Homicidal and Suicidal on Zoloft and Paxil

“1 week on the Paxil and I was nuts!”

 

Recently experiencing a mind-altering homicidal/suicidal Zoloft induced event in my own life, I wondered if any studies have been done to determine how many of these men had been taking an SSRI.

My personal experience, thank God, did not end in a completed homicide or suicide. If it not for your website and links I know I would not be here to testify to the dangers of SSRI’s.

I am currently withdrawing from Zoloft for the 4th time in 10 years. It saddens me even to admit this. Why I again took the drug that had led me to suicidal ideation when withdrawing from it in the past is beyond me.

I want to share with you my recent frightening experience.

I successfully withdrew from 8 years of taking Zoloft last year. By April, 2002 I was medication free. I also stopped receiving depo-provera injections. In Aug. I experienced depression (I now think was PMS) and was very adverse to any treatment with an SSRI. My depression lingered and my Dr. insisted I go back on an SSRI ”because I was just one of those people that will always need an SSRI to live a normal life”. She suggested that since I had effectively gone off Zoloft that Paxil would be a better alternative. 1 week on the Paxil and I was nuts! 2 weeks on the Paxil and I developed severe heart palpitations, increased anxiety and a total inability to concentrate. I titrated myself to shavings of Paxil and went back to the Dr. She was unhappy that I had decreased the Paxil dosage, and thought I should have increased it to “get past that”. We agreed Zoloft had worked before, and I immediately quit the Paxil and started back on a 50 mgm Zoloft dose with a psychiatric consult in 2 weeks. My Dr. felt that “my psychiatric problems were beyond her scope” and suggested my meds be evaluated by a shrink.

After taking the Zoloft 50 mgm for 1 week, I developed a homicidal and suicidal obsession. I was functioning in a somewhat normal fashion, but could not avoid thinking about suicide almost 24 hours a day. I felt it was the only answer to my problems. On the day of my psych consult, I was in despair over the anxiety attacks I was experiencing at night, waking me out of my sleep. I also was in despair over the invasion of suicidal thoughts and feeling the need to kill my child (to protect her) that were overwhelming me. I told this to the intake nurse during my initial psych interview.

She escorted me to the psychiatrist, who gave me some diagnostic fill in the blank tests. He increased the Zoloft to 100mgm a day, gave me a 2 week sample of Wellbutrin to start bid and gave me a sample bottle of Zyprexa to take prn -”for when you are really losing it”. I scheduled a follow up appt. for 2 weeks and left. I went home, picked up my daughter and took her to her gymnastics class. While waiting for her, I read the inserts in the drug sample boxes. Oh, My God! This information scared me out of my wits! I determined that the shrink really thought I was nuts without telling me! I immediately went to the bathroom and flushed the samples away. I thought, if I get any more suicidal, I’ll be over-dosing on my samples in a flash. While watching my daughter work so hard at her gymnastics, I decided I could not bare any more thoughts of killing her or myself. I needed to get home, get to your site and start researching what was wrong with me!

After her class, when we arrived home, the police were in my drive-way. I was fearing some tragedy had happened to my sons or husband. When my daughter and I entered our home, I found I was the tragedy!! The police had been waiting for me for 1/2 hour. They had been dispatched to my home, by the intake nurse at the clinic. She had called the police and told them I was going to kill my daughter and myself. The police had spent the time before I got home questioning my family, searching our home, and removing my husband’s gun collection from the house. All this was done with my husband’s permission as he and my boys were totally unaware of my problems. The police interviewed me for a 1/2 hour and 2 more police came to our home. After another 1/2 hour they decided I was o.k. and left. I had a lot of explaining to do to my family. They were as alarmed as I . For lack of insight and desperation I started taking 100mgm of Zoloft that evening.

About a week later after developing extreme heart palpitations and increased anxiety (which my m.d. gave me Xanax for). I went to your website and found a link re: Zoloft side effects; I found that suicidal and homicidal ideation within the first few weeks of use was a known side effect.

It would have been very beneficial if the psychiatrist and other professionals I came in contact with would have known this. As soon as I read this I went to another link for more help and decided to taper off the Zoloft. The anxiety, depression, and especially the heart palpitations have subsided.

