Is Paxil my Friend?

“I was violent, delusional and hostile.”

 

I was on Paxil for over a year, and then quit when I got married. Almost 2 months ago I started taking Paxil again. I have also been taking Flexural and Tylenol #3 for back and neck pain. The reason I am writing is because I had a horrible experience the other day and I am trying to find out if it may be linked to the Paxil.

The other night, I went out with a friend to celebrate the end of the school term and to “tie one on”. I didn’’t take any of my medication that night because I knew that I would be drinking. After a triple espresso I had a couple drinks, I am told that I was slamming them down. I had a good night; I danced, talked, listened to good music, until we left. I do not remember being in the car, talking to my husband on the phone or going to Denny’s. I started having horrible delusions, thinking that my best friend was cheating on her husband, yelling and going off on the phone at my husband and like. My friend told me that I seemed confused, but ok. She had no idea that I wasn’’t aware of any thing. Later, my husband picked me up from Denny’s where I became violent. I hit him, I tried to pull the steering wheel when we were on the free way, and I turned the key off and through it out the window while we were driving, then ran and hopped a ride from a truck driver. Need less to say, I made it home safe, and nearly divorced. My husband met up with me (he followed the truck I was in) and tried to take me home, again I was violent, delusional and hostile, I got out with our dog and ran down the street where I soon passed out and my dog wandered around. My husband found me and took me home.

This is a horrible experience for both of us, and after researching and talking to people, I have learned that others have had similar experiences. When I am not on medication, these sorts of things do not happen. My husband (when I am not drinking) has been telling me I am paranoid and delusional. I get really offended because I am trying to take care of my anxiety disorder. I have also been having a lot of depression. I take 20 mg of Paxil every day. Also, when I quit taking Paxil the last time, I went off of it in about 1 1/2 weeks. I have horrible side effects when I first start taking it, which include severe headaches, confusion, a surreal feeling like I am not really there, anxiety and joint/muscle pain. Could you please help me understand what happened the other night. Over about 5 hours I had about 5-7 drinks. I do not drink often, but needless to say, I will not be doing it again, especially not on my medication.

 

3/23/2002

This is Survivor Story number 35.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

390 total views, no views today

Boys Ranch Sees Problem with Antidepressants

“It has been our experience over the past 19 years that not one of the boys NEEDED to be on drugs. I wish we could get this word out to more people.”

 

Dear Ann Blake-Tracy,

AMEN and AMEN!!!

This is what we have also been saying and it is good to hear another professional saying the same things. We have a boys ranch, Lives Under Construction Ranch at Lampe, Missouri and take boys from over 17 different States, most of which have either been on drugs or still are when they come.

We don’t believe in these types of drugs to treat behavior disorders. There MAY BE and exception for a very small amount of the people who take these drugs; however, it has been our experience over the past 19 years that not one of the boys NEEDED to be on drugs. They later thanked us for helping them to ESCAPE the shell they felt like they were in.

I wish we could get this word out to more people. Kids are being introduced to these drugs mainly because when they start school, a teacher does not want to work with them individually and would rather put the potentially high intellectual kids who may be bored with the class under sedation with the drugs to avoid problems in the classroom. At least, this has been why most parents tell us that they get the prescription is because a school recommended that they seek professional help, which refers the kids to drugs.

If only more parents realized that most, if not all of the school violence was done by kids on medication. WHAT A TRAGEDY is right!

Thank you

Sheila Ortman
LUC Boys Ranch
www.lucboys.org

 

9/23/2001

This is Survivor Story number 28.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

519 total views, no views today

Xanax and Paxil—a Life-Altering Combination

“The scary part is that this was considered a legal practice.”

 

Hello,

My name is Barton Mahoney. Thank you for this forum. It represents an opportunity to know that others understand what I experienced with the drug Paxil.

Bad, bad, bad for Bart! It has been a lonely experience in explaining the affects this intrusive drug has had in my life. I am one of those people that this drug was not designed for, doing it only by a doctor’s order. If I only knew what was in store for me, assuredly it would never have happened. It was prescribed not so much for depression as to help with an extreme case of fatigue. Depression and fatigue can appear hand-in-hand when working 80+ hour workweeks in construction. As an energetic and conscientious building contractor this is now my previous occupation.

