The Aftermath of Antidepressants

The Aftermath Of Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Fen-Phen, & Many Other Serotonergic Drugs

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

Ann Blake-Tracy has specialized for 10 years in adverse reactions to serotonergic medications. She is the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness (www.drugawareness.org) and author of the book PROZAC:PANACEA OR PANDORA?

WARNING: IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT A GRADUAL TAPERING OFF OF MEDICATIONS IS SAFEST WITHDRAWAL METHOD TO AVOID SERIOUS WITHDRAWAL EFFECTS

Often there is the terrible withdrawal associated with the SSRIs. Unless patients are warned to come very slowly off these drugs by shaving minuscule amounts off their pills each day, as opposed to cutting them in half or taking a pill every other day, they can go into terrible withdrawal which is generally delayed several months. This withdrawal includes bouts of overwhelming depression, terrible insomnia and fatigue, and can include life-threatening physical effects, psychosis, or violent outbursts.

Note: Keep in mind that these drugs are all serotonergic agents and clones or “copy cat” drugs of Prozac – the first SSRI antidepressant introduced to the market in America. Basically what applies to one, applies to the others. For instance we have more data out on Prozac because it has been around longer, but as the mode of action is the same for all of these meds the effects will be the same for the other drugs on this list as it is for Prozac. If we are discussing one drug, similar effects would be expected from any other company’s version of the drug. In fact it would be more honest to give them the titles of Prozac #1, Prozac #2,Prozac #3, etc. rather than the brand names they have been given, from the second clone, Zoloft, to the latest Prozac clone, Celexa.

My concern is that each new SSRI introduced seems to be a little stronger on serotonin reuptake and therefore potentially more dangerous. And the all too common practice of going from one SSRI to another blocks additional receptors and magnifies the harmful effects of these medications. It is crucial to learn that according to medical research the theory behind this group of drugs is invalid. Known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are designed to block serotonin in the brain, thereby increasing brain levels of this neurotransmitter. Yet for three decades researchers have been intensely interested in serotonin because LSD and PCP produce their psychedelic effects by mimicking serotonin. Elevated serotonin is found in: psychosis or schizophrenia, mood disorders, organic brain disease, mental retardation, autism and Alzheimer’s. While low levels of the metabolism of serotonin (which also produces high serotonin), are found in those with: depression, anxiety, suicide, violence, arson, substance abuse, insomnia, violent nightmares, impulsive behavior, reckless driving, exhibitionism, hostility, argumentative behavior, etc. The drugs increase serotonin and decrease the metabolism of serotonin leading to any and all of the above results. This information is extremely crucial for patients and physicians to learn as soon as possible. We have a high rate of use of these drugs nationwide. Raising serotonin and lowering the metabolism of serotonin in such a large number of people can produce very serious, widespread and long term problems for all of society.

So why are we now in the 90’s being told that increased serotonin is good for us? Is it because it is good for the pocketbooks of the manufacturers? One manufacturer is running full page newspaper and magazine ads and half hour TV infomercials to bring in over $7 million daily, while on the other hand they are settling Prozac suicide cases for huge amounts of money in exchange for silence from victim’s families on the details of those settlements. The silence in the court cases insures that the drug will be allowed to finish out its patent time, thus bringing in the highest possible profits for the company. They know that with $7 million coming in daily, they can afford to settle a large number of lawsuits and still come out “smelling like a rose” financially.

Eli Lilly has been sued for Prozac related deaths in numerous state and federal courts with most of these cases being settled or dismissed – many were dismissed due to the unethical manipulation of the Wesbecker verdict
(see time line for details).

We have witnessed no decrease in suicide, but increases in murder/suicide, suicide, unwed pregnancies, domestic violence, manic-depression, MS, hypoglycemia, diabetes, bankruptcies, divorce, mothers (parents) killing children, road rage, school shootings, cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia since these serotonergic drugs have become so popular and I relate it directly to the effects of these drugs.

The death toll has continued to climb drastically since I wrote PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? Some of the cases you may be familiar with are:

1. Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hartman (Zoloft), Prozac was found in the van of Mark Barton, the Atlanta day trader, who recently killed his family and others in a shooting spree before taking his own life;
2. Neal Furrow, in LA Jewish school shooting was reported to have been court ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications;
3. The Salt Lake Family History Library shooting;
4. School shootings in Littleton, Colorado (Luvox), Atlanta, Georgia, Springfield, Oregon (Prozac), and Caldwell, Idaho;
5. Another boy in Pocatello, ID in 1998 who in seizure activity from Zoloft had a stand off at the school;
6. 15 year old Chris Shanahan (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman;
7. The shooting at the lottery in Connecticut last spring by Matthew Beck (Luvox) that left five dead in a murder/suicide;
8. The New York City Subway bombing by Edward Leary (Prozac);
9. Nick Mansies (Paxil) in New Jersey who was convicted of killing a little boy who was selling cookies door to door;
10. In Orange County, CA Dana Sue Gray (Paxil) who co-workers described as a very caring nurse killed several elderly people;
11. Officer Stephen Christian (Prozac) one of the finest officers on the Dallas Police force, who ran into a police substation shooting at fellow officers and was killed;
12. 13 year old Chris Fetters (Prozac) in Iowa who killed her favorite aunt;
13. David Rothman (Prozac) killed two co-workers and himself at the Dept. of Agriculture in Ingelwood, CA;
14. Williams Evans (Zoloft) shot one co-worker at the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services before shooting himself in Columbus, OH;
15. Winatchee, WA where 43 people were wrongfully imprisoned in a false accusation of sexual abuse “witch hunt” fury started by a child under the influence of Prozac and Paxil;
16. Christopher Vasquez (Zoloft) killed Michael Morrow in Central Park;
17. Megan Hogg (Prozac) duct taped the mouths and noses of her three little girls and took a handful of pills; Vera Espinoza (Prozac) in Randolph, VT shot her small son and daughter before shooting herself;
18. An elderly man (Prozac) in Layton, UT axed his wife and daughter to death;
19. Margaret Kastanis (Prozac) used a knife and hammer to kill her three children before stabbing herself to death;
20. An elderly man (Paxil) in Dallas, TX strangled his wife before shooting himself twice in the chest;
21. Larramie Huntzinger (Zoloft) blacked out and ran his car into three young girls killing two in Salt Lake City, UT;
22. Mary Hinkelman (Prozac), a nurse in Baroda, MI shot her two small daughters and her sister before shooting herself;
23. Lisa Fox (Prozac) shot her small son and her dog before shooting herself in Brighton, MI;
24. Debi Louselle (Zoloft) shot daughter and then herself in Salt Lake City, UT;
25. A father in Wyoming shot his wife, daughter and baby grand-daughter then himself after only days on Paxil;
26. A mother (Prozac) in Pleasant Grove, UT killed her 17 year old son with a sledge hammer while he slept before she attempted suicide by drinking Drano;
27. Larry Butz, a superintendent of schools in Ames, IA shot his wife, son and daughter before shooting himself – many cases pending in court are not mentioned.

