A Real Life SSRI Laboratory–Notes from a Group Home

“Too many doctors receive little or no feedback following prescriptions to patients.”


While in Utah our daughter worked with residents at a group home; most of these are living proof of your warning. Their problems after medication were far often worse. I thought you’d enjoy her remarks to your e-mail message.A simple fact for all medications: too many doctors receive little or no feedback following prescriptions to patients. We somehow need to stress this too to both the medical profession and the public in general. There are some things we can’t afford to be the crash-test-dummy for!

Thanks for your alert. I hope those it reached pay attention!

Considering there are more anti-depressants(Prozac, Paxil,Zoloft, etc) prescribed per capita in the state of Utah than any other state in the nation, maybe the Boys in Blue should be more concerned with that fact than with my zip code problems.

Utah also has the highest percentage of children on anti-depressants, Ritalin, MAO inhibitors, and the like for ADD, ADHD and related diagnoses. There is also major concern over the fact that children in Utah are prescribed to at an earlier age, sometimes while basic physical and mental growth is still underway.

NONE of these drugs are easy to get off of! Drugs of this kind create a detox rivaling heroin in mental and physical aspects causing problems usually worse than the original symptoms.

There is also the running joke in medical circles re: a family discount. There is a large percentage of Mother/Child(ren) prescribed AD’s simultaneously. Just some things to think about.

J. M.




This is Survivor Story number 4.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

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12/29/2000 – Boston shooting – involvement of Prozac & other antidepressants

As so many of you have been asking since Tuesday, here is
the official data from the Boston Globe on the Prozac use and
use of other antidepressants in the shooting that took place
the day after Christmas in the Boston area. It is very rare that the
information about the drug use comes out to the public so quickly. Generally
it is kept quiet until the case goes to court. We must
commend the Boston Globe for continuing to have the courage
to educate the public about this group of very dangerous drugs.

In the highlighted paragraphs 12 and 13, Kevin Reddington, the
attorney, states that he will ask experts to consider whether
McDermott’s medication (Prozac & other antidepressants)
contributed to the rampage.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness


Questions and grief

Police seeking clues to what set off rampage in Wakefield

By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff and Ralph Ranalli Globe Correspondent,

Three minutes before the shooting rampage that killed seven of his
co-workers, Michael McDermott received a brief telephone call in his work
cubicle at Edgewater Technology Inc.

A Chrysler Financial supervisor informed McDermott that his 1994 Plymouth
Acclaim would be repossessed, according to a source familiar with the call.

”I won’t be needing it; come pick it up,” answered McDermott, seemingly so
unconcerned that the supervisor made a note in her log.

It was 11:07 a.m. Tuesday. Three minutes later, the carnage began. Within 15
minutes, authorities say, McDermott had murdered seven people.

A law enforcement source said yesterday that State Police have heard of the
telephone call and are investigating its connection to the slayings.

The call may have been the final insult for a man squeezed by a tightening
vise of financial worries.

Already informed that the Internal Revenue Service would seize a large
portion of his pay for back taxes, McDermott had a tense confrontation last
week with an Edgewater accountant who rebuffed his plea for a cash advance
and pay raise. The accountant, Rose Manfredi, told McDermott to take his
concerns about money to Edgewater’s president.

Manfredi’s mother said yesterday that her daughter, who handled much of the
company’s billing and payroll, had been so unnerved by McDermott that she
shared her concerns with the family.

”She told me last week, `Mummy, he was kind of nervous,”’ Carmella Manfredi
said. ”She was scared of him.”

On Tuesday, McDermott heard that his car, with a book value of only $5,930,
would be seized for nonpayment of a 1997 loan.

Haverhill police told the Globe they checked McDermott’s Bartlett Street
apartment several times on Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning after
his car had been spotted close to a wooded area where gunshots were reported.

Police said two spent shotgun shells were found on the ground near where
McDermott’s car – with the distinctive license plate MUCKO – had been seen. A
young woman said she also saw a man closing the trunk of the car.

”It sort of sends shivers down my spine,” said Haverhill Police Sergeant
Stephen Brighi, who reported that police did not find McDermott at his
apartment that night.

