Bad Effexor Trip Almost Killed Me

“I strongly believe Effexor should be yanked off the market IMMEDIATELY.”

Hi. I wanted to share my nightmarish experience with Effexor XR. I was put on Effexor XR in the year 2000 for what was believed to be major depression. This med is highly dangerous and I am pretty sure it can cause permanent brain damage, just like its illegal cousins.

When I was a rebel teenager, I used strong LSD, Speed, X-tasy and PCP, unfortunately. So I knew what those drugs did and felt like. Of course I quit a long time ago – it was just a teenage phase. Little did I know that I would “trip” again years later, but this time on a legal medication…

After a week on Effexor at 150mg a day, I started to feel unusually “high”. Felt like I was on some sort of stimulant or speed. I couldn’t sleep, I felt stoned, my thoughts raced and anxiety went up. I was told it was all normal. But as days passed, I began to feel like if I had used a potent hallucinogenic drug! I saw tracers (trails), doors bent and moved, walls gently caved in and out, colours were funny and I had a weird field of vision very similar to LSD but it didn’t feel cool or good at all. I was sweating profusely, had the shakes, was agitated and my pupils were dilated. My heart raced, my legs felt like Jello, I had a terrible headache, very weird thoughts and digestion problems. I knew that this was definitely not normal!

I began to become paranoid and started freaking out. My experience was nothing else than a full-blown chemical drug bad trip. And god knows those are extremely dangerous – some people don’t come back… I knew, I instinctively knew Effexor was the cause so I quit abruptly, refusing my treatment in the hospital. I accepted the other meds such as tranquilizers though. This is when it got really ugly.

A few hours after skipping my dose, I began to get electric shocks in my head and urges to move about. My head felt like it was in a huge vice, my vision was blurred and cloudy, my hearing was altered, I saw spots. I felt I was stuck in between dream and reality, on another planet. Physically, I was just exhausted but couldn’t sleep even on strong tranquilizers. And my stomach felt like I had eaten a slab of lead! But I bit wood and told myself that I would rather die than take another dose.

I got really scared – did a month of Effexor use fry my brain FOREVER? I tried to imagine what my brain would have felt like if I had used LSD or PCP for a month every single day… It would be gone, burnt, finished, deep fried! I came to the conclusion that Effexor destroyed my neurons for good and that I would be a vegetable for the rest of my life. This is when I tried to commit suicide to escape the pain that was just too horrible to describe in words.

After a nearly successful attempt (real close one), I was hospitalized again and put on Depakote. I told the doc that if they put me back on antidepressants like Effexor, I would kill myself with the first sharp thing I’d find. So I got things my way.

Gradually I got better as my brain VERY SLOWLY recovered. All in all, I was on Effexor a month and it took me 3-4 months for my brain to BEGIN functioning normally. A few years have past since then and I’d say my brain almost fully recovered. I was lucky. Some people say their brain stayed fried.

I strongly believe Effexor should be yanked off the market IMMEDIATELY. I have no idea how this got passed the FDA. Makes you wonder who works for who. It should be like totally illegal because way too dangerous! If your doctor wants to put you on Effexor because you are depressed, tell him you’d rather be depressed than risk killing your brain cells with an evil drug!

I now take Depakote, Seroquel and some Trazadone for my condition (Bipolar II) at medium-low doses and it works fine with no serious side effects. Not all meds are bad, some really help. Others can be deadly though. Psychiatry is not an accurate science, its about doctors too often acting like the sorcerer’s apprentice.

Martin M. (25 yo male with Bipolar disorder type II)

Prozac Made Me Want to Kill Myself

“Prozac is the scariest thing that ever happened to me.”

I am a 19 year old female. I struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, it peaking at the age of 14. When I turned 16, I couldn’t take it anymore and begged my mother to get me help. After seeking help from a psychologist and it being unsuccessful I finally agreed to try out Anti-Depressants.

I can’t remember all the kinds of A.D.’s I tried but I do remember that it took a while before I could find one that worked for me. One of the med’s my doc had me try was Prozac. Prozac is the scariest thing that ever happened to me. While before I would sleep all the time to “get away from the world” Prozac gave me insomnia. At night I would curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out uncontrollably. Thoughts of suicide emerged that were so intense that the only thing that kept me alive is that I was sobbing too hard to do anything. I had suicide thoughts before but it was more of a passive feeling, like “I hate life and want to die, but if it doesn’t happen now oh well.” The suicide feelings brought on my Prozac were so intense that I felt I needed to do it NOW; I couldn’t put off killing myself.

