1/11/2001 – More Self Harm Seen with SSRI Therapy Than With Tricyclics

Now, a report out of the UK debunks a popular marketing
strategem of SSRI manufacturers–that SSRI’s are inherently
safer because they are less toxic in overdose. This study
recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry clearly
points to a great risk of self-harm with drugs like Prozac, Zoloft
and Paxil over the older tricyclic antidepressants. Mark
———

More Self Harm Seen with SSRI Therapy Than With Tricyclics

http://psychiatry.medscape.com/reuters/prof/2000/12/12.29/20001228clin013.html

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Dec 28 – Significantly more
instances of deliberate self-harm occur in patients prescribed a
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) than in those
prescribed a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). In their report in the
December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, UK
investigators caution that the choice of antidepressant for
patients at risk should not be based solely on overdose toxicity.

In this prospective study, 2776 deliberate self-harm events
occurred in 1954 individuals attending the Derbyshire Royal
Infirmary in 1995 and 1996. Dr. Stuart Donovan, of University
Hospital, in Nottingham, and associates observed that the most
frequent method of self-harm was medication overdose, and
paracetamol (acetaminophen) was the medication most
frequently involved

In the cases of antidepressant overdoses, SSRIs were used
more often than TCAs, in 16.0 and 11.8 cases per 10,000
prescriptions, respectively. The relative incidence of self-harm
events was significantly higher in those prescribed SSRIs than
in those prescribed TCAs. Exposure times were similar for the
two types of drugs.

Dr. Donovan’s group adds that SSRIs may have been prescribed
more often following unsuccessful use of a TCA, making it
possible that “a greater proportion of more ‘difficult to treat’
patients may have been prescribed SSRIs and this may
manifest as a greater risk of deliberate self-harm.” However, they
emphasize that the reduced overdose toxicity of SSRIs
compared with TCAs “does not extrapolate to a reduced risk of
deliberate self-harm.”

In fact, the reduced risk of morbidity following overdose is offset
by the higher risk of self-harm by other methods in patients
taking SSRIs.

Br J Psychiatry 2000;177:551-556.
Copyright © 2000 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved.

 1,517 total views

A Real Life SSRI Laboratory–Notes from a Group Home

“Too many doctors receive little or no feedback following prescriptions to patients.”

 

While in Utah our daughter worked with residents at a group home; most of these are living proof of your warning. Their problems after medication were far often worse. I thought you’d enjoy her remarks to your e-mail message.A simple fact for all medications: too many doctors receive little or no feedback following prescriptions to patients. We somehow need to stress this too to both the medical profession and the public in general. There are some things we can’t afford to be the crash-test-dummy for!

Thanks for your alert. I hope those it reached pay attention!
_____________________

Considering there are more anti-depressants(Prozac, Paxil,Zoloft, etc) prescribed per capita in the state of Utah than any other state in the nation, maybe the Boys in Blue should be more concerned with that fact than with my zip code problems.

Utah also has the highest percentage of children on anti-depressants, Ritalin, MAO inhibitors, and the like for ADD, ADHD and related diagnoses. There is also major concern over the fact that children in Utah are prescribed to at an earlier age, sometimes while basic physical and mental growth is still underway.

NONE of these drugs are easy to get off of! Drugs of this kind create a detox rivaling heroin in mental and physical aspects causing problems usually worse than the original symptoms.

There is also the running joke in medical circles re: a family discount. There is a large percentage of Mother/Child(ren) prescribed AD’s simultaneously. Just some things to think about.

J. M.

D.M.

 

1/1/2001

This is Survivor Story number 4.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

 1,443 total views

Falling Apart Withdrawing from Effexor

“I know from now on I will check more into a drug before I begin taking it.”

 

I was more depressed then usual and wanted to go on something. I have used sinequin, Pamolar, amitriptoline, Prozac, Zoloft in the past. Prozac worked for awhile then quit. At the time I went on Effexor I had not been taking anything for a number of years. I had some side effects when I began taking it, I didn’t want to eat and I was hyper, but being over weight I thought that it was great.

