My experience with Effexor: March 2002

“I’m glad I got out of the merry-go-round and revolving door of more prescriptions before I was addicted. “

 

There was stress in my life. After an assault at a local bank machine where 2 men overpowered me, my medical employment insurance was exhausted, and I felt very stressed financially. After sharing my circumstances with my doctor, he advised Effexor to help with what he considered to be trauma, lack of employment, constant spinal pain from the assault, and financial related depression.

I am a very sensitive person, who had not taken as much as an aspirin in over 20 years. I gave them up because I could feel the effects for days/weeks later. I have experience in bodywork, and the healing arts.

Instinctively, I resisted for two days, and then reconsidered on the third day. My MD said Effexor was new technology; better than Paxil or Prozac. I just did not want to face the crushing circumstances I found myself in, and started taking them as prescribed. The first night was good. I felt lulled to sleep. And I only needed 4 hours. Wow! Great to gain so much time, after I had been oversleeping with depression.

Night two. Dreams. Unlike anything I have ever had. Clear inspiration to consider doing cocaine, heroin, whatever. This middle-aged lady has never done anything – too straight laced. In my mind there was an almost convincing suggestion that it was a ‘Great Idea!’ (I could almost taste it and smell it – as enticing as a yummy warm gooey cinnamon bun) – and I should seriously consider drugs. One part of my mind had it’s established values, and the other part was adapting a new attitude which seemed convincing and powerful suggestions without consequence – I seemed to have a carefree ‘What The Hell’ kind of attitude about it. Then there was the amazing ‘electrical jerk’ in the middle of the night that woke me up with a powerful involuntary reaction beyond any chiropractic adjustment – not like the one often experiences when just going to sleep, but a large, strong thrust from one side of the body to the other diagonally. Weird… I felt awake the following day, and seemed to start to consider tackling issues that I just did not want to face. I did not accomplish anything, but financial stuff was not a big – read stressful–issue to think about – some more of the ‘What The Hell’ attitude – ‘Bitching.’ I do not use that type of lingo in my daily spoken or silent inner talk routines. This was a totally new perspective.

Night three. Dreams. Vivid. Sexual. Wanting penises – yes, plural, any one, any where, any circumstances, with an ATTITUDE – suggestion that this is what my body wanted, and ‘Lets go get some good stuff mame’ attitude. Even lesbian encounters were embodied in the suggestions of this night of dreams. The following day, I began to consider the unusual clarity and subject matter of my nighttime visions. Usually I do not remember dreams, or have them between the first wake up and when I fall back to sleep for the last 30 minutes before rising.

Night four. Dreams again. Complete breakdown on values including suicide, killing, arson, irreverence for fundamental principal human values. My druggie perspective had no regard for my teen daughter being on her own, or other family members left behind. More sexual deviation messages with interest in S & M behaviours, desire for revenge, disregard for family or consequences of behaviour regardless of societal values. I liked the feeling of POWER, and kinda wanted to keep it secret, and just ‘Do My Thing’ and ‘Show Them A Thing or Two!!! ‘.

I booked an appointment with my doctor for the next day. I really wanted to take my pill that night. But I knew too many strange visions were occurring to take any more of this weird brain-distorting cornucopia of chemicals. I know the difference between weird, past life recall lessons, and influences and powers of suggestion by other energies. I suspect if I had used these for 5 or 6 nights, I would not have had the objectivity to discontinue them. Something in me wanted to continue to take them for I did not have to be restricted to standards of conventional behaviours and responsibilities. I was developing a great “F–K IT, or F–K THEM’ voice in my head, and found myself responding in that phraseology during the day to everything I did not want to deal with. I experienced no positive suggestions in my experiences with four nights on Effexor.

My doctor said that my experiences were most unusual, and that he had never heard of such a response, (–-Suspect he now thinks I am not only depressed but potentially crazy). I handed back the almost full bottle, 50-30 mg tablets, and said I would try to work things out myself. He suggested that it would be very difficult without assistance with a Serotonin uptake which I was probably short of thus creating the depression. Given middle age, hormones etc., I probably could not produce enough of it. I was to monitor the situation, have a friend provide feedback, and he would also monitor my emotions with visits every two weeks for objective updates to preclude/prevent drowning in desperation.

Yes, the days have been difficult. It has been 5 weeks, and I hit a trough. In fact, I’ve lost the past five days to excessive sleep. However, when reading what others have experienced, I relate completely, and will not go back on SSRI’s. I have found going out into the sun, even when I don’t want to, and sitting outside at a sidewalk cafe over a drink and scheduling a calendar, journaling, whatever, helps uplift the depression. The sun helps more when I face it rather than putting it to the back of my head chakra, which gives me a headache.

From my experience, I would caution others to consider how quickly a reprogramming of values, and other influences can take place in the brain when using SSRI’s or at least EFFEXOR. Yes, I would like to close my eyes, and have things get better, however, I will try to do it with exercise, better food – greens, veggies n stuff, and perhaps even a cleansing regime to get rid of the anger stored in my liver, kidneys, and gall bladder. This experience with SSRI’s left me feeling like there was subtle programming in these products to keep us hooked or building up large medical bills. Great if one can afford it. I can’t. I’m glad I got out of the merry-go-round and revolving door of more prescriptions before I was addicted.