Paxil, smaxil, serotonin, shmeritonin. I had no idea of what these were or what they would mean, before it was too late. They prescribed it with Xanax, another wonder drug. Within the first week I was complaining to my doctor about the effect it was having on me. I was told my condition was consistent with the early affects of the drug. It was recommended to continue the medication for the 4-6 week incubation period when the Paxil would then become balanced with my system.

This never happened. I stopped the Xanax within months. My personality and character changed so dramatically that I left the construction trades, lost the respect of my family, along with every ounce of self-esteem that I had within a very short time. I can remember it being hard to feel a smile. It was the major contributing factor to the demise of a life once enjoyed, leading to the perils of a drug user. I wish this on no person. The scary part is that this was considered a legal practice.

I was hospitalized on several occasions during the first year. Each time was the result of collapsing on the floor or when lying down and not being able to get up. I would just lay there not able to move or with a feeling of not wanting to move. It is difficult to explain. If helped by a person and moved very slowly they could get me to my feet, only to immediately collapse again. Three times at home, Twice while at hotels, once on an airplane. That time they had to hold the flight I was on from taking off. It took better than a half an hour to retrieve me from the bathroom. Two very helpful Texas police officers saw our way to a hospital. I was treated in the emergency room but they wanted to take blood. With a phobia about shots plus being through this experience before I felt to have a better answer for my treatment. They did not understand that I just wanted to lie there and that I would be fine in a little while. I tried explaining my condition at the hospital and asked if they would please call my doctor. They did not make the call and released me because I refused treatment by not letting them stick needles in me. I took a later flight home and told myself that this was it. I had to get off this drug.

I was in the care of my doctor this entire period from September 1997 until November 1999. What is interesting was how the medical clinic provided me with prescriptions of Paxil even after I had lost my insurance (I lost everything but that’s not the point). My thinking was that they are giving me the medication because they know something may go wrong if I stopped taking it. Something was adrift for them to give me the medication for free. It appears I am discovering that they did know once this drug had taken its place in my system that it was a very long process to wean a person off the drug. Plus there was a possibility that I may not be stable enough for those around me. There was nothing about this on the drug description at the time, only to say do not stop medication without consulting your doctor. I did and was told to very slowly reduce the dosage until I could handle life without it.

It took over a year to free myself from this consummate condition. It has been a year and a half since my final battle with the drug. The final no-more-Paxil period lasted for about three weeks. No different than any other episode during this treatment, if I stopped or slowed down the medication I would lose my motor skills or would lose my will to use them. Slowly perking-up I am happy to say that now without this drug in my system and because of a very supporting family; I am back to my old self and am finding life enjoyable once again. The further life distances itself from the history of this period the better off I will be. Occasionally, I still have strange twinges at the base of my neck and I now shake when doing something tedious with my hands. I had always prided myself in the steadiness of intricate tasks, but this is no more.

My memories of this period are also quite bothersome. I have spoken with three attorneys, one said his legal counsel doctor said I should have been able to stop cold turkey with out having any problems. Right! A second said it appeared to be a class-action suit after a 20-20 television show about the anti-affects of anti-depressant medication. A third attorney said it would cost more than his firm could afford just in getting the case to trial. I left it at that knowing that I was greatly improved and able by nature to fight my way back to a life.

My wife and I were married at age 15 & 16 respectively. We have three wonderful adult children. For 31 years we have been through many tough times and this is now just another experience. I don’t want to think of where my life would be if I hadn’t fought through and separated myself from the clutches of Paxil. Even thinking through this letter helps with the healing process. I was compelled to write because it appears the truth is coming out. Previously, I actually thought I was going crazy and that nobody was listening, nor would they believe me. It was the loneliest feeling in the world.

I am saddened by the actions of those people under the influence of this drug. To have done the things that they have hurts all of us. To an extent I can understand how they felt when performing these horrific acts.

My prayers and thoughts go out to all that are affected. These are all very disturbing conditions that to some extent fall on the shoulders of those that offer these treatments and to those who manufacturer the drugs that they prescribe. It is a dangerous business. These drugs which are administered do have an affect. I can claim adverse reactions if the person is not designed for treatment in such a manner. We all deserve more information, especially when it comes to a drug that effects our central nervous system. For those who have had or are having similar experiences, you are not alone nor are you crazy.

