A Letter to President Bush

“The drugs my daughter received are not F.D.A. approved for use in children. These drugs cause mania in 6% of all children taking them. The F.D.A. states the safety and efficacy have not been established. I ask, why are physicians allowed to prescribe off-label?”


Dear President Bush:

My name is Lisa Van Syckel and I am a resident of Raritan Township in the State of New Jersey. I would like you to hear how corporate greed and psychotic psychiatry have forever altered the life of my most precious gift from God, my daughter.

My husband, Bill, is Vice President and CFO of American Standard Co. and I am a proud stay-at-home mom. We have two children, Michelle, who is a senior, and Christopher, who is a freshman.

Three years ago we moved back to the United States after a five-year stay in Belgium. Our children attended St. John’s International School in Waterloo, Belgium. They were honor roll students and fluent in the French Language. They traveled and explored many European Countries. They truly loved their life in Belgium.

In July of 1999 when we returned to the United States we were a little overwhelmed with the fast pace of our society. Michelle missed her friends in Europe. She began complaining of ill health and was upset over the declining health of her grandmother.

In April of 2000, Michelle continued to complain of ill health and had stopped eating. She was admitted to Somerset Medical Center’s eating disorder unit with a diagnosis of depression and Anorexia Nervosa. It turned out that my daughter had undiagnosed Neurological Lyme Disease. She was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft and within hours of taking the medication she reported to hospital staff that she had the urge to hurt and cut herself, and, two days later, again reported she was uncomfortable taking the medication. Her complaint was dismissed. The next few weeks Michelle began suffering orthostatic changes and Brady Cardia, which are side effects of Zoloft. She was then given a new diagnosis of having a personality disorder.

By June of 2000 Michelle was removed from Zoloft and placed on Paxil. Within a few weeks Michelle began to self-mutilate with knives, razors and broken plastic CD cases. She became verbally abusive and was displaying extreme oppositional behavior. She had severe insomnia, diarrhea, chest pain, chills, weak muscles and akathisia. My cries for help were dismissed.

In August of 2000 her Paxil was increased to 40 mg. She was now diagnosed with a severe depressive disorder with psychotic features. I should note that psychosis is a side effect of Paxil. On a few occasions she would vomit blood and have rectal bleeding.

In September of 2000 Michelle became violent and suicidal. The self-mutilation increased. During one episode she slashed at her body with a razor and inflicted over 25 wounds. She even cut the word “die” in her abdomen. Michele was then hospitalized at the Charter facility in Summit as she was deemed a danger to herself and others. She was prescribed Depakote for mood and the Paxil was reduced to 20 mg. If you are not slowly tapered off the Paxil, you will suffer a severe withdrawal.

On October 6, 2000 Michelle became violent and attempted to commit suicide. As her brother attempted to stop her, she assaulted him. The police were called for assistance. She was so violent they had to place her in handcuffs. She managed to slip out of them twice. It took three police officers and two hospital security guards to place Michelle in humane restraints. I couldn’t‚t believe the strength my daughter had. She was sedated and when she awoke she had no recollection of events. I should also note that Michelle has no history of drug or alcohol abuse.

On October 7, 2000 Michelle awoke unable to walk or talk. She was dystonic and unaware of her surroundings. She was rushed to the hospital and again became violent and had to be restrained. She was sedated. She began to hallucinate. Her vitals were crashing. It took six hours to stabilize her. She was never admitted to the hospital. Instead, she was placed in an adolescent behavioral health facility.

While at UmDJ Michelle was prescribed Celexa and Risperdal without a wash out period. Within 36 hours she became violent and out of control. She was paranoid and delusional. She began to self-mutilate with staples she pulled out of the walls. When she was released and at home she threatened to kill me and came after me with an ax. She thought I was the devil and told me I was evil.

Michele was removed from all these drugs one year ago this April. Recovery has been a long process and she has suffered from numerous withdrawal symptoms. The drug-induced psychosis is gone, as is the drug-induced self-mutilation. 15% of children placed on anti-depressants will self-mutilate.

Her beautiful smile and wonderful disposition have returned, and she has been treated for her Lyme disease. Lyme disease was the reason for her ill health and loss of appetite. What a price she had to pay because physicians aren’t‚t educated in Lyme Disease. Our county here in New Jersey is 3rd in the nation on Lyme Cases.

Michelle now suffers from irreversible neurological damage. Once an honor roll student with high reading skills who loved to read, now must listen to books on tape. She has limited strength in her right hand due to suspected atrophy. She has a cyst on the pineal gland in her brain. She has been diagnosed with energy metabolism dysfunction in the brain, which means she is at high risk for diabetes, kidney disease and cancer. Adult women on anti-depressants have a 700% increased chance for breast cancer. I fear for my daughter who was undeveloped at the time she was placed on these drugs. Not to mention the numerous physical scars caused by the self-mutilation.