After awhile these symptoms stopped but I wasn’t depressed. I felt the best I had in years. After about 3 years and finding out that long term safety had never been established, I decided I wanted to get off of it. The psychiatrist didn’t agree and said I would probably have to be on it the rest of my life. I didn’t like that but said OK. I really wanted to get off it so got them to agree to help me.

I was taking 150 mg daily. so I slowly cut back to 75 mg per day and still felt okay. I did have the electric shocks that go through the body, but I had had them when I was getting off amitriptoline so just was careful about doing this slowly. I finally got down to 37.5mg, and then I really fell apart–nightmares, vivid dreams, unable to sleep well, feeling jittery, depressed.

But these feelings were different then feeling depressed. I went back to my counselor and told her, and they put me back on the Effexor. I really felt that I was having withdrawal from Effexor but they didn’t agree. I now see that the withdrawal was real. I am again (with the help of my internist) attempting to get off of it. I have told friends what is going on and have set up a support group for myself. I am going to do it real slow. I am now taking 150 mg one day and 75 mg the next. I have only had mild electric shock feeling. When I have no side effects I will lower it again.

I just don’t believe that this drug Effexor is on the market and being allowed to be used for long term use. I think even though it helped me if I had known of the trouble getting off, I may not have used it.
I know from now on I will check more into a drug before I begin taking it.

Shirley Wallstrom

12/15/2000

This is Survivor Story number 2.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,248 total views

16-Year Old Wanting to End it All on Zoloft

…first night I had taken Zoloft I experienced extreme anxiety and mania, I thought I was going crazy.“

 

I am 17, at the time I was prescribed Zoloft I had just turned 16. On the first night I had taken Zoloft I experienced extreme anxiety and mania, I thought I was going crazy. It didn’t occur to me that it could have been the medication and I thought the world was literally ending around me.
If it wasn’t for my sister being awake and in my company at the time I know I would have ended it all. I couldn’t sleep but I didn’t want to stay awake because of the nightmare that I was living, the only option it seemed for me was to end my life. My sister talked me through it and she pretended she knew what was going on and made me believe I would be alright.

The psychiatrists I have seen have all been the same “up the dosage, up the dosage by 50mg and you’ll feel better”……I feel they’re all out for the money, so I go on my own instincts now with the help of a councilor . Although I don’t feel 100% better I am helping myself , not letting a drug do it for me and slowly getting there.

Fortunately now I have discontinued use of the drug, I am taking a lighter medication but I still feel the effects of Zoloft come back at me….like a flashback.

Your Letter on the drug awareness page helped me understand what I went through and I’m very mad that I was so ill informed on the medication I was prescribed.

I’m sure this is old news to you but I thought I had to share this with you.

Morgan

 

12/12/2000

This is Survivor Story number 3.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,571 total views

Zoloft Withdrawal-The Darkest Period of my Life

“I had all the classic symptoms of a junkie coming off of heroine.”

 

My name is Virginia and I just finished seeing a segment on 2020 regarding withdrawal symptoms after getting off of an antidepressant. THANK GOD!!! There are other people out there that have experienced the same symptoms I have experienced!

Every doctor in the past, (3), I have told about my withdrawal symptoms have told me that it’s not possible or that they’ve never heard of anyone having these symptoms months after attempting to get off Zoloft. I even got very upset at one of the doctor’s and told him that the symptoms I was experiencing were “real” and that I was not crazy!
To make a long story short–

The six months I was off the Zoloft was the darkest period of my life. I had all the classic symptoms of a junkie coming off of heroine. For three weeks straight, I had dry heaves, nausea, dizziness, panic attacks so severe I thought I was having a heart attack, cold sweats, a weird sound in my head, like breaking glass every time I’d blink my eyes, the disconnection of your brains ability to catch up with your vision when you look sharply to the left or right (almost like the old slide projectors that take a second and then click to the next picture), severe paranoia, and continual suicidal thoughts.

