A Professional Dancer’s Ordeal With SSRI’s

“…a “nightmare” of experimentation, grave anxiety, lots of depression and suicidal thoughts, which were to pervade my life for the next 12 plus years.”

 

Dear Ann Blake-Tracy,

Fortunately, for me, someone recently referred me to your tape, “Help, I can’t get off my Anti-Depressants.” I would like to tell you my story.

Back in 1989, after years suffering from depression and anxiety, I was prescribed, for the first time, an antidepressant. I had been a dancer, previously, with American Ballet Theatre, in New York, and the National Ballet of Canada. Although I was no longer dancing, I had always been very aware of my body, and did not realize how sensitive my body chemistry was. I have suffered from depression since I was about 12 years old. I immersed myself into the dance world, and became a professional dancer.

At this time, which was already several years after stopping dancing, I was prescribed Prozac, which I took for six months (I do not recall the dosage). I was living in Tempe, Arizona, at the time, and became “wired like a bunny, going 90 miles an hour, sleeping about four hours a night.” I began commuting back and forth to Los Angeles, where I fell into the movie business, doing set decoration. I was happy and high. After six months, I went off the medication.

About six months later, someone broke into my truck, in LA. I, for lack of any other description, “freaked out,” beyond the normal reaction. I panicked, felt violated, and really overreacted. I decided to try to take the Prozac again, and began what was to become a “nightmare” of experimentation, grave anxiety, lots of depression and suicidal thoughts, which were to pervade my life for the next 12 plus years.

I guess my body chemistry being so sensitive, when I tried to take the Prozac again, I reacted badly, becoming even more anxious and agitated. The doctors would increase my dose, and it would get worse. Over the next 10 or so years, I went on and off different medications, different doses, always on the low side. I was given Paxil (made me severely agitated and very drowsy), Wellbutrin, Depakote, Serzone, Zoloft, and I even tried St. John’s Wort, Kava, and nothing. My cycles of depression were severe at times. And whenever I got to the point where I was finally off the medication I was taking, as I tried to get off so many times, I would have a major depressive episode, and it would take from six to nine months to get back to normal. It was even more difficult getting back on the drugs and becoming stable, after I had weaned off. I must say, I always did this against my doctor’s advice; she did not want me off my medications, I wanted off.

For a few years I did well on a low dose of Zoloft. Then I tried to wean off, and had a serious re-occurrence of the depression, waking up extremely anxious every day, not wanting to live. It was almost harder getting back on the drugs after I had weaned off. It took about nine months to recover and feel “normal” again.

In 1999, I ended up at a treatment center for depression and anxiety. By this point I was taking only Luvox, as I had a lot of obsessive thinking (not OCD, though). I don’t know what happened, but I went through a period that was bad, and the doctor’s upped my dosage from 25 mg to 75 mg a day, and I really freaked out and ended up going to this treatment center. When I dropped the dosage back to 25, the anxiety was greatly reduced. The doctor would always tell me to take a Xanax when it got that bad…I would rarely do that, and if I did, I would take 1/2 of the .25 mg pill, just one time, and that would jump start me back to normal, after a day of feeling totally out of it, for the next six months or nine months, when I might end up taking another 1/2 a Xanax again.

Anyway, today I have stabilized on 12.5 mg. of Luvox, EVERY OTHER DAY!! I have been trying to wean off for years, unsuccessfully. I practice kundalini yoga, with Gurmukh, at Golden Bridge Yoga in Los Angeles and am taking the teacher’s training program. This form of yoga works on the nervous system. A lot of time I shake in class, because I know my nervous system is still so out of whack. I try to each healthy, I don’t eat red meat, and not much chicken or fish, either. I am attracted to sugar, and always have been. I have a very lean, muscular, athletic body, and obviously a VERY sensitive body chemistry. The kundalini yoga has been amazing, BUT, I still haven’t been able to get past the 12.5 mg every other day dosage.

WHAT CAN I DO???????? If I pull out just one pill, meaning, if I skip one day, hoping to proceed further in the weaning process, I find myself dip right into the depression. I can also become very angry and agitated.