The drugs my daughter received are not F.D.A. approved for use in children. These drugs cause mania in 6% of all children taking them. The F.D.A. states the safety and efficacy have not been established. I ask, why are physicians allowed to prescribe off-label? I speak for myself, had I known these drugs were NOT F.D.A. approved, I would never have allowed my child to take them. What parent in their right mind would give drugs that are addictive and cause mania and psychosis? Through my experience and knowledge of the adverse affects of these medications, I ask are our children becoming violent, or is it the medications they are taking? The F.D.A. must know the answer as they fail to approve these medications for use in children.

Mr. President, please launch an investigation into the drug companies. Their greed is harming and in some cases killing our children. Eric Harris, the Columbine shooter, was on Luvox. The drug company, Solvay, has since removed this drug from the U.S. market.

I was saddened by your response to the medical community and promising to campaign for a $250,000 cap on medical mal-practice suits. Mr. President, have you truly seen the cost for medical care? Do you honestly believe $250,000 will cover the cost of breast cancer or diabetes? You should be encouraging physicians to take the time to evaluate their patients.

I am also insulted that you believe that $250,000 is sufficient in evaluating the health, dignity and reputation of a child. “Sir”, I don‚t know about you, but to me, my daughter is PRICELESS.

The drug companies and physicians are to blame for what happened to my daughter. They should be held accountable for their actions. Mr. President, how will you respond? Will you show strength and courage and protect our children? Or will you allow corporate greed to line your pockets as your look the other way?

My police department‚s officers were my heroes before September 11th. My daughter is alive today, due to their quick response, compassion and kindness. My other hero is my cousin, Jay, who is with special forces, 5th division, at Fort Campbell. My prayers were answered when he returned safely. Unfortunately, three men from his unit did not.

Mr. President, this is your opportunity to be our hero. Expose these drug companies! Prevent them from harming another child’s life. And please, dear God, don‚t ever put a price tag on the dignity or the lives of our children!

Our nation‚s children, like your children, are priceless!


Lisa VanSyckel


Lisa VanSyckel
5 Mills Court
Flemington, NJ 08822
(908) 237-9098



This is Survivor Story number 17.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,476 total views

Teenager Loses Creative Passion on Zoloft and Paxil

“Paxil almost made me go insane after just a few days.”


I’ve been looking for a site like this for a long time now-ever since I decided (thank God) to get off my antidepressant medication.

Ok, so I am a 17-year old male, right… When I first got to high school, my parents divorced so things were kind of a mess and for the first time in my life I had made “enemies.”

Well, that’s when I first started seeing a psychiatrist. We would talk and underlying everything that was discussed to make me “better” was a deep, conviction that I was so terribly shy and this needed to be cured.

So I tried Zoloft and Paxil, but went off them immediately after not even a week. I will say that the Paxil almost made me go insane after just a few days. Yes, it was against the doctor’s word to go off them. Thank God I did though. Then a while passed and this time I thought I truly needed help.

I had gotten into a fight at school and received threats from a lot of people. I was completely paranoid and my mom (and I gave in) put me in the mental hospital (for kids). Oh my God, this is where I had like my calling or whatever the hell I was thinking (hoping they could cure me so I would fit in and be my “old” self again).

I don’t even remember if all this is right because my memory is really screwed up now. But, so I went on Celexa this time and unfortunately, for good…I was sixteen at the time. I talking a lot more in class, my anxiety was gone, I got really into the stuff they were feeding me at school, and my reputation for a nice, respectable young man went down the tube. I guess it was my own doing. But I started wanting to be different from everybody else, but I was Zen-like, using the Bible (it’s cover) as an inspiration.

I think I had too much ADD to read the bible at the time-it was just a matter of calming my emotions. Ok, so mix these calming drugs with listening to the band Radiohead. Not cool at all. I lost my two best friends. I got full of myself because I had gotten accepted to an art school. But the summer between leaving my old school I started believing I was getting really close to my family. My Dad at least because he was (and still is) taking the same medication I was. But I would say anything that came to mind. I thought I was “better”…

Then art school started and I went from being a boring person with a vivid imagination that could be translated to paper (drawing) to a zombie who could only draw from observation. My concentration was really good but I had spurts of anger with anticipated culmination of disaster. I was a totally different person. I wasn’t self-conscious at all anymore, had no friends either. Then I saw something in the other people at that school that reminded me of the old-me (the one I didn’t like for some reason) that made me want to change.

“A beautiful mind”, “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”- these movies made me realized I’d lost my artistic passion or whatever the hell I had before. A reason for living…

Well, yeah so then I went cold-turkey off the medication and slowly but surely went insane. It was not cool at all. I re-visited the past that I had tried to escape on medication. I thought I had lost the “holy spirit” though and this made me think about committing suicide. It was horrible. Before I would say such things to get attention but now I really felt it.

The bottom line is, do not believe that you have a depression that needs “correcting”. My God, that’s what I believed but then I realized it is just the devil doing his work. I have no life now really. I had lots of talent and potential and I think its all gone now because I thought I had a problem but really didn’t. Now when I hear these antidepressants being touted to save people or whatever, I have other thoughts. It’s hard for me to realize that I am my old self again. I had to piece back together my memory. It is better to be this way than a zombie on drugs though.




