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

692 total views, 2 views today

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

957 total views, no views today

Mother of Four Suffers Extreme Anxiety on Prozac

“Please God, let people learn about this so that it does not happen to others.”

 

Hi, I am a 32-year-old mother of 4. I have a wonderful husband, and family. When my baby was a couple weeks old, I went to the doctor (nurse practitioner) to have my thyroid checked out. She asked how I was doing, and I said I was doing really good but I was tired and irritable. (Being a mother of 4 and a new baby that is how I was supposed to be.)
She recommended Prozac, so I thought what the heck I will use it. She sent me home with a 5-day supply, and a prescription. I was on it for 15 days when I totally freaked out. I woke up with period-like cramps because I was due to start my period, and then I got a full blown panic attack. My body was on fire the skin burned from head to toe. I broke out into a cold sweat, but was hot. It was awful.

For the next 3 1/2 weeks it continued. I thought I was going crazy. In this time I saw 2 ER doctors, 2 Endocrinologists (to make sure it was not my thyroid) and 3 different family practitioners. They all said I had developed panic attacks, and sent me to a psychologist, who prescribed Ativan and Xanax which made things worse. Then a sleeping pill. Well I did not use these drugs only a couple of times.

On the 15th day of taking Prozac, I stopped taking it because I knew it had to be the Prozac although the doctors did not agree. And I never touched it since. It has been 33 days since I have taken Prozac and I am better. At least I am sleeping better. But the anxiety is awful and I still have panic attacks. I have been told to maybe try another SSRI to help with the panic and anxiety and I say NO WAY!

I will never touch the stuff again, I am so scared I have to get better. I have 4 children to take care of. And it is wearing on my husband. Sometimes I think maybe I just went crazy, and the Prozac had nothing to do with it. But then my family all says it was the Prozac.
Please God, let people learn about this so that it does not happen to others. I was a lucky one who was smart enough to not take anything else. What about those who don’t know better. How will they end up? I would have been dead or in a mental hospital. Who would have taken care of my children? I thank my sister-in-law. She has been my support through this. She talked me through my panic attacks, and I love her very much. She really cared about me, and without hers I am not sure where I would be.

Please post this and pass the word along. and anyone please feel free to contact me I am here for anyone who needs support.

CYNTHIA
valarie30@yahoo.com

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 66.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

806 total views, no views today

One Woman’s Experience with Prozac

“I feel that many women get drugs [because doctors] cannot spend time over a period of several years with a patient to discover what is really wrong.”

 

Several years ago I got divorced and was of course very upset during this period. I went to several “talk” therapists who I did not feel comfortable with. Like buying any other service you have to shop around for someone who can help you that you also feel comfortable with, whether it is drug and/or talk therapy. After running through several therapists, I ended up with a drug-oriented therapist who prescribed Prozac and monthly monitoring sessions. I then took the Prozac for “depression” (due to on-going life problems and some poor life skills of course I was depressed) for six months and decided not to take it any more for the following reasons:

a. during the six months I took the Prozac, I got six ear and/or sinus infections. I usually get one to two bad colds a year, maybe the flu or a strep throat.

b. my joints ached clicked, especially in my jaws. My dentist of long standing took x-rays and discovered “previously undiagnosed” TMJ and I had to go through expensive dental therapy for this during the time I was on the Prozac. The dentist asked me if I was taking any prescription drugs, which I told him about the Prozac. He said he had done part of his internship in a mental hospital, as well as working there on a part time basis to earn money for school, and Prozac and Zoloft were often given to the patients to chill them out and be more controllable for the staff, and not to really help them with any illnesses or anything going on in their lives.

c. various other “miscellaneous” symptoms including weight gain, a lot of weight, even though this medicine was also supposed to make me both lose weight and not want to eat as in Meridia (affects serotonin levels). I did not want to eat for about the first two weeks I was on this drug (about the standard life-cycle of over-the-counter diet medicine available at your local drug store, and then as it began to “work” (“it takes a month to work,” said the doctor), my appetite returned plus some. In my experience it is supposed to make you “happy” but it makes you “overeat happily”, or keep on with your behavior that needed change before the drugs or in other words happily not address whatever your issues were before you started taking the Prozac.