Earlier this year, not knowing the severity of quick withdrawal, I went from 12.5 mg Luvox every day to every other day for one week. I felt like I was in bliss, like someone lifted the cloud off my head. The second week I cut back to 12.5 mg every third day. On day 10 I suffered a severe crash, and it took me 6 weeks to get back to normal. I had to resume my dosage to 12.5 every day, and eventually got it back to 12.5 mg every other day. But every day, for six weeks, I woke up agitated, and crying and not wanting to live.

I am 43 years old. I am tired of being on medications, even if it is only a small dosage. I have taken something or other since the end of 1989, on and off. I want so much to be drug-free. I am also single, and tired of being alone. No one wants to deal with this kind of mood disorder, although I was married, and my husband was supportive, most relationships cannot endure “my problem.”

Despite my depressions, I have always been a functioning depressive. I will cry and be alone and in pain in the quiet of my own home, or often when I am on the streets driving, and I will go to work and complete my job. I work on the TV show “Malcolm in the Middle.” I shop for the set decorations, so I am often out by myself. I have time to be in pain and depression and not show anyone, then put on a smile when I get around the set. But it’s not good enough for me anymore.

I want to get past this dosage of 12.5 every other day, and get to NOTHING!! I practice the kundalini yoga 2-3 times a week. I’ve tried some herbs at various times to support my weaning, but I honestly haven’t been consistent with any one program. I get 32 acupuncture visits a year, free as part of my insurance, and I have utilized them for emotional balancing. I always come of there “spaced out,” much like how I feel after a yoga class.

I don’t know how long I’ve been on Luvox, probably almost four years now, if not more. Like I said, I don’t even know if it’s doing anything for me, but I have managed to get down to the 12.5 every other day, and I want so much to be off completely. Last week, I actually managed to cut the 25 mg tablet that I cut in half to make 12.5, in half again, to make it 6.25 (approx) mg, and I took that one day. I may have imagined this, but I suffered a relapse after that, too.

I follow a spiritual path. I’ve read all the self-help books. My whole life has been devoted to wanting to heal. It’s time for this to end now.

Please, can you tell me how I can finally kick that last little bit of the medication?? I don’t even know if even the 12.5 mg every other day is doing much for me, because I still have my cycles of mood swings.

Can I hope to be off of them completely? Where should I go from here??

I hope you will write back to me.

Thank you so much for your time.

 

12/29/2002

This is Survivor Story number 2.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

439 total views, no views today

Homicidal and Suicidal on Zoloft and Paxil

“1 week on the Paxil and I was nuts!”

 

Recently experiencing a mind-altering homicidal/suicidal Zoloft induced event in my own life, I wondered if any studies have been done to determine how many of these men had been taking an SSRI.

My personal experience, thank God, did not end in a completed homicide or suicide. If it not for your website and links I know I would not be here to testify to the dangers of SSRI’s.

I am currently withdrawing from Zoloft for the 4th time in 10 years. It saddens me even to admit this. Why I again took the drug that had led me to suicidal ideation when withdrawing from it in the past is beyond me.

I want to share with you my recent frightening experience.

I successfully withdrew from 8 years of taking Zoloft last year. By April, 2002 I was medication free. I also stopped receiving depo-provera injections. In Aug. I experienced depression (I now think was PMS) and was very adverse to any treatment with an SSRI. My depression lingered and my Dr. insisted I go back on an SSRI ”because I was just one of those people that will always need an SSRI to live a normal life”. She suggested that since I had effectively gone off Zoloft that Paxil would be a better alternative. 1 week on the Paxil and I was nuts! 2 weeks on the Paxil and I developed severe heart palpitations, increased anxiety and a total inability to concentrate. I titrated myself to shavings of Paxil and went back to the Dr. She was unhappy that I had decreased the Paxil dosage, and thought I should have increased it to “get past that”. We agreed Zoloft had worked before, and I immediately quit the Paxil and started back on a 50 mgm Zoloft dose with a psychiatric consult in 2 weeks. My Dr. felt that “my psychiatric problems were beyond her scope” and suggested my meds be evaluated by a shrink.