This is Survivor Story number 26.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,473 total views,  1 views today

4/9/2002 • Sugar pills offer more relief than St. John’s wort, Zoloft

4/9/2002 • Sugar pills offer more relief than St. John’s wort, Zoloft

Robert Bazell

NBC News

Even in severely depressed patients, the antidepressant drug, Zoloft, was no better than placebo.

Sugar pills offer more relief than St. John’s wort, Zoloft


Robert Bazell

NBC News

Even in severely depressed patients, the antidepressant drug, Zoloft, was no better than placebo.

Although promoted as an alternative therapy for depression, the herbal supplement St. John’s wort appears ineffective for people with moderate clinical depression, findings from a US study suggest. In the study of 340 patients diagnosed with moderate depression, St. John’s wort proved no more effective than inactive treatment with a placebo in alleviating symptoms. Active treatment with the antidepressant drug sertraline (Zoloft) worked somewhat better than placebo, according to findings published in the April 10th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (news – web sites).

A body of evidence suggests that St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), used for more than 2,000 years to quell mood problems, does help symptoms of depression. In Germany, where many of the positive studies have been conducted, St. John’s wort is available as a prescription antidepressant.

But the quality of much of this research has been criticized—including the lack of studies using a placebo and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like sertraline, according to the authors of the new study. SSRIs are a newer class of drugs commonly used to treat depression.

To address these concerns about earlier studies, researchers led by Dr. Jonathan R. T. Davidson of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, randomly assigned patients to take St. John’s wort, sertraline or placebo for up to 26 weeks.

At the study’s end, the researchers found that neither the herb nor the drug was better than placebo in improving patients’ scores on a standard scale of depressive symptoms. Overall, nearly one third of placebo patients showed a full response to treatment, compared with roughly 24% in both the St. John’s wort and sertraline groups.

Patients on sertraline did, however, do better than placebo patients on a secondary test used to gauge a person’s daily functioning and levels of distress. The sertraline group also had a higher percentage of so-called “partial responders” to treatment than either the placebo or St. John’s wort groups.

Still, the findings do not indicate whether the herb can help people with mild depressive symptoms—a question additional research will have to address, Davidson told Reuters Health. St. John’s wort is marketed for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, but Davidson noted that it’s likely people with a range of depressive disorders try the herb.

“If someone is suffering from depression for weeks, they’re much better off going to a healthcare professional…than trying to self-treat,” he said.

And because St. John’s wort can interact with a range of drugs, including some used to treat cancer and HIV (news – web sites), people who do use the herb “should always tell their doctor they’re using it,” Davidson added.

As for the findings on sertraline, the researcher said that dosing “had a lot to do with” the lack of full response among patients on the drug. The study design permitted sertraline to be given only up to half of its highest recommended dose, and fewer patients on the drug had their doses “maximized,” compared with those on St. John’s wort or placebo.

Dosing “almost certainly contributed” to sertraline’s less-than-stellar performance in the study, according to an accompanying editorial by Drs. David J. Kupfer and Ellen Frank of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School in Pennsylvania.

They also stress that this study—along with a second one in the same journal issue documenting the rise of the “placebo effect” in recent research on depression drugs—highlight the importance of using a placebo and an active comparison drug in studies of unproven antidepressant agents.

The New York-based drug company Pfizer Inc. provided the sertraline for the study, and Lichtwer Pharma of Berlin, Germany, supplied the St. John’s wort product. Davidson holds stock in Pfizer, and has received speaker fees from both Pfizer and Lichtwer. Co-authors on the study have received funding from a number of pharmaceutical companies.

The study itself was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.

 2,806 total views

Samples of Zoloft and Xanax turn Brother into Criminal

I am unforgiving of a medical profession who cares so little for the very human beings that they swore to help.”


After 9 long and horrible years you cannot know the relief that I am feeling after reading about all the experiences that I have read tonight.

My brother is currently serving a twenty-year sentence for a crime so completely and totally out of character for him that I am still astounded.

This was a young man who could be considered irresponsible and unmotivated at worst, at least until he started taking the prescription drugs Zoloft and Xanax.

After a period of depression that I knew then and know now to have been brought on my a sense of low self esteem my brother went to a doctor he had never been to before and explained how he was feeling. This doctor determined in less than thirty minutes of knowing my brother that what he had was “a chemical imbalance in his brain”. This man sent him home with an entire sample box of Zoloft and an entire box of Xanax. He promised my brother that he would be a brand new man in three months. He did not lie. Three months later my brother was someone that I did not know.

Buddy Joe never drank, ever. He just didn’t like it. Yet after taking the drugs for a while he began to crave alcohol. He started introducing himself to new people using the name Austin. When we questioned him he would say that he just liked the name better. He was never, and I want to stress the never part, violent. So what he was becoming was an agitated alcoholic named Austin.

He had been out all night drinking and I later learned through friends acting extremely wild. He came home and committed a crime that I still find too difficult to actually go into. He says he remembers that night like a strobe light blinking off and on in his head.

I have spent nine years knowing that the Zoloft was behind the events leading up to that night and I am so thankful to have read the different stories sent in by so many people with different and yet similar experiences.