Yesterday, McDermott’s lawyer said he will consider an insanity defense. The
attorney, Kevin J. Reddington, said he will ask experts to determine whether
McDermott’s medication, which sources have said includes Prozac and other
antidepressants, contributed to the rampage.

”The medication is an issue,” Reddington said. ”It will be explored in
this case.”

McDermott, 42, pleaded not guilty to seven counts of first-degree murder at
his arraignment Wednesday in Malden District Court. He is being held without
bail in Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge, pending a Jan. 31 court

Last night, opposite the converted 19th-century mill that houses Edgewater
and other companies, about 800 people filled St. Joseph Catholic Church for
an ecumenical memorial service.

The methodical slaying of seven people at the Internet consulting company
ranks as one of the worst mass murders in Massachusetts history.

After allegedly shooting two people in the reception area and three employees
in Human Resources, McDermott reportedly reloaded and shot open the locked
door to the accounting office, authorities say.

There, he allegedly shot Paul Marceau, 36, of Melrose, three times in the
chest, as Marceau tried to scurry away on his back. Manfredi, 48, was hit
twice in the legs before a shotgun blast to the head ended her life. Another
woman in the room may have survived only because she hid underneath her desk
and behind a coat on her chair.

The other victims were Jennifer Bragg Capobianco, 29, of Brighton; Janice
Hagerty, 46, of Stoneham; Louis Javelle, 58, of Nashua; Cheryl Troy, 50, of
Beverly; and Craig Wood, 29, of Haverhill.

Manfredi, a Lexington resident who handed out paychecks every two weeks,
appears to have been a prime target. Investigators said McDermott allegedly
used both an AK-47 assault rifle and a shotgun to shoot her. A rare Spanish
handgun made in 1914 was tucked in his pants, authorities say.

Manfredi’s mother and one of her three sisters, Florence Holleran, said
McDermott and Manfredi ”had words.” Neither woman knew further details of
McDermott’s request.

”Rose said [McDermott] was perturbed at a lot of people when he heard the
IRS was after him,” according to Nat Manfredi, one of four brothers.
”Naturally, he would have gone to the accounting office Tuesday.”

At the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Thomas F. O’Reilly said
Edgewater was preparing to garnishee McDermott’s wages at the direction of
the Internal Revenue Service. Under that plan, McDermott said, he would have
been left with only $275 in pay every two weeks, according to Middlesex
District Attorney Martha Coakley.

IRS officials said that they cannot comment on McDermott’s tax situation, but
that he should not have been surprised by the decision to take part of his
salary. They said McDermott should have received at least two notices, by
mail or in person, informing him that a portion of his wages would be seized,
according to IRS policy.

However, the IRS ensures that debtors are left with enough of their salary to
live on, said Peggy E. Riley, an IRS spokeswoman in Boston. Under IRS
regulations, McDermott also should have been offered an installment plan or
another way to pay off the debt.

Edgewater Technology began grief counseling sessions yesterday for its
employees, about 80 of whom were at work Tuesday. The company plans to
renovate the office and move the accounting department out of the area of the

Shirley Singleton, the president and chief executive officer, said Edgewater
has donated $70,000 to create a foundation at Fleet Bank for the victims’
families. The company also has given each family an additional $5,000 for
immediate costs, a source said.

Outside the brick building yesterday, a makeshift memorial with flowers and a
teddy bear had been set up by co-workers and other mourners.

The concern also extended to Beacon Hill, where a spokesman for Governor Paul
Cellucci predicted that the state’s strict gun restrictions would be
tightened even more.

”We’re in general agreement and general support of strengthening our gun
laws,” said John Birtwell, the governor’s spokesman, who added that
solutions also should be sought on a national level.

Yesterday, the future seemed far away for the Edgewater worker who escaped
death by hiding under her desk. Her nightmare this week, however, was still
too close.

When approached at her home, where flowers and friends were trying to ease
the recent trauma, the woman greeted a reporter with a sad, slow shake of her

”I’m not ready to talk about it,” she said. ”I don’t think I’ll ever talk
about it.”

Patrick Healy, Stephen Kurkjian, Farah Stockman, Rick Klein, Adam Pertman,
and Jamal Watson of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Regina Montague
contributed to this report.

This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 12/29/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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17-Year Old Friend Committed Suicice on Prozac

It killed one of my friends and almost killed another. I can’t believe that it is still on the market…”


I am writing this because I think people need to hear my friend’s story.