This is only a handful of MANY, MANY more cases – there would not be room for anything else if I continued listing the cases.

A few additional famous victims: Princess Di (Prozac) and Dodi Fayed -via their driver Henri Paul (Prozac), Monica Lewinsky (Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Serzone and Phen-Fen), Chris Farley (Prozac), Pres. Clinton’s ex-partner Jim Mc Dougal (Prozac), Abby Hoffman (Prozac), Del Shannon (Prozac), Danielle Steele’s son (Prozac), INXS singer Michael Hutchence (Prozac), Sarah – Dutchess of York (Phen-Fen)

The latest figures show Prozac has about 44,000 adverse reports filed with the FDA. Out of those reports there are about 2,500 deaths with the large majority of them linked to suicide or violence.

The suicide statistics relating to women are shocking. According to the CDC there are about 30,000 suicides yearly in the United States. Out of those about 6,000 are women – a ratio of about 4.3 to 1, male to female. About twice as many women as men are treated for depression demonstrating that generally men are more than 8 times as lethal in their suicidal gestures as women. Women were known to use less lethal means until the SSRI antidepressants hit the market. But on Prozac and Paxil, women committed 40% of the suicides – many were strikingly violent and clearly leaving no
means for rescue. (Remember that because Prozac was the first of this group of drugs its track record gives us a vision of what is to come with other serotonergic antidepressants, especially when they are so powerful in the reuptake of serotonin.)

TIME LINE OF CRITICAL INFORMATION DISCOVERED SINCE THE BOOK:

*NOTE: Any documents beginning with PZ are Lilly documents on Prozac which have been ferreted out by attorneys and are now being used in lawsuits against the drug company. (Christian vs. Eli Lilly, by Vickery & Waldner, Houston, TX)

* Mid 1950’s: Dr. Felix Sulman began his research on those who suffer from high serotonin levels because of an inability to metabolize serotonin. He found that serotonin is a stress neuro-hormone leading even rabbits, the most docile of creatures, to be aggressive. He coined the term “serotonin irritation syndrome.” He found that those who were unable to break down serotonin would have the levels increase. They were in effect being poisoned by the serotonin produced by their own bodies, the irritation victims suffered from migraines, hot flashes, irritability, sleeplessness, pains around the heart, difficulty in breathing, a worsening of bronchial complaints, irrational tension and anxiety. . . horrifying nightmares. It also caused his volunteers to sleep badly – that is, always on the edge of consciousness so that they were not properly rested – and to wake after only a few hours of sleep.” (sleep apnea) He also found it caused pregnant women to abort.
* October, 1977: Slater, et.al., Inhibition of REM Sleep by Fluoxetine, a Specific Inhibitor of Serotonin Uptake, October 1977, at p. 385 – Prozac was found to affect sleep habits, specifically to suppress deep sleep, which the scientists call REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in cats. By the fourth day of drug treatment the cats receiving the larger doses, which had been friendly for years, began to growl and hiss. After cessation of the drug treatment, the cats returned to their usual friendly behavior in a week or two; those on the higher doses recovering more slowly. – – 1977: [PZ 1298 1999] “A total of six dogs from the high dose group were removed from treatment … due to severe occurrences of either aggressive behavior, ataxia, or anorexia.”]
* July 31, 1978: [PZ1061 1025-28, July 31, 1978] Human subjects began to be used by Lilly in controlled clinical trials. The first group of patients showed no improvement in their depression, but there were a “large number of reports of adverse reactions.” The first human to receive Prozac experienced “dystonia resembling an extrapyramidal reaction” – an uncontrollable, Parkinson-like shaking or trembling.
* July 23, 1979 [PZ 1297 969] The clinical studies in depression showed that “some patients have converted from severe depression to agitation within a few days; in one case the agitation was marked and the patient had to be taken off drug. In future studies the use of benzodiazepines to control the agitation will be permitted.”
* August 3, 1979: The clinical trials excluded patients who had serious suicidal risk. [E.g. control #001519, IND Protocol No. 14, August 3, 1979; PZ1135 695, July 2, 1986 memorandum of Dr. Wernicke].
* December 17, 1984: [PZ 65 449, report of Lilly to FDA] Lilly reported to the FDA that benzodiazepines and other sedatives were given with Prozac throughout the clinical trials. This was to help offset the stimulant effect of the drug. In a memorandum of Lilly scientist Charles Beasley [PZ 541 2007-08] issues of “agitation vs. sedation” and concomitant sedative medications like benzodiazepines (to control the agitation) are discussed. Concerns are that agitation in a suicidal patient can induce suicide.
* March 3, 1986 Lilly controlled the flow of information to the FDA and decided that suicide data on Prozac should not be evaluated, “in the safety-update for the FDA the number of suicides and suicide attempts will not be especially evaluated.” [PZ 879 1966, March 3, 1986 telex]
* September 12, 1986: German BGA very concerned with the risk of suicide and ultimately approved Prozac on the condition that physicians be warned of the risk of suicide and told to consider using sedatives and closely monitor patients. [PZ 878 1383, report of Lilly consultant Pohlmeier; PZ 2467 299, September 12, 1986] Lilly actually warned physicians in Germany and other countries that this measure “can be necessary” to minimize the risk of suicide, [PZ 1341 402, December 6, 1989 German warning; PZ 2469 490]
* February 7, 1990: In response to the Harvard study, Teicher, et al., Lilly’s top scientist, Leigh Thompson, told his fellow executives that “Lilly can go down the tubes if we lose Prozac”. [PZ 1941 827, February 7, 1990]. In the ensuing months Dr. Thompson spoke frequently with his principal FDA regulator about the issue, once at 6:15 in the morning. [PZ 391 1959, July 18, 1990]. Lilly later described the man as “our defender”. [PZ1941 2256, September 12, 1990]
* May 29, 1990, Lilly added “suicidal ideation” in the section dealing with post-marketing reports. [PZ883 562, July 26, 1990 memorandum]
* September 14, 1990: Contrary to the advice of his staff, Dr. Thompson told the Eli Lilly Board of Directors that suicide and hostile acts were probably, caused by the patients’ underlying disorders rather than Prozac. [PZ542 2101, September 14, 1990; PZ4002 889, Board Minutes]. The staff was concerned because they knew that this issue was never studied during the clinical trials.
* September 11, 1990: Note from Dr. Bruce Stadel, Chief of the Epidemiology Branch, attaching an analysis done by Dr. David Graham, Section Chief within the Epidemiology Branch, of Lilly’s July 17, 1990 submission to the FDA on the Prozac/suicidality/violence issue. The following factors were (a) brought to the attention of those in the higher echelons of the FDA, but (b) ignored, discounted or “trashed” by them: #1 Lilly’s analysis improperly excluded 76 out of 97 suicides; as Dr. Stadel expressed it, “[i]t is inappropriate in a safety analysis to exclude such a large proportion of case”; #2 Lilly admitted that its clinical trials “were not designed for the prospective evaluation of suicidality” and that “[i]n these trials, patients with current suicidal ideation were excluded”; #3 Lilly admitted that the HAMD-3 rating scale it used to assess suicidality in clinical trials was inadequate; and that Lilly’s statements about violence only demonstrated “how great under-reporting is” and that “[t]he actual data showed a higher percentage of treatment-emergent suicidality among fluoxetine (2.9% than tricyclic (0.8%) patients . . . [which percentage] was similar to that reported by Teicher.”
* July 1, 1992: A study lead by Dr. Lorne Brandes of the Manatoba Institute of Cell Biology in Winnipeg, Canada was published in CANCER RESEARCH linking the two most popular anti-depressants, Elavil and Prozac to cancer.
* 1994: A study headed by Howard Markell published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed LSD flashbacks and LSD reactions induced by Prozac.
* June 9, 1994: The New York Review of Books article by Dr. Sherwin Nuland slams Peter Kramer for pushing Prozac in his book Listening to Prozac. He pointed out that all docs are taught in med school this little poem about serotonin: “This man was addicted to moanin’, confusion, edema, and groanin’, intestinal rushes, great tricolored blushes, and died from too much serotonin.” He listed constriction of lungs and intestines, diarrhea, wheezing, flushing, mental confusion, tightening of bronchioles, and lessening conscious control over behavior from increases in serotonin. “Moreover, . . . it is still too early to arrive at a reliable estimate of possible dangers that may appear in the long term,” and 15% dropped out of the clinical trials on Prozac because of adverse reactions. He also discussed the similarity of serotonin to the psychedelics like LSD and PCP.
* November, 1994: Krystal JH, Webb E, Cooney N, et al., “Specificity of Ethanol-like Effects Elicited in Serotonergic and Noradrenergic Mechanisms,” ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY, Vol. 51, Issue 11, pgs 898-911, 1994 demonstrated that an increase in brain levels of either of two neurotransmitters, serotonin or noradrenalin, produces:
#1 a craving for alcohol,
#2 anger,
#3 anxiety.
They found this to be especially true for those who have a history of alcoholism. An increase serotonin in turn increases noradrenalin. Numerous reports have been made by reformed alcoholics who are being “driven” to alcohol again after being prescribed a serotonergic drug. And many other patients who had no previous history of alcoholism have continued to report an “overwhelming compulsion” to drink while using these drugs.