I had an echocardiogram and holter monitor which showed I was fine. I haven’t got all the Zoloft out of my system yet, but am hopeful that I will use ANY alternative to SSRI medication should/when the depression returns.

After careful evaluation of my situation, and having had successful use of Zoloft for many years, I had come to the conclusion that I needed more Zoloft because I was SO depressed about the suicidal ideation. I spoke directly to a phone counselor from another link. He was very helpful in explaining that THE SAME MEDICATION (ESPECIALLY SSRI’S) CAN CAUSE NEW SIDE EFFECTS WHEN THEY ARE TAKEN AGAIN AFTER BEING DISCONTINUED. It was a logical explanation to what had gone wrong!

If it weren’t for your website and links I doubt I would be able to write this. Thank-you Dr. Tracy for saving my life.

Thank you, again.

Laura Kandl

 

11/26/2002

This is Survivor Story number 7.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,574 total views,  1 views today

Cough Syrup and SSRI Proves Fatal

“I don’t understand why OTC cough medications are not required to have [a warning] regarding SSRI medications.”

 

I need to share my frustration and disappointment with someone who might understand. 2 1/2 years ago, my 20-year-old son, Tom, died of malignant hyperthermia as the result of serotonin syndrome as the result of being on TWO SSRI medications plus having been given permission by a pharmacist to take a child’s dose of OTC cough syrup (due to a bad cold) at bedtime. We later found out the cough syrup became the 3rd serotonergic medication.

My son was a diagnosed schizophrenic but had been functioning quite while for almost 2 years. He was a full-time college student on the dean’s list, who worked part-time at UPS, and he was also taking guitar lessons. He owned his own car and transported himself around. He was also beginning to become more sociable. But then after taking a child’s dose of the OTC cough medicine two nights in a row, he collapsed at work. His temperature shot to 107 degrees and one by one all of his organs shut down, his blood stopped clotting, and sadly he passed away about 8 hours later. (The hospital emergency room did NOT give him the antidote for malignant hyperthermia.)

We have been through 2 attorneys including one that was recommended by Andy Vickery. Both decided not to continue with our medical malpractice suit. They stated that they were told by other psychiatrists that it is not out of the norm to have patients on more than one SSRI medicine, as along as they are closely monitored. They also stated that since he has been on the 2 Sari’s for over a year that it would be hard to prove that they caused my son’s death and as far as the pharmacist stating the small dose of OTC cough medicine would be okay, that would just be our word against his.

The last attorney also informed me that juries do not give out big awards to the parents of “adult” children (so basically they weren’t going to waste their time if they didn’t think it would turn out to be worth their time financially.) With all I have heard about the potential problems taking just one SSRI drug can cause, I find it hard to believe that it not considered “out of the norm” to have patients on more than one version of this type of drug. I also don’t understand why OTC cough medications have a warning about MAOI drugs but are not required to have one regarding SSRI medications.

Thanks for allowing me to vent my frustrations.

Marcia
MarciaLSz@aol.com

 

5/31/2002

This is Survivor Story number 22.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,613 total views

A Nurse Speaks out about Prozac, Effexor and Zyban

“I have discovered many, many horrifying things about these drugs.”

 

An online friend recommended Ann Blake-Tracy’s book, which I haven’t gotten or read yet, but definitely will within the next few days. I decided to look for info on Dr. Tracy on the web, and discovered the ICFDA site. I have just read several personal accounts of others’ SSRI nightmares, and now find myself in tears, and in need of sharing my story, which it is very painful to do and probably will be for life.

I and my wife are both registered nurses. In late 1997, I had gone through a bad bout with the flu and decided I should seek help to quit smoking. My doctor at the time prescribed Zyban. I had almost quit (down from 2-3 packs/day to a couple of cigarettes per day) when I developed erosive and infective esophagitis and duodenitis, along with other ulcers. At that time, I stopped taking the Zyban, although I can’t recall for sure why.

A few months later, my wife said that my moods seemed better when I was on the Zyban, so the doc wrote a scrip and put me on Wellbutrin. Unfortunately, he did not suggest, nor did we consider, more conventional treatments, such as therapy or counseling. I regret that he, or we, had considered such, because the esophagitis was the first (physical) problem, and the least of many problems, both physical and psychological, which lay ahead.