If you are thinking about taking an anti-depressant, discuss all possibilities with your doctor. If the medication is helping you, then you are lucky. I might still be enjoying a life once stable. Hopefully I will continue to overcome and in time will be fully restored. As I get older it will be interesting to see whether I will ever chance taking any medication. Never again do I want to go through this experience no matter what my condition may be. I would rather go natural.

Thank you for hearing my voice. Now that I have written this brief letter about my experience, I hope it will help others understand the dangers of drugs not meant for the masses. Still it hurts to the center of my soul when considering these possibilities. I have experienced Paxil. Communication is our strength and it should be critically applied with matters of health. Manufacturers, doctors and patients must have all possible information before making life-altering decisions.

I signed no waivers in regards to potential side-affects, which excuses my ignorance. Luckily I was strong enough to help myself. Woe to those who are not so lucky, you are at the mercy of questionable practices by those we should be able to trust.

On the Mend

 

8/6/2001

This is Survivor Story number 19.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

440 total views, 1 views today

I said No to Paxil and Ativan

My doctor said it was clinical depression. It did not occur to me that it could be a real reaction to real things, not just a ‘chemical imbalance’. “

Hello. I have PTSD and recently have become very depressed, despite the fact that my boyfriend and I have been fighting, I got into a car accident, I realized that I did no’t want to study what I was almost ready to graduate in, started a new job and gained weight….

My doctor said it was clinical depression. It did not occur to me that it could be a real reaction to real things, not just a ‘chemical imbalance’. Like she had said.

I know I have PTSD – but mine has n’ot made me sad. But being a trusting person I listened to them when they told me to take medication….

They prescribed Paxil and Ativan. When my doctor was writing the prescription for Ativan – I told her I absolutely did not want to take that because I had read about the different types of medications and that class of drugs was addictive and I did no’t want to take drugs long term. Mind you I am already paranoid of medications. As a survivor of horrendous child abuse, I fear any MIND ALTERING substance. When I told my doctor know, she asked why…she then preceded to tell me to just take it if I get “panicky” and related to the feeling I get when something bad happens and I feel overwhelmed. She said it would be ok. I reluctantly took the prescription and told her repeatedly that I would probably never take it…

I also went into full detail of the stories I had heard about in the Prozac family of people killing themselves out of the blue. She reassured me that is for people that were previously psychotic…and that it only happened when these drugs first came out and that it only happened because some psychiatrist thought since it worked so well on depression it might work on other things…and assured me that it was because they had previously wanted to commit suicide. NEVER mentioning any of the side effects, aside from nausea, dry mouth and “initial anxiety”.

So she gave me the trial month – with no insertions. I took one about 5 hours ago. And then my friends mom called and we were talking, I was telling her about taking Paxil. She said be careful – those make people go nuts. She said her friend hung himself and then I stopped her, I was already scared. I don’t have any suicidal thoughts, let alone, homicidal thoughts. I did no’t want to hear this. Now I feel high and stiff. And I don’t like it. After she told me that I went on the internet and looked up “suicide and Paxil” and came up with so many horror stories of people going crazy. And I even read the drug information on the homepage of the drug company…and it names so many. I learned that it can cause seizures (which I had when I was an infant and my doctor knows) it says most people feel anxiety – which is already a problem I have – I don’t need to feel more – I read that it says you can have nameless amounts of things. Not to mention it said the doctors normally prescribe them with an anti-anxiety so in case the person feels “agitated, homicidal, aggressive or suicidal” they can take those and calm down (a.k.a…pass out). This is not ok. I can’t believe my doctor recommended them to me especially when I told her that I WOULD NOT TAKE THE ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICINE… I told her I would fill it but would not take it out of fear.

I am so freaked out.

I feel for you and I am sorry that happened to your Matthew and hope that in some way you know that you convinced me not to take this anymore. I will go to sleep praying I will be okay through the night. God bless you.

Cena

 

This is Survivor Story number 6.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

11/16/2000

463 total views, no views today

Hospitalized on Paxil

“Has psychiatry’s faith in medication become so strong that the last thing they can imagine is that medication might be what is causing a problem?”