A few personal accounts:

#1 A young woman, a recovering alcoholic, reported that during the eight month period she had been using Prozac she found it necessary to attend AA meetings every day in order to fight off the strong compulsions to begin drinking again.
#2 In the Southeastern United States a middle aged psychologist, also a recovering alcoholic, after being prescribed Prozac, found herself needing to attend AA meetings morning, noon, and night to keep from destroying the sobriety she had achieved.
#3 A young father, who was Mormon and had never before in his life used alcohol, found himself drinking Ever Clear and exhibiting bizarre as well as violent behavior, after being prescribed Prozac and Ritalin.
#4 A young mother who had never used alcohol before began drinking large amounts within weeks of being prescribed Prozac and quickly found herself committed to a mental institution due to the psychotic behavior that resulted. Added to her Prozac prescription were anti-psychotic meds and electric shock treatments. She then began to experience seizures and was started on anti-seizure meds.
#5 A concerned neighbor reported her friend was drinking straight Vodka on a regular basis after being prescribed Zoloft. #6 A daughter reported her father, sober for 15 years, began drinking again on Prozac.

* December, 1994: Not guilty verdict on Wesbecker wrongful death suit against Lilly’s Prozac.
* Treatment emergent suicidality with Prozac has been demonstrated to be two to three times higher than any other anti-depressant. (Jick, et al., Antidepressants and Suicide)
* May, 1995: Judge John Potter who presided over the Wesbecker case filed documents to demand that Lilly be forced to disclose the secret deal they made with the plaintiffs to withhold very damaging evidence in exchange for settlement. In his pleading to the court Potter stated, “Lilly sought to buy not just the verdict, but the court’s judgment as well.” Potter accused Lilly of “giving the verdict the widest possible publicity” accompanied by the claim that Lilly had “proven in a court of law that Prozac was safe.” Furious with Lilly’s attempt to turn his courtroom into an advertising agency for Prozac, he claims his motion reflects “the court’s duty to protect the integrity of the judicial system.” He believes, as do prominent legal ethicists, that a full and open disclosure of the terms of the settlement is a necessary public safety issue.
* July, 1997: Mayo Clinic found that the increased serotonin, which produces blood clotting, was causing a gummy glossy substance to build up on heart valves. Dr. Heidi Connolly with the Divisions of Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine, who headed the study stated, “We do know that fenfluramine and phentermine [Fen-Phen] alter the way the brain chemical serotonin is metabolized, and serotonin that circulates in the blood can cause valve injury.” Fenfluramine produces a rapid release of serotonin, inhibits serotonin reuptake, and may also have receptor agonist activity. The study’s revelations should send a loud and very clear warning throughout the medical community concerning all serotonergic medications.
* August 25, 1997: Letter to Ann Blake-Tracy, “I caught the last part of your presentation on Radio Station KEX, Portland, while flipping through the dial last night. I was flabbergasted to hear you speak of the horrible potential side effects from Prozac, which I have been taking for approximately four years, particularly since I have been diagnosed recently with cardiomyalgia, severe artery disease, congestive heart failure and also Fibromyalgia. (I was a very “well” person prior to taking the Prozac and am now exhausted all the time, with horrible aching joints and considerable pain and a massive heart problem.) The adverse cardiovascular effects from Prozac, the one drug in this class of drugs out long enough to have somewhat of track record, are listed in the drug information sheet put out by the manufacturer. The “frequent” effects listed are hemorrhage and hypertension. The “infrequent” effects include very serious adverse effects: congestive heart failure, myocardial infarct, tachycardia, angina pectoris, arrhythmia, hypotension, migraine syncope and vascular headache.
* September, 1997: Redux and Phen-Fen were pulled from the market.
* October 20, 1997: Dr. Candace Pert, Research Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, past head of the brain chemistry department at the National Institute of Health, and author of the new book, MOLECULES OF EMOTION, sounded an alarm in TIME, October 20. She stated, “I am alarmed at the monster that Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon Snyder and I created when we discovered the simple binding assay for drug receptors 25 years ago. Prozac and other antidepressant serotonin-receptor-active compounds may also cause cardiovascular problems in some susceptible people after long-term use, which has become common practice despite the lack of safety studies.”
As we are being led to believe these drugs produce effects only in the brain, Dr. Pert accuses the medical profession of oversimplifying the action of these drugs and adds that “the public is being misinformed about the precision of these selective serotonin-uptake inhibitors.” It is critical that both physicians and patients be made aware of these adverse physical reactions. She points out that the medical profession not only oversimplifies the action of these drugs in the brain, but “ignores the body as if it exists merely to carry the head around!” And that, “these molecules of emotion regulate every aspect of our physiology.” The body plays a very significant role in how we feel and act the way we do. This fact can no longer be ignored. Serotonin and serotonin receptors exist throughout the body, as well as the brain, and every aspect of the body’s physiology is affected by these serotonergic medications. In fact approximately 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract. According to Dr. Michael Gershon of New York’s Columbia Presbyterian, this is the reason why Prozac produces so many gastrointestinal side effects.
* March, 1998: Two new studies published. One that shows Prozac so strongly inhibits one particular serotonin receptor that this produces both obesity and seizures and the other discusses the blockage of muscle and neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors indicating interactions between the serotonergic and cholinergic systems in the central nervous system.
* April, 1998: Our next generation of guinea pigs – one month before a 15 year old on Prozac, Kip Kinkel, in Springfield OR killed his parents and two classmates the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Psychiatrists asked the FDA to consider the serotonergic antidepressants for use in children as young as two and drugs for anxiety, aggression and manic depression in babies only one month old! The use of Prozac among young children ages 6 – 12 has increased an alarming 400% from 1995 (51.000 new prescriptions) to 1996 (203,000 new prescriptions).
* June, 1999: CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY NEWS reported that Dr. Malcolm Bowers a psychiatrist at Yale has found that physicians are not paying enough attention to patient factors that could make initiation of SSRIs dangerous. He found that “SSRI-induced psychosis has accounted for 8% of all general hospital psychiatric admissions over a recent 14-month period.” And “What is surprising is that this particular group of side effects is really underplayed.” (The 8% figure represents over 150,000 SSRI induced psychotic breaks per year!!!!!!!)