After taking the Zoloft 50 mgm for 1 week, I developed a homicidal and suicidal obsession. I was functioning in a somewhat normal fashion, but could not avoid thinking about suicide almost 24 hours a day. I felt it was the only answer to my problems. On the day of my psych consult, I was in despair over the anxiety attacks I was experiencing at night, waking me out of my sleep. I also was in despair over the invasion of suicidal thoughts and feeling the need to kill my child (to protect her) that were overwhelming me. I told this to the intake nurse during my initial psych interview.

She escorted me to the psychiatrist, who gave me some diagnostic fill in the blank tests. He increased the Zoloft to 100mgm a day, gave me a 2 week sample of Wellbutrin to start bid and gave me a sample bottle of Zyprexa to take prn -”for when you are really losing it”. I scheduled a follow up appt. for 2 weeks and left. I went home, picked up my daughter and took her to her gymnastics class. While waiting for her, I read the inserts in the drug sample boxes. Oh, My God! This information scared me out of my wits! I determined that the shrink really thought I was nuts without telling me! I immediately went to the bathroom and flushed the samples away. I thought, if I get any more suicidal, I’ll be over-dosing on my samples in a flash. While watching my daughter work so hard at her gymnastics, I decided I could not bare any more thoughts of killing her or myself. I needed to get home, get to your site and start researching what was wrong with me!

After her class, when we arrived home, the police were in my drive-way. I was fearing some tragedy had happened to my sons or husband. When my daughter and I entered our home, I found I was the tragedy!! The police had been waiting for me for 1/2 hour. They had been dispatched to my home, by the intake nurse at the clinic. She had called the police and told them I was going to kill my daughter and myself. The police had spent the time before I got home questioning my family, searching our home, and removing my husband’s gun collection from the house. All this was done with my husband’s permission as he and my boys were totally unaware of my problems. The police interviewed me for a 1/2 hour and 2 more police came to our home. After another 1/2 hour they decided I was o.k. and left. I had a lot of explaining to do to my family. They were as alarmed as I . For lack of insight and desperation I started taking 100mgm of Zoloft that evening.

About a week later after developing extreme heart palpitations and increased anxiety (which my m.d. gave me Xanax for). I went to your website and found a link re: Zoloft side effects; I found that suicidal and homicidal ideation within the first few weeks of use was a known side effect.

It would have been very beneficial if the psychiatrist and other professionals I came in contact with would have known this. As soon as I read this I went to another link for more help and decided to taper off the Zoloft. The anxiety, depression, and especially the heart palpitations have subsided.

I had an echocardiogram and holter monitor which showed I was fine. I haven’t got all the Zoloft out of my system yet, but am hopeful that I will use ANY alternative to SSRI medication should/when the depression returns.

After careful evaluation of my situation, and having had successful use of Zoloft for many years, I had come to the conclusion that I needed more Zoloft because I was SO depressed about the suicidal ideation. I spoke directly to a phone counselor from another link. He was very helpful in explaining that THE SAME MEDICATION (ESPECIALLY SSRI’S) CAN CAUSE NEW SIDE EFFECTS WHEN THEY ARE TAKEN AGAIN AFTER BEING DISCONTINUED. It was a logical explanation to what had gone wrong!

If it weren’t for your website and links I doubt I would be able to write this. Thank-you Dr. Tracy for saving my life.

Thank you, again.

Laura Kandl

 

11/26/2002

This is Survivor Story number 7.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

404 total views, no views today

Teenager Loses Creative Passion on Zoloft and Paxil

“Paxil almost made me go insane after just a few days.”

 

I’ve been looking for a site like this for a long time now-ever since I decided (thank God) to get off my antidepressant medication.

Ok, so I am a 17-year old male, right… When I first got to high school, my parents divorced so things were kind of a mess and for the first time in my life I had made “enemies.”

Well, that’s when I first started seeing a psychiatrist. We would talk and underlying everything that was discussed to make me “better” was a deep, conviction that I was so terribly shy and this needed to be cured.

