situations and work-related situations, although my work performance was unaffected. I hid this from all except my partner who tolerated everything believing that I would “come right”. My fear was simple – I was losing grip on reality and madness was not far away. A reluctance to communicate these events was eventually my undoing. The dosage of Prozac was increased as I related only those events that affected me physiologically.

Following some further work-related disagreements, I did not sleep for some seven or eight days. My internal rage became intolerable. I resigned from work and promptly collapsed mentally and was placed in a private hospital for sleep. Lithium was prescribed and the dosage of Prozac increased. I spent two days crying and did not sleep one bit, the nightmares returning almost the moment that I dropped of to sleep. My body sang with pain and I remember crawling into the corner of my private room crying. I saw myself spending Xmas on the streets, begging for food. I begged to be released from hospital and was. All I wanted was to go home, but my home life was now shattered irretrievably.

I felt cut off, entirely isolated from those that I loved and cared about and so three months later I left after another argument, more alone than alone. There was of course no change in my medication. Somehow I managed to obtain another job and hid my fear in work, but my private life and mental well-being was slipping beyond my grasp. Suicide was not an option that I had considered in all seriousness, but now it became a logical way out of the intense flailing that I gave to myself. I weighed up all the options and decided to take my life. It was the only way out; the only rational act that I could follow.

My fear of being found out – that I was mad – was such that I still did not report what was actually happening in my mind. Having decided on a course of action – my car with a pipe attached to the exhaust – I set about convincing myself that I could do it. Somewhere inside I could not muster the courage and broke down in tears. A call to a crisis center brought temporary relief. I still continued working, and those hours when I could deal sanely with people, were ones that held hope.

I took up sport again and played competitively, until I damaged my ribs and was prescribed a anti-inflammatory drug.

My sleep prior to this period was still plagued by nightmares and this incredible jerking of my limbs. Again, I put this down to the extreme personal stress that I was under. What other explanation could there have been? And the dosage of Prozac was evidence that I was not responding well enough.

Two days after I took the anti-inflammatories, I prepared for sleep. I felt a growing agitation and the electricity beginning to spark through my limbs. I began to tremble uncontrollably and I wanted to run and run this pain out of my system. I got to the stage where I considered jumping out of the window of the third floor flat in which I was staying. I have no recollection of anything from that night other than the fear that I felt. In desperation an ambulance was called. I struggled to keep my mind in place as the tremors increased. I kept saying, “I’m going to jump! No, I won’t. I won’t!” My heart raced, my mind raced and I saw everything that I wanted in life slipping away.

Taken to the emergency section of a major hospital, I was placed in a priority queue, strapped onto a gurney. The humiliation still rankles. I was not seen for another three hours, by which time the “panic attack” as it was described, had subsided. I told the doctor of my medication, and my suspicions that it was the combination of Prozac with the anti-inflammatories that might have been the problem. The response was luke warm, as I explained my medical history. I was told that a report would be forwarded to my doctor and I was released in the early hours of the morning, on my own recognizance”.

It was only at this stage that I began to question the use of Prozac. But who was I to correct the knowledge of the medical profession? My dose was increased. Again, because of certain delays in seeing my doctor, I gained confidence again, and submitted myself to the further dosage.

It is now some 18 months since these events, and following acupuncture treatment from my GP for the continuing “pain”, I began to seek another explanation for my continuing moroseness. Gradually (and wrongly!) I tried cold-turkey and eventually a change in psychiatrist last December, 1997. This brought a change in medication and with it a gradual return to normality.

At no stage (and this is current) has it ever been discussed that Prozac may have been a contributing cause to my continuing illness. Indeed, that it may have masked what appears to be a particularly traumatic set of events, has never been canvassed.

I now live with hope, an intuitive hope that I believe that Prozac may have been in some way a contributing cause to what on the face of it was a work-related stress problem, that had become far worse as a result. Of course, I have no empirical reason to believe that this unconfirming data is of any consequence to the scientific community.