After a time, while seeing a new physician, a discussion over the fact that the Wellbutrin did not seem to be helping any more ensued. So, the new physician changed me to Prozac. It wasn’t very long after the Prozac that I woke up one morning, went into the kitchen to fix myself some coffee, and passed out right there in the kitchen for no known reason. Our oldest Daughter, nine years old at the time, came running to the kitchen, where she discovered me trying to climb up the island in the center of our kitchen.. I was totally disoriented for a few moments, had a splitting headache, and had managed to fracture a toe during the fall. Although I managed to get reoriented, I was left with a totally debilitating headache.

Over the next four weeks, during which I was unable to go to work, I was hospitalized twice, underwent some horrendous and totally useless treatments for a diagnosis of “intractable migraines,” and the only thing that relieved the headache at all was Demerol and Phenergan. Of course, this left me just as unable to work as the headache itself. Near the fourth week, my wife noticed a “knot” in my cervical area. She went to the neurologist’s office with me, where I told one of the two doctors treating me for the migraines about the knot. When the doctor seeing me that day told me there was no knot (???), I fired him on the spot and told the nurse I wanted to see his partner. The second physician not only located it, but administered a trigger-point injection that almost totally relieved the now four-week old headache completely within an hour or so.

I returned to work within about a week, feeling relief from the headaches. But a friend suggested I quit the hospital where I had a good paying, although highly stressful job, and I did so, rather impulsively, without realizing the further financial devastation I was about to cause our family. Only part of the four weeks I had been out of work were covered by leave time, which had set into motion a serious financial crisis for our family.

Within months, I was out of a good paying, full-time job, the business proposition my friend had made turned out to be nothing but hollow promises, bill collectors were breathing down our necks, we were in danger of losing the home we had not long before purchased, and I was sinking into a bout of depression that most people could never imagine.

The next serious visit with my regular doctor included a discussion about the fact Prozac was not only not working, but that I was becoming extremely tired in the afternoons. So he suggested switching to Effexor, which he said “gives most patients sort of a boost.” I agreed, again, without any consideration or discussion of therapy or counseling. Looking back, depression was sort of logical. Within the last three years, I had been through a very bitter divorce, remarried, adopted the two stepdaughters that mean the world to me, purchased a house, gone through major health problems, walked away from a good job, had a promise of a great business partnership vanish into thin air, and was approaching total financial ruin. Perhaps I did have one or two reasons in all of that to be just a little depressed? But the story gets worse, much worse.

My sexual activity with my wife had begun to fall off considerably, and the activity we did engage in was plagued with strange problems I had never encountered before. I was having trouble functioning sexually. Ejaculation was becoming more difficult to achieve and I was experiencing painful sensations when aroused. My temper was getting more and more out of control — I developed a very short fuse, to say the least, resulting in all sorts of angry behavior that was totally new to me. Even worse, I began abusing my children. Even though I felt terrible after mistreating them, it was as though there was a second, horrible person inside of me, which I could not control, yet at the same time I kept thinking I could, or would at least be able to when the medications gained control over my depression once and for all. The medications never did. And it almost put an end to my life.

I was already having more frequent bouts of self-destructive behavior following episodes of losing my temper and in other ways losing control with the people I loved, most notably wife and our two daughters. I was oscillating between days of wanting to hide out from the world and days of mania, thinking I could do or achieve anything. Simple, everyday bumps in the road of life became mountains I felt unable to scale. This past December, our oldest daughter revealed to my wife the horrors of what I had become while my wife was away working at night as a nurse. In order to do what any loving mother would probably do, my wife told me the relationship was over and that I was never to return to our home again. Even worse, she told me that I would not see our daughters again until they were both grown and could decide on their own whether or not they wanted to see me again.. This was almost the fatal blow.