d. my blood prolactin levels went way up. At my next gynecological exam I told the doctor (the gynecologist, not the psychiatrist) about the weight gain and the prolactin levels. Before I even had a chance to say I was on Prozac, he said “are you taking anti-depressants” and that in his experience these were common side effects of taking anti-depressants. This was a very good doctor who I had seen for years, and he knew I was in the middle of a divorce. His opinion was that the anti-depressants were not going settle a bad life experience and I should get someone to talk to rather than prescribe drugs and that if I really wanted something to “take the edge off so I could cope,” there were many older, way milder, and more effective drugs to take, just for a short time, until things calmed down in my life.

e. I never had anyone suggest that maybe a complete physical would also help. I am still very overweight and they want to give me Meridia for it. My insurance will not pay for this or Xenical because they say there are too many side effects they said it causes enough side effects for them to begin to see it as “uneconomic” because they would have to pay to cure the (preventable and avoidable) side effects and that they won’t pay for it and that it would be foolish for me as well to pay out of pocket good money that I don’t have for something with many serious side effects and minimal/marginal good effects. I have also been on birth control pills for medical reasons not to do with avoiding pregnancy (another story) with similar effects to the Prozac.

f. I stopped taking the Prozac, fortunately no side effects, and found a therapist that I liked, in this case a “feminist.” Unfortunately by this time my insurance was close to running out so I had to space out visits, and then I had to pay out of pocket because I had to change to a health plan she did not use.

g. Unfortunately the health insurers do not like to pay for talk therapy, it seems to me because it easier to pay for one 15-minute visit monthly than for one or two weekly sessions that might go on for a year or two, in addition to visits for medication if the person needs that as well. It also seems that there is no way to “shop around” for a person who can help you without using up your allowed visits. So people who could use the help end up with not enough help or the wrong help or no help or end up in a clinic.

h. I feel that many women get drugs (because they are women, a social issue) and that doctors either do not understand what the drugs really do or cannot spend time over a period of several years with a patient to discover what is really wrong that may take a while to discover, such as endometriosis, PCOD, women’s physiology, life problems, and we just get pills thrown at us to make us happy with the status quo instead of just listening. We know the doctors have many patients and not much time and we don’t need them to kiss the ground we walk on but we would like to feel that we are listened to.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 70.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

635 total views, 4 views today

My Alcohol Craving on Prozac

“I am feeling so angry and deceived by the medical profession.”

 

I was shocked to read the report on alcohol.html (Alcohol Cravings Induced via Increased Serotonin) I was on Prozac for 8 miserable years. During that time I gained a lot of weight but more importantly I constantly craved alcohol, like daily. The psychiatrist and psychologist lectured me about drinking yet I continued, always feeling guilty and ashamed. I am not now, nor have I ever been an alcoholic!
Last November I weaned myself off Prozac, I was concerned that my weight dropped so rapidly but not feeling ill, I was pleased. More importantly, at the same time I lost all desire to drink alcohol. I am feeling so angry and deceived by the medical profession. I was never told that Prozac was the reason for my huge weight gain never mind the alcohol craving. This is shocking information and I thank you.

Ann K.

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 48.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

777 total views, no views today

Young Son’s Frightening Reactions on Zoloft, Prozac and Luvox

“I just know they will want to give him SSRI’s and I can’t let him go through that again.”

 

I’m writing to you about my son’s experience with three of the SSRI’s. First I give you permission to use this story on the Internet, but I don’t wish my name to be used and I don’t wish my e-mail address to be used.

My son was diagnosed with OCD when he was in the fifth grade. He was 11 years old at the time, but he’d had OCD for a couple of years before we took him to a therapist. He is now 17 years of age and doesn’t take any SSRI’s because of the bad reactions he had with Zoloft, Prozac, and Luvox.

The first drug he was given was Zoloft. I forget what age he began taking it but I believe he was 13 at the time. The first day he took Zoloft he began feeling much better which they said was unusual because it usually takes a week or more for it to take affect. After about a month of taking Zoloft he had bad reactions so they took him off it. After awhile they gave him Prozac and in about a month he was having reactions to it also.