I question this last round of 5 days of ‘laying on the bed in a zombie like state in front of the TV, and falling asleep morning, noon, and night. I never did this extreme behaviour before when I was depressed –- maybe a couple of extra hours of sleep, but not 14 hours a day –-. I suspect I still have Effexor stuff in my system, and will start to take a cleanser of heavy metals to try to remove it more quickly. It’s better today, The only change I made was I spent over 2 hours facing the sun which resulted in feeling like I could handle writing and turning on the computer. A link from a chat line led me to this page, and I knew I had an important story to share for anyone considering EFFEXOR and maybe even other SSRI’s. My suggestion is use extreme awareness and caution. It was not good for me.

Christine in Canada

 

4/29/2002

This is Survivor Story number 27.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

I’m Taking Myself off this Garbage

“Why are Dr.’s so quick to want to give you some kind of antidepressant?”

 

I have just finished reading the story you wrote about your son, Matthew. (“He Never Said Goodbye”–posted here.) My heart was so saddened. I am 42 years old and have in the past year and a half started experiencing problems of feeling really bad. I have gone to my OBGYN Dr. several times trying to find out what the problem is. She was quick to put me on a medication called Prozac. I cried when she said the word.

I am a person that has never been on medication and this was all foreign to me. I took it for 2 months and then took myself off. I thought…. I do not need this! So, a year later I went back to her for my yearly pap and checkup. I was and had been feeling REALLY bad for a long time at that point. She then put me on Wellbutrin. I have been on it for about 7 weeks. It only makes me feel worse.

So I went back to her last week and now she wants to try me on Effexor. I have been on the net looking for answers and that is where I found your story. I have been trying to talk myself off the Wellbutrin for the past week. It is giving me a really bad headache. I have cut down my pills from 2 a day to 1 a day. I am not taking the Effexor. All I have read has been horror stories about that medication. Why are Dr.’s so quick to want to give you some kind of antidepressant. She had done no blood work on me. Just said…. here, take this. At my last appointment with her she told me that is this last medicine did not work (Effexor), then I needed to see a 2002counselor. What is the deal!!! Is the world going crazy???? I need answers. My life is Really Good. I have a wonderful husband, and 4 wonderful children. We are a Christian family. My life is good. I am confused at this point.

I have another appointment with a General Dr. next week. Hopefully he can do something for me besides pushing anti depressants. Thank you so much for your story. After reading this, I know I am making the right decision of taking myself off this garbage and finding out what’s really wrong with me. Thank you so much!!!!

In God’s Love

Barbara

 

4/11/2002

This is Survivor Story number 29.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

The Tunnel of Horrors-An Account of My Effexor Withdrawal

“This is a diary I kept of my Effexor withdrawl over a year ago. I finally feel ready to share it with people. The experience was agony, agony, wholesale agony.”

 

This is a diary I kept of my Effexor withdrawal over a year ago. I finally feel ready to share it with people. The experience was agony, agony, and wholesale agony. While I was on the drug, I felt so sleepy all the time I was almost non-functioning, was constipated, and had wildly violent hypnologic jerks as I was falling asleep. It was the fatigue that made me begin cutting back, and when the savage withdrawal symptoms appeared, I knew the drug was evil and I had to get off of it immediately. I never fully recovered from the effects of the drug and am still struggling with its implications, which I describe at the end.

Wednesday, 12/13/00 Evening

I had decided to try cutting back on my dose to see if I could restore any of my energy while not compromising the therapeutic effect of the Effexor. I was only taking 75 mg. a day anyway; I wasn’t even sure what effect, if any, such a small dose was having, besides helping me sleep. It was making me sleep too much; all I ever wanted to do was sleep; that was my problem. My energy level was so low I couldn’t even get out and exercise any more, and I was gaining weight. Every day I had to take a long nap, often as long as three hours. I had become a caffeine addict in an attempt to counteract the sedative effect of the drug, yet still slept excessively. So this night I cut my pill in half and took a 37.5 mg. dose.

Thursday, 12/14//00

I began to have withdrawal effects, even though I had only cut back on, not stopped, my dose. I felt somewhat nauseated and experienced the electric shocks in my head. This seemed really ominous, a sign that this substance was really poisonous. There was clearly something WRONG with this medication, and I decided to go off it cold turkey.

Friday, 12/15/00

The withdrawal horror began this day. I was repulsively nauseated, had increasingly frequent and violent electric shocks in the head, felt bouts of dizziness, felt overall sick, in pain, and drained. I slept a lot. I also became alarmingly bloated. My breasts became enormous and incredibly tender. They felt like they were going to explode. Also my anus was, inexplicably, incredibly sore. What was there that didn’t hurt? Jim wanted me to stay with him as long as the withdrawal lasted so that he could “keep an eye on” me. He felt it was unsafe for me to be alone because this withdrawal was turning out to be so volatile. The one positive sign was that I immediately began to have normal bowel movements. The Effexor had always given me mild constipation and strange, hard, ball-like stools that were hard to pass.

Saturday, 12/17/00

The withdrawal symptoms became even more violent today. I had dry heaves, especially in the morning. The electric shocks were truly horrible, sometimes causing me to lose my balance momentarily and/or my vision to blur. The smell of Jim’s body and clothing was repulsive to me. I couldn’t concentrate sufficiently to read. So assaulting was this withdrawal it completely drained me. I slept a lot and when I was awake wished I was asleep because the pain was so horrible. I also decided to give up coffee today because as long as I was suffering this much I might as well rid myself of all addictions at once, rather than save some pain for later on. This was all so horrible Jim suggested I go back on the Effexor and try this again another time, but I replied that there was no way I was going to go through this again. It had to be now, no matter how awful. At Mass Jim situated me near the hallway so that if I needed to run to the bathroom with dry heaves I could. I did.