I started walking in the rain, with the temperature not much above freezing outside. It was then that I most seriously considered putting an end to my life physically — I was already dead emotionally. All that was left was an empty shell. The real me seemed lost forever, although I really had no idea where I had gone or why. I was walking along a major highway and saw an 18-wheeler coming downhill toward me. “Here is the perfect way to end it all and do it quickly,” I thought to myself. I stepped onto the pavement, into the path of the oncoming rig. He blew his horn and moved into the opposite lane of the highway where there was, fortunately for him, no oncoming traffic. Almost in disgust, I began to step forward a few more steps to once again place myself in the path of the truck. But something else suddenly crossed my mind: I actually had a mental image of our two daughters, screaming “I’m sorry, Daddy,” at my funeral. I knew this was not the way to end it. I began walking along the side of the road again, still hearing the air horn of the 18-wheeler blasting in my ears. I then thought of simply walking into the woods, sitting down by a tree, and actually allowing myself to die of hypothermia, which I was already beginning to experience in the almost freezing rain. My hands and feet had gone almost totally numb, with what had been intense pain now beginning to give way to oncoming frostbite.

A passing logger saw me on the side of the road and pulled over to offer me a ride. Two other vehicles had already done so, but I had waved them on saying “I’m fine, just leave me alone.” But something had changed. Perhaps the cold rain and intense pain I was feeling was jolting me back to reality. Unfortunately, the reality I was experiencing was neither hopeful nor acceptable to me at the time. I climbed into the truck and the driver took me to the nearest store, where I gave the attendant a dollar bill in exchange for dialing the long distance number where I could reach my wife. She agreed to my request to come and meet me. She took me to the home of my parents. Knowing that I did not want to live, yet not totally ready to just curl up and die, I asked them to take me to the hospital, where I had myself admitted for suicidal depression.

The next morning, I met with the psychiatrist and told her everything. I left nothing out. I wound up being transferred to an intensive treatment program for further help once the suicidal crisis was behind me. I was to the point I had nothing to hide any longer. I told her everything, as I did my therapists. This triggered notification of the authorities who immediately ordered me out of the home for good and set into motion an intense legal struggle that is still ongoing.

After being discharged from inpatient treatment, I told my psychiatrist that I did not think the Effexor was working right and might be causing me more problems. She seemed to think that dosage was just too low, so she increased the dosage from 75 mg per day to 150. I had to take it in the mornings because I had long before discovered that if I took Effexor in the evening hours, there was no possibility of getting any sleep. Within a few weeks, I was having daily, afternoon depression and anxiety attacks that were very intense and seemed not to be triggered by any particular thoughts or circumstances. One Friday afternoon, it hit me that my Effexor dose had been doubled. I was also now having panic attacks in public places and was becoming terrified of going anywhere. I called her office immediately and insisted on discontinuing the Effexor and on seeing her. I was told I could see her the following Tuesday afternoon. I agreed to that, and immediately began to taper myself off the Effexor. Since all I had was 150 mg capsules, my only choice, without getting a new prescription, was to space the doses out. I did so by skipping the next morning dose, and taking the following morning’s dose 12 hours late — around 8:30 p.m. An interesting but revealing thing occurred. Instead of severe afternoon panic attacks, the next really bad episode occurred during the early morning hours following that next dose, which I had taken in the evening instead of morning. I needed no further evidence to convince me that Effexor was in fact causing my depression and anxiety attacks.

When I saw the psychiatrist on Tuesday, I told her that the Effexor was worse than the Wellbutrin and Prozac had been. She looked at me and said “Wellbutrin and Prozac? I didn’t know you had ever taken those.” After discussing my history with those drugs, she agreed that I wasn’t tolerating antidepressants at all, and told me to taper myself off the Effexor as I saw fit and was comfortable with. I have not taken another dose of Effexor since that 8:30 PM dose two days prior to seeing her. Just as interesting is the fact that I have also had no need or desire to take Ativan, which she had wound up giving me in order for me to sleep and combat the increasing anxiety.

Despite the legal battle my wife and I are now facing, not only for the possibility of putting our family back together again, but very possibly for my own freedom from being cast into prison and out of society, my love for my wife, children, and life has returned. Once I got my head cleared enough to do so, I decided I wanted to learn more about the three drugs — Wellbutrin, Prozac, and Effexor, to try and figure out why they weren’t working right for me. Instead of just finding out how they were NOT working, I have discovered many, many horrifying things about these drugs. Not only are they all in the same class (SSRI’s), but there is more than significant information that leads me to believe that all of the psychological problems that emerged — none of which I had experienced prior to being started on all these drugs — were very likely triggered by the drugs.

