My Struggles with Prozac

“I’ve tried to come off at least half a dozen times.”

I feel like I really screwed up. In 1998 I read Dr. Peter Kramer’s book “Listening to Prozac,” and I was quietly optimistic about the benefits I could receive. I was mildly depressed, nothing major; but I really wanted to try and see if I could change myself into someone I thought I could be. Indeed, I did, for a while anyway. I felt wonderful, stopped drinking completely (not that I was an alcoholic), and had higher self-esteem; I hardly thought of the future. But, the future came, and I started to notice my bodies negative effects of the drug. I weighed 160lb before starting Prozac. Today, after six years on the drug, I weight 136lb.

I’ve tried to come off at least half a dozen times; every time I feel more committed. My doctor is a good guy, but he doesn’t know what’s going on. I found your web-site on the internet simply by typing in “Help, I can’t get off Prozac.” I’ve ordered your book and the audiotape. I’m also researching supplements that you suggest to help fight against the deleterious side effects that accompany withdrawal. I have just recently begun tapering off, and yes, I will do it very slowly. Thanks for your information. I feel confident about coming off, but I also felt confident the last two times. I thought quitting cigarettes were hard… this is quite a bit harder.

Doug Morgan
agnosticdoug@hotmail.com

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Alcohol Cravings and Panic Attacks Just the Beginning

“It is a shame the way “trusted’ medical practioners can be so quick to cram drugs down one’s throat. I feel very betrayed.”

 

I was first prescribed Prozac seven years ago, for depression. I was 23, and suddenly on my own with three young children. The Prozac helped me in some ways, brought me out of my depressed seclusion, I was able to get myself dressed in the mornings and resume a somewhat normal life… but very quickly, the state of energetic happiness turned into an almost overnight tango with alcoholism, I found myself craving alcohol, drinking large amounts…becoming sexually promiscuous, making absurdly disastrous decisions and acting quite impulsively. I also experienced the most SEVERE panic attack in my LIFE!!! I quit Prozac after eight months, I don’t recall much withdrawal, except I was being prescribed Xanax for my now constant panic attacks, and I don’t remember much of that period of time.

So, off the Prozac, starting to get quite dependent on Xanax, my doctor thought perhaps Luvox might help. Well, it made me feel quite tightly strung. Wired. Second week into Luvox, I broke into an odd, hysterical laughter that I couldn’t stop. Nothing was funny, it was very strange. I was terrified, stopped Luvox right then and there…without doctor’s consent.

I went back to seeing a psychiatrist, trying to find a way to get off the Xanax…I was taking too many, and it seemed like the rebound effect of the Xanax was causing panic attacks themselves. Plus, I was still on my own, trying to be fully functional for my three children aged, at the time, two, almost four and eight.

“We” decided on Paxil, seemed safe enough, seemed a better alternative to the Xanax zombie state I was currently in. Started at twenty milligrams. Two years. It was great, although, I was gaining weight…developing some strange skin/vein issues and circulation problems in my hands and feet. Nothing that wasn’t somehow underplayed by my doctor. Then, I was unable to afford my prescription anymore. My maid job I had started disentitled me to any more prescription coverage through the Social Services program. Cold turkey. My goodness, it was so awful. I almost lost my job due to my poor performance during the months that followed. The vertigo was the worst for me…feeling like the floor was rushing to my face…the spinning sensation every time I tilted my head, face numbness, hands/feet numb, nausea, so many times I thought I was having a heart- attack.

The depression was horrible. I eventually became unemployed again, went back on Paxil. I couldn’t help it, I felt like perhaps I would never be normal again without an SSRI coursing through my bloodstream. So, back on Paxil.

After a while though, it was apparent that the 20 mg weren’t enough. Up to 30 mg now. Two years on 30mg. A few months ago, I decided that I have had enough, starting to show many signs of Cushing’s disease. Horrible circulation in my hands and feet, and although I am almost fifty pounds overweight, it is low-blood pressure I suffer from. I decided that if I can start making better decisions in life, and try to live healthier, perhaps I will be able to reduce the panic attacks, that thankfully, other than during p.m.s are quite scarce now. I have been cutting down ever so gradually over the past few months. I don’t know how to do it correctly, as I have not discussed this with my doctor. When I had mentioned to my doctor my many physical complaints…weight gain, bad circulation, etc…. and how after research I felt it may be attributed to the Paxil… she refused to consider it. She has sent me for numerous tests, incl. lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral vascular disease…and others, the cortisol testing is the newest one. Everything else has come up normal. I have insisted that these could be contributed to Paxil, so she said, “Fine, perhaps Wellbutrin” and I said, “No, really, I don’t want anymore SSRI type meds…no meds period’!” we had a big argument. I stormed out. That was a few months ago … I still plan on getting my cortisol level tested.

Unfortunately, where I live has a very low percentage of doctors taking patients,,, many strikes going on, etc. Many people don’t even have family physicians… they are forced to use the walk-in clinics. So I haven’t found a new physician.