I remember being so scared of these feelings that one night while I cried my eyes out I walked to my mom’s room and woke her up, told her all the feelings. She told me to quit taking them and called my doc first thing in the morning. I waited to say something because 1) I thought Prozac just took a little while longer to take effect or that I didn’t wait long enough from the kind of A.D. I tried before and 2) I thought no one would believe me because it makes no sense for a medication that’s supposed to treat suicidal tendencies to be causing them, especially not a medication that has been around for so many years!

I like to add that I found Buspar to be effective in easing my depression but after I took it for a while I began to get extremely mean. Finally I found Effexor XR to be the best for me. I never had problems with it and I have been off for almost 2 years and am still fine.

Hayley Adams

Celexa sucks!!!

“Do not and I mean do not give in to the medication!”


My story with Celexa started on 2001. I was diagnosed with “panic disorder and depression” I was 16 then and I had been suffering from panic attacks since I was 13, so at the time Celexa was the only thing I turned to in order to help. I lost about 10 pounds and everyone thought I was anorexic, but Celexa made me not want to eat at all which sucked. I could go days without eating, with just water on it. Celexa did stop my panic attacks, and I started becoming more friendly with people and more social. I think while I was on the drug I experienced 2-3 panic attacks (which was probably due to stress from college) I decided to stop the medication because I realized it was not me. I was never doing the things that I was doing, and deep down inside I knew that it was not me doing these things but the drug. The drug made me very happy, worry-free, and stress-free, but that’s not reality. I was on top of the world, but was I? Certainly! not, it was Celexa! The drug made me feel so euphoric, I would feel happy all the time, but that’s not how life is!!! You have bad times and good times, you can’t always be happy. I talked to my father about it, and he suggested that I stopped taking the medication because its not me, and I don’t want to be taking it all my life. There were just too many side effects. I was constantly hyper, I had no worries, I was getting high, and meeting the wrong people. My father suggested we find a reasonable psychiatrist who does not use medication. We both knew it would be 2 times harder to deal with the problem, without Celexa, but then it will be gone forever and I don’t have to worry about medication for the rest of my life.

I quit Celexa and I decided to take my life into my hands. My doctor of course did not like this, she said that medication is the key and all this bullshit about how since I am an active user to the medication I will need it for the rest of my life. I talked to her about counseling, 1 on 1 with someone and if that would work, she said “no, medication is the best thing”. I asked her why I am feeling this way, I remember as a young child I was anxious all the time, I asked if maybe it was caused by me being sexually abused and she said “no, that sexual abuse has nothing to do with it”. That was the most shocking thing anyone ever said to me, I know now she is an idiot. I have never sat down and explored the trauma that went on while I was abused, so I will have to do so and maybe that is what’s causing all this anxiety.

When I mentioned the sexual abuse, she threw Celexa at me, I should have known better, but I was only 16 at the time. She didn’t even try to hear me out, she said “oh wow I’m sorry or something” and never bothered to ask what went on or why, so I’m wondering if that’s what causes me to feel so shitty all the time.

Anyway, so I finally decided to quit Celexa and 2-3 days after I called her and I said “I feel terrible, depressed, couldn’t walk, dizzy, couldn’t eat” and all she told me was that “she needs to see me to subscribe me more medication, maybe Celexa isn’t doing it for me”. Here I am trying to quit this medication with my families support and she wants to throw more at me. I finally went to see her and guess what, yep she wanted to offer me more medication, this time she said Paxil and Prozac are better for anxiety! It makes me sick to my stomach that she is not willing to listen to anyone, and just wants to give them medication like they are some kind of plant. I refused the medication and walked out with my father. I did not make an appointment.

While I was on the internet I met other SSRI users on a website and they guided me through all this. All this time I had been lied to and it does not feel good, but luckily good people still exist. At first when I stopped the medication, I thought I had a brain tumor, or brain damage, the headaches were so intense that I couldn’t even stand up. I had to lie to my friends about my condition, because I felt ashamed to tell them anything. I would cry, my heart was racing so fast(I had the worst tachycardia, which is still there, but not as intense as before), any type of noise would get to me, one minute I was crying and the next I was laughing or yelling at my family for no reason. What’s worse is that I could not eat at all, my father was getting scared, he would get me the Flintstones vitamins (I liked those as a child) so I ate those. But the vitamins were not enough, so I went to the ER 2 times and they found nothing wrong with me. I had to get food injected in me. I went to my primary doctor and she said I was fine also. I didn’t leave my house for 4 weeks except for the visit to the ER.