So, in order to stop smoking, which I still have not done, my doctor put me on Zyban… the next 3-1/2 years or so of my life became a living hell for me and my family. What they have been through hurts as bad as thinking about my own plight. I would gladly spend the rest of my days in prison, or in hell, if that were necessary for them to be safe. But I am not a monster. In fact, life has become simpler and clearer to me than it has been in years. Not because of the tragedy, but because I am free of the serious and devastating effects of these drugs.

As I have said to others, with complete honesty, I would not wish what has happened to us on my worst enemy. Mentally, I have a totally new lease on life. But it was not until I took control of it and stopped the SSRI’s that I was able to obtain it. Sadly, there is a chance that the legal system is going to prevent me from ever being with my family again, which I am not totally sure I will survive. They mean everything in world to me. And in a society where marriages and families are routinely thrown out like household garbage, I feel no remorse whatsoever about my family taking precedence over my own individual needs, career needs, or anything else. I would rather die fighting for the chance to be with me family, to simply love them, support them, and share everyday life with them, including the tough parts, than to give up on them. They ARE my life, who, and what I am.

If only one of those doctors had ever said “Before we prescribe this (new) drug, why don’t you talk with a counselor or therapist?” it is very likely none of these tragic events would have ever occurred. Now I am stuck in a legal system that will probably never show any leniency or compassion, not understanding that these drugs can do these sorts of horrible things to ordinary people. Unable to afford a high-profile attorney (having to go with a public defender) who most likely has little real interest in fighting for me or my family, I am likely to lose my freedom, my family, and in turn my life. The latter is more truthful than I can convey, because if I lose my wife and daughters, the most meaningful part of me will be gone. I would never commit suicide — I promised my wife that for her and the girls — but I would die a slow, horrible death, withering away into a dark eternity, having no will live to live. Suicidal ideations and having no will to live are two very different things, yet they both lead to the same thing.

I pray that I will not be cast out of society like a disgusting, horrible, uncontrollable demon. I am not a threat to anyone. But the drugs that caused all of this are a very serious threat.

3/11/2001

This is Survivor Story number 5.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

 1,756 total views

Staccato Vision, Whiting Out and Brain Shivers on Effexor

“Please, unless you are chronically depressed or have something really, really severe, stay away from this class of drugs.”

 

Dear Friends and Acquaintances,

I realize that this is what most would consider a long letter. However, it is only a brief summation of my own personal experience. Please, especially those of you who are parents or grandparents, teachers or counselors, just take the two minutes it takes to read it, then just put it in the back of your mind. Or pass it on.

Anti-depressants are quite often being cavalierly dispensed to the population in general. Also, they are prescribed to help kids who’ve been on Ritalin for years get through the difficult process of the cessation of that drug. And now the manufacturers of these drugs are planning to produce it in smaller doses for their next target population: pre and elementary school aged children! These drugs have a very high percentage rate of undesirable and sometimes dangerous side effects.
As many of you know, several years ago I broke my wrist, which caused me to develop a rare condition known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. One of the medications I was given to try to control the pain was Effexor. Effexor is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or an SSRI. These drugs are commonly known as anti-depressants. Prozac is probably the most commonly known drug in this class. I was on this drug for less than 6 months when, for reasons of my own, I decided I wanted to get off. That’s when my nightmare began.

One cannot just stop taking these drugs. There is a tapering off process which must be followed. This is because there are very often serious and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. However, I was not told of these symptoms, and I now know that the doctor did not know about them, either. He told me only that nightmares were a common occurrence during this process, and that I might also experience “mild, flu-like” symptoms and “slight confusion.” During this initial, original prescribed tapering off process, which was supposed to take about 2 weeks, I experienced vivid and terrifying nightmares. I could not shake these off for hours after I had wakened. Since I was extremely tired, I napped a lot. Each time I napped, there would be a nightmare, and the process would repeat itself several times daily. I really was unprepared for their intensity and lasting after-images.