Sunday, 12/17/00

More of the same. Brutal withdrawal. A headache was added. I was totally incapacitated. It just went on.

Monday, 12/18/00

Jim and I went to the grocery store and I was so dizzy I nearly fell over several times. I had to go out to the car and wait for him.

Tuesday, 12/19/00

I woke up this day with a screeching, splitting horror headache. I took a lot of Ibuprofen and hoped for the best. It didn’t help much. Despite Jim’s protests, I went back to Pittsburg. The drive was very difficult. I almost fell asleep behind the wheel a few times, I was so exhausted. The withdrawal just continued. In the evening I felt it begin to let up just a little bit. Just a little, little bit. I got on the Internet, typed in “Effexor withdrawal” and discovered all the web sites, learned about what I was going through. It was helpful to know that others had experienced what I was going through and found it thoroughly UNACCEPTABLE! The medical establishment was wrong to allow this substance to be prescribed! I also discovered that my determination to “white knuckle” it, rather than go back on and try to eliminate it gradually was pretty brave.

Wednesday, 12/20/00

I woke up this day with even more piercing of a screeching, splitting, horror headache. Took lots of Ibuprofen, which didn’t help much. Yet, I began to feel a little better still. Not so many electric shocks. Not such profound nausea. There were waves of badness, but also periods of betterness. The bad dreams set in at this point, as some of the Internet community mentioned happened to them. In the evening the symptoms worsened again, like the way a cold worsens at night. I had some trouble sleeping at one point in the night.

Thursday, 12/21/00

Today, for the first time, I began to feel substantially better. The Light at the end of the tunnel of horrors came into view. The piercing headache was gone. Instead I felt that sort of congested, tight feeling in the head that feeling like your nerves and blood vessels are all congested and squeezed. The bloating and breast tenderness remained, as did the fatigue, but I didn’t need a nap today. There were still occasional electric shocks in the head, but they were infrequent and not so severe. Occasional, very mild waves of nausea, but nothing that bad. I still felt sick, but so much better than before. I was happy that there would eventually be an end to all this. It was only the next day, though, that I realized that had, on this day, entered into stage three of the withdrawal drama: the demented rage phase. I got an e-mail from my brother, then responded with one of my own which, I only realized later, was an insane rant. It was a tornado of inexplicable wrath. Later that evening, I called Jim, whom I was not mad at (yet) to rant at him about how furious I was with my siblings. I wouldn’t have even known that this was a withdrawal symptom had I not read about it first on the Internet. I would have thought it was a sign that my mental illness was returning!

Friday, 12/22/00

Today I actually realized that I was in the demented rage phase. The night before I even dreamed that I was enraged; Steve was the last person I spoke to before going to sleep and I dreamed that I was walking beside him as he made his way to Church and was screaming at him and hitting him. Jim called a few minutes after I woke up and everything he said made me so irritated and confused I just felt like exploding at him. I decided to cancel our plan that I come out and stay with him the weekend. I had to remove myself from the population until this phase had passed. The physical symptoms were letting up; the electric shocks, though still occurring, were infrequent and relatively mild. I felt tired and fragile, a bit headachy, but the only real nausea I felt was for a few moments now and then throughout the day. I even rode my bicycle to Mass, the first exercise I’ve gotten since the ordeal began. A lot of my energy to do this came from my wild, flailing rage. I took a two-hour nap. In the evening I felt some lightheadedness. I went on a food binge that lasted all afternoon, evening and night until half past midnight. I got a call from Jim about 10 p.m. and ended up getting into a quarrel with him, hollering at him and then crying uncontrollably. Had several large bowel movements throughout the day.

Saturday, 12/23/00

I didn’t sleep at all the previous night, nor did I feel tired at all this day. If anything, I was wired, to the point of being shaky sometimes. The electric shocks in the head continued, actually more frequently today than the day before, and more often my vision went slanted for a second as they happened. My intestines were tied up in crampy knots. To clean myself out, I began the Master Cleanser Fast (lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup in hot water; laxative herb tea; etc.). Like the day before, I had enormous bowel movements once every four or five hours. It’s like seventeen years worth of stuff backed up in there suddenly started coming out. In the evening I realized that attempting to fast on Christmas was a dorky idea, and decided to begin it the day after Christmas instead. The good thing is that in all this mania, I had a major creative breakthrough. That moment I always wait so long for, when all the disparate elements swimming through my mind that have no hub to pull them all together in an artful, purposeful way suddenly find it, and they coalesce, and it all makes sense, happened all at once in the early hours of the morning. The flash of enlightenment this time?

It’s a play!

I’ve been trying to see it cinematically (brainwashed on a lifetime of movies and TV), that’s why it couldn’t find itself. It’s a play, and with that understanding, it all makes sense. Scenes, people, dialogue are appearing where dark, blank spots were just yesterday

Sunday, 2/24/00

The night before this day, I slept twelve hours straight through. The electric shocks increased again, but they weren’t so strong as to really bother me. Some short bouts of nausea. I felt groggy and a little headachy all day.