 

I was in and out of the hospital 5 times during the 8 month period on the drug in 1996. I suffered delusions, impulsiveness, roadrage (bumped a car ahead of me repeatedly), spent an entire night trying to put a T-shirt on–I had forgotten how to dress myself, and I couldn’t lie still. Eventually (I am told) I began hearing voices, became unconscious, and was in intensive care for ten days on the danger list, writhing around. Only then did they think to take me off the medication! They had actually added other drugs, rather than stop the Paxil!

When I regained consciousness I was in a black mood and let them use ECT on me.

What an assault on me! I’m angry! Shouldn’t my inability to dress myself have been a sign that I should be taken off all medication, rather than adding another drug?

Has psychiatry’s faith in medication become so strong that the last thing they can imagine is that medication might be what is causing a problem?

Ed Robinson
erob@people-link.com

Years 2000

This is Survivor Story number 72.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

542 total views, no views today

My Son’s Experience on Ritalin

“So many times doctors are drugging our children when they could be helped with proper nutrition, discipline and/or counseling.”

 

Your story so touched my heart (Matthew’s Story). I too have a son who by the grace of god is doing fine. He sounds much like your son, animals and kids always love him. He has such a kind and gentle spirit and a really great sense of humor. But unnecessary prescribed drugs almost ruined his life and ours.

He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in the 6th grade. But prior to that starting around 4th grade we were told (by his so called school psychologist) that he was emotionally disturbed and would end up on drugs and in prison if things did not change. We, of course, were devastated and immediately got into family counseling. Two years later he was diagnosed with ADD. The doctor in charge of his case prescribed Ritalin and things changed almost immediately. He became very compliant with not trouble at school. The doctor saw us every three months just to weigh him, see how he was feeling and give us another prescription. As time went on we had to keep increasing the dose to make sure of the proper results. My son’s behavior improved (always temporarily) but he was still failing all subjects. His self esteem was terrible, he was not growing, he hardly ate and had constant stomach cramps. I was always silently worried about suicide. Finally through self curiosity and research found out that they were giving my son medication that the FDA classed with LSD and Cocaine! And that ADD is in many cases successfully treated through the diet. They were drugging him and we were letting them! This was when I immediately took my son off Ritalin cold turkey. Probably not the best way to handle it but I lost all trust in his doctor and just panicked. We started giving him all natural dietary supplements and watched what he was eating. He went through some withdrawals but grew 6 inches in one summer. He is now 18 years old and 6 feet tall. He is doing very well in Job Corp. (couldn’t deal with school because of being so far behind) and will probably be self a sufficient adult.

So many times doctors are drugging our children when they could be helped with proper nutrition, discipline and/or counseling. Since I discovered the nutrition aspect of a lot of this I realize too that our very food is also harming us. So much is processed to the extreme and most of the nutrients are sucked out of them. Even fresh produce is affected. The only way to get everything we need is our diets is to eat as best we can and take supplements.

I am so sorry things turned out the way they did for you and your family. I don’t pretend to understand how god works in these areas. I just know that he is in charge and must know what he is doing. We have to believe that. What else do we have?

My prayers are with you. I really appreciate and share your passion in telling others to be aware of what we are taking and giving to our children. I question every thing now. Even to the point of insulting the so called experts. Who cares! If I don’t question and research than who will.

Again, my prayers are with you and your family. Thank you again for listening to god and sharing your story. I am sure many will be helped and even saved by your heart felt words.

Cala Klapstein, dancala@earthlink.net
Sumner, WA

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 75.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

384 total views, no views today

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

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

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

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

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

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

L. L.

6/20/2000

This is Survivor Story number 21.

Total number of stories in current database is 96

512 total views, no views today

12/1/1999 – Few Patients Satisfied With Antidepressants

Here’s some interesting new information about the efficacy of SSRI
medication as reported by people who really know something about
it–the patients. Mark

Study: Few Patients Satisfied With Antidepressants

12.43 p.m. ET (1743 GMT) November 30, 1999

NEW YORK — Just a third of patients on long-term antidepressant drug
therapy report being very satisfied with their treatment, according to
results of a new survey.

http://www.foxnews.com:80/js_index.sml?content=/health/113099/antidepress.sml

400 total views, no views today

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

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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

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