One of my close friends was put on Prozac. She was 17. Over the summer I spent a lot of time with her. She appeared happy and never seemed to let anything bother. I did find it strange that when I asked if she ever had anything bothering her she always seemed to change the subject back to my problems. Little did I know that she let all those problems bottle up inside of her. My friend committed suicide August 31, 1999, at the age of 17.

I know that she had other problems, she did share a few, but I think that Prozac also had something to do with her actions. I never knew what the drug did to people until I began researching it for a paper for my senior English class. Another one of my friends was also placed on Prozac for depression after our friend died. In December of 1999 she too almost committed suicide. She had all the letters written out but a phone call from a friend stopped her. She told me that while she was on the drug she felt like no one understood how she felt. She said that she felt like she was in her own world and no one understood how she was feeling. This feeling of solitude brought her great pain and she had convinced herself that the only way to end the pain was to kill herself.

I am very grateful to that person who called her right before she did it. Somehow the phone call snapped her into reality and she realized that she didn’t want to kill herself, all she wanted was for the pain to stop. Something has to be done about this drug. It killed one of my friends and almost killed another. I can’t believe that it is still on the market and I don’t personally believe that it should be. I know the pain that comes when a friend commits suicide. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone and I believe that if this drug continues to be prescribed this world is going to experience many more self-induced death.

I needed to tell someone this. Thank you for your time and listening.



This is Survivor Story number 4.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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10/26/2000 – Prozac: Unsafe at Any Price

Once again Arianna Huffington has said it like it is! Bravo!! I have
stated repeatedly that lack of insurance or poverty has saved
many a life because they cannot afford these drugs. What a
tragedy it will be if these drugs are made more affordable!

The only thing she neglected to include in the following article is
that it is George Bush’s father, the ex-president, we can thank for
giving us the SSRI antidepressants. It was during his
administration that laws were passed drastically reducing the
length of time needed in clinical trials for a drug to be approved
as “safe.” Prozac was approved on only 5 and 6 week studies.

Ralph Nader is the only candidate I am aware of that is
concerned about dangerous prescription drugs and has worked
to do something about them.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness


Prozac: Unsafe at Any Price
Filed October 23, 2000

Al Gore, as he will tell you, and tell you, and tell you, is a “fighter.”
And among the many enemies he “fights” for us, he lists the big
drug companies. On the campaign trail, Gore repeatedly rails
against them, hoping to distinguish himself from George W.
Bush and prove his commitment to the “little people.” But at no
point does the vice president name any names or level any
specific accusations against the industry beyond the high prices
they charge seniors. Last week, though, we were reminded that
pricey prescriptions for gramps and granny are not the gravest
offense some drug companies are guilty of.
On Thursday, Eli Lilly announced it was halting development of a
new and improved version of Prozac, its top-selling drug. The
patent for the new formulation — which cost Lilly $90 million —
claimed it would reduce “the usual adverse effects” of the
original Prozac, including “nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, inner
restlessness (akathisia), suicidal thoughts, self mutilation,
manic behavior.” Just the usual.
But if you’re over 65, Al is fighting for you to at least enjoy these
side effects at a reduced price. Yet almost from the time it was
introduced in 1988, Lilly has been maniacally denying claims
that Prozac produces violent or suicidal reactions.
Could the recent startling reversal have anything to do with the
fact that Prozac’s extremely profitable patent — which brought Lilly
$2.6 billion last year — was set to expire in 2004? What’s more,
just this August, a federal appeals court shortened Lilly’s
exclusive patent by three years, allowing generic versions of the
mega-drug to hit the shelves next summer.
The damning admissions in the enhanced Prozac’s patent will
be the center of a federal lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in
Hawaii next summer. This will be the latest round in a legal
battle initiated by the children of a man who, while on Prozac,
fatally stabbed his wife and then himself (in other words,
“suicidal thoughts, self mutilation, and manic behavior”).
During the first trial, Lilly’s lawyers and witnesses repeatedly
claimed that violent or suicidal acts are not a side effect of
Prozac. In fact, the president of Lilly’s neuroscience product
group, Dr. Gary Tollefson, testified under oath: “There is
absolutely no medically sound evidence of an association
between … Prozac and the induction of suicidal ideation or
violence.” Clearly impressed with such expert testimony, the jury
found the drug company not liable for the murder-suicide.
The latest suit charges that “a fraud was committed on the court”
when Lilly failed to disclose the potentially explosive data
contained in the patent, which it had purchased three months
before the first trial began. “It is incredible,” said Karen Barth,
one of the attorneys suing Lilly, “that on the one hand, Lilly
vehemently argues to a federal judge and jury that Prozac does
not cause suicide and/or violence … while on the other, pays $90
million for a patent … which clearly acknowledges Prozac’s
propensity to increase the risk of suicide and violent behavior.”
If there was no problem with Prozac, then why spend all that
money to fix it? Lilly has faced over 200 Prozac lawsuits and has
yet to lose a case –opting to secretly settle the majority of them.
The patent disclosures could be the smoking gun that changes
all that. “The new patent can be compared to the tobacco
papers,” argues Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard Medical
School professor and author of “Prozac Backlash.” “It’s a
pharmaceutical company document that acknowledges this
dangerous side effect, which has been downplayed by Eli Lilly
and other pharmaceutical companies for a decade.”
And the damning evidence against Lilly continues to mount. Last
spring, an investigation by the Boston Globe found that,
according to the drug company’s own figures, “One in 100
previously nonsuicidal patients who took the drug in early clinical
trials developed a severe form of anxiety …. causing them to
attempt or commit suicide during the studies.” And a recent
study by brain chemistry expert Dr. David Healy of the University
of Wales estimated that roughly “50,000 people have committed
suicide on Prozac,” people who wouldn’t have had they not been
on the drug. In the final debate, Gore criticized the
pharmaceutical companies for “spending more on advertising
and promotion” than on “research and development.” He’s right
about that: In 1999, each of the five biggest drug companies
spent more than double on sales and marketing than on R&D.
But once again Gore missed the point: The most egregious
aspect of the ads is the creation of an artificial demand for drugs
with side effects far more severe than the ailments they claim to
treat. The latest targets of Eli Lilly’s admeisters are women
suffering from “mood swings, irritability and bloating” brought on
by their monthly periods. The company’s solution: a new drug
called Sarafem, which comes in pretty little pink-and-lavender
pills. The company’s come-on: a marketing campaign urging
consumers to be “More like the Woman you are.” The company’s
secret: Sarafem isn’t really a new drug at all, only Prozac with a
makeover. But even more disturbing than the thought of millions
of already cranky PMS sufferers being pushed over the edge by
this re-packaged Prozac is the trend it exemplifies: the turning of
all of life’s little unpleasantnesses into clinical conditions that
require drugs purporting to get us back to our original perfect
selves. As Dr. Peter Kramer, author of “Listening to Prozac,” puts
it: “The implication is that the premenstrual self is inauthentic,
that irritability is incompatible with the female gender. And that
the truest state is the medicated one.”
Maybe Al Gore’s got it all wrong on health care. Instead of fighting
to make prescription drugs cheaper for people, maybe he
should fight to price certain drugs out of their reach — in an effort
to save their lives.

Discuss this column and more in the Forum

search for:

1158 26th Street, P.O. Box 428
Santa Monica, CA 90403
email: arianna@…
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9/28/2000 – LA Times – Antidepressants Can Have a Range of Unpredictable Side E

Los Angeles Times

Monday, September 25, 2000

Antidepressants Can Have a Range of Unpredictable Side Effects


Question: Our house burned down in December 1995. When my husband went
for a blood pressure refill in April 1996, the doc asked how he was doing.
My husband said, “A little depressed,” and was put on Prozac.

Soon I started seeing personality changes, and by fall he was suicidal,
having nightmares about death, tremors and feelings like electric shocks.
The doctor just kept adding drugs. I read that Prozac could cause the
symptoms he was experiencing, but when I brought this research to his
doctor, he basically said, “Nonsense.”

The next year, my husband attempted suicide six times and was
hospitalized in the psych ward three times. They tried more medications than
I can list, but he was depressed and suicidal throughout. When the
psychiatrist recommended electric shock treatment, my husband and I realized
we had to get him off all the meds or he was going to die, from the drugs or
by his own hand.