Monday, 2/25/00, Christmas Day

Because of staying up for midnight Mass in Oakland with Jim, then not getting back to Colma until 2:30 a.m. and intending to go to 7:00 a.m. Mass back out in Pittsburg, which is about an hour drive, I just stayed awake the entire night again. There were a few, mild electric shocks, and I was a bit weak, but otherwise I felt remarkably well. Even Meghan remarked on how well I seemed. However, my feet were so swollen I could scarcely fit them into my dressy pumps, which normally fit very comfortably. Wearing them was agony and walking in them was a joke, but I grit my teeth and endured it. Jim’s bodily smell and breath smell I still found utterly offensive. It’s very hard to be near him at all. In the evening the electric shocks became more frequent but they weren’t particularly a discomfort. More of an interior audible experience.

Tuesday, 2/26/00

I felt even better today, almost back to normal. Better than normal actually, because I’m not weighed down by the fatigue the Effexor used to create, nor did I have to take a nap today. I slept well, overslept actually, and fully made up for the missed sleep of the night before. It used to be that I couldn’t sleep at all without a sedative or the Effexor. Today I started the Master Cleansing Fast, and other than a few bouts of mild nausea associated with an empty stomach (another withdrawal symptom, increased nausea when my stomach became empty), it went fine. I wasn’t even hungry (perhaps an effect of the maple syrup in the lemon-water drink). I was still immensely bloated, though; no change there. My breasts were still the size of dirigibles and shockingly tender.

Wednesday, 12/27 and Thursday, 12/28

My breasts were still so enormous and tender they felt like they were going to explode. Jim remarked that when he put his arm around me, I felt harder but not in a muscular way, rather like the bloat was filling me up, straining against me. Other than that I felt great. I had more energy than I’d had in ages and slept BETTER than when I was on the Effexor! I didn’t need to take a nap either of these two days. Halleluiah.

Friday, 12/29 through Monday, 1/1/ 01

Still tremendously bloated with a few mild electric shocks in the evenings. On Friday I became too famished and went off the fast. Began my period on Sunday. I generally felt pretty good, slept very well indeed, but became a bit impatient and crabby on Monday and a little depressed Monday evening.

Friday, 1/4/01

By this day the bloat was gone, flushed out along with the normal drop of water weight I get when my period finishes. At this point I was experiencing maybe one electric shock some time in each evening.

Tuesday, 1/8/01

Almost completely better. Still maybe one electric shock in the evening some time.

Saturday, 1/20/01

Checking in here after almost two weeks, I have no electric shocks and none of the other symptoms, except that though I’m exercising almost every day now – jogging or hour-long walks – and not eating more, my weight is climbing. Going off the drug seems to have confused my metabolism in some way. It’s like when I went off smoking many years ago and gained weight despite increasing my exercise. That weight came off by itself back then after about four months; I’m hoping that will be the case here.

Post Script 2/16/02

My weight has not returned to normal since I went off of the Effexor. It seems to have permanently deranged my metabolism and I have struggled incredibly to stop my weight from climbing. I’ve dieted and exercised, sometimes to the extreme, to little avail. Sometimes while falling asleep I hear/feel a strange “zapping” sound in my head. Sometimes I feel a burning sensation inside my cranium (a symptom too weird to be attributable to anything except the Effexor damage; my doctor had never even heard of it). It seems that Effexor either permanently damages your physiology, or else it accumulates in your cells and stays there, continuing to poison you.

Post-Script to “Tunnel of Horror” – 6/19/02

For the record, I am still experiencing lingering physiological problems from having taken the drug, with no apparent lessening. I wanted to add this post-script because there’s one thing I didn’t mention earlier because I was too ashamed. After taking the Effexor I developed, inexplicably, without precipitation, an eating disorder, specifically bingeing.

I’m mentioning it now because maybe other people are experiencing this too and haven’t related it to the drug, and/or are too ashamed to talk about it. I never had anything like this previously, and when a binge comes on it feels like a neurological short-circuiting in my brain and body. I lose all sense of reason, my mind functioning becomes tunnel-visioned, I lose a sense of reality and control.

This sounds suspiciously Effexoresque. Chronologically, the cause and effect relationship is pretty vivid. I’ve tried everything to cure it: counseling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, O.A., the Geneen Roth method, every blood-sugar balancing, protein-boosting, sugar-addict-busting, blah blah diet out there, and prayed to every saint (including St. Maximilian, the patron saint of the eating disordered!) all to no avail. It causes me anguish I can hardly describe. It doesn’t seem to be psychologically-based at all.

Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon since being put on, or going off, the drug? I’d really appreciate hearing from anyone who has. Thanks.

Barbara Powell
bpowellca@earthlink.net

 

2/16/2002

This is Survivor Story number 41.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

A 17-Year Old’s Story on Prozac, Paxil, Effexor and Wellbutrin

“I saw electricity around everything–it looked like electricity was going around the air and around my room”

 

Hi. I’m 17 years old… Over the years, since I was about 14, I’ve been on (and quit) Prozac, Lithium (which I didn’t even need), Paxil (which I tried to kill myself for the first time–on about the 2nd day I was prescribed it), Effexor, and Wellbutrin… This story is about Wellbutrin, and how awful my experience with it was.