He always was such a loving child, but he started to change before our eyes. He had always been so nice with our dogs and cats but now he was trying to mistreat them. We had to watch him all the time for fear of what he might do to them. He was going to therapy at the time and of course, they didn’t believe that the Prozac was the culprit. In fact the therapist told us we should call the police if he kept mistreating our pets. He said they wouldn’t take him to jail but would talk to him and tell him what he was doing was wrong.

We couldn’t do such a thing to him so we just kept an eye on him when he was outside alone. Finally, they decided the Prozac wasn’t working and decided to try Luvox. By this time he was 14 years of age. As usual the drug worked for about three weeks then all hell broke loose.

We had to watch him all the time. We had a very large dog and it loved to watch our son when he’d go out to practice basketball, but Ryan didn’t like that anymore so one day I was watching out the window and there he was lifting the doghouse, which was one of those dogloos, with the dog in it and turning it over. It scared the dog so bad that from then on whenever Ryan came out the poor dog would run into his doghouse and hide.

We also have cats and whenever they noticed Ryan coming near to them they’d run, for fear of what he might do to them. He also changed toward all of us. Sometimes if I was sitting at the table with my back to him he would come up behind me and put one hand on each shoulder and press down as hard as he could. He also did this to his older sister.

It got to the point where we were becoming afraid of him, but we didn’t let him know that. I should tell you here that Ryan’s OCD ritual consists of repetition of speech, it’s too difficult to explain, but suffice it to say it’s a very aggravating thing for him and for his family.

He depended on us to answer him in a certain way so we were drawn into the ritual with him. One day when we went to therapy the therapist pulled me aside and told me when Ryan did the ritual I should say to him that I wouldn’t cooperate with him anymore. One evening I decided I’d try it because the ritual he was going through at the time had gone on for over an hour and I really couldn’t stand it anymore.

So I said to him what the therapist had told me to say and he began acting like he was totally crazy. Believe it or not, our entire family which consists of one older brother and one older sister and my husband and myself were up the entire night with him ranting and raving and running all over the house and trying to run outside.

At one time he went to the drawer where I kept the butcher knives and got a knife out and acted like he was going to stab himself. We got it out of his hand and then he took off running to his bedroom which was upstairs. I don’t know how I did it, but I was right behind him and made it in the door before he could lock me out. It was a nightmare for all of us.

We didn’t have any sleep all night and neither did he. He talked every minute for almost twelve hours. We had an appointment with the therapist and doctor the next morning and took him in early. He was pacing in the waiting room talking constantly. He was actually talking out of his head. When we went into the doctor’s office Ryan’s therapist was sitting in the room also and Ryan didn’t even notice him being there.

They wanted to send him to the hospital but I wouldn’t let them because I didn’t want him to be drugged up even more. We quit the therapist and haven’t been back since. That was almost three years ago. I did take him off the Luvox slowly. Now he doesn’t go to any therapists because I just know they will want to give him SSRI’s and I can’t let him go through that again.

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 53.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

640 total views, 1 views today

Cataracts from Prozac

“I have seen four eye doctors and they all are stumped as to why I got cataracts.”

 

I was on Prozac for about half a year and stopped taking it because I could no longer tolerate the side effects. Now four years later I have developed cataracts in both eyes (20/200) and had to have my natural lens replaced with “plastic”.
I’m only 38, never abused my self and have always been healthy. I am a pilot / flight instructor and have always worn ray ban sunglasses. I have seen four eye doctors and they all are stumped as to why I got cataracts. Do you think that the use of Prozac may have caused cataracts? And are there others out there going through this besides me? I’d really like to know.
Thanks.

If the doctors Glenn has seen were aware of the doubling of cortisol levels with only one single 30 mg dose of Prozac, they would not be stumped as to why he got cataracts. This type of steroid effect has long been linked to cataracts and many other serious physical effects. For any additional information on eye problems reported with SSRIs see Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? (800-280-0730)

Glenn
glennbarclay@yahoo.com

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 42.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

1,010 total views, 1 views today

Suicidal Wife on Paxil Shoots Husband

“I know it’s the Paxil.”