He went off cold turkey in October 1997. This caused severe side
effects, but in about four weeks the worst passed. It took him eight months
to get back to the way he was before taking Prozac–never having suicidal
thoughts, working every day and loving his job.

Answer: Many people find that antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac,
Zoloft, Celexa and Effexor are lifesavers, lifting them out of a pit of
depression. Others report severe side effects.

Nausea, dizziness, anxiety, sexual difficulties and insomnia are not
uncommon. Occasionally such medications cause unbearable restlessness. Some
manufacturers maintain that suicidal thoughts are no more likely among
patients being treated with such drugs than among untreated depressed
people. We have heard many stories like yours, however, especially regarding
the difficulty of discontinuing such drugs suddenly.

* * *
Q: After using Preparation H for several days, my blood pressure went
to 206 over 98, and I ended up in the emergency room for hours.

Later that week, I read in your column that someone else had
experienced the same problem. My doctor was skeptical, to say the least, so
I lent him the clipping. Now he can’t find it to return it.

Would you write about this again? I never had high blood pressure
before in my life. It is always around 130 over 65.

A: Preparation H was reformulated several years ago and now contains
phenylephrine. This compound constricts blood vessels, which can cause an
elevation in blood pressure.

There is a warning on the label: “Do not use this product if you have
heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, or difficulty
in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland unless directed by a
doctor.” Your experience suggests some healthy people also should be wary.

* * *
Q: After being diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, I have
been reading about various treatments, using both conventional and
alternative medications. I had radiation and surgery.

A friend of mine, diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer 15 months
ago, has been taking PC-SPES, an herbal mixture. It costs $90 a month and is
not approved by the FDA. He swears that his PSA is now 0.9. Do you know
anything about this treatment?

A: PC-SPES is a mixture of eight herbal extracts that has estrogen-like
properties. A surprising amount of research has shown that it can lower
testosterone and PSA (prostate-specific antigen, a marker of prostate
cancer). If your physician searches the literature, he or she will discover
reports that might allow this herbal medicine to be part of your treatment.

* * *
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon has a PhD in medical
anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Their column runs every Monday. Send
questions to People’s Pharmacy, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St.,
New York, NY 10017, or e-mail them at pharmacy@…

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9/25/2000 – FDA – “Safety For Sale” – USA Today

More evidence of the FDA’s “dirty laundry” was exposed in today’s USA Today
this morning. Although nothing new, it is marvelous to see the mainstream
press exposing it once again.

Let’s hope that soon something will be done to address this serious public
health risk – the “safety assurances for sale” policies of the FDA. Generally
all that is done is something to assure the public that “all is well” and
there is nothing to fear as they did in the FDA hearings on Prozac and
suicide in 1991. One month after I returned to Utah after that FDA hearing
that assured us of the safety of Prozac, a mother, in my own neighborhood,
butchered and bludgeoned her three children with a hammer and sheep sheering
knife before stabbing herself to death in a cold turkey attempt to get off
Prozac and several other meds her doc (also on Prozac) had put her on. She as
so many could find no one who would wean her off the drugs that she continued
to complain were “turning her brain to mush”.

Do I believe that the blood of those innocent children and their mother is on
the hands of the FDA? You bet I do! I had just witnessed my friend Suzanne
Johnson of Atlanta, GA stand before the FDA and tell them how Prozac had
induced a rare blood disorder that was slowly taking her life and that her
blood was on their hands. (She died the following year.) She also said that
the blood of many others would be on their hands if they did not take a firm
stand in warning the public of the dangers of this drug. They refused and
thousands, upon thousands more have had their lives destroyed as a result.
Five on the panel who voted that day had financial ties to the pharmaceutical
companies, but they were allowed to sign a wavier stating that they would not
allow their money to sway them. Obviously they think we were all born

This practice of buying safety assurances from the FDA MUST end. Hopefully
the we, the ICFDA, can help that to happen. The FDA has not protected the
public for years. That is extremely well documented in Morton Mintz’s
wonderful book A THERAPUTIC NIGTHMARE (1969).

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness


09/25/00- Updated 12:24 AM ET

FDA advisers tied to industry

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

More than half of the experts hired to advise the government on the safety
and effectiveness of medicine have financial relationships with the
pharmaceutical companies that will be helped or hurt by their decisions, a
USA TODAY study found.