If it were not for my husband taking time of from work to watch over me, I would not be here today! Unfortunately, I lost my job, and ended up having to get back on the Zoloft in order to live a so-called “normal life”. And I can honestly say, it was like a miracle how quickly my nausea and dry heaves went away.

I only wish that the first doctor I saw would have informed me about the possibility of becoming addicted to this drug, and given me the choice of alternative treatment or a life long commitment to Zoloft. Now the only symptoms I have are dry mouth and a stiff jaw…Oh, and paranoia about ever losing my health insurance.

Virginia

10/12/2000

This is Survivor Story number 10.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 

 1,344 total views

Two Months of Hell on Luvox, Effexor, Paxil and Zoloft.

“Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?”

 

Hi, I am not a teenager, but I was put on my first anti-depressant at 25 years of age. I was mostly depressed about my relationship at the time, but had always been anxious and unmotivated so I thought the doctor was correct.

I lived through two months of absolute Hell. First Luvox, then Effexor, then Paxil, then Zoloft…all of which I had severe tremors and dystonia while taking within days. My Dr. acted like I was psychosomatic. I became so ill during this time that I don’t recall half what happened. My now husband said it was terrifying to see me.

I quit the Doctor and am now 29 years of age. My memory is shot and if I was unmotivated prior to this, I can only say that now I am completely apathetic and disinterested in almost everything. I have tried naturopathy, acupuncture, etc. Nothing helps.

I had a minor problem before and now I think my life may be ruined. Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?

Thank you for your page. It means a lot to know I am not alone if nothing else.

Yana
yana97@prodigy.net

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 91.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,353 total views

Hypomania on Zoloft

“..a dozen or more therapists all missed the signs and symptoms…”

 

My husband, was initially on 50 mg. Zoloft for a mild depression and concentration problems at work. It “worked” for a while, then did not. The family clinic GP upped the dosage to 100 mg, then the benefits “wore off” again. Nine months after the initial prescription, the doctor again upped the dosage. It was now 150 mg. of Zoloft per day. My husband was becoming increasingly irritable, and hostile, with a hair-trigger temper. He eventually erupted into domestic violence, battered me, and I had to call 911 for help.

I had heard about some of the violence associated with Prozac and I immediately suspected a connection with Zoloft. So he went off the Zoloft right away but had dream-like sequences impinging upon his waking state. This made it even more difficult to concentrate at work, in addition to all of our marriage problems resulting from the battery. It was scary to him. Finally, he saw a psychiatrist at a University here in California who seemed not overly concerned about this “side-effect,” but suggested he taper off.

He had to go back on to the Zoloft and withdraw slowly in order to mitigate this troubling (and now I realize it is a very dangerous!) withdrawal symptom. It never entirely disappeared for many months. Every time he stepped his dose down, the REM dream spill-over problem in waking-state intensified. These problems lasted about 6 months. One time he revealed that he almost got into a car accident, that would have been his fault, because he made a left turn when it was not safe. The dream “blinkies,” which is what he called them, occurred especially strongly when he moved his eyes around, such as when he was driving. This relates to what is known about the eye-darting in REM sleep, and the effect of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy).

When the “blinkies” were still there even after he went entirely off the medicine, I cajoled him into having an EEG to check for epilepsy. The test was negative. But he said that during the test he had no “blinkies” because he was sitting or laying with closed eyes. However, as soon as he got up and left the office, and darted his eyes around in the parking lot, the problem resumed. He was defensive about possibly having epilepsy, so he did go back in and have them redo the test. In fact he was pleased that he “passed” the test, thereby proving to himself that “nothing was really wrong.” After reading your book I now realize that he had a very serious condition called REM Behavior Disorder, which is when REM sleep spills over into activity. I note that with a severe REM deprivation there is a 85% chance of resulting violence. I believe that this is what happened with my husband. The SSRI drug severely inhibited his REM sleep at night, and when he went off the medication, the REM compensation dangerously spilled over into waking state.