Since being off Prozac there have been no bouts of anxiety (other than the more healthy kind), my sleeping has gradually increased to five hours per night, my nightmares have all but disappeared and above all there is a relative sense of a return to who I was.

Throughout this period of time, I have continued to work, hiding my private fears through enforced isolation from those that I care deeply about. There is a cost of course – an immense emotional cost. I am only troubled now by a search for truth, a truth for which, I may of course, never find an answer. Mental illness carried with it a stigma; a stigma about whether what we have become has any rational cause. Any self-knowledge that can be gained through the horrors of what I have gone through, from the absolute despair of confusion and loss of those that we care about the most, is tinged with intellectual and emotional frustration. It requires a faith and trust in those around us. I believe that any innocence that I held before these events occurred has now been dashed but I am never without hope.

I do not know whether these words will be of use, or my experience in anyway enlightening. I know that your work is important to a future generation, a future generation that may be educated to question more extensively than I myself have done.

Thank you for your time. May your work continue and prosper.

Two Years After Prozac: An Update

“It has been some time since this was written and you may be interested in a follow-up that reveals perhaps the more insidious side of the “idiosyncratic drug reactions” that are so often innocently missed.”

I am the “AG” who appears on the “Survivor’s Links” under the title “How Prozac Shattered My Life” on your web site.

It has been some time since this was written and you may be interested in a follow-up that reveals perhaps the more insidious side of the “idiosyncratic drug reactions” that are so often innocently missed. I have now been “off” Prozac for almost two years and, although almost back to normal, I was recently diagnosed with Left Ventricle Hypertrophy (an enlarged heart) and Hypertension in April 1999. I am currently on medication to reduce my blood pressure (which has been very successful) and lucky enough to be treated by a heart specialist who is specializing in serotonin and its relationship to high blood pressure.

I have no scientific reason to believe that there is any connection between my taking of Prozac and my heart problems, although my heart specialist (for whom I purchased and gave a copy of Ann Tracy’s book) is currently wading through the literature to see whether a link can be established. There is no family history of hypertension to the best of my knowledge, but I had left out an important medical fact from my original story.

I was briefly hospitalized for a “Heart attack” in 1995 some nine months or so after I had started taking Prozac (1994) (NB I believe that the date in my original story should read 1994 not 1995 – my fault I am afraid but the chronology is important.). Blood tests had shown that I had had a “heart attack”, but an angiogram confirmed that there had been no damage to my heart, and the tightness in my chest was put down to stress, and was dismissed as unimportant. I say “unimportant” simply because the threat (which it might have been) was dismissed, because there was no “damage” seen. My blood pressure at that stage was moderately high, but did not, at that stage require medication, as it was within the bounds of “high normal”.

In November 1998, I was referred to a sleep disorder clinic in order to sort out problems I had with sleeping, and following tests I was referred to a heart specialist as my blood pressure was high. In February 1999, I was diagnosed with Left Ventricle Hypertrophy and Hypertension following a cardiogram which identified the enlargement.

I am currently a very physically fit 46 year old and I am pleased to say well on the mend mentally. The mental scars remain and I write first to relate that recovery is slow, but it is recovery nonetheless. That four letter word “hope” is so important. Often it has been a real test of personal perseverance and a little courage. I do not believe that any of what I have achieved in the past eighteen months would have been possible without Ann Tracy’s indomitable attitude towards making us all aware of the lack of information about the long term effects of SSRIs. Again, I owe her much.

Once again my thanks to you for the life-saving work that you are doing.

Alastair Gumley

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 80.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

468 total views, 1 views today

Health Deteriorated on Meridia

“I am very angry and scared. I may not be out of the woods.”