WARNING: Children so often get coughs and colds, yet using a cough or cold medication with dextromethorphan could cause the serotonin syndrome, a very serious and potentially fatal adverse reaction and/or produce PCP reactions.

Serotonin syndrome remains an often misdiagnosed or unrecognized fatal reaction due to the medical profession being so uninformed about this drug-induced disorder.

Developing brains are far more vulnerable than adult brains and brain damage generally becomes more apparent after the brain is fully developed, rather than immediately. Increases in cortisol produce brain damage while medical research shows that one single 30mg dose of Prozac DOUBLES the level of cortisol. This drastic increase in cortisol causes a multitude of serious physical reactions including impairment of linear growth, as well as impairing the development and regeneration of the liver, kidneys, muscles, etc. In light of so many unspeakable tragedies, I have grown weary of all the silly philosophical discussions we have heard since Kramer’s LISTENING TO PROZAC came out. Patients are dying or having their health destroyed mentally as well as physically (when do we begin to discuss the very serious physical side effects associated with high levels of serotonin?). These patients and their families are frantically searching for answers while this research sits right under our noses and could easily be made available to them. The widespread use of Prozac and its clones is not a statement of either their safety or their effectiveness. It is a statement about the effectiveness of an infinite marketing budget and incredible advertising campaign! These drugs have very serious physical side effects, as well as dangerous psychiatric side effects.

To prevent further tragedy this medical research must be acknowledged and addressed in headline news without delay rather than remain buried in seldom read medical research documents as has been the case in the past with other mind- altering medications, once thought to be safe, which were subsequently prohibited by law, i.e. LSD, PCP, cocaine, etc.

PRAISE FOR PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?

“I started having bad reactions . . . Oct ’96 I found Prozac to be causing joint and muscle pain itself . . . signs of Cushing’s Syndrome. . . I was very pro-Prozac until last October and wouldn’t have listened to anything said against it until I got problems (thought it was saving my life, while all the time it was insidiously and interested but quite skeptical. However, since reading it and having suffered so many problems with Prozac, I have come to the conclusion that the book is brilliant, and a life-line as far as I am concerned. I tried to fault the research and reasoning, but could not and still can’t. I would like to extend my thanks to you for your heroic stance on this enormously important issue. I have tremendous respect and admiration for your hard work, determination and courage in pursuing this subject so vigorously, against so much powerful opposition for the benefit of people like me. Your integrity puts many, if not most doctors and psychiatrists to shame. It is reassuring to find that there are a few people who are prepared to fight for the truth for the benefit of mankind.” Oct. 1998 note from a British nurse

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? is an incredible compilation of medical data that will lay the groundwork to educate other professionals and the general public about the new SSRI antidepressants – Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Effexor and Serzone.” (Jeff Wise, psychologist, Salt Lake County Drug and Alcohol Abuse )

“In 15 years of reading books on drugs I have never read a book with more information or so well documented as PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?” (Dr. Kevin Millet, Bountiful, UT)

“As I lecture to physicians nationwide on the medical use of psychoactive drugs PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? always accompanies me in my brief case.” (Dr. Bruce Woolley, neuropsychopharmacologist, Brigham Young University)

“I found PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? fascinating reading and the most complete analysis of the various factors pertaining to the Prozac controversy.” (Attorney Donald Sokol, Susanville, CA)

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? literally saved my life, and if I’d known about it a year earlier, could have saved me untold grief and agony as well. It is the only collated, comprehensive source I know of for this information , . . .. 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, it immaculately details, explains, and refers one to the latest research on a whole hornet’s nest of ‘atypical’ side-and/or after-effects from the use of these antidepressants. It also contains information on how to reduce the severity of problems encountered while starting on or going off these meds.” (Nick Jameson, Prozac patient)

“Magnificent! This text is a monument to Ann Tracy’s tenacity and love for her fellow human beings.” (Dr. Paul Kennedy, N.J.)

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? has not left one question about these drugs unanswered! Ann Tracy has covered them all.” (Margaret McCaffery, N.Y. who lost her daughter, a neurosurgeon, in a Prozac suicide)

“The work Ann Blake-Tracy is doing is very important and she is truly a heroine.” (Dr. Candace Pert, Washington, DC, one of the two developers of the serotonin binding process which made possible the development of the serotonergic drugs. Dr. Pert has boldly stated, speaking of these serotonergic medications, “I am alarmed at the monsters I created!”)

WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

The FDA also now warns that any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant can produce suicide, hostility or psychosis. And these reactions can either come on very rapidly or even be delayed for months depending upon the adverse effects upon sleep patterns when the withdrawal is rapid! You can find the CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: http://store.drugawareness.org/

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Withdrawing from Paxil has been a Nightmare

“Feelings of suicide and hopelessness are worse now than ever.”

 

I liked your comments on Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. I have been on Paxil since 1995, and it has been a nightmare. I am slowly getting off the drug on my own, without telling my doctor. Believe me, I am cutting back VERY slowly because of how long I have been on it. I have gotten worse over the years, and not better, and have told my doctor so, but to no avail. Feelings of suicide and hopelessness are worse now than ever.

I know that many people wish there was a drug that really would help without the incredible side effects, such as weight gain, etc. By the way, I have gone from 180 (my ideal weight) to 240 pounds during the time I have been on Paxil. That in itself is depressing.

