Zoloft Hell

“I knew I had to get off of this drug to save my sanity.”

I was prescribed Zoloft for mild anxiety. Now I know I the mild anxiety I had was nothing compared to the horrible side effects of Zoloft. I experienced them immediately after the first pill. I took it for a total of only five weeks, the last 11 days on 50 mg……….a relatively low dose……or so they say?

In short, my side effects included what I call “electrical brain surges” (I feared I was losing my mind), persistent diahrrea every morning, a total loss of appetite (I don’t mean depressed appetite, I mean I lost all appetite or interest in food to the point I had to force food for nourishment); severe panic attacks upon awakening; tachycardia (I have been on 0.125 mg Digoxin for 3 years for this condition and I believe Zoloft made it worse, but this cannot be proven) and a feeling of detachment from reality (I believe this may also be called depersonalization)……….The last side effect that developed was nausea.

So…….into my fifth week on Zoloft which was Day 11 on 50 mg. I told my doctor about these symptoms and she said to taper off the Zoloft. The next morning I was so weak and dehydrated from the diarrhea I went to the Emergency Room (my second E.R. visit, the first visit to the E.R. was early into the course of Zoloft, after panicking all morning I was scared there was something really physically wrong with me). The E.R. doctor was apprised of everything that I was experiencing and told me NOT TO TAKE ANOTHER ZOLOFT. In fact he said to me, “If you were my wife or sister, I would tell you to NEVER have taken it.” Despite my PCP’s plan of tapering which would have meant another four days of 25 mg. I did what the E.R. doctor recommended and never took another one.

I was give I.V. fluids and Phergan for nausea, an abdominal x-ray and they did some blood work. He advised that I would probably continue with some side effects until it was out of my system. I am now into Day 12 being Zoloft free and am finally returning to normal. Yes, side effects continued, especially bouts of nausea which I could attribute to nothing and have had bad headaches also.

I personally know two people on Zoloft. One friend has been on it for just over a year and swears it’s a miracle drug for her. She is taking it due to mild depression. The other person has only been on it for about two months but he loves it as well, Also prescribed for depression (He is depressed because he hates his job and work environment).

I can only report to you MY EXPERIENCE on the drug. The only other prescription meds I am on is Digoxin and Lipitor (10 mg.) which I have taken for just over one year. I know they say there is no drug interactions with these drugs, but I have my doubts.

I am involved in an exercise program now to deal with any anxiety, and honestly I have not had any anxiety or panic since getting off of this drug. I fear for people who are on these drugs long term.

Maybe I am in a rare class of people whose bodies cannot tolerate the drug. My PCP SHOULD have known better than to let me go on for FIVE WEEKS with the side effects, as I reported them to her on MORE THAN ONE occasion.

At any rate, I am off the Zoloft and it will be a LONG TIME before I am able to forget the experience. One last thing I’d like to say about how it affected my brain……….Although I was not suicidal, I could understand, for the first time, how someone could end it all just to find some peace. That, in itself, was scary to me……..that I could totally understand why someone would kill themselves.

There were also several times when I thought I was going to end up on a psych ward, I was afraid I was on the verge of a psychotic break with reality…….I think when I realized that I was having these thoughts, I knew I had to get off of this drug to save my sanity.

Julie Shields

 

This is Survivor Story number 46.
Total number of stories in current database is 77

10/5/2003

 

 1,545 total views

My 18-Year Old’s Bizarre Behavior on Prozac

“At no time …did any one mention Prozac’s side effects.”

My 18 year old son has been on Prozac for the last year and a half.
Initially, I brought him to a counselor for some mild anxiety he was experiencing (shyness in social situations, etc.) The counselor (a licensed MSW) prescribed Prozac, saying that it would greatly reduce Jeff’s anxiety. Indeed, after two weeks Jeff reported feeling better, being more relaxed in school and in social situations. Over the next 6 months or so, however, I began to notice some disturbing symptoms (excessive sleepiness at times and at other times extreme agitation along with an inability to concentrate on schoolwork).I told his family doctor, who suggested cutting his dose of Prozac, from 20 mg. to 10 mg. Shortly after this time, Jeff began to develop a severe drinking problem. He frequently came home so intoxicated that he could not stand and remembered nothing the next morning. His grades in school also started plummeting: during his senior year in high school, his grades went from B+ to failing. He was extremely agitated, anxious, unable to sit still or focus. At this point his counselors recommended that his Prozac be upped from 10 to 20 mg.