 

Dear Ann Blake-Tracy,

I am a 62-year old mother of three grown sons. I have been exceptionally healthy all of my life. On 9/4/99, my birthday, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Jane, you would never have gotten those lines over your lip if you had never smoked.” I then started on my campaign to stop smoking and I did just that. When I grew up, all the movie stars smoked, it was glamorous, my parents smoked. But, I made a decision and this time I would make it. I DID!!! Only to have this devastating thing happen to me. I didn’t have any illness from smoking and decided I wasn’t going to.

But when I stopped smoking I gained 22 lbs. So, on my yearly visit to my gynecologist, I told him about the weight gain and he put me on Meridia. I had never heard of this drug, but had high hopes for results. I am a dancer and (vain about my looks) and this 22 lbs. seemed just too much. I breezed through the menopause and was a little heavier than my younger days but still an attractive, well proportioned, active lady. I was raised to think “Wellness”. My mother was a nurse and my Irish father thought eating right was the answer, and that young women should not be too thin. So, I think I had a very healthy outlook and just tried to reject illness. Besides having healthy genes, and youthful genes, I look at least 20 years younger than I am. I was so fortunate!!!

Shortly after starting Meridia, my right heal began to hurt, shooting pain near the Achilles tendon. I started walking on breaks at work, so I attributed it to that. My balance also seemed a little off. Also, there was a drastic change in my vision, but, being me, I told myself that I was finally going to need reading glasses.

Still thinking “Wellness” but trying to admit that I was getting older. I visited an eye doctor and he asked if I was a diabetic. I am not and have never been. So, he said to go get checked for diabetes, since he had never heard of going from a -150 to -275 so quickly, and if I was diabetic, maybe when I was on medication, my vision would return to normal.

All the diabetic tests were normal. My gynecologist ran the test. At that point, I mentioned to the doctor’s nurse that I was getting suspicious of the Meridia. And she snapped at me, “Then you must be one of the one’s that can’t take this drug.” I was furious, but kept my mouth shut. I have since confirmed to her my suspicions and asked that she tell the doctor and not to prescribe this drug to anyone else. Now, she has humbled a little.

Other symptoms: Broken bones in my feet. Confirmed stress fractures in right foot and I am being checked on the left foot this week. Dizzy spells, loosing my balance, staff infection right hand, from a slight stick to palm which did not even bleed. A rash on my nipples that is driving me crazy. After taking augmentin for the staff infection, and getting a big dose of something in my butt, an antibiotic, I got something else, the exterior areas of my vagina became bright, maroonish, red and burned. This has gone away.

There are some other symptoms but I have taken up enough of your time. I am really scared and this is why. As healthy as I am, with only the one doctor, the gynecologist, until this all occurred, I have been in touch with a legal firm out of Arizona and the young, legal asst., college student, pre-law, has told me that I may be experiencing decalcification of the bones. They have several people who have contacted them and have done a lot of research.

Well, that’s most of the story. I am very angry and scared. I may not be out of the woods. The law firm has not accepted my case yet although they represent a 29-year old girl, who is a vegetable, she admitted she took more Meridia than she should have. Her husband has to do everything for her and their young children. They are supposedly are suing for $25,000,000.

I also have done a lot of research but, have not been to a medical library and just simply don’t understand the serotonin connection. I am very intelligent and perceptive, and thanks to my intuition, I only took this KILLER drug for 2 months and was off of it for a week when I took the Augmentin. I had three 10 mg. pills left and took them but, as mentioned above, (not all three at once). I decided not to get the third refill. I guess I am one of the lucky ones.

I may never be able to dance again (could out dance any 25 year old). And, I may never regain my good vision. I am really worried about these stress fractures. I am calling to order your book tomorrow so that I can understand the serotonin connection to these side effects.

Thank you so much for taking time to read this long email. You must be a very nice lady to care so much. Doctor, the FDA was warned by their own experts not to release this Meridia and it got on the market anyway. Knoll waged a major PR and exhaustive marketing program to fool the American people again. I consider these people criminals and I plan to expose them if it’s the last thing I ever do.