So I tried Zoloft and Paxil, but went off them immediately after not even a week. I will say that the Paxil almost made me go insane after just a few days. Yes, it was against the doctor’s word to go off them. Thank God I did though. Then a while passed and this time I thought I truly needed help.

I had gotten into a fight at school and received threats from a lot of people. I was completely paranoid and my mom (and I gave in) put me in the mental hospital (for kids). Oh my God, this is where I had like my calling or whatever the hell I was thinking (hoping they could cure me so I would fit in and be my “old” self again).

I don’t even remember if all this is right because my memory is really screwed up now. But, so I went on Celexa this time and unfortunately, for good…I was sixteen at the time. I talking a lot more in class, my anxiety was gone, I got really into the stuff they were feeding me at school, and my reputation for a nice, respectable young man went down the tube. I guess it was my own doing. But I started wanting to be different from everybody else, but I was Zen-like, using the Bible (it’s cover) as an inspiration.

I think I had too much ADD to read the bible at the time-it was just a matter of calming my emotions. Ok, so mix these calming drugs with listening to the band Radiohead. Not cool at all. I lost my two best friends. I got full of myself because I had gotten accepted to an art school. But the summer between leaving my old school I started believing I was getting really close to my family. My Dad at least because he was (and still is) taking the same medication I was. But I would say anything that came to mind. I thought I was “better”…

Then art school started and I went from being a boring person with a vivid imagination that could be translated to paper (drawing) to a zombie who could only draw from observation. My concentration was really good but I had spurts of anger with anticipated culmination of disaster. I was a totally different person. I wasn’t self-conscious at all anymore, had no friends either. Then I saw something in the other people at that school that reminded me of the old-me (the one I didn’t like for some reason) that made me want to change.

“A beautiful mind”, “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”- these movies made me realized I’d lost my artistic passion or whatever the hell I had before. A reason for living…

Well, yeah so then I went cold-turkey off the medication and slowly but surely went insane. It was not cool at all. I re-visited the past that I had tried to escape on medication. I thought I had lost the “holy spirit” though and this made me think about committing suicide. It was horrible. Before I would say such things to get attention but now I really felt it.

The bottom line is, do not believe that you have a depression that needs “correcting”. My God, that’s what I believed but then I realized it is just the devil doing his work. I have no life now really. I had lots of talent and potential and I think its all gone now because I thought I had a problem but really didn’t. Now when I hear these antidepressants being touted to save people or whatever, I have other thoughts. It’s hard for me to realize that I am my old self again. I had to piece back together my memory. It is better to be this way than a zombie on drugs though.

RtskooL@aol.com

 

5/4/2002

This is Survivor Story number 26.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

412 total views, no views today

Insane Thoughts on Prozac

“It turned me into a junkie, waking up with shocks, nightmares, anxiety, panic…”

 

I am a 36-year old female, who has her own business and was prescribed Prozac by a psychiatrist for an anxiety disorder and obsessive traits. I was not told of the side effects, and was instructed to just take a quarter.

Within a year I was up to taking 3 & 1/2 as I found that if you do not take more and more, the side effects were worse than what I started with.

It turned me into a junkie, waking up with shocks, nightmares, anxiety, panic, and grabbing for the Prozac after eating immediately every morning.

I was an absolute wreck, having criminally insane thoughts and dreams, shaking, nausea, paranoia, anxiety and panic, I felt that it put me at a cross roads.

Do not take more and more, this is horrendous. Take less and taper off.

Its been two months and I’m still reclusive and suffering the described effects, but I have found that a chiropractor/ kinesiology/homeopath /craniologist has greatly assisted with natural alternatives and healing the symptoms.

I was diagnosed with too much adrenalin, as well my spine needed fixing as the nerves connected were also “not right.”

I was prescribed medicines that are slowly working with no side effects. I hope this helps.