These experts are hired to advise the Food and Drug Administration on which
medicines should be approved for sale, what the warning labels should say and
how studies of drugs should be designed.

Number of drug experts available is limited

The experts are supposed to be independent, but USA TODAY found that 54% of
the time, they have a direct financial interest in the drug or topic they are
asked to evaluate. These conflicts include helping a pharmaceutical company
develop a medicine, then serving on an FDA advisory committee that judges the

The conflicts typically include stock ownership, consulting fees or research

Federal law generally prohibits the FDA from using experts with financial
conflicts of interest, but the FDA has waived the restriction more than 800
times since 1998.

These pharmaceutical experts, about 300 on 18 advisory committees, make
decisions that affect the health of millions of Americans and billions of
dollars in drugs sales. With few exceptions, the FDA follows the committees’

The FDA reveals when financial conflicts exist, but it has kept details
secret since 1992, so it is not possible to determine the amount of money or
the drug company involved.

A USA TODAY analysis of financial conflicts at 159 FDA advisory committee
meetings from Jan. 1, 1998, through last June 30 found:

At 92% of the meetings, at least one member had a financial conflict of

At 55% of meetings, half or more of the FDA advisers had conflicts of

Conflicts were most frequent at the 57 meetings when broader issues were
discussed: 92% of members had conflicts.

At the 102 meetings dealing with the fate of a specific drug, 33% of the
experts had a financial conflict.

“The best experts for the FDA are often the best experts to consult with
industry,” says FDA senior associate commissioner Linda Suydam, who is in
charge of waiving conflict-of-interest restrictions.

But Larry Sasich of Public Citizen , an advocacy group, says, “The industry
has more influence on the process than people realize.”

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Suicidal on Prozac.

“…an incredible journey into another world.”


I am another in a long line of Prozac victims. For most of my life I’ve suffered from bouts of depression. After teaching in the public schools for nearly twenty years, I requested Prozac to help with my increasing depression. The following months began an incredible journey into another world.

At first I noticed that my self-confidence was growing. Even in my dreams (which were often fearful and involved my being in overwhelming situations) I began to gain confidence. I remember that in one dream instead of running away in fear, I stood my ground and fought my aggressor. This was an unheard of event! As one who has been given the gift of music but a paralyzing fear of being imperfect thrown in, I began to have the confidence to perform before others and finally get some affirmation.

As you might guess, if the story ended there, all would have been well. However, eventually I began to drink heavily, become very aggressive , and start to behave in ways that were also new to me. I struggled in other areas too personal to mention here in my personal life. Eventually, I saw clearly that my life was a curse to all concerned. One hears that the person who attempts suicide must be a real coward who cares only about himself. On the contrary, I knew that my continued existence was a threat to everyone I cared about. The most loving thing I could do was to end my life before I took others down with me.

I wrote the usual note saying good-by and tried to overdose on everything I could find. I swallowed all the Prozac I had, Benadryl, ….whatever I could find. I went to bed knowing that I was doing the right thing. When I survived and was brought to in the hospital, I was furious at those who had saved me. Learning that my survival was a miracle was not met by me with rejoicing. It took a while for my anger to subside.

At the ward they took me off all medication and watched me carefully. As days passed, it all began to look like a bad dream and I couldn’t imagine why I had attempted suicide. I swore to all it would never happen again. I was eventually dismissed, sent home, and again prescribed an antidepressant. This one was Effexor. Within one year the whole series of events repeated itself and I attempted suicide again…and failed. This attempt was strange. I had had a wonderful day but had ended it with a disagreement with my son. Without so much of a second thought, I was swallowing pills to kill myself!

Obviously, after my survival the psychiatrists still didn’t consider the fact that although I had been depressed most of my life I had never attempted suicide until I was put on these new antidepressants. I went back on Prozac this time. However, I was beginning to get a feeling on my own that the medication might be the cause. However, to stop and face depression with nothing was frightening. I decided to cut my dosage from 20 mg to 10 mg a day. This small drop seemed to help immensely. I just never told the doctors. Still with even 10 mg I could become furious easily. I just didn’t totally lose it.