You have my permission to use me as an example and to write about me. I will consult with you and you can contact me anytime. I don’t want this to happen to others.

My sincere thanks for your time.

Jane Flanagan

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 65.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 

350 total views, no views today

My Husband Just Lost His Life on Meridia.

“I don’t want anyone else going through the pain I have been through.”

 

I am trying to find all the information I can about Meridia. I want to share my story so that others may be able to avoid a similar situation through this knowledge.

My husband was given a prescription for this new diet pill in conjunction with a weight loss program. He had already been on the weight loss program for approximately 6 weeks and was losing weight at a fairly rapid rate. Eleven weeks after starting this medication, he died. He was buried one month after his 43rd birthday. The medical examiner listed “dilated cardiomyopathy” as the cause of death.

No one else was home when it happened; but from all the signs, he must have felt short of breath as he was found with his belt and pants undone. He fell over face first and his arms were down at his sides, so no attempt to break his fall was made. I was told that he probably was dead when he fell.

Approximately one to two hours before his death, friends had stopped by. They have commented on how upbeat and healthy he seemed to be. He was just finishing mowing the lawn and did not appear to be out of breath or physically stressed at that point.

I am having a gut instinct that something is wrong here. If he had a prior heart condition, he should not have been put on Meridia according to all the information I have read so far. And if there was a prior heart condition it should have been detected by the doctor managing the weight loss program (an EKG was done I am told).

I am very concerned that there may be a lot of “guinea pigs” testing out this diet pill and I don’t want anyone else going through the pain I have been through. I have heard that a couple of hospitals in our area have taken all patients off of it and that doctors are not to prescribe it, but I can’t get any hard facts.

Any help or information would be greatly appreciated. And I would very much like to hear from anyone with ANY bad experiences with Meridia. Thank you for caring.

Cheryl Steiner, Chelsea, Michigan
cheryl@provide.net

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 64.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

310 total views, no views today

Marge’s Story–Her Fateful Experience on Paxil and Effexor

“…this stuff has to come off the market.”

 

An Introduction by Ann Blake-Tracy

This is Marge’s story – a follow up story to the months and months of trauma brought on by three weeks of Paxil and a dose of Robitussin. (The combination produces Serotonin Syndrome.) For Marge this produced a movement disorder and caused her hands to swell to the point she could no longer work. She was subsequently given a diagnosis of Scleraderma. She never recovered from this toxic serotonin reaction – the first injury. After many months of suffering she was told she had to have a breast removed.

In this letter she takes the story from there to tell of the horrors of a second SSRI drug-induced injury that in the end cost her life this time.

Marge passed away several months after this letter was written leaving her husband and two daughters. She was a wonderful and incredible woman who had a brilliant sense of humor that shines through her story. Marge wanted her experience to be a lesson for others. Please heed her warning.

She would ask now as I continue to ask, “HOW MANY MORE HAVE TO DIE?”

Dr. Tracy

Dear Ann,

I hope that you are well. I am so grateful to you for all that you have done.

I would like to brief you on the past 3 months because I think that it is so important for you to know. Perhaps the only reason I was placed here on this earth was to screw up with antidepressant medications so as to add more fuel to your fire. I promise to be as brief as possible, though this is a good one.

As of this past spring, the psychiatrist I was working with prescribed Effexor and lorazipam. I just could not recover from the last medication reaction and my depression was the worst it had ever been. I had been working with this very compassionate psychiatrist for almost a year, and although we hadn’t found any medication that worked, none of them seemed to be making me ill. I tolerated Effexor at low doses (37mg) and seemed to be responding so he raised it to almost 200mg by July. I developed a cough. Strange! I had never had a morning cough before. But at 200mg of Effexor + Lorazipam, who cared? 🙂 The cough became severe rather quickly, along with substernum chest pain. The bottoms of my lungs felt heavy and full. I kept remarking to the psychiatrist that I couldn’t sneeze because I couldn’t take in enough air. He reminded me that I didn’t like medications, so this was probably my imagination. He encouraged me to go to my family physician if I wasn’t feeling well, but I knew that this would just result in a prescription for Robitussin and I wasn’t about to play that game again. I was too drugged to think straight anyway, so I just slept the entire summer away. Even sent my family to California without me so that I could sleep in peace.