My heart breaks for those who have lost those that they love to the horrors of these medications. But I am unforgiving of a medical profession who cares so little for the very human beings that they swore to help.

Thank you all for sharing your stories.


Annette Royce



This is Survivor Story number 31.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,458 total views

A Stockbroker’s Story on Zoloft

“I’m so stressed out over nothing I feel like I’m going crazy.”


I can not begin to tell you how sorry I am to read about your terrible tragedy. (“He Never Said Goodbye”–posted here) I am a 30-year-old man with a son and family of my own. When I read your story it brought real tears to my eyes. What you’’ve done to tell your story, as hard as it is to do, is for the best. It needs to be told more and more.

I will do my part to educate as many people as I can about the effects of this terrible drug myself.

In late August of last year as I was driving home from work when I began to have severe chest pains. So bad I had to pull over to the side of the road, call my wife to “say goodbye”, then call 911. When the ambulance arrived I was already feeling better, but they took me to the hospital anyway. They did all the tests and it wasn’’t a heart attack. So 2 nights later I get the same thing again (chest pains). This time no Hospital visit. Anyway, my regular Dr. sends me for every test that can be performed on a heart. When they come back negative, she sends me for every test that can be performed on every other organ that is housed within my chest, gall bladder, liver, gastro etc. All come back negative.

Because I’ve been a Stockbroker for some time, I manage more than $100m in client assets, and have witnessed a “great deal” of wealth lost by my clients over the last couple of years, which I took personally. My Dr. said my condition was a Panic/ Anxiety disorder and put me on 50mg Zoloft.

I, not knowing anything about it, and completely trusting my Dr. took it religiously every day until early Feb. Things were starting to get better in the market, and at home etc… no more chest pains etc… Decided I didn’t need it anymore. After 3 days of not having it I was forced to get back on it to avoid the dizziness from the withdrawal. I tapered like I was told. Doesn’t work. I’m so stressed out over nothing I feel like I’m going crazy. The dizziness is unbearable. –Almost killed one of my colleagues over a comment I would have laughed about 2 months ago. When I bought a bad Go-Kart for my kid for $1500, and was forced to take it back after 1 day the guy charged me $200 to take it back. I began to “egg” his store window religiously every Sat. night (including the last one) for 6 weeks straight now. I’m a model citizen. Pillar in the community, handling senior citizens entire retirement portfolios and I’m egging a business over $200 bucks. I find myself in a lot of situations asking myself what would Vito Corleone (Godfather) do in these different situations. I hope I can get back to my old self again soon. Because I’ve never been clinically depressed a day in my life. But seem to be heading that way fast.

Anyway, enough about me. I wanted to take the time, and drop this to you, because I know your son is with God. I know you will be with him again someday. I haven’t had a tear swell up in my eyes in probably years. But when I read your post, I thought about my son, and could just imagine the pain. The unbearable pain that you must feel. I don’t even know you, and I’m dealing with my own thing right now, but I swear to God if there is anything I can do for you people, “anything” at all, let me know.

God bless you, and your family!




This is Survivor Story number 33.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 2,021 total views

My horrible 5-day experience with Zoloft



First off, these drugs are absolute poison and should be taken off the market NOW! People’s troubles with anxiety and depression CANNOT be solved with the equivalent of LSD/PCP/Ecstasy! These drugs only inflame the symptoms and make recovery impossible.

I am still coping with a mild case of PPD, brought on by the stress of having two children in two years (my second pregnancy wasn’t planned), and a very troubled stepson that lives with us. I went to my OB/GYN, and while he sent me for a complete physical, including a thyroid/anemia screening, he also handed me three bottles of Zoloft to take for three weeks. He said they would help calm me down, because my anxiety level was awful. I had no idea my anxiety would go from bad to manic.

The first day I took the Zoloft, I felt fine. The next day, I had a vivid, disturbing nightmare and a hypoglycemia-like reaction. Thank God I was able to get down to the refrigerator, even though I was in a near-catatonic state, and consume an ice cream bar. I stabilized, but had no idea what happened to me.

For the next few days, I had severe nightmares, and sometimes when I woke up, I was in a state of anxiety and confusion that I can’t even describe, it was so bizarre. Thought upon thought upon thought, all making no sense.

It was an act of God that I found drugawareness.org and read through these stories. Even though I knew MORE anxiety was a possible reaction to Zoloft, I had no idea it would happen to me!

To make a long story short, I stopped Zoloft after five days, with the encouragement of my OB/GYN. Even he was horrified at my reaction to the drug. I do not blame him for what happened. I don’t think he’s fully aware what this drug can do to people. I would bet most doctors are not aware.

It took another two weeks for the drug to wash completely out of my system. I still had nightmares and severe insomnia for a week after I stopped the drug. Only after two weeks did I start to feel like myself again. Now, I’m back to square one with the PPD. I’m furious that I lost two weeks of recovery because I spent two weeks trying to recover from Zoloft!

I am now taking natural supplements, getting a hormone test (to see if my estrogen/progesterone levels are contributing to this), and eating better. In my opinion, this is the only cure. Don’t rely on a drug. I am fortunate that I stopped using this garbage before I got even further down the road with it! If my reaction after five days was that horrifying, imagine if I continued with this “treatment,” which I now know was no better than pumping my veins full of LSD or PCP!