K Jamieson
kary.jamieson@optusnet.com.au

 

4/1/2002

This is Survivor Story number 32.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

353 total views, no views today

I Thought I was Going Totally Mad

“My doc took me off 50mgs of Seroxat / Paxil cold turkey.”

 

Hi

I spent 7 days thinking that I was going totally mad in July of this year after My doc took me off 50mgs of Seroxat / Paxil cold turkey

I genuinely believed that it was the “real me” coming out underneath & for a week really thought I was going out of my mind – then I did a search & found your site & realized I was not alone – your group literally saved my life

It took 6 weeks of brain shocks / zaps & countless other forms of GSB torture & side effects from the drug before I was better

I decided to set up my own group in late summer to try & give something back, so hopefully no one would ever go through the withdrawal hell I went through

Since then I believe we have created a really sound bunch of people (over 12,000 postings)

Quite often I have relayed stories & postings from your group & we (our group) have helped save many lives (I do not make that claim not lightly)

I ask that you can invite your members to visit our group & would welcome our entire membersship to visit yours

Yours Sincerely
Rory Stokes (Group Founder)depression-anxiety

Our link is:- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/depression-anxiety/

Rory Stokes
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/depression-anxiety

 

1/26/2002

This is Survivor Story number 46.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

383 total views, no views today

A Nurse's Nightmare on Xanax and Paxil

“In just 3 days I began going crazy.”

 

I’m a 31 year old female (and a registered nurse) I have 2 young children, recently I went through a lot of loss in my life. My mother in law battling her second brain tumor, and I cared for my grand father in his home until his death. During this time I became very anxious and started having some neurological symptoms of twitching and fatigue. My physician suggested I get to see a neurologist to rule out MS. That was the day I had my first panic attack (seems mild to me now.)

I then realized I could not see a neurologist for over 2 months. The anxiety intensified, my MD prescribed Xanax and Paxil. The first day I only required a 1/2 of a .25mg of Xanax. but by day 3 on Paxil I was taking 2 whole tabs of Xanax with no relief. In just 3 days I began going crazy. I had my husband take me to the hospital. I was not sleeping, eating, I was very dizzy. I had tingling, burning, numbness all over my body, headaches, and strange tremors and electrical sensations. Many of these symptoms mimic the symptoms of MS.

I went through the whole battery of tests, all negative. It was not until day 7 of Paxil that I realized that the majority of my symptoms were directly related to the Paxil. I weaned myself over 3 days, (only on it for 7 days before) It has only been 8 days now, I am feeling about 50% better. Every morning I wake up and go for my morning walk (3 miles) It takes so much out of me, but I know it is important. When I come home I have to prepare myself for the long day of taking care of my children. I am trying to stay busy and surround myself with a lot of very supportive people. At this point my three biggest complaints are dizziness, extreme fatigue, and inability to sleep. I just wanted to know if my story sounds familiar, (I had no mental health history before 3 weeks ago!) I just have to keep thinking that I will be better someday. Thanks for your support. My love and prayers to all of you suffering.

Jenny
nikdelicious@hotmail.com

8/6/2001

This is Survivor Story number 27.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

530 total views, no views today

Murder-Suicide on Zyban

“But after going on Zyban something went terribly wrong.”

 

We have a close friend who went on Zyban nearly 2 years ago to quit smoking. He was the nicest guy you could ever know. He was unselfish – often taking in homeless people into his own home and helping them out until they were on their feet again. If a neighbor needed help – he was the first one to lend a hand.

He was also a single dad who was raising his 8-yr. old son on his own. He also had a 3-yr. old daughter by a following relationship that failed. The little girl lived with her mom.

But after going on Zyban something went terribly wrong. He felt so much anxiety about his little girl, because her mommy was a drug addict. The next thing we knew, he was all over the news on TV and in the papers.

He had taken his 2 kids camping out of town and attempted a murder suicide, which resulted in suffocating the girl and slitting the boys throat and slitting his own wrists. The boy lived but the girl died. He suddenly came to himself and realized what he had done and quickly drove to the nearest town to a hospital to try and save his son. All he was wearing when he arrived at the hospital was his undershorts.