I was 16, and about April last year I decided (well, mainly my boyfriend of the time decided) I should go on the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which was the worst decision possible. I had depression problems before, but not NEARLY as bad as what I experienced on the shot. I had never had anxiety problems or scary as hell anxiety/panic attacks before, until the shot. After going through the worst torture all summer ever imaginable (the shot’s evil effects, bastard boyfriend’s cheating and breakup without even letting me KNOW! until I went back to SCHOOL, and + parent’s divorce), I decided to go on Wellbutrin. At first, I felt a lot better. I didn’t care about my boyfriend’s disappearance and decided to make my own life over without him. I was a lot happier, despite the worsening of my anxiety attacks (which I thought was strange, since my doctor said the Wellbutrin would help STOP my anxiety…..) . I was just glad to not be depressed anymore, so I never second-guessed the Wellbutrin. Obviously, smoking cigarettes hindered the effect of it after a while, so I needed a higher dose…eventually 400 mg a day. 400!!! That’s ALOT……..

I tried to quit smoking one day. It seemed like the medicine started working better, but within a few days I had an extremely schizo moment (which I had some schizo-effects from Wellbutrin before, but tried to ignore- like feeling like everyone was staring at every little movement I did–even my BREATHING, feeling spaced out as hell, breathing problems, farther from reality each day) . That night, I started feeling really great. After I while, I started wondering why I felt soooo euphoric– my music sounded sharper than ever and I was extremely energetic. Soon, I started TRIPPING OUT–it turned into something like a heavy bad-acid trip. I started getting an awful headache and felt like I was about to have seizures (which, I might add, I had once from Wellbutrin). I felt completely flipped out, like I lost my mind. I started going schizo–I was scared to death. I saw electricity around everything–it looked like electricity was going around the air and around my room. I was up all night. I was actually scared of the dark because I was so messed up–I had to turn my music back on because of the horrifying sound of BUGS crawling everywhere. So, after that freak out, I lowered my dose MYSELF, since I knew it would be worthless to talk to my doctor about it. I then had a seizure about a month later, so needless to say, I quit the Wellbutrin. Hopefully, nobody else will have to ever go through an experience like this.

3/12/2002

This is Survivor Story number 40.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

Effexor gave me the urge to take my life.

“Anybody who says Effexor is not dangerous is lying”

 

I am 36 years old with 2 children. Last year was a traumatic year, splitting up with my children’s father, losing a baby, working 46 hours per week and starting another relationship with mentally cruel man. In September my doctor put me on Effexor 75mg for depression, which started me on a downward spiral with hideous side effects.

Anybody who says Effexor is not dangerous is lying. After 2 months on the drug, I stuck a hose to my exhaust pipe of my car, took 2 sleeping tablets so I would not wake up and get out, and went to sleep. EIGHT hours later I awoke, and drove home dejected and angry. All of this was on 300mg of Effexor. I plummeted even further, slashing my wrists over 100 times, and never once did I miss a dose.

I was sleeping approx 4 hours per night, put on 10 kilos with no real change in my diet and the brain zaps were very real. I decided to wean myself off the tablets against my doctors advise, and had the worst week of my life. Fast-forward to now 6 weeks later, and I truly believe Effexor gave me the urge to take my life. I feel fantastic, in control and nearly normal. I no longer plot my death or have the urge to cut. The only thing I can thank Effexor for is sorting out my true friends in this world. My suicide attempts were very serious ones, not telling anybody beforehand and by all accounts I should be dead. If it were not for unleaded petrol, I would be. The difference is, it would not be from suicide, it would have been from Effexor.

 

2/9/2002

This is Survivor Story number 43.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

My Boyfriend Committed Murder Thanks to Effexor

“(His doctor) cut him off his medication ‘cold turkey’ and put him directly on Buspar.”

 

Hi. I’m very distraught. I desperately need some help. My boyfriend, who had been on 225 mg of Effexor for over a year, started having severe headaches. By the way, I need to mention that this doctor never even did bloodwork on him before putting him on anti-depressants. Steve has always been such a kind caring person. But, my soon to be ex-husband had been stalking us constantly and threatening our lives. Well, after Steve complained of these major headaches to his doctor, the doctor told him to come in for an appointment (which he did). Once there, the doctor never evaluated him. He cut him off his medication “cold turkey” and put him directly on Buspar (which takes weeks to take effect). I never knew that there was such a thing as withdrawals until I started looking for anything I can find to help Steve. You see, one week and one day after being cut off his medication like that, Steve “blacked out” and drove to my soon to be ex husbands house, and shot both my ex and my ex’s mother to death. He doesn’t even remember going there. NOW, he’s in jail, looking at two counts of first-degree murder. From all I’ve found lately, withdrawals from this terrible drug can and does trigger this in people. Plus Steve thought he had the flu. He was very sick for a week after the medication was taken from him. So, he started taking Ny-quill and Tylenol cold and flu. I just found out today that this is a HUGE no with an SSRI in your system. No one told him about ANY of this. I’m so hurt right now. I don’t want Steve to spend the rest of his life in prison (or worse) for something he had no control over. He is only 33, and we were (and still are) engaged. His doctor never warned him of these withdrawals. We didn’t even know they existed. I also found out that my ex was on massive dosages of Paxil, plus two other antianxiety and antidepressants. No wonder he acted so crazy! All that stress plus all the reactions of these medicines HAD to be what made Steve “snap”. I just hope I can help him prove it to the jury and get him acquitted. Now that he has that poison completely out of his system, he is back to being the Steve I know. Hardly anyone, even the guards can believe Steve could do something like that. They always tell me what a nice man he is! I forgot to mention, he is a Christian. He doesn’t believe in violence at all. PLEASE help me to help him. I love him, and my children and I all want him back home, where he belongs. In MY opinion, the makers of Effexor and his doctor are the ones who should go to prison. Steve isn’t the first one this has happened to apparently, and unless someone stops these people from putting dangerous drugs in people’s bodies without informing them of the risks, I’m afraid he won’t be the last one it happens to. I’m sorry I rattled on so long, but I’m desperate. I want my fiancée back! I’m also VERY scared, because MY doctor put ME on Paxil after this. Now that I’ve seen all this stuff about Paxil, as well as Effexor. I’m petrified.