By September I knew that I was in trouble. The cough was now terribly frightening to my family and constant. It was spasmodic, and came from my toes. I couldn’t sneeze at all and felt generally lousy. So, I started to take myself off of the medication, but slowly, because my psychiatrist was very much against this and I was as frightened of rebound depression as anything else.

September 29th I was scheduled for implant surgery. This, I was told, was a simple surgery. One night in the hospital and one week to recover. My chest was still not anywhere near right, though it had improved. I was now on only 37mg. of Effexor once again, and the situation was correcting itself, though slowly. I was walking regularly in an effort to clean out my lungs. By now, I had also personally investigated the side effects of this drug, which of course include frequent coughing, substernum chest pain and congestive heart failure. But, as the doctors have told me over and over again in the past 3 months, “They never see this.” – There are none so blind as those we call M.D.

So I went in for surgery, September 29th, and was not doing well after the operation. An hour after being sent home by a hospital that routinely dismissed me, I was raced back to our local hospital because I couldn’t breathe. Congestive heart failure. Into ICU I went where 15 pounds of excess fluid was pumped out of my body. (I am only 5’1″ tall). Everything began to return to normal, oxygen levels, etc., but the nasty cough continued and the pulmonologist saw some strange lines on my x-rays that bothered him. So he sent me for a CATSCAN. POW! The next day, my family physician calls the hospital to inform my husband that I had lung cancer in the lower lobes of both lungs, inoperable, and that I had a tumor in my spine. My husband tearfully delivered the news to me. My children arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter and we all cried the tears of impending doom.

After being stuck in ICU for a week, due to a weekend where no doctors were available and difficulties in scheduling my tests, I demanded to go home. A week of solitary confinement, sitting on this kind of news, fresh out of a surgery which was painful, was enough for me. We immediately scheduled an appointment with the recommended oncologist, who told me I had a 70/30 chance to live and he wanted an immediate biopsy of my spine. By now I had taken myself off of the drugs completely, but of course I was still in shock and just following instructions. Fine, a biopsy of my spine, just tell me when and I’ll be there.

With this, we left for a weekend in Boston so that my daughter could look at colleges. I was in a stupor and still fighting with a miserable cough and a sore breast implant.

Upon my return, I received two calls. One call was from the radiologist at the hospital. Apparently, this “tumor” in my spine was way too tiny for him to biopsy. I don’t even think that you can really say it is a tumor. Maybe a lesion. Who knows? I have since had a bone scan and there is no bone cancer. Major misdiagnosis. I also received a call from my original breast surgeon, who was enraged with all of this. He told me the breast cancer that I had does not do this and that whatever was in my lungs was most likely not cancer. He named several other things that it could be and for the first time, we learned that cancer cannot be diagnosed from a CATSCAN. You mean, I might not be dying?? What a novel idea.

With this, I went to my cosmetic surgeon for a checkup. To her great dismay, she discovered that the implant was trying to escape – a very unusual occurrence. I knew that I had been steadily coughing it out, but of course, nobody listens to me. Nevertheless, I was told to lie flat on my back until we could determine if the implant could be saved. All further oncologist appointments were postponed. For almost 2 months I lay here on my back, thinking that I was probably dying while coughing my brains out, in an effort to save an implant that wasn’t going to do me much good if, indeed, I had bilateral lung cancer. Ann, please stop me at any point and help me to make sense out of this. Are these guys entirely insane?