We were living apart for about 9 months. During this time my husband was hostile, and often spoke with manic intensity. He had very distorted perceptions, and wrote letters accusing me of having “only hate in your heart,” and of having done all manner of harm to him. One time I received one of the most distorted and acrimonious letters on the day that he moved back home and was sleeping and having sex with me!

During this manic time he charged about $30,000.00 on several credit cards. His spending was on so many things that the money just went through his fingers like water. He also found an out-of-town girlfriend, and she became quite enamored of him, convinced that they were “soul-mates destined to be together from the beginning of time.” She believed that I was an evil force in my husband’s life. Quite a bit of money was spent on this out-of-town relationship, as well as about $10,000 on an attorney and an accountant to prepare taxes for “married filing separately” and papers for a divorce. The taxes later had to be redone to include me, and he never filed the divorce papers. Basically, he “crashed and burned” after all his hypomania. Six months after he ceased the Zoloft he was ill for weeks with a cold, looked terrible, and could barely get to work. Then he decided to come home.

At times he had almost a catatonic depression, although he also alternated depression with anger explosions, although no more violence. It was a difficult first six months, and couple’s therapy was not helpful. As a result of other individual therapies, he did learn about appropriate and inappropriate expression of one’s anger. This made it easier to live with him, but he still struggled to keep his emotions in check. Finally he saw a psychiatrist who tried lithium for bipolar disorder.

Almost immediately the blow-ups and hyper-irritability ended. It took longer for the depressions to abate. He did go on and off the medication for short periods, apparently to convince himself he still needed it. During the “off” periods his irritability noticeably increased, and happiness decreased. He would soon resume the medication.

In 20/20 hindsight there is no question that the Zoloft induced hypomania, and that a dozen or more therapists all missed the signs and symptoms. No one took notice that the hypomania developed along with the increasing doses of Zoloft, and continued even after withdrawal. In persons with a bipolar tendency, anti-depressants are known to trigger mania, yet no therapist made this connection until a year and a half after the first symptoms of mania began to appear.

In addition, he developed other problems associated with anti-depressant usage. According to a five hour lab test, he now has “Impaired Glucose Tolerance,” a pre-diabetic condition. In my unofficial diagnosis, based upon your book, he had signs and symptoms of Cushing Syndrome (sugar metabolism disturbance, high triglycerides, “pregnant” appearance, thick fat at the neck).

Thank you so much for researching and writing your book on SSRI type antidepressants. My mind is still boggled by how accurate your description was of my husband’s problems.

S

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 92.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,662 total views

Between Laughter and Tears on Zoloft, Prozac and Wellbutrin (Zyban)

“…drugs are always give and take. This is not worth the take.”

 

I’ve been taking Zoloft or Prozac or Wellbutrin (Zyban) for several years. During some parts of this I began drinking heavily to the point of black outs and complete craziness. Most doctors called me an alcoholic. I had been drinking for several years for fun but never had any problems. I am in Law school right now and feel that I can’t remember well or that I have killed brains cells. I feel like I don’t care and like I am trapped inside of another body. The Doctor put my husband on Paxil and that was when I realized we both had to get off the drugs. This is day three and I fluctuate between either laughter or tears. I cried all the way through my patent law class. Deep down inside I know there are problems because, I have never been a C student. Some people say that Law school is hard but I also have a degree in Biochemistry which is a lot harder.

My science background though general in this area alerts me to the fact that there is a balance in all bodily mechanisms and drugs are always give and take. This is not worth the take.