I hope to hear from others who have gone through this nightmare, and maybe offer me a ray of hope for Steve.

Cheryl
sapphire_eyes2@hotmail.com

 

1/16/2002

This is Survivor Story number 48.

Total number of stories in current database is 48

A Nurse Speaks out about Prozac, Effexor and Zyban

“I have discovered many, many horrifying things about these drugs.”

 

An online friend recommended Ann Blake-Tracy’s book, which I haven’t gotten or read yet, but definitely will within the next few days. I decided to look for info on Dr. Tracy on the web, and discovered the ICFDA site. I have just read several personal accounts of others’ SSRI nightmares, and now find myself in tears, and in need of sharing my story, which it is very painful to do and probably will be for life.

I and my wife are both registered nurses. In late 1997, I had gone through a bad bout with the flu and decided I should seek help to quit smoking. My doctor at the time prescribed Zyban. I had almost quit (down from 2-3 packs/day to a couple of cigarettes per day) when I developed erosive and infective esophagitis and duodenitis, along with other ulcers. At that time, I stopped taking the Zyban, although I can’t recall for sure why.

A few months later, my wife said that my moods seemed better when I was on the Zyban, so the doc wrote a scrip and put me on Wellbutrin. Unfortunately, he did not suggest, nor did we consider, more conventional treatments, such as therapy or counseling. I regret that he, or we, had considered such, because the esophagitis was the first (physical) problem, and the least of many problems, both physical and psychological, which lay ahead.

After a time, while seeing a new physician, a discussion over the fact that the Wellbutrin did not seem to be helping any more ensued. So, the new physician changed me to Prozac. It wasn’t very long after the Prozac that I woke up one morning, went into the kitchen to fix myself some coffee, and passed out right there in the kitchen for no known reason. Our oldest Daughter, nine years old at the time, came running to the kitchen, where she discovered me trying to climb up the island in the center of our kitchen.. I was totally disoriented for a few moments, had a splitting headache, and had managed to fracture a toe during the fall. Although I managed to get reoriented, I was left with a totally debilitating headache.

Over the next four weeks, during which I was unable to go to work, I was hospitalized twice, underwent some horrendous and totally useless treatments for a diagnosis of “intractable migraines,” and the only thing that relieved the headache at all was Demerol and Phenergan. Of course, this left me just as unable to work as the headache itself. Near the fourth week, my wife noticed a “knot” in my cervical area. She went to the neurologist’s office with me, where I told one of the two doctors treating me for the migraines about the knot. When the doctor seeing me that day told me there was no knot (???), I fired him on the spot and told the nurse I wanted to see his partner. The second physician not only located it, but administered a trigger-point injection that almost totally relieved the now four-week old headache completely within an hour or so.

I returned to work within about a week, feeling relief from the headaches. But a friend suggested I quit the hospital where I had a good paying, although highly stressful job, and I did so, rather impulsively, without realizing the further financial devastation I was about to cause our family. Only part of the four weeks I had been out of work were covered by leave time, which had set into motion a serious financial crisis for our family.

Within months, I was out of a good paying, full-time job, the business proposition my friend had made turned out to be nothing but hollow promises, bill collectors were breathing down our necks, we were in danger of losing the home we had not long before purchased, and I was sinking into a bout of depression that most people could never imagine.

The next serious visit with my regular doctor included a discussion about the fact Prozac was not only not working, but that I was becoming extremely tired in the afternoons. So he suggested switching to Effexor, which he said “gives most patients sort of a boost.” I agreed, again, without any consideration or discussion of therapy or counseling. Looking back, depression was sort of logical. Within the last three years, I had been through a very bitter divorce, remarried, adopted the two stepdaughters that mean the world to me, purchased a house, gone through major health problems, walked away from a good job, had a promise of a great business partnership vanish into thin air, and was approaching total financial ruin. Perhaps I did have one or two reasons in all of that to be just a little depressed? But the story gets worse, much worse.

My sexual activity with my wife had begun to fall off considerably, and the activity we did engage in was plagued with strange problems I had never encountered before. I was having trouble functioning sexually. Ejaculation was becoming more difficult to achieve and I was experiencing painful sensations when aroused. My temper was getting more and more out of control — I developed a very short fuse, to say the least, resulting in all sorts of angry behavior that was totally new to me. Even worse, I began abusing my children. Even though I felt terrible after mistreating them, it was as though there was a second, horrible person inside of me, which I could not control, yet at the same time I kept thinking I could, or would at least be able to when the medications gained control over my depression once and for all. The medications never did. And it almost put an end to my life.

I was already having more frequent bouts of self-destructive behavior following episodes of losing my temper and in other ways losing control with the people I loved, most notably wife and our two daughters. I was oscillating between days of wanting to hide out from the world and days of mania, thinking I could do or achieve anything. Simple, everyday bumps in the road of life became mountains I felt unable to scale. This past December, our oldest daughter revealed to my wife the horrors of what I had become while my wife was away working at night as a nurse. In order to do what any loving mother would probably do, my wife told me the relationship was over and that I was never to return to our home again. Even worse, she told me that I would not see our daughters again until they were both grown and could decide on their own whether or not they wanted to see me again.. This was almost the fatal blow.