We can’t cure what’s ailing us with the equivalent of illegal street drugs. Now that I know what these drugs can do, I will do whatever I can to keep people away from them. My life could have been ruined. Many others’ lives ARE ruined. I was lucky. WE NEED A FULL BAN ON SRRIs BEFORE MORE LIVES ARE DESTROYED!!!

Lisa Spinelli



This is Survivor Story number 34.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,313 total views

It All Started after the Zoloft

“…suicidal urges, feeling out of it, feeling faint, heart racing, nervousness, dizziness, feeling out of it like You’re not here, feeling cold which accompanied the EXTREME anxiety and shaking…”


Jan 22nd & 23rd 2002, I took 25 mg of Zoloft each day.

The 24th I woke up at 7 AM shaking all over & petrified for no reason. I automatically linked it 2 the Zoloft cuz I was great before I took them. Again it happened that night. Friday morning I went to ER, I was given some medicine (did nothing because it wasn’t what was wrong)

For about a week-a week and a half I would be shaking and petrified Mostly the symptoms were at night. Somewhere I read on these boards that it usually happens after the time period that U took the Zoloft. I was taking them in the middle of the day. So maybe that explains why it happened at night. Anyways. My mother slept in my room 1 night, was w/me other nights/& I was even in her room sleeping some nights… I haven’t waked up with that shaking and PETRIFIED since then BUT I have had a long list of other symptoms. I will say which just so U can inform others…stomach aches, diarrhea, stomach burn, chest pain (left, right, middle areas) SPINNING feeling, SWAYING feeling, nausea, WEAKNESS real bad, feeling unreal, VERY sound sensitive, VERY food sensitive, suicidal, suicidal urges, feeling out of it, feeling faint, heart racing, nervousness, dizziness, feeling out of it like You’re not here, feeling cold which accompanied the EXTREME anxiety and shaking.

I got slow motion one time, and very light sensitive once, one time I felt like I was gonna black out (things actually got dark).

So many others probably I missed.

A few calmed down. But sometimes I feel as though I’m worse in some ways.

Sometimes I fear going to sleep; sometimes it’s hard for me to eat cuz my symptoms get worse. And most the time I want to give up. If I weren’t so afraid to do something to myself (afraid of pain or More pain should I say) then I probably wouldn’t be here. It’s sooooo hard to deal with this. Day in and out I get soooo weak and have to lie in bed all the time. I feel sad from this. I feel alone at times. And scared a lot. I mean dr’s don’t agree, and most people say Oh but Half time life on that pill, or oh how could it do that. I worry cuz I heard something on serotonin syndrome, yet I know drs wouldn’t test me, besides I’m afraid to even look at what it is. I mean this only all started right after Zoloft.

My pills were very out of date about a year or 2…

I went through withdrawal b4 but it was NO WHERE near as bad as this. My mom and I also aren’t good with medicine, one time I took generic Tylenol I think 500 mg and I got real nervous. That’s what happens when I take to much medicine.

Anyways that’s enough for now.




This is Survivor Story number 38.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,400 total views,  1 views today

Zoloft Suicide Attempts and Still Rebuilding My Life

“I will never trust such a self-serving inhumane profession as psychiatry.”


Dear Ann Blake-Tracy,

This is my story…if you decide to publish it online or anywhere else, please keep my e-mail, name and ID confidential. I am filing a complaint against my doctor with the state regulatory board and hope someday to find some closure on what was absolutely the most traumatic, horrific experience of my life. Thanks for reading!

First, I should tell you about myself before Zoloft. I have always enjoyed working and being around people. My favorite things are having dinner parties, going to art shows and theatre events. I have never collected unemployment or accepted any type of handout in my life and I take a great deal of pride in both my self-sufficiency and sociability. When I experienced some depression in my late 20’s it confused me. I felt like I wasn’t myself and didn’t really know what to do. So after trying everything from exercise, acupuncture, St. John’s and so forth, I did, for the first time in my 28-year old life, what I thought was the responsible thing to do: I sought “help”.

After six months of psychotherapy, the therapist told me my problem felt “organic” to her meaning not related to psychological problems. I was subsequently referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed ativan and told me I might be unipolar depressive, dysthymic, or possibly bipolar. Actively suicidal after considering what the effect of this diagnosis would have on my life and long-term treatment, I was hospitalized and prescribed Zoloft (100mg/day). Within a month on Zoloft I had experienced my first suicide attempt. This happened after I spent a six hour period running down the street naked underneath a fur coat in the pouring ran without realizing the ridiculousness of what I was doing because I was feeling high all the time, taking ativan liberally, and experiencing intense alcohol cravings. My behavior alienated my family and friends and ruined numerous lifelong alliances I had prior to Zoloft. Everyone thought I had gone off the deep end, including me to some degree. I trusted my doctor completely at that point when he said I had a “chemical imbalance” and that I would take prescribed drugs for “the rest of my life”. After a series of numerous mood-stabilizers and other drugs used to treat manic-depressives I was not doing any better. In fact, my situation had only continues to deteriorate. It was a year later before I started to say to my doctor, “hey! You know what? I’m not getting any better and in fact I’m getting worse!” He couldn’t have agreed less. Said I didn’t have any “insight”.