Then came the day I was to stop taking it. To make a long story short, these were some of my symptoms: A weird visual thing would happen for about a second, about 4 times a minute. I can only compare it to what it feels like to try to track the arrow of the mouse across the page. But I knew it was not my eyes that were doing this, I could feel it was my brain. (October, 2000: I’ve just found out that the term for this is “staccato vision”). I also experienced what people who have this call a sensation “like electric shocks” or “jolts” to my whole body which also occurred for a split second every 15 seconds or so. When these occurred at night, in the dark, they were accompanied by a flash of white light. It’s as if I were “whiting out” (instead of “blacking out”) for just a split second every 15 seconds or so. These incidents began to increase in intensity and began to be accompanied by panic and/or paranoia flashes. Eventually, just moving caused such dizziness and disorientation that I had to hold onto whatever was around me to walk.
Sometimes it felt as if there were a magnet to one side of me, pulling me that way. The “slight confusion” I experienced is something I can only imagine is what beginning Alzheimer’s patients must feel like during the initial stages of their eventually terminal mental decline during the time when they are still aware that something is really going wrong. Sometimes it felt as if my brain was shuddering in my skull a sensation that has come to be called “Brain Shivers” or “Brain Flips” by many. Numerous other things were happening as well, but I don’t want to get too long-winded here. I just want to give you all some idea of some of the kinds of things that were happening.

So, I made an appointment with the prescribing doctor, and a friend was kind enough to take me there. But the doctor did not believe me! He said that it couldn’t be the Effexor, that I probably had some neurological problems and that if the symptoms persisted, I should see a neurologist. But I KNEW it was the Effexor, so I went home, took another pill, and felt fine within the hour. Then I got on the ‘net. What I found there was astounding! Tons of people, all with the same things happening to them, reaching out to anonymous others and saying, “Help! What is happening to me?” These I found on bulletin boards, NOT on product information sites put up by the people who are selling the stuff.

I tried calling the Drug Company to find out what was happening to me and how to stop it. I never did reach them. Fortunately for me, my primary care physician had heard of these symptoms and knew how to deal with them. She advised a long, slow tapering off process, telling me that it could take one to two months for me to be able to get off. Also fortunately for me, she told me to take as long as I needed. It took me 10 MONTHS! During that time, the symptoms mentioned above continued, although diminished enough for me to be able to function almost normally. But other things began to happen. I saw things out of the corners of my eyes, which were not there. We all do that, but this was pretty constant. One thing I saw which I never told anyone about until it had stopped was a big, hairy rat about 1 foot long, scurrying around corners. Keep in mind that I was not on this drug because I was in any way mentally unbalanced it was merely to help with the pain. I saw, and still see occasionally, a pinpoint of violet shimmering light. Also, things would seem to be moving out of the corners of my eyes. A spot on the wall, for example, I would think was a spider crawling until I looked directly at it, when I would realize it was just a spot on the wall. These things did not scare me, but they were frequent and startling and bothersome.

I took my last little crumbs of Effexor in September of 1999. End of story?

Unfortunately, no. It is now the end of July,2000, and I still experience some of the same symptoms, although they are manageable. I also have experienced monstrous headaches. The first one, back in September, lasted 4 days. I thought I was going to die. I even told my son that I might die. I debated about that for a while, but did not want him to wake up and find me dead one morning. Fortunately, I’m still here. My headaches began to decrease in length, and now they seem to last only 2 hours or so. They go away within one minute. Sometimes I’m just achy all over. I guess that experience is the “mild, flu-like” symptoms I’d been warned about. I still have days I call “my stupid days”, and they usually signal the beginning of episodes lasting several days, involving vertigo, dizziness, short anxiety attacks, some euphoria occasionally, the “brain shivers”, and numerous other weird symptoms, and culminating in a headache. Then I’m fine for however long it lasts. Sometimes I feel whole body tremors not enough to make me twitch, and they are not unpleasant, but they’re there and they shouldn’t be. I am concerned about this. I want to know why, after not taking this drug for so long, I am experiencing this “discontinuation syndrome”, and when will it stop? I have not yet found the answer. I finally did get in touch with the Drug Company to ask them these questions and they took down all my information. They have never explained why, and they have never followed up. They would not talk to me about my symptoms, they would only talk with my doctor. And this was not OK because the doctor did not believe me! (This was not the prescribing doctor who hadn’t believed me when I first tried to get off this was the doctor who’d prescribed the tapering off process.) But I told her to call them and talk to them, and it was pretty easy for them to shine her on, since she didn’t believe me anyway. And they sent her a letter advising a slow tapering off of the drug, which I’d already done, of course, AND a “report” from a closed symposium on SSRIs sponsored by the a drug company ‘way back in 1996! (Which, of course, did not address the issue.)