I called up my psychiatrist and asked her about withdrawal symptoms of Celexa, and she said “You shouldn’t be doing this to yourself, come and see me” . Me and my father were a little scared so went, I thought maybe I had messed up myself worse, and I had no one else to turn to, so we went.

Like I expected she said the medication does not do damage it remains in the body for 2 days, 2 days? yeah, right lady!! She said there are no withdrawal symptoms, and she suggested I try another medication, I said no and me and my father left again.

After that I did research on the internet and found out that there are withdrawal symptoms but no psychiatrist will tell you about it. What a sad world it is!!! I started talking to others and getting advice from people on how to cope with this. I was so anxious and I didn’t know what was happening inside my body. Right now I have been off the medication for 8 weeks exactly, and I feel better than before. I still get minor headaches, and dizziness, and I feel a little anxious but other than that I am just glad to be alive. The tachycardia is also there. I just pray to God that this drug did not leave any damage behind.

8 weeks ago I thought I was dying from a brain tumor. Now, I know to stay the hell away from anti-depressants, I don’t think I want to touch those medications again, they are scary. I feel so used! These people made money of my fake happiness.
I have been thinking about how the medication tricked my mind into thinking that I am “happy” but why am I happy? I’m not happy because I really want to be happy, I am happy because Celexa made me happy. I now realize that I will have to work harder to overcome my depression and anxiety than just rely on a stupid pill. Pills are not for everyone, I do not want to struggle all my life on medication. I want to have a family someday, and be able to live a normal life without scaring my husband, or my kids away every so often, when Celexa, or Paxil does not seem to do the trick. I do not think there is anything wrong with me, and I honestly have no reason to be depressed now, maybe I did back then because I was a teenager but now my life is better, I think this all has to do with the sexual abuse I’ve been through even though my psychiatrist seems to think it does not.

My advice to those who are depressed is to eat good, exercise, and keep a positive mind. A drug will only make you worse and you will regret the day you ever took the medication, I know I do. We are being used, and thrown medication to make others rich, it is a sad world. The drug companies should be ashamed of doing this , but are they? No, and I doubt they ever will be. I am not one to try and get back at others, or punish them, but I know that they will get what they deserve from God.

I hope I changed anyone’s mind who tries to take this type of medication. If you want to be a happier person you will have to work hard for it, because no medication in the world will help you achieve what you want, unless you, and only YOU really want it. If anyone wants advice with any of this feel free to e-mail me, we are all victims!! The medications will only bring you down. Exercise, eat healthy, and keep a positive mind !!!

Symptoms you might experience if you quit Celexa..(Remember each person is different, this is what I felt)

Headaches(extreme), dizziness, tachycardia, loss of appetite, no energy, crying spells, constantly pissed off at the world, getting angry easily, weird dreams, insomnia, weird feelings throughout your body, feelings that you are not alive, or lost in some kind of dream, anxiety, hot flashes, bothered by noises(the TV, the radio)

Things you should watch out for. (Things that bothered me)

Sugar, caffeine, stress, driving, long days, don’t worry about jobs, school, etc (You will have all the time in the world to work and go to school)

Things that you should do. (They helped me)

Remove all negative thoughts from your mind, and replace them with positive, think of good times(your first kiss, date, dance, etc), exercise(Yoga, Meditation, Swimming, Running, walking, remember to start slow), eat home cooked meals, (fish, Vitamin B) drink plenty of water(wash out the system faster) Surround yourself with people that you love, that will make you smile, and laugh.(not those who will cause pain or stress) Also take vitamins daily. It does not matter what you do, or for what reason you do it, as long as it helps you get better, don’t pay attention to how people react to you, each person is handles things differently..

And most importantly…

Do not and I mean do not give in to the medication ! Think about it, we are the victims here, we are being used to make others rich (the drug companies) Do you think they care about us? No, if they did they would have taken their time to help us by therapy and not thrown medication at us. Do you know how much money they get from those pills? Why do you think they go on vacations every so often, drive nice cars, and have all this money? FROM US!!! We are the suckers. Do not get mad and do not give in to them. Fight for yourself, fight to stay alive, and make them pay for what they did to us! Do you know that the human brain is smarter than any damn pill out there, it took a human being to invent that medication, so it will take a human brain (yours and mine) to invent our own medication!! If they did it, so can we!!!! Just think what you could do with all the money, you will have to waste on medication, and remember that it will go to some sucker who does not care about me or you, only his or her pocket.