After frantic calls to his office begging for help to get off the drugs then trying (unsuccessfully) to go off the drugs without his help, I suffered one more suicide attempt. Enough was enough. I knew it was the drugs and didn’t care if no one believed me. I went from gainfully employed, intelligent and self-sufficient to reckless, unemployable, brain-dead and dependent all in a matter of two years. All I can say is, it is your life to lose. If you choose to take Zoloft then realize that your life could seriously be put in danger – and nobody, not even your doctor will be able to save you if all hell breaks loose because he/she doesn’t even really know what the long-term side effects are.

The good news is that I have been off the drugs since and knowing what I know now will never trust such a self-serving inhumane profession as psychiatry. My doctors only stood to make more money by keeping me in the prison of psych drugs so there was little incentive for him provide alternative healing or to try and get me off the drugs he prescribed until it is too late. (By the way he never admitted that he failed to monitor my side effects or reported any of my suicide attempts to the FDA).

Until doctors admit failing their patients miserably on this issue and take strides to prevent drug companies from propagandizing drugs and myths about depression and its treatment, then more and more people like me are going to start coming out of the woodwork. If you care about your families and loved ones please get the word out! SSRI’s can be extremely dangerous and can even be deadly. Take it from me, I know from first hand experience and was lucky enough to survive the ordeal, however many are not as lucky as me.



This is Survivor Story number 39.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,452 total views

Salvaging What’s Left after Paxil, then Zoloft, then Ritalin.



Hi. I’m so glad somebody with substantial medical credentials is putting forth this information. I’ve been resisting these drugs for years, despite “Doctors” attempts to cram them down my throat at every opportunity. I will briefly relate part of my story, then I have an observation about your website I’d like to address.

My first experience with these so – called “medications began with Paxil. I took one half of one pill and an hour and a half later I was hallucinating much like when I used to use psychedelics many lifetimes ago. I know what a psychedelic experience is. I knew then something was really wrong. I was in another universe altogether. Add to that the shakes and a horrible feeling I had taken an awful poison. Several years later, I tried Zoloft.

I could never take more than a tiny chip off of a pill, and could never stand more than a few days at a time. I was thoroughly stoned, drugged, and useless for just about everything. When I questioned my “Doctor” he would sort of mumble something under his breath and it became clear he didn’t want me as a patient. I was a troublemaker.

I had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, by the way. I got myself into recovery from alcohol addiction, and was clean for six years. But I was seriously fatigued, and sick, so I went to a new “Doctor” who gave me Ritalin to combat that and depression. Not understanding the ramifications, I began taking it. Three months later I was in narcotic addiction hell, weak and jaundiced, malnutrioned, psychotic, and well on the way to dying.

I didn’t go back to that doctor, as I knew it was his intention to switch me to another drug and I knew in my desperation I might take it. I did some research and discovered that Methylphenidate is directly Hepatatoxic, and suppresses the immune system to boot, aside from all the other harmful effects. The “Doctor” has simply shuffled me off to die, me being one of society’s throwaways. It was hell to get off that drug, but I did. The “Doctor” was fully aware of my sobriety at the time. He didn’t care. I know a drug pusher when I meet one, and the only difference between him and the guy on the street is he does it legal.

I bring this up because it is becoming popular for Doctors to prescribe drugs for Hep C patients. I did research on my disease, discovered nutrition, herbs. I went to new “Doctors” and tried to share my information. How naive I was. They didn’t want to know, didn’t want to have anything to do with it, or what I now knew. Now, I am on my own, salvaging what’s left and hopefully getting better. I take from this one positive outcome. I know now that you have to take the responsibility into your own hands.

But I want to say one thing. I haven’t read everything on the website, but it seems taken for granted that it’s aimed at those who have a choice. That’s not always the case. I have to relate a story on behalf of someone very dear to me. I have a very close long time friend, my spiritual advisor and a nun, who has always had poor health. She was prescribed Xanax some years ago. One night, she went to the emergency room to get a hospital bed because of physical pain. She made a comment concerning Christ’s pain and her pain. They declared she was a “dangerous” individual, and involuntarily committed her to the state insane asylum for some months and forced drug injections into her. I visited this place, and what a hell hole it is. She is out now, but must involuntarily continue the injections against her will under threat of further incarceration. I am trying to figure a way to get her out of this situation, as I see the damage being done. It’s disgusting.
If they can do this to a nun, for God’s sake, they can do it to anybody. DON’T THINK IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE. IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. There is no help, no recourse for these poor people. They’ve been forgotten.

I have learned to be very careful and guarded when in contact with “health care professionals.” I get the impression a lot of them are on these drugs. What insanity it has all become and where will it end. Thank you Dr. Tracy and associates for giving a voice to all this that can’t easily be dismissed.