 

Attached is a photo of my sister Suzanne and her family. They live in Silverton, OR. She married Matthew Miles @ 5 years ago and they had Maddie on October 13, 1997. Suzanne’s 2 older girls, Brittany, 17, and April, 13, are from previous relationships. Suzanne began taking Prozac quite a number of years ago (about 7) and everything was fine. Then last year she said it wasn’t helping anymore. Her doctor told her to double her dosage. It started making her feel crazy – twitching, anxiety attacks. So they switched her to Paxil. She began taking Paxil in mid-January 2000. On February 29th, she shot and killed her husband Matthew. He was just 31 years old. Maddie has lost her father. My nieces’ have lost their mother and is in jail for killing him. My sister says that she started feeling suicidal and went to her husband’s work to kill herself in front of him. She doesn’t know why but she shot him instead. She and Matt had recently separated and I know the DA is going to try to say that she was distraught over the breakup, but I know it’s the Paxil. After reading all of the emails sent by you and reading the articles on the internet, we now need to prove that it was the Paxil and not just a woman killing her husband for leaving her.

I hope that your lawsuit will help in the fight of changing how these drugs are prescribed. They are dangerous and should not be prescribed like they are in most cases – “Here – try this. See if this helps.”

I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I can’t imagine what it might be like losing your child.

Jill Robertson
2321 Eaton Avenue
San Carlos, CA 94070

 

7/31/2000

This is Survivor Story number 15.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

785 total views, 1 views today

Awake for 800 Hours Straight and Unable to Function after just 25mg of Paxil

“Did I undergo a ‘chemical lobotomy?'”

 

In January of 2000 I fell into a deep depression over complications following laser eye surgery.

[Note from Dr. Tracy: Keep in mind that many go into depression after surgery as an after effect of anesthesia and/or pain killers – many of which are also serotonergic medications. The logical thing to do in this instance is to rest, get good nutrition and wait out the after/withdrawal effects rather than adding yet another serotonergic drug as is done so often.

I had no family locally, and was calling them daily for support. I became unable to focus at work, so they urged me to get medical treatment. I asked my psychotherapist for a reference; he sent me to a family practice MD. That is when things went from bad to worse.

I had no psychiatric history prior to this and had always been a healthy, physically active (a real athlete), artistic (songwriter), productive individual. I am a software engineer, and so I also had a mentally demanding job which I excelled at. That all changed after taking Paxil, which this MD gave me after only a 5 minute consultation (he had never seen me before). Unfortunately I was a nervous wreck at that point, and did not ask any questions. He did little more than read from the “starter kit” literature:

“Paxil – indicated for depression, indicated for OCD…”. If it had been Prozac the alarm bells may have gone off, but I had never heard of ‘Paxil’ and was desperate for help. I left with the twenty-one day starter kit.

I took the first 10 mg pill on a Friday, and only took 25mg (2.5 tablets) of Paxil over the next four days. But this seemingly innocuous amount made my life hell. I could no longer sleep, EVEN A MINUTE, for five weeks! That’s correct, I was up 24hrs a day for the next five weeks, staring at the ceiling and locked in a mental fog around the clock. I emphasize this because it is so amazing. I would not have believed that it was humanly possible to go that long without sleep, but I lived through it. It would be five weeks before my eyes would close again.

I should have known I was in trouble when the first pill started the insomnia, made me hop around like a rabbit, while the second 10mg pill gave me the sensation of my frontal lobe being set on fire. It sent me into a drug trip, fantasizing about my death constantly. I didn’t seem to have control of my thoughts either, as my mental processes seized up like gears that haven’t been oiled. My drug sensitivity probably made me very vulnerable to adverse effects. But my very pure organic diet should have helped to counter the adverse effects. I had eliminated all caffeine from my diet years ago due to this chemical sensitivity. It also took much longer than normal to awake from anesthesia after any surgery, and my natural energy level was always very high.

Because of being trapped in this zombie-like state, I was having suicidal urges for the first time in my life. Also, I tried to work, but I would just come in to the office, sit for a few minutes in front of the monitor and then turn around and leave. I couldn’t initiate and complete anything even of moderate mental complexity, even responding to e-mails, so it was hopeless. Thoughts would just fizzle out.