Lastly, I just want to say that this experienced made me realize that life is too short, we bitch, and complain about the little things, but in reality, there is too much out there… I think Socrates said it best, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” So forget the pills, and get out there, there’s something waiting for YOU and ME!!!

On Prozac for 10 Days

“I wish that I had never took Prozac.”

Hello, my name is Sherri and I had a horrible experience with Prozac. I only took it for 10 days. I had problems that I never thought in a million years that I would ever have. I had panic attacks, fear, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of hurting someone or my pets, thoughts and feelings that made me feel very uncomfortable. This has been two years ago and to this day I still have problems.

However I am a lot better but I wish that I had never took Prozac! I also wish that I could find a doc in my area that treats people that this has happened to. I just try to take one day at a time and live my life to the fullest. And hope that one day I can put this awful nightmare behind me for good.

If anyone out there wants to e-mail me with any questions or just to talk please feel free to do so. Good luck and god bless.



I Lost my Mother to Paxil

“Paxil has made our lives a nightmare.”

Here is the sad story of our mother’s sad untimely death. My sister who was living with her was on Paxil. Both were on Paxil…my mother for OCD, and my sister for severe, major depression. She was in withdrawal, when the tragic event occurred. Neither had ever been violent in their entire lives. She has few memories, describing it as being like a dream. It has made our lives a nightmare. We will never get over the horrible tragedy.

Mercy For Cindy – Justice Denied

Nomra (Nomi)Draper

Impossible Withdrawal from Doxepin

“I know I am but one of MANY who are suffering because of these drugs.”

I have been taking a tricyclic (Doxepin or Amitriptyline) for 13 years FOR MIGRAINE HEADACHES. Now the headaches are gone…but I can not get off these evil drugs and it is very clear the medical professionals don’t want me to either. I consulted my FP and a Neuro pre my decision to go off these meds. I knew I should taper…I just didn’t know how and apparently neither did they. I started at 50mg and had gone down to 30mg over time no problem. I hovered at 30 for years because each time I went to 20mg the headaches would come back. (did not know at the time that was part of the withdrawal).

This time being determined and motivated by the risk of those long term side effects. I stayed at the 20mg through the headache which lasted 10 days then went away…but I had a new symptom…surges of dizziness. At this point I tried to find a medical professional to help me through. I consulted a Neuro who actually got furious with me at the suggestion I was having some kind of withdrawal symptoms and that I was going off the drug. His advice started me on a downward spiral to a place I never want to visit again. He asked me what mg I was down to and when I said 20 he says and I quote “WELL YOU ARE ALREADY OFF THE DRUG” proceeded to tell me I was depressed and gave me a sample of Lexapro and wanted to add to that an anticonvulsive. HE HAD NOT LISTENED…I WANTED OFF DRUGS… as I no longer needed to be on them. I left there so mad and upset…unfortunately what stuck with me was the comment that I was already off the drug….So in my uninformed mind, since I was already having what I knew had to be withdrawals I decided to just stop. Fortunately I had the good since to go visit my sister who is an RN and her husband a Dr. just in case. For 2 weeks I was great the dizziness was there but I felt my mind start to clear. Then with no warning I went down… I thought I was passing out, but then it turned into a seizure, but I was totally coherent just out of control of my jerking body. My sister took my pulse and blood pressure…normal. Then it passed and we decided I was just dehydrated. Then all hell broke lose in the next few days. I had all the flu like, dizziness, electric shock waves from the back of my scull to front, couldn’t eat and if I did it just came right out with the intermittent seizures and now we add anxiety…the kind that grips your very being…makes you grit your teeth and doubt every fiber of your being. At this point I am scared.

BUT… this is the part that blew my mind… even though it was understood why I was there (incase any thing happened while withdrawing) neither my sister nor brother in law believed what they were witnessing was due to quitting the drug.