This is Survivor Story number 22.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

 2,089 total views,  1 views today

What Happened to Caitlin

“…it is our hope that other parents can learn from our tragedy, and other children can be saved.”


Here’s the story– (As seen, unfortunately, with hindsight, through sadder, wiser eyes.) We believe Caitlin had a seizure disorder that occurred at night, interfering with her REM sleep. This, we believe, led to symptoms that included audio and visual hallucinations, depression and talk of suicide, and eventually landed her in Shoal Creek Psychiatric Hospital. (Understandable symptoms, given the fact that she had not been sleeping very much over the past several months. If you can’t dream while sleeping at night, your brain will have to do it when you’re awake, and a child, not understanding this, may think they are going crazy and become depressed.)

We told her hospital psychiatrist, during her first stay at Shoal Creek, that we suspected a seizure/sleep disorder and asked for an EEG, and perhaps observation in a sleep disorder clinic. We also explained that Caitlin’s Uncle had childhood epilepsy, and that Caitlin had complained of momentary blackouts 3 years ago when she was 9, and that the EEG done at that time showed a slight arrhythmia, but not pronounced enough to risk the side effects of medication.

At first, he seemed to agree that this could be the underlying problem and ordered the short, 45-min. scan, also finding a slight arrhythmia, similar to the one she had 3 years before. But at our 2nd staffing, during her 2nd stay in the hospital, when we brought up our sleep disorder theory again, her psychiatrist literally laughed it off, saying that the diagnosis was clinical depression, and all things considered, the best treatment was the four drugs she was on, Zoloft, Trazedone, Depacote and Zyprexa, and his main concern was getting the right concentrations in her blood. (Please note, Caitlin had just turned 12-years old, and in France, Pfizer warns to NEVER give Zoloft to anyone under 15.)

The next morning, I caught him early at the hospital making his rounds, and demanded he give her the long EEG scan, as the short one can easily miss seizure activity. He told me that the long one was approved for outpatients only, not inpatients, and if we insisted, our insurance would probably not cover it. (In retrospect, it seems that her diagnosis and treatment was based more on what the HMO would pay for, than what the doctors really believed was best.) So we got an appointment, on our own, with a sleep disorder clinic. Jan. 15th. 10 days too late. (Caitlin committed suicide on Jan. 5.)

At this point, it is important to know that Caitlin was given anti-depressants before she was hospitalized. The first doctor we took her to see was our family physician, while we were waiting and waiting for an appointment to see a psychiatrist that was covered by our HMO. This was right after we became aware of her symptoms. (The school counselor called and hesitantly informed us – she thought she was violating confidentiality (wrong!) – that Caitlin was talking about hurting herself and hearing voices.) Our family doctor, a general practitioner, immediately put her on Paxil and Restoril. After 4 days, she still couldn’t sleep at night, but was falling asleep during the day, and her depression seemed to be getting worse, so he took her off them, cold turkey. (We now know that you should NEVER stop taking a SSRI cold turkey, as severe withdrawal symptoms can result.)

The next week we finally got in to see the psychiatrist and he gave her Zoloft and Trazedone. Later that same week, the school counselor called again, saying Caitlin was now talking about wanting to jump out of the school’s 2nd story windows. We immediately took her to the social worker/therapist she had been seeing, who referred her to a clinic where she could see a psychiatrist that same day, who admitted her into Shoal Creek for observation. While there, they added Depacote and Zyprexa to her chemical cocktail, to help with the hallucinations, stabilize her moods, and just in case she did have a seizure disorder. They also ruled out bipolar disorder, but said the Depacote could help with that too. So we were beginning to feel hopeful that the wonder drugs of modern pharmacology were going to make our daughter better.

But while visiting her in the hospital that Wed., she started acting psychotic, rocking back and forth, repeating the same thing over and over, and the next day, made a weak attempt at self-mutilation, scratching her arms with a broken comb. You have no idea how bizarre this behavior was to us, in contrast to the bright, kind, sensitive girl who wanted to be a veterinarian that we knew and loved. (At the time, we attributed her behavior to being exposed to the older kids on the ward who she identified with and some of whom acted in similar ways, but now we are convinced that it was the side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms of the SSRI’s.)

She was released after 8 days, and her first night home she ran away. She had planned it in the hospital, according to an entry in her journal we found later. She had a backpack stocked with supplies, and her plan was to just walk into the night and keep going. No particular reason, she just “had to get away”. (We now understand that SSRI’s double one of the “fight or flight” hormones in the blood. Until this, she had never tried, or even talked about running away in her life.)

Fortunately we found her and got through Thanksgiving OK, though her behavior continued to be strange. She was hyperactive, always needing to be doing something. She made a clumsy attempt to steal a beer at the corner store (SSRI’s have been shown to induce a craving for alcohol, even in people who have never drank before) and in general, had turned into an angry and defiant, yet still despondent and depressed adolescent, literally overnight.