Tom Gadowski
27627 El Capitan Dr.
Warren, MI 48092-3078
(810) 751-6791

5/2/2000

This is Survivor Story number 23.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 

 

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5/1/2000 – PA Suit blames Prozac for suicide try

Suit blames Prozac for suicide try

By Jeff Swiatek

The Indianapolis Star

Last updated 11:58 PM, EST, Monday, May 01, 2000

A Pennsylvania woman and her husband have sued Eli Lilly and Co., charging
that Prozac caused the woman to attempt suicide in 1997.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Pittsburgh, says Diane V.
Cassidy was prescribed Prozac by her family doctor in July of 1997 for weight
loss.

Three weeks later, Cassidy checked into a motel, slit her wrists and took an
overdose of a drug that damaged her brain, the lawsuit says.

Cassidy, 47, survived, but is brain-damaged and requires constant care, the
lawsuit says.

A co-plaintiff is Cassidy’s husband of 29 years, Melvin J. Cassidy. They live
in Monroeville, Pa.

Lilly spokesman Edward A. West said, “Prozac had nothing do with this woman’s
situation.” He added, “There is a real serious question about whether there
was a suicide attempt or not.”

The 23-page initial complaint asks for $4.84 million to cover medical
expenses, lost wages and life-care needs. Intangible damages also are sought.

The lawsuit accuses the Indianapolis drugmaker of negligence for not warning
doctors that Prozac can cause suicidal behavior in some patients.

Prozac, the nation’s top-selling antidepressant, is not federally approved as
a weight-loss drug, but the lawsuit says Lilly “has either actively or
tacitly encouraged doctors to prescribe Prozac for weight loss.”

The lawsuit joins a dwindling number of fewer than 10 product-liability
claims over Prozac. Five years ago, there were more than 150 claims. Most
have been dismissed, dropped or settled.

Handling the Pittsburgh lawsuit are Greensburg, Pa., attorney Lawrence D.
Kerr and Houston attorney Andy Vickery, who has three other Prozac lawsuits
pending against Lilly.

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Nurse Tells of Horrors after Gaining Weight on Prozac

“Prozac is a dangerous drug!!!!! It has changed my body, my health, my financial status, influenced my marital status and almost destroyed me.”

 

Hi Ann Blake-Tracy,

Tomorrow will be 77 days off Prozac.

I feel relieved and elated that I have made it this far…and feel good. I hope my story can help some of the readers, as I have been on a real rollercoaster ride with this drug.

Let me start at the beginning. I have been prescribed and have taken sporadically antidepressant drugs for about 29 years. I have been diagnosed as bipolar but have neither manic episodes or deep depression. I do have time to time mild depression which causes some anxiety in my day to day living.

Three years ago a psychiatrist, seeing me for 10 minutes as a requirement as an adjunct to my one on one therapy with my therapist, prescribed Prozac. I was started on 20mg per day and within 1 day could feel it “kicking in” and making the world tolerable again. I immediately felt that I had really needed this drug..and why did I wait so long to feel better….as the weeks wore on however, the initial good feelings for my fellow man were replaced by transient feelings of anxiety…feeling that I couldn’t cope with things, situations… and an ongoing feeling that I didn’t want to deal with anything anymore.

I also started to gain weight…..mostly craving fast food and sweets…..at the end of 3 years I have gained 65 pounds and have the appearance of a cushinoid patient with upper body weight, buffalo hump, facial weight. I look different..I don’t look healthy. I also quit a job that I had for 7 years and started job hopping…had 4 jobs in one year. Financially..somehow I went from good credit…to bad credit with my 2nd mortgage becoming a reality to get my life back. I also divorced a husband of 26 years and remarried…but I believe that was a good choice. Would I have made different choices without the Prozac….I don’t know…….I weaned myself off the drug after reading your book and feel so much better mentally…..I have started another job and have stuck to it…I feel I have myself back again.

The only problem is the weight…..I can’t seem to get it off………Do you have any suggestions on diet types for this problem? I know the Cortisol is directly at fault…does it continue??? How do we stop it? I am a nurse and have been trying to research it on my own…what I have found is disheartening…..effects may last 2 years…….any suggestions….

I have also sent your book to my daughter who was also on Prozac..and my other daughter on Paxil….. Both are off the drugs after weaning…and doing better…..Prozac is a dangerous drug!!!!! It has changed my body, my health, my financial status, influenced my marital status…..and almost destroyed me……Please write back on any suggestions you may have on diet to crack this weight..I am 52 years old.
———–

Note from Ann Blake-Tracy:

Whatever you do as an ex-SSRI user, DO NOT try the high protein diet craze that is making a come back in spite of destroying the health of so many in the 1970’s! Ex-SSRI users are becoming EXTREMELY ill trying to follow this diet. I personally believe the reason for that is that the serotonergic drugs, while impairing one’s ability to break down serotonin, also impair one’s ability to metabolize proteins. This would make high protein diets very dangerous for them. Good nutrition, walking, sufficient water intake, proper sleep, and good fats Vs bad fats have always been the keys to weight loss. Check out Udo Erasmus’ book, “Fats the Heal, Fats that Kill” at www.edoerasmus.com.

Susan in Michigan

4/17/2000

This is Survivor Story number 24.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

1,054 total views, 1 views today

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

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How Prozac Shattered My Life.

“I believe that any innocence that I held before these events occurred has now been dashed but I am never without hope.”

 

I have “hummed and hawed” for the last three days about writing to this address – people who have experienced a negative reaction to Prozac are perhaps understandably reticent about publicizing their experience, in the belief that what they will say will be treated with some skepticism, if not disbelief. These preparatory remarks are perhaps my response to the professional incredulity the medical fraternity, rightly or wrongly, give to their patients when anecdotal evidence is offered that contradicts their expected prognosis.

I had great faith in my doctor, in the treatment of what was a reactive depression brought about by work-related stress. I still have that faith, although it is not blind as it was before thanks to your pages on the WWW.

I am prompted to write because of “Patty’s” description of her husband’s course of treatment. The similarities to my own situation, after having spent some two years on Prozac, are remarkably similar. The devastation that has been wrought by my illness is now past, and I am now a sadder but wiser person. I have little to gain by writing other than to add to the growing list of patients who have had an adverse reaction to Prozac. But perhaps by writing others may persist and recognize that Prozac and the serotonergic syndrome are not figments of the patient’s imagination, but worthy of protracted study and explanation. I seek not to apportion blame, but to understand and be understood.

Without going into gross details, I had been taking Prozac with little positive effect for some 8 months from June 1994 until mid-way through 1995 before recognizing the possibility that there was something not quite right with my response to the medication. My agitation had gradually increased from the start of the prescription. It was a slow but steady rise in my tolerance of others, a deepening insomnia and above all the nightmares; nightmares that took me back to events that had happened when I had been a police officer nearly 15 years previously. I would jerk awake or my sleep would be interrupted by hyperreflexia. For some three months my average sleep was no more than one hour per night. The thought of sleep itself began to horrify me. The most obvious signs now as I look back were a feeling of electricity pumping through my body, the feeling that my limbs were charged and tingling.

I had been experiencing a tightness in the chest and was eventually taken into hospital, where blood tests showed that I had had a heart attack. Further tests eliminated this and it was put down to stress.