At this point I am scared and alone. I intuitively knew it was withdrawal but didn’t know what to do. So I would drag myself shaking hands and unfocused eyes to the internet for days searching withdrawal…I finally stumbled on to a list of “discontinuation syndrome” symptoms and printed them out. When my sister read them she started to believe me. Brother in law did not however…so I had an MRI…(clean)..and other unnecessary tests. I kept printing out articles I found…he’s in denial .I told him I could not be the only person in the area of Dallas/Ft Worth that had ever withdrawn form this drug…find me a Dr. who deals with this. AT SEVEN WEEKS OF THIS… off I went to the Psychiatrist. What a joke .. I kept having to remind him I wasn’t put on this drug because of depression, psychosis, anxiety etc….none of that happened until I went off this drug. He asked me all kinds of stupid questions like did I ever think about killing someone…and my mind wanted to say; not until just now. I finally asked him if he had indeed ever treated patients with withdrawal symptoms…he says yes but they don’t ever last over 2 weeks and encourages me to go back on the drugs… No other help and it was clear he did not believe the things I told him I was going through were due to any withdrawal…he thought I was crazy… and I felt like I was.

I finally found your web site and ordered your book and CD set. They may very well have saved my life. I felt validated and had some solid advice which I trusted. You clearly explained I had gone off the drug too fast…(none of the Dr. knew this) and you had proven advice on what to do. In my case I had to go back on the drug and get well and sane again and do it right this time. It has been 4 months since I am back on the 30mgs and I am still not 100%.

My husband had to fly in to Dallas and drive me and my car back to Denver. I had to take an anti-anxiety drug just to hold it together to make the trip. The anxiety was the worst. Now after all this I went to my FP (who has been kept in the loop all this time)… and he wants me to take Paxil on top of the Elavil…. I couldn’t believe my ears…. and when I said NO he asks me WHY?… I just said you haven’t listen to me …. I don’t want any drugs … then he decides he wants me tested to see if I am getting enough oxygen in my sleep… AGAIN.. he’s not believing what I am saying. He is believing the drug companies.

I am going to give him a copy of your book… it has to start somewhere.

I am doing research to see if a compounding pharmacy can come up with a liquid form of this med or a powder form measured down to my specifications so I can begin my year long taper. It is becoming clear I am going to be alone in this next journey as I can not find any medical professional to support me… my brother in law still is not convinced and he lived it with me.

My pharmacist does believe….she tells me every week multiple people tell her they have been to the ER when they tried to quit these meds… and she shakes her head at the fact the Dr. are in denial. She tells me she just tried to talk a pregnant customer out of filling her prescription and the woman says her OB is putting all her PG patients on this to keep them calm.

I know I am but one of MANY who are suffering because of these drugs… there has to be something we can do to inform our Drs. How do we make them believe us???????

SC in Denver


“…the information about Paxil explained why I should have gotten two tumors in the same year.”

In 2001, I had breast cancer twice!! My mammogram on 2/28/01 showed a tumor in one breast and a questionable area in the other. I had a lumpectomy for the first tumor ( invasive ductal carcinoma), and, seven months later (after a second mammogram and biopsy), a second lumpectomy for the second tumor ( mucinous invasive ductal carcinoma.)

It was when I was reading PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? in the summer of 2002 that I learned that a couple of small studies had linked Paxil to breast cancer. I had taken Paxil for seven months, from 11/99 to 6/00, to see whether it would help a migraine problem that has plagued me for many years. My dose was small, and if not for Dr. Tracy’s book I never would have made the connection with my cancers. Yet for me, the information about Paxil explained why I should have gotten two tumors in the same year. (I had had breast cancer once before, in 1971, and had had a lumpectomy at that time, when it was a very controversial procedure. I had been squeaky clean since then — until the new tumors in 2001.)

I am posting this because the connection between an SSRI and a tumor first seen some eight months later isn’t as obvious as some other drug side effects people experience. However, I want to suggest that readers of this message board stay on the alert for this kind of connection. I believe Dr. Tracy says that other SSRI’s could cause cell proliferation as well — but the studies I know about are on Paxil, and that was the drug I took. I am also posting and ADR notice to the FDA.

Just off Paxil

“…hope someone like me reads this first and investigates all avenues before swallowing a pill a doctor (who may be very well meaning!!!!) prescribes.”


Please post this anonymously. Thank you. I feel it is important to pass on this information.

Over a two year period I was laid off my permanent part-time job as a social worker in a hospital due to cuts in services. Five months earlier my Dad had been told that he had terminal cancer. He died just three weeks short of a year after receiving the news. It was devastating and remains the most difficult experience of my life… I miss him everyday and find the grief at times unbearable.