Things went from bad to worse-his drinking increased, he barely graduated from high school (he was on home study because he was exhibiting bizarre, sometimes threatening behavior in school, and was suspended).At no time during this period did any one mention Prozac’s side effects or the possibility that Jeff was having a serious reaction to this drug.

Finally, towards the end of summer ’99, when he picked up his prescription from the pharmacy, he read the label and noticed some of the possible side effects, pointing out to my husband and myself that these were the same things he’d been experiencing. We made a family decision to stop the Prozac, not realizing that the fun was just beginning. About a week after stopping the Prozac, Jeff began to have panic attacks (something he’d never experienced before).Along with the shaking, irregular heartbeat and anxiety, he experienced strange sensations in his head and a buzzing sound in his ears. We went to see his doctor, who didn’t make the connection-he sent him to a psychologist to treat the panic attacks, not suspecting that the problem might be Prozac withdrawal (nor did I). For the past 2 months, his symptoms have grown steadily worse: he’s been in the emergency room for severe headaches, has seen a neurologist, had many expensive tests, and been diagnosed with Migraine.

No one made the connection between his symptoms and the fact that he had stopped the Prozac abruptly (all doctors knew of his decision). It wasn’t until I saw Dr. Tracy on the Leeza show recently that I started to suspect that this might be the problem. Since then I’ve been researching Prozac on the internet and am amazed at the information I’m finding! I’ve spoken to Jeff’s doctor who was as surprised as I about these complications (I printed and mailed him lots of info.)I will order your book, as I want to know what I can do to help my son at this point apologize at the length of this e-mail, but I had to tell this story to someone.
Thank you.

Followup Letter to Dr. Tracy:
Dear Dr. Tracy,
Thank you for your kind response to my e-mail. It’s obvious that this is an issue very close to your heart. It’ s easy for me to see how frustrating this battle can be: the more information that I find on this topic, the more appalled I become that the medical and psychiatric professions are allowing this to happen to unsuspecting and trusting patients. Amazingly, Jeff seems to be doing much better. Just within the past week, his headaches have all but disappeared, and his anxiety level is greatly diminished. It’s been about 2 1/2 months since he stopped taking the Prozac- from what I’ve read however there can be delayed withdrawal reactions, so I’m not sure we’re out of the woods yet. I’ve been very busy printing information that I find on the internet and sending Jeff’s doctor and counselors letters and packets of information. My hope is that they will at least begin to question these drugs and do some research on their own. I’d like to show you an excerpt from the letter I wrote to the psychologist Jeff was referred to for the panic attacks he experienced shortly after discontinuing the Prozac. I am particularly annoyed with this doctor because he told me that Jeff’ panic attacks were the manifestations of OCD and that he needed to be on medication. From letter to Dr. Robbins: Coincidentally, now that Jeff’s withdrawal symptoms seem to have abated, he is much more like the son I once knew. He’s more relaxed, he’s stopped drinking, his sense of humor is back, and he’s actually able to focus on schoolwork ( he got an A on a recent College Comp. paper.)What does this say about Prozac? Basically, I feel that this drug took my son away from me for two years! I have also written a letter to the Rochester editorial page; a Speaking Outessay. I’ll let you know if they print it. If there’s any way I can help you with this cause, please let me know .I feel very strongly about it: this drug took my 16 year old son, who had been identified as gifted, was well-liked by his peers, and had a great sense of humor, and reduced him to a barely functioning shell of a person. I am thankful to you and God for rescuing us from this terrible shadow that hung over our lives.

Yes, I would like my e-mail (the original and this reply) posted on your website. You may include my first name and e-mail address. I would also like to remind people who’ve had negative experiences with Prozac or another anti-depressant to send a med-watch complaint to the FDA. The number for your local FDA is in the Federal organization section of the phone book. There is also a link from this ICFDA web site.] The more complaints they get the more likely it is they’ll investigate (I hope, unless they’re in this with the drug companies- but that’s a whole different topic)

Patti582@aol.com

2/27/2000

This is Survivor Story number 27.

Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,625 total views