Sadly, I did not tell my doctor of these events, as I felt these were signs of my continuing decline into a deeper depression. My public life was no different, but my private life deteriorated rapidly as I struggled with the lack of sleep. I was prone to fits of crying and started to inexplicably want to harm myself. I banged my head against walls until I bled, tore shirts from my body, pleaded for help from my partner. My physical rage was barely controllable, but luckily for my partner, directed solely at myself. Verbal abuse at this stage became my only outlet. Anxiety became a single factor in all that I did. Whatever I thought I was about to accomplish in terms of work, I saw was imperfect. I became fearful of the most innocuous of social situations and work-related situations, although my work performance was unaffected. I hid this from all except my partner who tolerated everything believing that I would “come right”. My fear was simple – I was losing grip on reality and madness was not far away. A reluctance to communicate these events was eventually my undoing. The dosage of Prozac was increased as I related only those events that affected me physiologically.

Following some further work-related disagreements, I did not sleep for some seven or eight days. My internal rage became intolerable. I resigned from work and promptly collapsed mentally and was placed in a private hospital for sleep. Lithium was prescribed and the dosage of Prozac increased. I spent two days crying and did not sleep one bit, the nightmares returning almost the moment that I dropped of to sleep. My body sang with pain and I remember crawling into the corner of my private room crying. I saw myself spending Xmas on the streets, begging for food. I begged to be released from hospital and was. All I wanted was to go home, but my home life was now shattered irretrievably.

I felt cut off, entirely isolated from those that I loved and cared about and so three months later I left after another argument, more alone than alone. There was of course no change in my medication. Somehow I managed to obtain another job and hid my fear in work, but my private life and mental well-being was slipping beyond my grasp. Suicide was not an option that I had considered in all seriousness, but now it became a logical way out of the intense flailing that I gave to myself. I weighed up all the options and decided to take my life. It was the only way out; the only rational act that I could follow.

My fear of being found out – that I was mad – was such that I still did not report what was actually happening in my mind. Having decided on a course of action – my car with a pipe attached to the exhaust – I set about convincing myself that I could do it. Somewhere inside I could not muster the courage and broke down in tears. A call to a crisis center brought temporary relief. I still continued working, and those hours when I could deal sanely with people, were ones that held hope.

I took up sport again and played competitively, until I damaged my ribs and was prescribed a anti-inflammatory drug.

My sleep prior to this period was still plagued by nightmares and this incredible jerking of my limbs. Again, I put this down to the extreme personal stress that I was under. What other explanation could there have been? And the dosage of Prozac was evidence that I was not responding well enough.

Two days after I took the anti-inflammatories, I prepared for sleep. I felt a growing agitation and the electricity beginning to spark through my limbs. I began to tremble uncontrollably and I wanted to run and run this pain out of my system. I got to the stage where I considered jumping out of the window of the third floor flat in which I was staying. I have no recollection of anything from that night other than the fear that I felt. In desperation an ambulance was called. I struggled to keep my mind in place as the tremors increased. I kept saying, “I’m going to jump! No, I won’t. I won’t!” My heart raced, my mind raced and I saw everything that I wanted in life slipping away.

Taken to the emergency section of a major hospital, I was placed in a priority queue, strapped onto a gurney. The humiliation still rankles. I was not seen for another three hours, by which time the “panic attack” as it was described, had subsided. I told the doctor of my medication, and my suspicions that it was the combination of Prozac with the anti-inflammatories that might have been the problem. The response was luke warm, as I explained my medical history. I was told that a report would be forwarded to my doctor and I was released in the early hours of the morning, on my own recognizance”.

It was only at this stage that I began to question the use of Prozac. But who was I to correct the knowledge of the medical profession? My dose was increased. Again, because of certain delays in seeing my doctor, I gained confidence again, and submitted myself to the further dosage.

It is now some 18 months since these events, and following acupuncture treatment from my GP for the continuing “pain”, I began to seek another explanation for my continuing moroseness. Gradually (and wrongly!) I tried cold-turkey and eventually a change in psychiatrist last December, 1997. This brought a change in medication and with it a gradual return to normality.

At no stage (and this is current) has it ever been discussed that Prozac may have been a contributing cause to my continuing illness. Indeed, that it may have masked what appears to be a particularly traumatic set of events, has never been canvassed.

I now live with hope, an intuitive hope that I believe that Prozac may have been in some way a contributing cause to what on the face of it was a work-related stress problem, that had become far worse as a result. Of course, I have no empirical reason to believe that this unconfirming data is of any consequence to the scientific community.

Since being off Prozac there have been no bouts of anxiety (other than the more healthy kind), my sleeping has gradually increased to five hours per night, my nightmares have all but disappeared and above all there is a relative sense of a return to who I was.

Throughout this period of time, I have continued to work, hiding my private fears through enforced isolation from those that I care deeply about. There is a cost of course – an immense emotional cost. I am only troubled now by a search for truth, a truth for which, I may of course, never find an answer. Mental illness carried with it a stigma; a stigma about whether what we have become has any rational cause. Any self-knowledge that can be gained through the horrors of what I have gone through, from the absolute despair of confusion and loss of those that we care about the most, is tinged with intellectual and emotional frustration. It requires a faith and trust in those around us. I believe that any innocence that I held before these events occurred has now been dashed but I am never without hope.

I do not know whether these words will be of use, or my experience in anyway enlightening. I know that your work is important to a future generation, a future generation that may be educated to question more extensively than I myself have done.

Thank you for your time. May your work continue and prosper.

Two Years After Prozac: An Update

“It has been some time since this was written and you may be interested in a follow-up that reveals perhaps the more insidious side of the “idiosyncratic drug reactions” that are so often innocently missed.”

I am the “AG” who appears on the “Survivor’s Links” under the title “How Prozac Shattered My Life” on your web site.

It has been some time since this was written and you may be interested in a follow-up that reveals perhaps the more insidious side of the “idiosyncratic drug reactions” that are so often innocently missed. I have now been “off” Prozac for almost two years and, although almost back to normal, I was recently diagnosed with Left Ventricle Hypertrophy (an enlarged heart) and Hypertension in April 1999. I am currently on medication to reduce my blood pressure (which has been very successful) and lucky enough to be treated by a heart specialist who is specializing in serotonin and its relationship to high blood pressure.

I have no scientific reason to believe that there is any connection between my taking of Prozac and my heart problems, although my heart specialist (for whom I purchased and gave a copy of Ann Tracy’s book) is currently wading through the literature to see whether a link can be established. There is no family history of hypertension to the best of my knowledge, but I had left out an important medical fact from my original story.

I was briefly hospitalized for a “Heart attack” in 1995 some nine months or so after I had started taking Prozac (1994) (NB I believe that the date in my original story should read 1994 not 1995 – my fault I am afraid but the chronology is important.). Blood tests had shown that I had had a “heart attack”, but an angiogram confirmed that there had been no damage to my heart, and the tightness in my chest was put down to stress, and was dismissed as unimportant. I say “unimportant” simply because the threat (which it might have been) was dismissed, because there was no “damage” seen. My blood pressure at that stage was moderately high, but did not, at that stage require medication, as it was within the bounds of “high normal”.