Then I discovered you on the internet and found out about all the other people like me. Last week I stopped the Prozac and began taking ST. John’s Wort instead. I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps, I’ll continue with the herbs. Maybe not. I don’t like taking anything, but from what I’ve learned on the web, SJW doesn’t affect a person like Prozac. I guess I will eventually find out, won’t I?

Well, that is my very condensed story. I have decided to order your book if for no other reason than to reinforce my decision not to return to Prozac.

Thank you for coming out like you have against the drug companies and helping those of us who have been so misled. I hope my story ends happily.


Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 84.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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Between Laughter and Tears on Zoloft, Prozac and Wellbutrin (Zyban)

“…drugs are always give and take. This is not worth the take.”


I’ve been taking Zoloft or Prozac or Wellbutrin (Zyban) for several years. During some parts of this I began drinking heavily to the point of black outs and complete craziness. Most doctors called me an alcoholic. I had been drinking for several years for fun but never had any problems. I am in Law school right now and feel that I can’t remember well or that I have killed brains cells. I feel like I don’t care and like I am trapped inside of another body. The Doctor put my husband on Paxil and that was when I realized we both had to get off the drugs. This is day three and I fluctuate between either laughter or tears. I cried all the way through my patent law class. Deep down inside I know there are problems because, I have never been a C student. Some people say that Law school is hard but I also have a degree in Biochemistry which is a lot harder.

My science background though general in this area alerts me to the fact that there is a balance in all bodily mechanisms and drugs are always give and take. This is not worth the take.

I agree that something should be done. Western medicine which trains our DRS. is not ample for these people to make these assessments. Further, we are always the first real clinical trial because testing does not occur outside the lower animal kingdom until the FDA approves the drug. One doesn’t have to be an elitist to note the difference between our brains and those of lower animals. Further, it is clear that people are effected very differently, this also shouldn’t be that big of a surprise because we have a history incapable of adequate diagnosis in the mental health area. Drug companies are usually the people that pay in class action suits of this nature. This is big business for them and very possible that we have not been given all of the facts even with respect to their animal testing and in vitro experiments. (i.e. tobacco industry) Neurological safety can be nothing less than theoretical, to argue any more than this would put us in a completely reductionist framework when this has not been accomplished scientifically. In other words, we do not yet have proof that our brains operate on one to one biochemical pathways. Even if this were true, there is certainly some interesting conceptually different mechanism at work between individuals. My problem is that once FDA approval goes through because this is a rigorous process, then what do they do to track the “real” test subjects. Arguably here we are left to fend for ourselves because there is a point at which the market takes over all sense of humanity.


Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 85.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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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

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Prozac prescribed for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

“It was, by far, the most terrifying experience of my life; I literally felt like I was losing my mind, being taken over by an alien force.”


To make an excruciatingly long story tolerably short, I was given Prozac for Chronic Fatigue syndrome by my GP. I was on it for a year with no major problems, in fact I quite liked the unsought-for increase in confidence, sociability, etc.

After stopping, I began experiencing a whole host of ‘mental problems’ that I’d never had before. This began as a strange and almost indescribable difference in perception; it was as if I saw things without any emotional response. Even the simple, everyday things — looking at a tree, a dog, being in a roomful of people listening to conversation – took on a bizarre, otherworldly aspect. It was as if I were on some kind of anesthetic while still awake. This escalated over a period of several months until it took on the form of full-blown depersonalization disorder. At the same time, I began experiencing episodes of derealization and extreme LSD-like experiences, a constant experience of mental impairment, and severe loss of short-term memory. My doctor said he’d never heard of such a thing and referred me to a psychiatrist, who proceeded to tell me that this wasn’t caused by the drug, but that my ‘illness’ had gotten worse. ‘What illness,’ quoth I. ‘Your depression,’ quoth he. When I told him that never had depression, just fatigue and food allergies, and I’d certainly never had any of these extreme forms of mental illness before or anything remotely like them, he looked at me blankly for a minute, and then somehow convinced me that they had just ‘happened,’ that my condition had just coincidentally deteriorated, that I’d always ‘really been depressed’ and just hadn’t known it, and that what I needed to do to make these things go away was to go back on the drug. I was in desperate straits, scared out of my wits and appeared to have no other options. I did as he said, re-started Prozac. All the symptoms immediately got worse. I was having constant, unremitting LSD-like experiences, horrible, nauseatingly violent dreams, a constant state of unremitting depersonalization and derealization to the point where I could barely function. It was, by far, the most terrifying experience of my life; I literally felt like I was losing my mind, being taken over by an alien force.