He underwent psychiatric assessment before the trial and they said he was totally sane. Yet they failed to admit that the Zyban had anything to do with it. Now he is serving 15 years in Jail for the death of his little girl and the trauma that his son had to face.

I feel so awful – I don’t think he should be in jail. And the worst of it is – the jail will not even allow him any psychological counseling to help him deal with this tragedy.

And he is still smoking!

Heartbroken in Canada

 

7/23/2001

This is Survivor Story number 14.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

353 total views, no views today

Paxil Nearly Killed Me.

“Nothing is as awful as life was on Paxil.”

 

In September 1997 I was feeling down. Since each day seemed to be worse from the previous, I called the local mental health agency asking for help. Within 3 weeks, I was given an appointment, and prescribed Paxil for depression (which I questioned because a friend of mine who was a neurosurgeon had been taking Paxil and killed himself 3 months earlier) and lorazepam for anxiety.

A few weeks passed and I was not feeling any better. I had quit going to do things outside my house and I knew there was something wrong. I told my therapist who said to wait a while because sometimes it takes a month or so for the Paxil to work. So, I waited for 2 more weeks, by this time I could not get out of bed at all. I did not shower or eat either. I called the doctor and then went to see him. I told him there was something very wrong. I wanted to die. I wondered if I needed more medication (I felt so rotten, I thought if I felt this bad on the medication, I thought I would be worse without it) He wrote a script for Trazadone. I took it and did not wake up for 23 hours. I called the clinic, there was no one there who could help and I was asked to call back the next day. The next day was Wednesday, I called again, no one called me back. Thursday I had an appointment with my therapist. I told her I was doing awful and had thrown the Trazadone away. I explained if one pill could knock me out for 23 hours, I did not need 30 of them in the house the way I was feeling. I told her something was very wrong and she said to talk to the doctor. He was unreachable. Friday I called again after no return phone calls. I got the nurses voice mail. I left a message. About 5:30 pm she called me back and I told her there was something very wrong with me. She said everyone was gone and she would have the doctor call me on Monday. I told her again there was something wrong with my meds and I needed help.

At about 7:00 pm I took 60 Lorazepam (although I had no idea what I was doing and have no memory of wanting to die) and cuddled down into my bed and went to sleep. (I don’t remember the next four days. The following is the pieces as told to me) At 11pm I called my sister in law and told her I took a bunch of pills She took me to the hospital where no one believed how much Lorazepam I had taken until they took a blood level. It was too late to pump my stomach so I had to drink Charcoal. The hospital released me about 2 hours later and said to continue my Paxil until Monday when the Doctor could talk to me.

I am told I stayed in bed all day Saturday and mostly slept. I tried to get up a few times but fell (and had huge bruises all over my body for the next 3 weeks). About 9pm I cut my wrist open and took another bottle of pills. And then sat down at the computer to write a suicide letter. 18 hours later I was found still typing on the computer by my mother.

I remember telling her what I had done and that there was something very wrong with me. She called my regular doctor to make an appointment. The next day, Monday, my mother got me up and helped me bathe. I got on the scale and saw I had lost 30lbs in the past 7 weeks while I was on Paxil. I was so weak I was unable to walk alone.

My mother took me to my regular MD. She said I had a Paxil induced psychosis and to quit taking it right away. She gave me Zoloft in case I crashed from going cold turkey. I never took any Zoloft. I was too afraid. These behaviors were not me. They were not things I would have done no matter how depressed I was.

It has been 8 months since all of this happened. I am not on any meds or feel like I need them. However, I have some shocking sensations but not as bad as the 2 months right after quitting the Paxil. My memory is terrible. I can’t remember what I did yesterday, or words when I start a sentence. I can’t juggle tasks. My problem solving ability is gone. And I am uncomfortable in large groups of people. It feels like everything is closing in.

I am psychologically fine. The only good things that came from this is that I know I am strong enough to fight anything. And depression is something I can handle on my own. Nothing is as awful as life was on Paxil.

Tammy
Liptonlips@aol.com

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 67.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

428 total views, no views today