The more research I’ve done on these things, the angrier I become.
Because the drug companies have known about these things for years. Many people and their families have gone through much, much worse than I have. Some people have never been able to get off the drugs. Now, what would YOU do if you were manufacturing these things? You’d probably say’ “Whoa! We need to stop selling these things until we can find out what’s causing this. We’d better get in touch with each and every one of those people who are having these extreme reactions, do whatever we can to help them, and to identify what it IS about them that makes them react differently than those who have no problems with the medication.” Well, not only are these companies not doing this, they are manufacturing the drugs in smaller doses so that CHILDREN can take them! Yes, Prozac is currently being tested on pre-school aged children! And although these drugs have not YET been approved for use in children, the numbers of children aged 6-12 being prescribed Prozac has risen from 41,000 in 1995 to 203,000 in 1996. Currently, in 2000, 2.3 million children in the U.S. are on anti-depressants. The official literature on these drugs says that they are safe for pregnant women to take! And there are documented cases of newborns being born with the more evident withdrawal symptoms (which the drug companies are ignoring because nobody can prove it. Isn’t that horrible?!). The companies that manufacture these things are re-naming Prozac “Serafem” or something and doctors are prescribing it for PMS! Are these drugs harmful to absolutely anyone who takes them? Of course not. And for many, these drugs have proven to be beneficial. However, they are NOT only being prescribed for major, long-term depressions, but for such things as the Holiday Blues and teenage angst! But the percentage risk for horrible and even deadly side effects is extremely high.

Please, unless you are chronically depressed or have something really, really severe, stay away from this class of drugs. And please, NEVER EVER put a child on these things! I am an intelligent, articulate, resourceful middle-aged woman. When a wave of panic starts to wash over me, or any other of these weird things start to happen, I can tell myself to just hold on, it’s just the after-effects of the drug, it will go away, I should take a deep breath and relax, etc. Do you think a child or a newborn could do the same? I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a child in school and to suffer the kind of confusion I’ve been through and manage to learn anything, let alone be involved in a physical activity or sport! This has been going on for nearly 2 years with me, and I don’t know when it will end!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. This has been a BRIEF synopsis of what my life has been like for the past two years. And it’s nothing compared to what others have been through.
Yours,
Louise Mangan

Update, October, 2000:
In the few months since I wrote this, I found that these continued withdrawal effects after not haven taken the drug for a long time is a phenomena which has not one but two names: PANES (Persistent Adverse Neurological Effects) and “Intractable Withdrawal”. This phenomenon was noted as early as 1996 before I began taking Effexor. How can the pharmaceutical companies deny the existence of something that has occurred enough to even have a name?
Several months ago I was driving with my son on the freeway at night and I felt fine. Out of the blue, a wave of disorientation and that peculiar form of dizziness I associate with my “Effexor Episodes” came upon me. I found myself in the middle of two lanes with no remembrance of which one I had come from. I was too scared to look in the rear view mirror to see what was behind me. I heard my son yell, “What are you doing?” A car was breaking to the left of me. I asked my son which lane I should go into and he told me to go right. Fortunately the freeway was not crowded. I was dizzy and scared and felt as if I was going to pass out. Soon there was an exit and I took that off the freeway and my son continued the drive home. I have not driven at night since.
I am a 50 year old woman with an excellent driving record. I made it. I feel sure that if there had been more cars on the freeway there would’ve been a terrible accident. Children from the ages of 6 up are being prescribed these drugs. They are getting their learners permits and at age 16 are given driver’s licenses after passing very easy tests. Maybe you or a loved one will be in a car next to one someday. Maybe you’ll be in an airplane piloted by a pilot who’s missed a dose, directed by an air traffic controller who’s trying to get off this stuff. Maybe you’ll be next to a taxicab driver or a bus driver or a commuter who is suddenly euphoric or has a momentary panic attack. I won’t drive at night, and am careful about where and when I drive in the daytime. But I really don’t think that many can afford to do that. I think they’ll just drive and hope for the best. And that is really, really scary to me.

Louise Mangan

7/1/2000

This is Survivor Story number 18.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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