How to escape this living hell? After day four my feeling was “I have to get these things out of my system!”. So I took nothing else (although the MD said “cut it back to half a tablet”). Every day I was desperately wanting to fall asleep, even for a few minutes, but it just wouldn’t happen. When would the Paxil leave my system — what was happening? As the sleepless days progressed, I got foggier and foggier, finally to the point that even dialing a phone number became a mental feat.

This downward spiral progressed for the full five weeks, until my parents came to get me. I was no longer eating, no longer leaving the apartment for anything, and was simply wasting away. So, five weeks after quitting cold turkey and getting zero sleep in that time, I was admitted to a hospital as I was unable to function.

In the psychiatric ward I was given Zyprexa, Klonopin and Depakote, having been diagnosed there as manic (who wouldn’t be after being up day and night for five weeks?). This was a misdiagnosis, I believe, and more drugs in my system just fanned the fire. I was able to finally get 2-3 hours of sleep a night, but I found that a drug induced sleep is not a restful, refreshing sleep.

I then went home to stay with my parents as I was unable to care for myself for the first time in my life (I am 36). A psychiatrist in my parents hometown kept me on these three medications for another week until he switched to Effexor for a week, followed by Neurontin for several weeks, and then he added Zoloft in mid-March. I was reluctant, but my well-meaning parents were completely trusting and would not let me skip any prescribed medication as I was still suicidal. I took just one 50mg dose of Zoloft and I immediately “locked up again” mentally as before. The insomnia resumed, too. I begged my parents to take me to see someone else. Unfortunately this guy was the only psychiatrist in a 50 mile radius, but we persisted and found someone an hour away.

This MD was the first medical professional to actually acknowledge that the psychotropics made me suffer. She recommended that I have nothing else, and return to an organic diet (which I had been on since 1990!). She gave me dietary guidelines for depression, most of which I had been following already. It took less time to get back to sleeping at night after the Zoloft (was my body building a tolerance?), but after a week or so I was sleeping 3-4 hrs. a night.

It is now July and I have had no medication since. Yet, I have a foggy feeling still, my memory is not as sharp, and my abstract reasoning/problem solving ability is compromised. I feel a vague numbness in my forehead also, similar to a mild hangover, a lingering reminder of the near catatonic state I was in originally. Nothing is the same, nothing is as sharp or clear or enjoyable as it was before. Dr. Joseph Glenmullen’s book “Prozac Backlash” has given me some insight into what may have happened to me. Did I undergo a ‘chemical lobotomy’ and lose axons or other brain tissue? It is a scary thought. But I have learned some things.

I now know that the chance of a doctor completely informing you is slim. He may not even be withholding information: He just may not know himself of all of the possible side affects. I also know that there is no “standard dosage” that is safe for everybody. If you are drug sensitive, perhaps it is better to start with a half a tablet of a new medication than to risk an extreme reaction as I did? Or, better still, to avoid drugs at all costs… to be used only as a last resort.

Good health to you all.

Bruce

7/25/2000

This is Survivor Story number 16.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

954 total views, 1 views today

7/24/2000 – Prozac [Sarafem] and PMS – What’s in a name?

Once again we thank Vera Hassner Sharav, President, CIRCARE: Citizens for
Responsible Care & Research, a Human Rights organization, for passing on this
interesting commentary on Prozac’s name being changed to Sarafem for PMS. The
dangers of interaction leading to serotonin syndrome – a life threatening
complication of serotonergic medications – is most obvious in all of these
name changes.

Ann Blake-Tracy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://mentalhealth.about.com/health/mentalhealth/library/weekly/aa071700a.htm

Prozac and PMS – What’s in a name?
Leonard Holmes, Ph.D.

Drug companies are doing some interesting things to the names of their
products. The FDA recently approved the chemical fluoxetine for the treatment
of symptoms related to PMS – Premenstrual Syndrome (officially known as PMDD
– pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder). Fluoxetine is sold by Eli Lilly and
Company under the name Prozac. Will women with PMS be taking prescriptions
for Prozac to their pharmacist? Not likely. Lilly has decided to rename the
drug Sarafem when it is prescribed for this problem. Why the new name?
Lilly’s official position follows:

The additional trademark will help with educational efforts for this largely
underrecognized disorder while reducing confusion about the differences
between depression and PMDD. (Lilly Newsroom 7/00)

What about the confusion that is added by two different names for the same
chemical? What happens when a patient gets Prozac from one doctor and
Sarafem from another?