So, the weeks are going by and I am getting better and better. Even lying on my back, with the help of acupuncture and my naturopathic physician, the cough was clearing up. This, I strongly suspected, was not the pattern for lung cancer. Still, nobody would listen to me (except the naturopathic community), and nobody would acknowledge the written side effects of the drug I had been taking. The new oncologist that I was now seeing (how could the other oncologist have given me a 70/30 chance to live when he didn’t even know if I had cancer and if I did have cancer, what type of cancer did I have?) only wanted a lung biopsy. Apparently the CATSCAN was pretty ugly. This new and improved oncologist admitted that he had no idea what was in my lungs, but whatever was there, there was a lot of it and he wanted it biopsied. I begged to differ. The bottoms of both of my lungs had been under water all summer. Most likely there were stalactites and stalagmites growing in there. The point is that I was getting better, had just experienced a surgery gone wrong and a week in ICU. There was no way anybody was going to touch this body again! If my lungs were filled with that much cancer, I should be exhibiting some signs of illness, and other than a disappearing cough, I was fine. Nobody was listening to me and I was called a “naughty girl” for having an opinion.

So now it is almost Christmas. My breast continues to heal around the implant though at a painfully slow pace. We are waiting for fresh new skin that is strong enough to hold this water bag in place. I am still bandaged and haven’t had a shower since September. This whole experience has been so (pardon me) depressing, all because of an antidepressant drug that I shouldn’t have been on in the first place and should certainly not have been permitted to have surgery while taking. Can you say “drug interaction?” Jerks! I did submit to the bone scan, eventually, and all is well there. But my lungs continue to heal, I walk regularly, I am physically doing well and still they torment me with wanting a biopsy which I simply will not permit. It holds a risk of a collapsed lung – no big deal to them, but I think that I’ve had enough. I have only a small cough left, though I know that my lungs were injured by the Effexor and am waiting patiently for them to heal as best they can.

The effects of the original medication reaction are quite minimal at this point. I can take a walk, though I know that my muscles and ligaments are not normal and I have to watch not to overdo. They get sore. This is the first year, since the original reaction, that I can tolerate long sleeves. Up to this point, I couldn’t wear anything on my arms. They were extremely sensitive. My hands are permanently damaged, though fully functional. They are full of scar tissue from having been swollen for so long, and that renders them uncomfortable. My fingers have a bend to them and I can’t make a full fist. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong. At a glance, they almost look normal. But they will never feel normal again, and that is unfortunate.

At this point, I am hoping to return to work in January – just 8 hours per week, but it’s a start. I am on no medication and never will be again. My psychiatrist refuses to inform the Drug Company that all of this happened. Without a biopsy, he refuses to draw any conclusions and I guess he assumes that this was all just a major coincidence. What a disappointment I will be to all of them when I get well.

Ann, this stuff has to come off the market. Humanity is not any more ready for this than it is for atomic weapons. I have now been victimized twice, not because of the medication itself (which is bad enough), but because the doctors refuse to acknowledge the side effects of the drugs even when they are tap-dancing in front of their own eyes. Personally, I have no idea how I will ever return to the care of any allopathic physician. For now, they appear to be the enemy.

Please keep me in your prayers and I will do the same for you.

Marge

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 62.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

337 total views, no views today

A Nurse’s Story: On Paxil, I Lost Interest in Everything.

“Never again, Paxil. Never again.”

 

My story may be of some interest. I am a very active person (golf, tennis, bike rider, walk long distances, roller blade and roller skate). However, starting around Feb. of this year everything changed. I lost interest in everything. I explained to my primary doctor that I have to push my self to do everything even get out of bed (usually and early riser). I had been on medication for diabetes (newly diagnosed), 3-hypertension meds daily, estrogen replacement, eye drops for glaucoma (recently diagnosed) and suddenly I could not function.