In November 1998, I was referred to a sleep disorder clinic in order to sort out problems I had with sleeping, and following tests I was referred to a heart specialist as my blood pressure was high. In February 1999, I was diagnosed with Left Ventricle Hypertrophy and Hypertension following a cardiogram which identified the enlargement.

I am currently a very physically fit 46 year old and I am pleased to say well on the mend mentally. The mental scars remain and I write first to relate that recovery is slow, but it is recovery nonetheless. That four letter word “hope” is so important. Often it has been a real test of personal perseverance and a little courage. I do not believe that any of what I have achieved in the past eighteen months would have been possible without Ann Tracy’s indomitable attitude towards making us all aware of the lack of information about the long term effects of SSRIs. Again, I owe her much.

Once again my thanks to you for the life-saving work that you are doing.

Alastair Gumley

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 80.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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09/21/1999 – Prozac Found at Wedgwood Baptist Killer’s House

This just released today.

Prozac found at Wedgwood Baptist killer’s house
By Kathy Sanders
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH — A doctor had prescribed the anti- depressant drug Prozac
for Larry Gene Ashbrook, but investigators are unsure whether he had
been taking it when he killed seven people and then himself in a
southwest Fort Worth church last week, police said yesterday.

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:TOPSTORY/1:TOPSTORY092199.html

Star-Telegram

By Kathy Sanders,  Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Updated: Tuesday, Sep. 21, 1999 at 08:16 CDT

FORT WORTH — A doctor had prescribed the anti-depressant drug Prozac for Larry Gene Ashbrookbut investigators are unsure whether he had been taking it when he killed seven people and then himself in a southwest Fort Worth church last week, police said yesterday.

Fort Worth police Lt. Mark Krey, who is heading the investigation into the largest mass shooting in the city’s history, said police found a Prozac vial with Ashbrook’s name and want to ask doctors why it was prescribed.

Krey said Ashbrook, 47, may have slipped into insanity after his 85-year-old father died in July.

“The level of paranoia within his life had advanced to an extreme stage,”  Krey said. “We’re investigating the possibility that with the death of his father, Mr. Ashbrook stopped taking medication. We believe when he lost his  father, who was his anchor to reality and his caretaker to ensure he took  his medication, he lost any connection to reality.”

Also yesterday, police said a homemade pipe bomb exploded in Wedgwood Baptist Church with enough force that it sent a piece of shrapnel hurtling the sanctuary.

But rather than blasting out into a sanctuary where more than 150 worshippers were taking part in a youth service, most of the shrapnel shot toward the ceiling and then rained down. No one was seriously injured by the shrapnel.

“We are very blessed in the manner in which it detonated … or it would have caused serious bodily injury,” Krey said.

Prozac is commonly used to treat various forms of clinical depression, including depression in children, as well as bulimia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Dr. Peter Kowlaski, a psychiatrist in private practice in Fort Worth and former medical director for Mental Health- Mental Retardation Services of Tarrant County, said the medical community generally views Prozac as a good anti- depressant that does not contribute to, or prevent, violent behavior.

“The person who is ill will sometimes act out violently, but most people with psychiatric illnesses are not likely to act violently,” he said. “Those who do most often do evil independent of their psychiatric conditions.”

Police found the Prozac bottle in Ashbrook’s Forest Hill home. FBI officials said they also found nine vials of prescription drugs for Jack Ashbrook, who died after a battle with cancer, as well as a diary in which the father documented his medication, said spokeswoman Marjorie Poch.

“The writing changed in the last couple of weeks of the diary. It’s only speculation, but he [Larry Ashbrook] may have started taking his father’s medication,” she said. “Either that or he started recording when his father took the pills for him.”

On Wednesday night, Ashbrook walked into the Wedgwood church, where a youth  rally was under way, and began shooting people, police said.

Killed were Kristi Beckel, 14; Shawn Brown, 23; Susan Kimberly Jones, 23;  Cassandra Griffin, 14; Joseph “Joey” Ennis, 14; Sydney Browning, 36; and  Justin Ray, 17. Seven others were injured.

The final three victims were laid to rest yesterday, but Ashbrook’s body remained unclaimed at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Aaron Ashbrook, his brother, said the family is completing funeral arrangements, but declined to comment further.

“I think there probably has been more said than there needs to be, and a lot  of it’s untrue,” he said.

He declined to elaborate.

“It wouldn’t make any difference,” he said. “I think the damage has already been done.”

Investigators sorted information yesterday from nearly 70 depositions taken from people the night of the shooting, reinterviewed the wounded and tried to trace Ashbrook’s final, fatal steps.

“Investigators are going through a number of depositions to determine the  exact sequence of events,” said homicide Sgt. Dave Loftis. “We want to know, first of all, specifically what happened and how everything went down that day.”

But the answer to the most- asked questions — what set Ashbrook off and why did he choose Wedgwood — may never come.

“I don’t have any motive right now,” Loftis said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever have an answer to those questions. If we can, we certainly will get them. It’s like any of those senseless acts of violence — there aren’t any answers. And can any motive explain it and make sense of it?”

In his writings, Larry Ashbrook details a vast, unspecified conspiracy against him by law enforcement agencies and others. His brother described him to Wise County sheriff’s deputies as a paranoid schizophrenic.  But the  state mental health system said last week that it had no record of any contact with Ashbrook.

Krey said Ashbrook apparently was such a loner that few people have been found to help explain his activities.

“I believe we won’t find anybody because there is nobody to find. And that is consistent with the mental illness he appeared to be afflicted with,” he said.

Inside the church, Ashbrook fired all six rounds from a .380- caliber semiautomatic handgun, and then fired up to 50 more shots from a Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, officials said.

Six of the seven people who died were killed by gunshot wounds in the head, autopsy reports show. The seventh was shot in the back.

Ashbrook shot himself with the Ruger, police said. He was apparently alive in a back pew when paramedics rushed into the sanctuary, but was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

Justin Ray and a woman videotaped Ashbrook’s rampage, police said.  Officials in Forest Hill said Ashbrook may also have made a futile effort to contaminate the city’s water system.

“He put concrete in the commodes and, working for the city, I wanted to make sure he didn’t do something else,” Public Works Director Michael Duehring
said.

“I wanted to make sure he did not contaminate our water system. I can’t go any further than that and tell you what he did, but he didn’t do any damage.”

FBI officials inspected plumbing in Ashbrook’s home Thursday but did not consider the threat serious, Poch said.

“The agent said it looked like he was just trying to mess up the inside of the house,” she said. “The agent who was out there said he had ripped off the shower head and neck and put one of those paper cones and a quart of motor oil to back down into the pipes. He said it was stuck in there still.”

Staff writers Bob Mahlburg and Carolyn Poirot contributed to this report.