No matter what, I am staying off this time. I have to. During the periods of time I have been on SSRIs, my drinking increases…promiscuity….impulsive behaviour… although I must say, with Paxil it is MUCH more subtle than Prozac… it really affects your whole being. I am feeling pretty okay right now. Day to day. The numbness/pain in my hands and feet has much improved over the past few months…although, the vertigo is still annoying… I have simply been taking one every other day, then every two days, now one every four.

It is a shame the way “trusted’ medical practioners can be so quick to cram drugs down one’s throat. I feel very betrayed. Pharmaceutical companies must love depression and mental unhealth. It is what causes their great wealth. Thank you.

Shilo Magee

 

8/6/2002

This is Survivor Story number 15.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

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My Family's Struggles on Prozac

“Thank you for having your site so that people can have the information to do something about this overmedication going on.”

 

Just about everyone in my family has been on or is still on an antidepressant. My twin sister and I went on Prozac at the same time and I quit taking shortly after she quit. The side effects were not worth the increase in overall happiness. I have found exercise is my miracle. My twin and my little sister have been on Paxil for sometime to control panic attacks, and no matter what they are told, that one can control panic attacks without drugs, they won’t quit taking Paxil. My little sister has this unpleasant trembling as a side effect, I don’t even like looking at her, she can’t stop shaking.

My mother has been wanting to get off the Prozac but can’t, she was once at 90mg, her doctor said it was fine to be on that dosage. She was so forgetful she would go to the store and leave the keys in the ignition. She has since lowered the dosage but has been unable to quit. The only ones in my family, myself and my older sister, who has OCD and several other problems, have successfully not been medicated and are living happily. We both exercise almost everyday, her more so than me (she has OCD, remember!)

My mother agrees she doesn’t like the prospect of being dependent on a pill for the rest of her life, but says she can’t face life without Prozac. I went to the official website for the drug and it is just about impossible to find any information about the long term effects of the drug. I am so worried about my mother, her doctor doesn’t care, she’s now on other drugs to control her blood pressure and who knows what else she’s hiding from me. Thank you for having your site so that people can have the information to do something about this overmedication going on. I will give the information to my mother and my sisters so they can see what their doctors do not tell them.

Lynn Prikkel
lstevenson@ajc.com

 

1/23/2001

This is Survivor Story number 3.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

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I Traded Depression for Paxil Psychosis

“I never had a single psychotic episode or symptom until I had taken Paxil and started to become aggressive and delusional.”

 

Hi. I am a 27 year old male with clinical depression, about four months ago my therapist had a Dr. that she works with prescribe me an anti-depression regimen of Paxil, Klonopin, and later Zyprexa.

I had no idea why an anti-psychotic was later included in my treatment until I began doing a little research on SSRI’s. I never had a single psychotic episode or symptom until I had taken Paxil and started to become aggressive and delusional.

I discontinued the Zyprexa (the Dr. did not like that) after reading the prescribing information and found it also had a serotonergic enhancing effect, since it was in my opinion the effects of excess serotonin which were causing my psychotic symptoms in the first place. The combination put me in a dream like state and was causing me wild mood swings ranging from extreme euphoria to severe depression with suicidal thoughts.

I also acquired a bizarre craving for aspartame and would secretly eat it right out of the Equal packets at work.

I also did terrible things to my coworkers like intentionally breaking or tampering with their tools without a hint of guilt because I decided they deserved it. I knew I would never be suspected of it since lying came so easily for me with the medication.

My doctor said there were no drug interactions with the “new generation” antidepressants and over the counter products are all O.K.. Well, I don’t believe that is exactly the case, after taking a cough syrup containing dextromethorphan (HBr) I developed symptoms which I now think were serotonin syndrome. I became very euphoric in a sort of drunken giddy way, felt like I had a fever and was sweating, my joints all hurt and my right hand was clenched and painful to open as well as my jaw, I was dizzy and felt anesthetized (like the feeling of taking a narcotic painkiller like Percocet) and confused, I was having mild hallucinations/visual disturbances ( I went right through two red lights on my way home from work while looking right at them), my pulse kept fluctuating for no reason between bradycardic and tachycardic, my hands and ankles had also swollen and I could not remember what I had done 5 min before. I had difficulty standing and spent the rest of the night sitting in a chair in the dark staring and at some point I suspected something was wrong. My muscles felt very tense so I took 4 of my clonazapam and a doxylamine tablet (I thought maybe I was having an allergic reaction and it was the only antihistamine I had in the house).

Well, I made it through the night and gradually over the next day my symptoms faded. I had seen my doctor the day before when these symptoms were just beginning and tried to explain it to him. He seemed to think I may have been imagining these symptoms and said he couldn’t do anything for me if I was not going to take the medication. He told me that all medications have side-effects, and gradually they diminish (but mine were getting worse).

This all happened a week ago and I have been tapering off them with my doctor’s reluctant approval. I still feel a little strange he (Dr.) said I will for at least several days while my body adjusts to being without the drugs.

I am not so sure which was worse depression or psychosis! I guess it’s a toss-up to which symptom you are more willing to put up with.

KPK

 

1/1/2001

This is Survivor Story number 8.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

1,584 total views, no views today