Since Dad’s death, there has been friction with my sister given our different coping mechanisms… I’m very sensitive and emotional and she holds things in and is on the surface very practical. I had become quite distraught on a couple of occasions and my sister became distant and we had little contact for about six months; this was just another horrible sadness for me and I felt punished rather than supported…

At the same time my other job as a casual social worker in community healthnity was very stressful. We were also experiencing cuts in service and my job was to go and cut people off their home support (including 90 year old women…. still disgusts me). My doctor says it was breaking my heart! Anyway, long story, but the final straw came when my Mum ended up in Emerg with a suspected heart problem and was put on Beta Blockers… I was to be back to work and that morning before leaving I had a difficult time waking her – I was scared… she did wake up but I was quite worried leaving her, but thought the worst is I turn around after work and return… as a result was late…. called in to explain why and that I was on my way (excellent work history prev.)… I made the trip on the ferry (1.5 hours and then 1 hour drive into work)… anyway… my boss flipped out… and as a result I said I’ve had it and I’m going home…. I’m just exhausted and I don’t need this. I couldn’t believe the lack of compassion!!!! All this said, I went to the doctor and she signed me off work for stress leave and I started trying (much to my chagrine) several SSRI’s.

Celexa (20 mg.) was the first. Called the ambulance…. an hour after swallowing… felt like I was losing consciousness and suddenly couldn’t see and starting vomiting violently and crying into the phone, “hurry, I’m dying”…. the end was that the ambulance attendant (one of them) asked me how long I had been thinking of taking it before I swallowed it…. implication that it was psychological… I now know different. I had a horrible few days recovering from that episode.

Effexor was the second…. tiny dose of pill (quartered it) and was taken off after doctor saw my shaking and pale hands!

Then Paxil…. worked up slowly and only got as far as 7.5 mg. For a short time I seemed calmer and a little better, but usually felt quite wierd starting early evening… later started feel nauseous every morning and just crappy. Doctor surprizingly said I don’t think you should continue, so suggested I just stop. I said I thought I heard you had to taper off slowly and she said well you can do it in a week at your dose. This made not much logical sense to me given my sensitivity to meds and this small dose …. wouldn’t it be equivalent to someone on a larger dose but experiencing similar feelings. I tapered down starting with 5 mg and noticed a problem right away. I had been walking for half an hour daily with my dog and the first day I went on this amount I was feeling off balance and dizzy and found I couldn’t do my walk… Anyway I have been off now 10 days and am beginning to feel a little better, but it has been horrible. Still feel dizzy and off when I walk, but a little better. I also had felt like someone has been turning a switch on and off in me and have felt like I just might stop!… hard to explain. My heart rate was 100 bpm when I went in to see her last week and I have what I am concerned is some heart irregularity. She said I might have some extra beats but I shouldn’t worry about it. I have been insisting to her, to the point of annoyance today, that I have never had this feeling, that it is not the same as anxiety symptoms as before and she said it will go away…. I hope so. Also, haven’t been able to stop crying… feel so bad but am hopeful this will end. I know my doctor is a little reluctant to believe me and suggested I take some Ativan … was taking a tiny amt of clonazepam which helped symptoms going on Paxil, but has made me feel worse with withdrawal symptoms.

Today doctor gave me a new prescription for Amitriptyline (sp?) and said I could start. I told her I read I should be off Paxil for at least two weeks … she said only if it is another SSRI. This is another family. I said I would do some research on it first. Anyway, I think I’ll probably not fill it… am too scared right now of these drugs and am just hoping that my heart isn’t damaged … hopefully as the doctor said it will go…. not soon enough for me. A counsellor said that some people just cannot tolerate these drugs… I think I am one of those people!!!! I feel so much for anyone on these drugs… it would be wonderful for some relief from grief and suffering, but I’m not convinced these things are the answer.

What a long story… hope someone like me reads this first and investigates all avenues before swallowing a pill a doctor (who may be very well meaning!!!!) prescribes.

All the best to everyone!

16-Year Old’s Suicide on Zoloft

“Brandon’s mother, and my wife of 15 years, unable cope with loss of her youngest son, [then] took her own life.”

Bandon W. Ferris 1/04/85 – 7/22/01

My 16 year old step-son, Brandon Ferris, committed suicide, on July 22, 2001, approximately 3 weeks after he began taking the SSRI antidepressant known as Zoloft.