She tried to convince us that she was just a “bad” kid, and we should accept it. We overheard her talking on the phone to one of the girls that was on her ward during her first stay in the hospital, saying completely fictitious things like she had gone with older boys and stolen cars. Again, you would have to have known our daughter before her “illness”, to appreciate the absurdity of these things. She went to school the Monday after Thanksgiving, but we got yet another call from the school counselor before the end of the day. Her hallucinations had changed. Instead of just seeing and hearing children playing that weren’t there, she saw pools of blood, bloody knives, and heard adult voices commanding her to kill herself. So back to the social worker/psychiatrist/hospital we went.

This time they put her on the children’s (12 and under) ward, instead of with the adolescents, like before. (The psychiatrist that referred her to Shoal Creek this second time thought, as we did, that she was manipulating us and the system to get back to the hospital because she enjoyed being around the older kids. He didn’t seem take her suicide threats or hallucinations seriously, but felt he had to put her back in the hospital, just to be safe.)

She protested about being on the children’s ward, but over the course of the week, she did seem to improve. They kept her on the same drugs, adjusting the dosages somewhat, and she willingly participated in both group and individual therapy sessions. It was obvious that she really wanted to get better. They also, finally, did a psych evaluation (which they should have done during her first stay) and found that she was a bright, sensitive 12-year old, totally in touch with reality. No psychosis or schizophrenia or other mental illness. When we picked her up on Dec. 4, we thought we had our daughter back. (Maybe she was near the manic end of one of her drug-induced mood swings, or maybe her will to live was winning out. We will probably never know.) The first thing she wanted to do was buy a Christmas tree, which of course, we did. For the next couple of weeks, she seemed to use Christmas to hold off the darkness that was threatening her mind. Though still hyper, her mood and attitude were definitely improved. She became re-acquainted with a boy she knew from church, and they started “going out”(being boyfriend/girlfriend, in today’s lingo.) She was so happy. We were so hopeful. A few days before Christmas, she went back to the psychiatrist for a follow-up. We believe here is where one of the last fatal mistakes was made. She seemed so much better. She claimed her hallucinations had stopped. She finished the last week of school before Christmas Vacation with no problems. On Dec. 8, I got her out of school earlier to see her favorite band at the Palmer Auditorium. She said it was the best day of her life. Her only complaint was that she had trouble staying awake during the day sometimes, though she seemed to be sleeping a little better at night. So the doctor took her off Trazedone, which has a sedative effect, and Zyprexa, since the hallucinations went away. He left her on Depacote and, unfortunately, Zoloft.
Unchecked by the sedative, we now believe that she had an adverse “overshoot” reaction to the Zoloft, first pushing her into akathisia (a severe inner agitation), then plummeting her into profound depression and two weeks later, inducing suicide.
She made it through to Christmas, but the day after, we caught her trying to run away again. It was the beginning of the end. She became withdrawn and depressed again, and she broke up with her boyfriend on, of all nights, New Year’s Eve 2000. She was dreading going back to school, but went anyway, at our insistence, on Tues. Jan. 4. (We found out later, that she had told a friend the night before about a vivid hallucination in which she killed herself.)

Some of the kids had found out she had been in Shoal Creek, and teased her mercilessly that first day back. At our request, the school had set up a 504 plan for her, stating that, if she felt “unsafe”, (why didn’t they spell it out that she was suicidal?) she could go to the principal’s office and do her work there, which she invoked, spending most of that day in the office. On Wed. Jan. 5, we strongly encouraged her to attend class, giving her some snappy come-backs to say to the kids that teased her, and admonishing her to face her problems and work through them, instead of hiding out in the office. God forgive us. In her 2nd period class, she was given a Detention Hall for not turning in some homework assignment. Her friends said they had never seen her look so dejected. She shuffled out of the classroom, shoulders slumped, head down, and never made it to 3rd period.
Instead, she went to the girl’s bathroom and hung herself with her shoelaces from the hook on back of the stall door. It wasn’t until the end of the next period after that – what would have been her lunch period – that she was found. If the teachers really understood the intent of the 504 plan, if they really understood that she was at risk of suicide, how could they have disciplined her, a girl who was never in trouble at school, and how could they have not noticed, or been concerned, that she didn’t show up to 3rd period, and that she also missed her lunch period?

But now I’m getting into another issue – one of the many raised by Caitlin’s death. Problems with the school system and the healthcare delivery system certainly need to be addressed, and yes, there needs to be more education about, and a general de-stigmatization of suicide and mental illness, but we lay the majority of blame for Caitlin’s death at the golden feet of the pharmaceutical companies (like Pfizer and Lilly) who have known for years that their SSRI drugs can have extremely adverse, and sometimes fatal side effects, like suicide, yet have systematically plotted to keep this knowledge from not only the public, but the doctors who prescribe them, in an effort to protect the billions of dollars in revenue they generate. It is our contention that if her doctors had properly diagnosed and treated Caitlin’s sleep disorder, instead of categorizing her as “depressed” and giving her SSRI’s, she would be with us today. And it is our hope that other parents can learn from our tragedy, and other children can be saved.

Glenn and Mary McIntosh, Parents of Caitlin E. McIntosh, born Oct. 5, 1987, died Jan. 5, 2000.We can be contacted by phone at (512) 257-0450 or email: mgmcintosh@earthlink.net



This is Survivor Story number 13.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

 1,347 total views