I started walking in the rain, with the temperature not much above freezing outside. It was then that I most seriously considered putting an end to my life physically — I was already dead emotionally. All that was left was an empty shell. The real me seemed lost forever, although I really had no idea where I had gone or why. I was walking along a major highway and saw an 18-wheeler coming downhill toward me. “Here is the perfect way to end it all and do it quickly,” I thought to myself. I stepped onto the pavement, into the path of the oncoming rig. He blew his horn and moved into the opposite lane of the highway where there was, fortunately for him, no oncoming traffic. Almost in disgust, I began to step forward a few more steps to once again place myself in the path of the truck. But something else suddenly crossed my mind: I actually had a mental image of our two daughters, screaming “I’m sorry, Daddy,” at my funeral. I knew this was not the way to end it. I began walking along the side of the road again, still hearing the air horn of the 18-wheeler blasting in my ears. I then thought of simply walking into the woods, sitting down by a tree, and actually allowing myself to die of hypothermia, which I was already beginning to experience in the almost freezing rain. My hands and feet had gone almost totally numb, with what had been intense pain now beginning to give way to oncoming frostbite.

A passing logger saw me on the side of the road and pulled over to offer me a ride. Two other vehicles had already done so, but I had waved them on saying “I’m fine, just leave me alone.” But something had changed. Perhaps the cold rain and intense pain I was feeling was jolting me back to reality. Unfortunately, the reality I was experiencing was neither hopeful nor acceptable to me at the time. I climbed into the truck and the driver took me to the nearest store, where I gave the attendant a dollar bill in exchange for dialing the long distance number where I could reach my wife. She agreed to my request to come and meet me. She took me to the home of my parents. Knowing that I did not want to live, yet not totally ready to just curl up and die, I asked them to take me to the hospital, where I had myself admitted for suicidal depression.

The next morning, I met with the psychiatrist and told her everything. I left nothing out. I wound up being transferred to an intensive treatment program for further help once the suicidal crisis was behind me. I was to the point I had nothing to hide any longer. I told her everything, as I did my therapists. This triggered notification of the authorities who immediately ordered me out of the home for good and set into motion an intense legal struggle that is still ongoing.

After being discharged from inpatient treatment, I told my psychiatrist that I did not think the Effexor was working right and might be causing me more problems. She seemed to think that dosage was just too low, so she increased the dosage from 75 mg per day to 150. I had to take it in the mornings because I had long before discovered that if I took Effexor in the evening hours, there was no possibility of getting any sleep. Within a few weeks, I was having daily, afternoon depression and anxiety attacks that were very intense and seemed not to be triggered by any particular thoughts or circumstances. One Friday afternoon, it hit me that my Effexor dose had been doubled. I was also now having panic attacks in public places and was becoming terrified of going anywhere. I called her office immediately and insisted on discontinuing the Effexor and on seeing her. I was told I could see her the following Tuesday afternoon. I agreed to that, and immediately began to taper myself off the Effexor. Since all I had was 150 mg capsules, my only choice, without getting a new prescription, was to space the doses out. I did so by skipping the next morning dose, and taking the following morning’s dose 12 hours late — around 8:30 p.m. An interesting but revealing thing occurred. Instead of severe afternoon panic attacks, the next really bad episode occurred during the early morning hours following that next dose, which I had taken in the evening instead of morning. I needed no further evidence to convince me that Effexor was in fact causing my depression and anxiety attacks.

When I saw the psychiatrist on Tuesday, I told her that the Effexor was worse than the Wellbutrin and Prozac had been. She looked at me and said “Wellbutrin and Prozac? I didn’t know you had ever taken those.” After discussing my history with those drugs, she agreed that I wasn’t tolerating antidepressants at all, and told me to taper myself off the Effexor as I saw fit and was comfortable with. I have not taken another dose of Effexor since that 8:30 PM dose two days prior to seeing her. Just as interesting is the fact that I have also had no need or desire to take Ativan, which she had wound up giving me in order for me to sleep and combat the increasing anxiety.

Despite the legal battle my wife and I are now facing, not only for the possibility of putting our family back together again, but very possibly for my own freedom from being cast into prison and out of society, my love for my wife, children, and life has returned. Once I got my head cleared enough to do so, I decided I wanted to learn more about the three drugs — Wellbutrin, Prozac, and Effexor, to try and figure out why they weren’t working right for me. Instead of just finding out how they were NOT working, I have discovered many, many horrifying things about these drugs. Not only are they all in the same class (SSRI’s), but there is more than significant information that leads me to believe that all of the psychological problems that emerged — none of which I had experienced prior to being started on all these drugs — were very likely triggered by the drugs.

So, in order to stop smoking, which I still have not done, my doctor put me on Zyban… the next 3-1/2 years or so of my life became a living hell for me and my family. What they have been through hurts as bad as thinking about my own plight. I would gladly spend the rest of my days in prison, or in hell, if that were necessary for them to be safe. But I am not a monster. In fact, life has become simpler and clearer to me than it has been in years. Not because of the tragedy, but because I am free of the serious and devastating effects of these drugs.