As husband to his mother Barbara, I helped raise Brandon from the time he was less than 2 years old. He was a bright and socially outgoing child who got along well with his brother, and step-siblings.

At age 12 he took an interest in martial arts, and we enrolled him in Seongs Tai Kwon Do Academy in Fredericksburg, VA. He found himself well suited to this discipline and worked his way trough the program to achieve his Black Belt. He made many friends there and became an instructor to other children and adults at the age of 15.

As a teenager Brandon’s other activities included sports games with his friends in the neighborhood. He also was active in our church’s youth group where he was involved in drama and many outside volunteer community projects. Additionally, Brandon held down a part-time job at a local coffee shop.

Maybe at this point you are thinking that I have painted a picture of the perfect child. Brandon also had a mischievous side that was more entertaining than bad. For instance he was very creative at finding ways to get out of chores that he didn’t think were fun. “Fun” was a key word for Brandon.

Because of Brandon’s busy schedule, and the fact that we believed his aptitude was beyond the public school system, Barbara and I decided to home-school him. This situation tended to work out well, and as a byproduct, provided more quality communication time between Brandon, Barbara, and myself. Barbara also worked part-time at the Tai Kwon Do School, so she was active in Brandon’s daily activities generally several hours per day.

In June of 2001 Brandon expressed to his mother that he had been feeling despondent over some issues surrounding his life, i.e. a close friend who was having personal problems, and a would-be girl-friend. It was also evident that Brandon was not his ordinarily energetic self. It was decided that 1) he should take some time off from his varied responsibilities, and 2) he should see a counselor.

The Licensed counselor expressed concern over Brandon’s general well-being and suggested that he see the family doctor. The doctor, who could find no evidence of physical malfunctions, gave Brandon a prescription for the drug Zoloft.

We allowed Brandon to go with his best friend’s family to the beach for several days. The friend’s parents were also close friends of ours and were fully up to date on Brandon’s situation. They made sure Brandon took his medicine and monitored his behavior. Reports were that “all had a great time”. However, it was noted that Brandon’s demeanor on a couple of occasions was uncharacteristically less than his usual polite self.

Back at home he seemed fine and appeared to be enjoying his time off from work.

Sunday July 22nd we awoke a little latter than planned to get to church. Barbara didn’t have time to get ready so Brandon and I went together. Brandon hung out with his buddies during the service, which was customary, and in the car going home we discussed current events. Because Barbara’s birthday was the coming Friday, and Brandon liked to cook, he volunteered to make the cake. He told me he had been invited to go on a boating trip on Wednesday, and asked my permission. I was agreeable as long as it was alright with his mother. Back at home he went down the street with friends and I didn’t see him again until later that afternoon, when he asked if he could go out to eat dinner with his older brother Randy. I said yes, and asked him if he planned to attend his usual youth-group meeting at 7:00. He said yes and that he would have Randy drop him off after dinner. Latter, Randy picked him up from church and he was home at approximately 9:15. He seemed fine and went across the street to a friend’s house. He came back at about 9:45 and on his way up stairs he stopped to ask his mother about the boating trip. She told him we would discuss it after the movie we were watching. At about 10:00 I called up to him to take out the trash. He did, and went back to his room. At approximately 10:30 he asked his brother, in the next room, if he could use the computer to check his email. Randy told him that he would be finished with the computer in about 15 minutes. At 11:00 I called upstairs again because Brandon had missed a box that needed to go out with the trash. He did not answer. Randy then went to his room and found him hung by the neck from a belt in his closet. We called 911 and performed CPR to no avail. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Having looked back the day’s events, and spoken to most of those whom Brandon had contact with in detail; I could not detect any indication of forethought to suicide. However, later conversations revealed possible clues, as does the following excerpt of a sympathy card from the parents of two of Brandon’s Tai Kwon Do students.

…The weekend night of Saturday July 21st Paul and I went to the movies. Brandon and a friend were there. Brandon got up and sat down next to us. He looked at Paul and said “Hi, how are you?” It took a second and then Paul recognized him. Brandon smiled. He said “I’m here with a friend, and I told him I was going to play a trick on you.” We asked Brandon how he had been doing. He said “I’ve had a bit of depression; I’m on medicine, Zoloft. Its better I guess, the medicine messes with your head. They told me not to do anything that requires too much thought, So, I’m taking a little time off from Tai Kwon Do. I’ll be back soon. It takes time to adjust to the medicine. I’m getting there.” His manner was upbeat, teasing a little, tired, but he seemed to recognize that some things required time to work through…

The obvious question is, “What happened in Brandon’s mind between 10:30 PM and 10:45 PM on the evening of July 22nd, 2001?”