I went to several other psychiatrists to try to find an ‘expert’ who could explain all of this. Dr. Daniel Aurbach (quoted in a recent story in Newsweek as a Prozac authority) told me that he’d never heard of Prozac causing any of these phenomena, that I should not worry, it was ‘a very safe drug.’ Dr. Deborah Nadel of UCLA told me that she’d ‘bet money’ that this had nothing to do with Prozac, that I should increase the dose, and that I needed to take Klonopin for my ‘anxiety,’ and go into therapy, which I did for several weeks. Eventually, I could no longer bear the asininity of sitting in a room talking to this woman about my childhood while tripping my brains out on a drug, hallucinating and having out-of-the-body experiences, nauseatingly violent dreams (when I was even able to sleep) and not being able to remember what I did yesterday. I expressed my concerns to Dr. Nadel about the approach we were taking; she told me that I should take a neuroleptic (anti-psychotic medication). To my eternal credit, I did not throw her out the window, but, patient guy that I am, went to a few more shrinks. They all told me basically the same things:

Prozac doesn’t do this, you must have ‘already’ been mentally disturbed (or this just ‘happened,’ nothing to do with the drug), all reports of adverse effects from Prozac were started by the Scientologists, why don’t you try a neuroleptic, they’re safe in small doses, etc. etc. etc. One morning, after waking up in sheer terror from a particularly horrible dream in which men in masks were ripping first the eye-balls and then the brains out of two young girls, I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, letting the water in the sink run to give me something other than my mind to listen to. ‘Jesus,’ I thought, ‘what the *hell* could a dream like that possibly mean? What is happening to me?’ ‘It doesn’t matter,’ said a clear, calm voice in my mind, ‘because I’m going to kill myself.’

In that moment, I realized that I didn’t give a rat’s ass what any psychiatrist said. I was stopping this shit no matter what. I’d walked into this with a mild case of fatigue and some food allergies, and now I’m sitting here on the edge of psychosis with a voice telling me to off myself. I don’t think so.

I went to a doctor I’d seen several years before, Dr. Murray Susser, one of the foremost authorities on the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related disorders. I knew that he had prescribed anti-depressant medications (I’d read his book), and I also knew him to be a knowledgeable, widely educated, intelligent and decent man. I told him my story. When I got to the part about everybody telling me that it ‘couldn’t be the drug,’ he looked up from his notes and said “Bullshit! It’s the drug. I see this kind of thing all the time. I don’t know how these psychiatrists can be in such denial, the literature is full of reactions like this.” We talked for a long time, figuring out a workable program for safely tapering off the drug, and for trying to get myself back in shape afterward. I left his office feeling hope for the first time in eight months.

Happily, right at that time, I found the book ‘Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?’ by Ann Blake Tracy, which I promptly read. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel; this book described everything that had happened to me in great detail, gave scientific reasons why it happened, backed it all up with solid research, included testimonials from hundreds of others in the same situation, and even gave me some insight as to how seven of the top psychiatrists in LA could be so amazingly, criminally inept.

I thought about suing them. For about thirty seconds. How could I prove what this stuff has done to me? For me, the most frightening aspect of this whole adventure, even more so than journeying to the brink of insanity, is the realization that these psychiatrists have all this power and authority to proclaim what is and isn’t real as regards your own mental function and sense of self, whether they have any real idea what they’re talking about or not. [I’ve learned that] SSRI’s can, in fact, cause LSD-like experiences, due to their artificial raising of 5HT (the chemical that LSD achieves its effect by mimicking). However, it’s not ‘fun, trippy acid’ kind of stuff. It’s more like LSD mixed with PCP mixed with anesthesia, mixed with Sulfur from the Pits of Hell, and like the energizer bunny, it keeps going and going and going…

As for depersonalization disorder (something the docs all told me Prozac couldn’t be the cause of): it’s listed right on the package insert as a possible side-effect. Too bad none of these guys thought it worth-while to give to me. Or read…..I like to learn from my experiences. In searching for positive aspects to this whole thing, I can say I now have at least some idea what schizophrenia might be like. For whatever that’s worth.


Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 82.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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