As I have said to others, with complete honesty, I would not wish what has happened to us on my worst enemy. Mentally, I have a totally new lease on life. But it was not until I took control of it and stopped the SSRI’s that I was able to obtain it. Sadly, there is a chance that the legal system is going to prevent me from ever being with my family again, which I am not totally sure I will survive. They mean everything in world to me. And in a society where marriages and families are routinely thrown out like household garbage, I feel no remorse whatsoever about my family taking precedence over my own individual needs, career needs, or anything else. I would rather die fighting for the chance to be with me family, to simply love them, support them, and share everyday life with them, including the tough parts, than to give up on them. They ARE my life, who, and what I am.

If only one of those doctors had ever said “Before we prescribe this (new) drug, why don’t you talk with a counselor or therapist?” it is very likely none of these tragic events would have ever occurred. Now I am stuck in a legal system that will probably never show any leniency or compassion, not understanding that these drugs can do these sorts of horrible things to ordinary people. Unable to afford a high-profile attorney (having to go with a public defender) who most likely has little real interest in fighting for me or my family, I am likely to lose my freedom, my family, and in turn my life. The latter is more truthful than I can convey, because if I lose my wife and daughters, the most meaningful part of me will be gone. I would never commit suicide — I promised my wife that for her and the girls — but I would die a slow, horrible death, withering away into a dark eternity, having no will live to live. Suicidal ideations and having no will to live are two very different things, yet they both lead to the same thing.

I pray that I will not be cast out of society like a disgusting, horrible, uncontrollable demon. I am not a threat to anyone. But the drugs that caused all of this are a very serious threat.

3/11/2001

This is Survivor Story number 5.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

Falling Apart Withdrawing from Effexor

“I know from now on I will check more into a drug before I begin taking it.”

 

I was more depressed then usual and wanted to go on something. I have used sinequin, Pamolar, amitriptoline, Prozac, Zoloft in the past. Prozac worked for awhile then quit. At the time I went on Effexor I had not been taking anything for a number of years. I had some side effects when I began taking it, I didn’t want to eat and I was hyper, but being over weight I thought that it was great.

After awhile these symptoms stopped but I wasn’t depressed. I felt the best I had in years. After about 3 years and finding out that long term safety had never been established, I decided I wanted to get off of it. The psychiatrist didn’t agree and said I would probably have to be on it the rest of my life. I didn’t like that but said OK. I really wanted to get off it so got them to agree to help me.

I was taking 150 mg daily. so I slowly cut back to 75 mg per day and still felt okay. I did have the electric shocks that go through the body, but I had had them when I was getting off amitriptoline so just was careful about doing this slowly. I finally got down to 37.5mg, and then I really fell apart–nightmares, vivid dreams, unable to sleep well, feeling jittery, depressed.

But these feelings were different then feeling depressed. I went back to my counselor and told her, and they put me back on the Effexor. I really felt that I was having withdrawal from Effexor but they didn’t agree. I now see that the withdrawal was real. I am again (with the help of my internist) attempting to get off of it. I have told friends what is going on and have set up a support group for myself. I am going to do it real slow. I am now taking 150 mg one day and 75 mg the next. I have only had mild electric shock feeling. When I have no side effects I will lower it again.

I just don’t believe that this drug Effexor is on the market and being allowed to be used for long term use. I think even though it helped me if I had known of the trouble getting off, I may not have used it.
I know from now on I will check more into a drug before I begin taking it.

Shirley Wallstrom

12/15/2000

This is Survivor Story number 2.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

Two Months of Hell on Luvox, Effexor, Paxil and Zoloft.

“Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?”

 

Hi, I am not a teenager, but I was put on my first anti-depressant at 25 years of age. I was mostly depressed about my relationship at the time, but had always been anxious and unmotivated so I thought the doctor was correct.

I lived through two months of absolute Hell. First Luvox, then Effexor, then Paxil, then Zoloft…all of which I had severe tremors and dystonia while taking within days. My Dr. acted like I was psychosomatic. I became so ill during this time that I don’t recall half what happened. My now husband said it was terrifying to see me.

I quit the Doctor and am now 29 years of age. My memory is shot and if I was unmotivated prior to this, I can only say that now I am completely apathetic and disinterested in almost everything. I have tried naturopathy, acupuncture, etc. Nothing helps.

I had a minor problem before and now I think my life may be ruined. Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?

Thank you for your page. It means a lot to know I am not alone if nothing else.

Yana
yana97@prodigy.net

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 91.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

Terrified on Effexor

“I could not even go out to my car to go to the hospital. I became terrified, I could not leave the house.”

 

I just read the article from Pat Spruill regarding [her experiences] being a volunteer on a hot-line. I too called a hot-line after about 3 days on Effexor. (The girl at the distress center was condescending and I really should have reported her but was too upset.) I became immobilized, I could not even go out to my car to go to the hospital. I became terrified, I could not leave the house. I felt like what I imagine a moose feels like looking into the headlights of a car. It was the worst experience I ever had on anti-depressants. (I have tried Prozac, Zoloft , Zyban (Wellbutrin), all with extreme negative side effects.) Had I not known that this was a reaction to the drug, I honestly do not think I would be here today. Luckily my son was home at the time. The worst of this is that when I reported it to my family doctor he said, “Oh those reactions go away after 2-3 weeks.” My pharmacist advised me that this was an abnormal reaction and not to take anymore. Depression, sad to say, is still today looked upon as something folks bring upon themselves ..even by our doctors; so the easiest way for the doctors to “keep us quiet” is to dope us up and hope we go away. (I plan to report my doctor when I find a new one.)

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 88.
Total number of stories in current database is 96