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09/16/1999 – ABC News Transcript 9/15/99–SSRI Effectiveness

Thanks to one of our ICFDA Directors for obtaining the following for us:

The following message is a transcript of last night’s ABC News with
Peter Jennings: a message about the SSRIs. Tonight Peter Jennings will
discuss the “side-effects” of the SSRIs.
———————————————————————–
Peter Jennings ABC News: September 15, 1999

Peter Jennings: “Just when is the drug actually making a difference?
Antidepressants are very popular these days: sales are up 17% from just
last year. Millions and millions of prescriptions now are being
written to
battle depression and mood swings. Tonight, are these drugs really
doing
everything that people think they are? Here’s ABC’s Deborah Amos ”

Deborah Amos: “These depression fighting pills are 60 – 70% effective in
bringing relief according to the medical literature. But Thomas Moore,
who
studies drugs at George Washington University, says the numbers are
misleading”

Thomas Moore: “Millions of Americans believe that the benefits of these
drugs are much greater than they are”

Deborah Amos: “To investigate, Moore analyzed all drug company tests on
five major drugs submitted to the FDA prior to market approval: for
Paxil,
Zoloft, Effexor, Serzone and Prozac. The effectiveness of the drug was
measured against a placebo or sugar pill.”

Thomas Moore: “The effect of antidepressants drugs on depression is
only
very little different than the effect of a completely inactive placebo.”

Deborah Amos: “The highlight of Moore’s finding is the case of Prozac
with
more than $2 billion dollars in U.S. Sales. About 90% of Prozac’s
overall
effectiveness is about the same as patients taking nothing stronger
than a
sugar pill. But the label for antidepressant drugs, the prescribing
detail
for doctors, usually do not spell out the small overall differences
between
the drug and the placebos.”

Thomas Moore: “At the very least the FDA product labeling should
include a
more balanced picture of all the information they have received about
the
drug, – about all the clinical trials.”

Deborah Amos: “”The FDA says it does not put that kind of detail on the
label because it is not helpful in predicting individual outcomes. So
what
does it all mean for patients, when a placebo can have almost the same
benefits as a dug, and particularly, when a drug can have unpleasant
side-effects , —- that feeling – jumpy to <sum><sum><sum><sum><sum>

(a psychologist from the University of Conn., who has teamed up with
Thomas
Moore.)

?: “It suggests that the frontline of treatment for depression should
be
psychological rather than chemical.”

Deborah Ames: “The problem is that good therapy is expensive and not
always available. Pills are cheaper and more easily available. Deborah
Ames, ABC News, New York.”

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Prozac, Effexor, Klonopin, Serzone, Zyprexa, Neurontin, and now Celexa-and Hospitalized Seven Times.

“I sometimes am so sorry I started him on this medication journey,”

 

I have had thoughts that maybe my son’s suicide attempts were related to the Prozac and other medications that he had been taking, and now after reading correspondence from others regarding the same behaviors, I am more convinced that there was a relationship between the taking of the drug and his actions.

My son who is now 26 years old has had problems with depression probably since he was l3. He got through high school but did very poorly, and became very depressed when he graduated because he felt he had no future. At that time, I took him to see a psychiatrist who put him on Prozac, but it did not seem to help him that much. I think she tried him on Zoloft also which did not seem to help him either.

He obtained a job at a shoe store working for a very nice family who liked him and who he enjoyed working for. He stopped the drugs and seeing the psychiatrist who said my son was an enigma. He worked at the store for 5 years, but one day abruptly quit. He then worked as a security guard for approximately a year and quit that job also. He decided to go to dog grooming school, and I’ll never forget his face the day he came home from school so proud and happy that he found something to do that he liked.

He did very well at the school, but started to have panic attacks. I took him to a psychiatrist again and she put him on Prozac and Xanax. He seemed to come alive, extremely talkative, and he finally met a girl and fell deeply in love. He then seemed to have problems with his mood lowering and becoming more depressed and anxious, so the psychiatrist increased the Prozac. I noticed at this time that his behavior was worrisome. Well the girl broke up with him and he tried to kill himself.

In the hospital they changed his meds to Effexor and Klonopin, he got out of the hospital and thought the girl might come back, but when he realized two weeks later that she wasn’t, He left in the middle of the night again, and eventually checked himself into the hospital after overdosing. He was sent to another facility after this and they put him back on Prozac. He attempted suicide again by overdosing. Altogether, he was hospitalized approximately 7 different times, with four of those being for suicide attempts. The last one being a year ago. Since then he has been on Serzone, Zyprexa, Neurontin, and within the last few months Celexa was added to this. He does seem to be somewhat better, but very flat, little conversation, rarely smiling. I sometimes am so sorry I started him on this medication journey.

I wonder if he would have been better off trying to cope with his low-grade depression, and maybe just taking an anti-anxiety medication for the panic attacks. I wonder.

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 54.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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A Nine-Year Old’s Side Effects on Prozac

“I am disgusted that Prozac is so readily handed out to children.”

I am the mother of a 9 year old boy.

About four months ago, my son went through a change. He was experiencing a lot of physical growth and he was developing sexual awareness. Being OCD to a degree, my son centered on thoughts and obsessed and started acting in mildly inappropriate ways. Now, that became a real concern because it was more than thoughts but turning to actions that were being perpetuated; my husband and I became alarmed.

There was NO CAUSE for this sudden escalation except for a natural curiosity getting out of control (OCD reaction w/a boy who is emotionally immature but very intelligent &amp; spiritual).The guilt set in and no matter how we tried to help him forgive himself, he carried far too much guilt. It internalized into dropping self-esteem and finally that escalated into severe depression. Who was once a VERY happy, talkative, joyful, incredibly funny &amp; affectionate boy turned into a boy who wept daily, seldom smiled, and was becoming despondent.

We took him to a counselor, and later were referred to a psychiatrist. After an hour assessment, Dr.SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER prescribed Prozac for Rob.

His reaction included: MAJOR joint/muscle pain (from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head PAIN!), lack of appetite, increased seizure symptoms (Rob has a left partial complex seizure disorder we are NOT treating with drugs but naturally and that has gone very well), abdominal pain, increased lethargy, increased OCD behavior, increase in thoughts of suicide, heart pain, vomiting, and strange feelings in his mouth/tongue. I took Rob off Prozac after only 8 days because I was so alarmed with the side effects.

After taking him off the med, I did some research and was very saddened that I’d been pushed into allowing my son to be given Prozac! I was pressured by the psychiatrist, husband (on Prozac), brother-in-law (Dr. also on Prozac), and it was approved even by the pediatrician! My taking Rob off Prozac was MY decision against all but hubby (he was worried about the escalating effects of the drug, too).It took a full 7 days for the incredible pain to go away. Rob told me it hurt even to move his fingers, walk, anything.

Well, in closing, I am disgusted that Prozac is so readily handed out to children. From what I know currently, the FDA has not even approved this drug for children, and after researching it myself, I AM WORRIED ABOUT MY HUSBAND! He has been on it for two years.

 

2/3/1999

This is Survivor Story number 30. Total number of stories in current database is 96

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