I agree that something should be done. Western medicine which trains our DRS. is not ample for these people to make these assessments. Further, we are always the first real clinical trial because testing does not occur outside the lower animal kingdom until the FDA approves the drug. One doesn’t have to be an elitist to note the difference between our brains and those of lower animals. Further, it is clear that people are effected very differently, this also shouldn’t be that big of a surprise because we have a history incapable of adequate diagnosis in the mental health area. Drug companies are usually the people that pay in class action suits of this nature. This is big business for them and very possible that we have not been given all of the facts even with respect to their animal testing and in vitro experiments. (i.e. tobacco industry) Neurological safety can be nothing less than theoretical, to argue any more than this would put us in a completely reductionist framework when this has not been accomplished scientifically. In other words, we do not yet have proof that our brains operate on one to one biochemical pathways. Even if this were true, there is certainly some interesting conceptually different mechanism at work between individuals. My problem is that once FDA approval goes through because this is a rigorous process, then what do they do to track the “real” test subjects. Arguably here we are left to fend for ourselves because there is a point at which the market takes over all sense of humanity.

Ashley

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 85.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,525 total views

Terrified on Effexor

“I could not even go out to my car to go to the hospital. I became terrified, I could not leave the house.”

 

I just read the article from Pat Spruill regarding [her experiences] being a volunteer on a hot-line. I too called a hot-line after about 3 days on Effexor. (The girl at the distress center was condescending and I really should have reported her but was too upset.) I became immobilized, I could not even go out to my car to go to the hospital. I became terrified, I could not leave the house. I felt like what I imagine a moose feels like looking into the headlights of a car. It was the worst experience I ever had on anti-depressants. (I have tried Prozac, Zoloft , Zyban (Wellbutrin), all with extreme negative side effects.) Had I not known that this was a reaction to the drug, I honestly do not think I would be here today. Luckily my son was home at the time. The worst of this is that when I reported it to my family doctor he said, “Oh those reactions go away after 2-3 weeks.” My pharmacist advised me that this was an abnormal reaction and not to take anymore. Depression, sad to say, is still today looked upon as something folks bring upon themselves ..even by our doctors; so the easiest way for the doctors to “keep us quiet” is to dope us up and hope we go away. (I plan to report my doctor when I find a new one.)

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 88.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,192 total views

He always kept his promises.

“I know with absolute certainty that he could not have committed this act on his own.”–by Richard Schultz, his brother

 

Leonard Schultz
on his 50th Birthday
7/11/1948–11/29/1998

He was quiet and unpretentious. Someone who always played by the rules and rarely complained. If you passed him on the street you probably would not recall the encounter. However, if you were in trouble or needed a hand, he would be the first to offer help. You wouldn’t even have to ask. He could never refuse a request for a donation or assistance, even from strangers, and he could never walk by a Salvation Army kettle without putting a few dollars in the slot.

With small acts of kindness and courtesy, he made the lives of those he touched a little brighter. By example, he taught us how we should treat one another. He was a cherished husband, a loving father, a helpful and considerate neighbor, a valued employee and a wonderful person. He left behind a wife of 20 years, and a son that he adored. He always kept his promises.

It was a time when several significant changes were occurring in his life. His son had recently left home for his freshman year at college. He had just celebrated his 50th birthday, which is often a time for pondering and reflection. He had worked for his employer for 30 years and was eligible to take an early retirement. His wife had been encouraging him to retire and move to Florida where he could continue to work part time, but he was uncertain about taking this step. He loved his job. It gave him great satisfaction and a sense of worth. He worked as an industrial electrician for one of the large automobile manufacturers. He was extremely proficient at repairing and maintaining the complex machinery on the assembly lines. He was a prized employee who was relied on to quickly diagnose and repair problems and keep the plant’s assembly lines running.

I believe that these significant life events along with the uncertainty concerning his retirement must have combined to cause him to feel some symptoms of depression. Based on my conversations with the authorities, and with the people who were in contact with him in his final days I have pieced together these events. On November 15, 1998 he was having trouble sleeping. He was experiencing heaviness in the chest, and some anxiousness. He went to the local hospital emergency room where he was given an examination and various tests. The result of all of the tests were negative. He was given a prescription for 30 mg capsules of Temazepam to aid in sleeping, and was advised to contact his primary care physician. On November 23, 1998 he went to the local Family Practice Center and saw one of the doctors on their staff. This was his first and only visit with this doctor.