Prozac has a mixed reputation. While some have hailed it as the first in a
class of wonder drugs others have implicated it it in some cases of suicidal
behavior. There have never been any substantiated cases of suicidal behavior
traced to Prozac or any other antidepressant. Lilly has a response to these
rumors too:

Concerning media allegations of Prozac and suicide there is no credible
evidence that establishes a causal link between Prozac and violent or
suicidal behavior. In fact, in September 1991, a panel of experts appointed
by the FDA found no credible evidence of a causal link between the use of
antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, and suicidal or violent behavior.
(Lilly Newsroom quoted 7/00)

This is not the first time that a drug company has given a new name to the
same medication. In 1997 bupropion was approved for smoking cessation. This
medication, better known by the trade name Wellbutrin was re-christened Zyban
when used for smoking cessation. That’s why the Zyban ads warn you not to
take it if you are taking Wellbutrin. Not much fuss was made about this at
the time, but it seems to have started a trend.

Steve Cartun, M.D. did write to protest the renaming back in 1997. His logic
still rings true, and there is a great deal of irony in the example that he
used at the time. An excerpt:

New indications for old medications have become a staple of
psychopharmocology. Prozac, for example, originally introduced as an
antidepressant, has since garnered FDA approval for the treatment of
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Eli-Lilly, the company that manufactures and
holds the patent for Prozac, did not rename it’s product simply because it
had earned a new indication. Even though Prozac had been subjected to false
and damaging statements, Eli-Lilly chose not to fashion it in newer clothes.
The renaming of Wellbutrin by the same company that manufactures it, simply
because research studies show that it has a new and valuable use, gravely
concerns me….

The renaming of medications is a dangerous semantic. While a pharmaceutical
company can argue that a new name that gains wider use will ultimately help
the patient, I believe that such a measure treats physicians like naive
consumers who care more about a logo than the gritty science that logo
represents. Perhaps this is an alarming symptom of how trivialized the
importance of reality, at the expense of marketing, is becoming. Physicians
have already been renamed health care providers. Wellbutrin is now being
named Zyban for a new use. An industry insider once told me that the letter
“Z” is particularly useful for gaining audience attention. I hope that Zyban
gains all the attention it can to prevent this naming process from becoming a
trend. Enough misrepresentation. Convolution must be resisted. If it
continues, the meaning of health care will become even more lost than it is
now. (Cartun, 1997)

I’m afraid that Dr. Cartun’s hopes have not been realized. Lilly has renamed
Prozac to appeal to women with PMS who might otherwise shy away from the
medication. It’s hard enough to keep track of all of the different
medications out there. We shouldn’t have to keep track of multiple trade
names for the same medication from the same company.

Excerpt from a 1997 letter by Dr. Steve Cartun:

New indications for old medications have become a staple of
psychopharmocology. Prozac, for example, originally introduced as an
antidepressant, has since garnered FDA approval for the treatment of
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Eli-Lilly, the company that manufactures and
holds the patent for Prozac, did not rename it’s product simply because it
had earned a new indication. Even though Prozac had been subjected to false
and damaging statements, Eli-Lilly chose not to fashion it in newer clothes.
The renaming of Wellbutrin by the same company that manufactures it, simply
because research studies show that it has a new and valuable use, gravely
concerns me….

The renaming of medications is a dangerous semantic. While a pharmaceutical
company can argue that a new name that gains wider use will ultimately help
the patient, I believe that such a measure treats physicians like naive
consumers who care more about a logo than the gritty science that logo
represents. Perhaps this is an alarming symptom of how trivialized the
importance of reality, at the expense of marketing, is becoming. Physicians
have already been renamed health care providers. Wellbutrin is now being
named Zyban for a new use. An industry insider once told me that the letter
“Z” is particularly useful for gaining audience attention. I hope that Zyban
gains all the attention it can to prevent this naming process from becoming a
trend. Enough misrepresentation. Convolution must be resisted. If it
continues, the meaning of health care will become even more lost than it is
now. (Cartun, 1997)

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