I was placed on PAXIL 20-mg daily. Was out of work for 10 weeks, It was recommended that go in to therapy, which I did, my primary doctor along with my therapist stated it was work related, however I was not totally convinced. After listening to them for seven weeks I decided to take things into my own hands, (forgot to mention I am a nurse making nearly $ 60,000 yearly). I decided to stop ALL medication.

Of course, I consulted with my doctor, who never told me the side effects of all these medications as a nurse, when your the patient your the PATIENT, I suffered for three weeks with severe headaches, DIZZINESS, and stomach discomfort, but it was all worth it. I feel wonderful, watching my diet, exciting and enjoying it back to getting up early, back to work enjoying it.

My main point is important to check side effects of medication, so many cause depression and are not compatible, believe the doctor don’t know and the pharmaceutical companies were of little or no help. My plan is start holistic meds along with proper diet, monitor blood sugars, and exercise. NEVER AGAIN PAXIL, NEVER AGAIN, I GOT MY SELF BACK AND I FEEL BRAND NEW THANKS FOR LISTENING

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 58.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

491 total views, 1 views today

A Living Hell Coming Off Paxil

“There needs to be so much more information available to a patient.”

 

I want to let you know that I have been in a living hell since I started to get off of Paxil two weeks ago. I have had emotional symptoms of rage, uncontrollable crying, frustration, and edginess. I also have flu like symptoms of achiness, sweating, migraines, low-grade fever, hot and cold, nausea, and exhaustion. I finally had to go to the medical doctor today to get professional help to titrate off of this horrifying drug properly. I want to do anything that I can to help others understand what they are getting into when they opt to take this type of medication. I think that there could have been a better route to take now that I have come this far with this. Maybe they should have tried diet, exercise, and therapy. I would love to do anything in my power to get some type of law stating that this type of information be made known to a patient before he or she starts taking any off the SSRI’s. I was told here take this and you will feel better. There needs to be so much more information available to a patient. You do have permission to publish this on the Internet or contact me via e-mail.

April Fountain
Apriltorm@yahoo.com

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 57.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

507 total views, no views today

Prozac, Effexor, Klonopin, Serzone, Zyprexa, Neurontin, and now Celexa-and Hospitalized Seven Times.

“I sometimes am so sorry I started him on this medication journey,”

 

I have had thoughts that maybe my son’s suicide attempts were related to the Prozac and other medications that he had been taking, and now after reading correspondence from others regarding the same behaviors, I am more convinced that there was a relationship between the taking of the drug and his actions.

My son who is now 26 years old has had problems with depression probably since he was l3. He got through high school but did very poorly, and became very depressed when he graduated because he felt he had no future. At that time, I took him to see a psychiatrist who put him on Prozac, but it did not seem to help him that much. I think she tried him on Zoloft also which did not seem to help him either.

He obtained a job at a shoe store working for a very nice family who liked him and who he enjoyed working for. He stopped the drugs and seeing the psychiatrist who said my son was an enigma. He worked at the store for 5 years, but one day abruptly quit. He then worked as a security guard for approximately a year and quit that job also. He decided to go to dog grooming school, and I’ll never forget his face the day he came home from school so proud and happy that he found something to do that he liked.

He did very well at the school, but started to have panic attacks. I took him to a psychiatrist again and she put him on Prozac and Xanax. He seemed to come alive, extremely talkative, and he finally met a girl and fell deeply in love. He then seemed to have problems with his mood lowering and becoming more depressed and anxious, so the psychiatrist increased the Prozac. I noticed at this time that his behavior was worrisome. Well the girl broke up with him and he tried to kill himself.

In the hospital they changed his meds to Effexor and Klonopin, he got out of the hospital and thought the girl might come back, but when he realized two weeks later that she wasn’t, He left in the middle of the night again, and eventually checked himself into the hospital after overdosing. He was sent to another facility after this and they put him back on Prozac. He attempted suicide again by overdosing. Altogether, he was hospitalized approximately 7 different times, with four of those being for suicide attempts. The last one being a year ago. Since then he has been on Serzone, Zyprexa, Neurontin, and within the last few months Celexa was added to this. He does seem to be somewhat better, but very flat, little conversation, rarely smiling. I sometimes am so sorry I started him on this medication journey.