During the screening with the doctor, he again indicated that he had not been sleeping well and mentioned that he was feeling depressed. The doctor prescribed the anti-depressant Zoloft. The prescribed dosage for the Zoloft was 50 mg for 14 days followed by a 100 mg dosage thereafter. He actually only took the Zoloft for 5 days before his death.

It was the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. He took the entire week off from work. As previously planned, he and his wife flew to her sister’s in Texas where they celebrated the holiday along with their son who met them there. By all accounts they had a wonderful holiday and reunion. The only indication that something was amiss was when he mentioned to his sister-in-law that he was feeling agitated, and felt like he wanted to “crawl out of his skin”. He and his wife flew back home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, arriving at their house at about 2 AM. They went to bed immediately. His wife remembers waking at about 4:30 AM and seeing him sleeping next to her. Sometime after 4:30 AM he got out of bed, took the prescription bottle from his yet unpacked luggage, went to the kitchen and took another Zoloft tablet. (The police found the opened bottle and partial glass of water on the counter.)

Shortly afterwards he got a gun, went into his back yard and ended his life. We were stunned and horrified at what happened.

We spent days looking for clues, any indication that he had been troubled and had been contemplating this act. We found nothing. I spoke to everyone I could. His family, the doctor, his neighbors, his closest friends at work, and the investigating authorities. It made no sense to anyone. The only unknown factor was the medication that he had started taking. I began searching on the Internet and found the www.drugawareness.org web site. There, I found some accounts that were so similar to what happened to my brother. I could only read them over and over again in disbelief.

I knew my brother better than any other living being. While growing up we were inseparable. We were often mistaken for twins. We looked alike. We acted alike. We knew each other’s thoughts without speaking. I know with absolute certainty that he could not have committed this act on his own. It must have been an adverse reaction to the drug. There simply is no other possible explanation.

He had everything to live for. He loved his family and his friends. He was at the top of his game. He had a private pilot’s license and was flying regularly. It was a hobby that he thoroughly enjoyed. He had recently gone to a racing school in North Carolina where he learned how to drive a top fuel dragster at over 200 miles per hour. I watched the video tapes of his runs and remember how I admired his skill and courage. There were many things that we had planned to do together. He had asked me to look for a good used recreation vehicle for him to buy so that he might use it to ease into retirement mode. He had never seen Cape Cod. He promised that his wife and he would join me and my family on our next annual vacation trip there.

His wife Paula adds the following to this account: “My husband would never have left us in the way that he did. Leonard was a very giving, loving husband, and enjoyed life. It is important to know that Leonard abhorred suicide. Two years ago my stepfather’s brother committed suicide and I remember Leonard and I discussing it. He said ‘Why would someone do something so stupid? There are so many other options to help you get through life’s problems.’ Leonard was very organized. He would methodically research every major purchase and every vacation trip. Everything was always well planned ahead of time. Before we went on a trip he would always make sure that the bills were paid and everything with the house and car was in good working order. He hadn’t done anything differently in the months, the weeks, or even the days before he left us. There were so many things that he would have taken care of if he had known that he was leaving, but they were left by the wayside. He left no note nor any other signs that this had been planned or even pondered. I am convinced by both the timing and the things that he left unfinished, that the Zoloft that he was taking affected his judgment and ability so severely that the drug itself is responsible for his untimely death. We are now left with only the memories of how special a person he was instead of having him here to continue his life with us.”

I cannot begin to explain how different life is now for his wife and son, nor can I describe the void we now have in our lives, so I will not try. We will forever remember him as someone who, except for this one time, always kept his promises.

His wife Paula Schultz can be reached at PSchultz1@aol.com

His brother Richard Schultz can be reached at Richard_Schultz@yahoo.com

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 76.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,167 total views