I wish I could say that, that was the end of an unspeakable tragedy. However, approximately 5 months later, Barbara, Brandon’s mother, and my wife of 15 years, unable cope with loss of her youngest son, took her own life.

Since then I have collaborated with Brandon’s biological father, Dan Ferris, who has worked tirelessly to obtain information that would point to the cause of Brandon’s death. We believe, after having done much research, that the drug Zoloft, produced by Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company, had a causal effect in Brandon’s final actions.

Jeff Avery – Step-father
2204 Thornbury Dr. Richmond, VA 23233

Dan Ferris – Biological father
P.O. Box 29177 Richmond, VA 23242

Pregnant on SSRIs

“My son, Taylor, was born weighing much less than any of my previous seven children and displaying an irritability I had never experienced.”

To the FDA Advisory Panel on Antidepressant Safety in Children,

My name is Sylvia Olsen and I am the mother of eight children from Salt Lake City, Utah. I suffered for many years with clinical depression and in 1988 my psychiatrist put me on an SSRI medication. I was told that, because it was clinical depression, I would need to take it for the rest of my life. Subsequently, when I got pregnant with my eighth child in 1991, I asked if I could keep taking the medication. My doctor said there was no evidence of negative side effects, and since I was already on it, I just kept taking it. Looking back, I believe the medication produced an overriding feeling of “everything is fine” which clouded my judgment. Normally, I would think twice before even taking an aspirin when I was pregnant. After all, we are talking about the development of a human being.

My son, Taylor, was born weighing much less than any of my previous seven children and displaying an irritability I had never experienced. I soon noticed his body was tense all the time and his movements stiff. The slightest sound would startle him to the point of screaming and, often, even as he slept, his arms would be held stiff and straight up from his body. Although I’ve had no experience personally taking care of “crack babies”, as they used to call them, I kept thinking how he reminded me of things I had heard about them. He would cry continually and seemed to find great comfort in being wrapped very snugly in a blanket and held very tightly.

As Taylor grew, we also had to deal with episodes of unreasonable displays of anger. When he got upset about something as simple as his shoe tied wrong, it was as though he had no ability to reason. He would scream, kick, and flail completely out of control. We would have to put our arms around him to restrain him from hurting himself or trashing his room and sit there for as long as half an hour before he would start to gain control of himself and stop screaming and gnashing. Then, everything would be fine as if nothing had happened. Other than this, and some allergies and skin problems, things appeared normal until he started school.

Although, he seemed to be bright and aware at home, in school he struggled with reading, writing, spelling and math, unlike his older brothers and sisters. Even though his tantrums are almost non existent now,(we believe through the help of nutritional supplements) and his academics have improved a lot, he has always required remedial help. One thing that always comes up when talking to school aids who have worked with Taylor, particularly, one-on-one, is that they are puzzled by one thing in his learning process. He will appear to understand something perfectly, a math process for instance, and even be doing it on his own for a while, when suddenly, in the middle of the same work, it’s as though a light bulb goes off and he has no knowledge of even being taught the process. Then, later, he knows how to do the problem again as if he never lost it! They say it appears to be some odd kind of glitch in his brain, and I believe it is just another symptom of the developmental problems due to the SSRIs I was taking when pregnant with Taylor.

I believe there are safe and affective ways of dealing with clinical depression in children other than the use of SSRIs and that the benefits do not outweigh the risks and unknown side effects.

Antidepressants do not actually heal the human mind. If they did, then we would see a decline in depression across our nation, but we do not. Please look at the possibility that there is another way to treat this growing problem that, I believe, SSRIs only mask. Even John March, chief of child psychiatry at Duke University, who receives grants from Lilly and research funds from Pfizer, said, “These medicines are not a panacea, and will not, on average, carry kids to remission.”

After eight years on these medications, I once spent a several months trying to cut back by just a few milligrams and suffered terrible bouts of depression from the withdrawal. Yet, later, through the help of a nutritionist, I was able to wean off of them completely in just a three month period. That was seven years ago and I have not suffered from depression since.


Sylvia Olsen
574 Latonia Circle
St. George, UT 84790