I wonder if he would have been better off trying to cope with his low-grade depression, and maybe just taking an anti-anxiety medication for the panic attacks. I wonder.

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 54.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

392 total views, no views today

07/19/1999 – My antidepressant made me do it! – Hartman estate says

The following article makes its first appearance today (7/19/99) on
salon.com:

My antidepressant made me do it!
The Hartman estate says Zoloft was to blame for a murder-suicide.
By Rob Waters

(http://www.salon.com/health/feature/1999/07/19/zoloft/index.html)

My antidepressant made me do it!

The Hartman estate says Zoloft was
to blame for a murder-suicide.

– – – – – – – – – – – –
By Rob Waters

July 19, 1999 | It was May 1998, and comedian Phil Hartman and his wife, Brynn, were planning a party. Their son, Sean, was soon turning 10 and they wanted to make it special with a bash at Planet Hollywood. Brynn was inviting her son’s friends, including some of his classmates from his school in Encino.

In mid-May she called Kathryn Alice, the mother of one of Sean’s friends, to get her address. Sean and Calvin, Kathryn’s son, played together and had visited each other’s homes. Through their sons, the moms had gotten to know each other, too. They chatted on the phone, and Brynn confided that things were tough. “She said she was barely hanging on by a thread,” Alice recalls. “I told her things will get better, but she said ‘I don’t know.'”

The invitation soon arrived in the mail, but the birthday party never happened. On May 28, at about 2:30 a.m., Brynn Hartman returned home from a night out with a female friend. As Sean and his sister, Birgen, slept in their rooms, Brynn entered the master bedroom and shot her sleeping husband three times. Four hours later, with police in the house and friends listening outside, Brynn lay down on the bed next to Phil’s body and pulled the trigger once more, killing herself.

How could this happen? Why did a woman who was, by all accounts, a devoted and protective mother, deprive her children of their parents? In the days after the killings, the tabloids and mainstream press ruminated over the problems in the couple’s often stormy relationship, speculating that Phil was preparing to leave her, or that she had relapsed into an old cocaine addiction. People magazine reported that she had recently started drinking again after 10 years of near-sobriety and had checked into an Arizona rehab clinic earlier in the year. Indeed, toxicology reports cited in press accounts indicate that at the time she died, Brynn Hartman had both cocaine and alcohol in her system.

But the couple’s family and their lawyers have another answer: Zoloft made her do it.

In late May 1999, one year after the deaths, attorneys for the Hartmans’ estate and children filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that makes Zoloft, a new-generation antidepressant similar to Prozac. The suit contends that Brynn Hartman’s violent outburst was caused by a rare but previously documented side effect of the medication that left her agitated, jittery and “out of touch with reality.” It is one of more than 170 wrongful death lawsuits filed against the makers of these new antidepressants since Prozac first hit the market 12 years ago.

The Hartman suit also charges that Arthur Sorosky, the psychiatrist that supplied Brynn Hartman with Zoloft, was not really her doctor and never conducted an evaluation. Sorosky, the complaint alleges, was actually her son Sean’s doctor and gave Brynn medication samples — the kind doled out to physicians by drug company salesmen — “without the benefit of a history and physical examination [or] diagnosis.”

Sorosky’s attorney, Joel Douglas, told Salon Health that his client and Brynn Hartman had “a doctor-patient relationship” and that Sorosky had prescribed the Zoloft in a proper and appropriate way. “From what I understand,” he added, “with cocaine and alcohol in her system, you don’t need to look for Zoloft to understand what happened.”

Original report on murder/suicide: http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/TV/9805/28/hartman/

799 total views, no views today