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"Dying for a Cure" author suffered adverse effects of psych drugs for years


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I recently read this, it is the true story of a woman who was repeatedly misdiagnosed and exposed to more and more psychiatric medication. She was initially prescribed antidepressants for suspected postnatal depression and her health deteriorated. Instead of suspecting the drug, her doctors added more. She ended up taking a cocktail of about 6 drugs including Lithium.

 

It includes a foreword by David Healy. He is quoted on the back jacket: ‘ Dying for a Cure should become required reading for anyone the instant their doctor suggest they have “nerves” or “ depression” and it should lead to serious questioning of just what goes on in both primary and secondary care when it comes to “nervous problems”.’

 

It is quite harrowing, so maybe not something to read if you are in early withdrawal or feeling sensitive, but it is well worth the read. As well as the author’s personal struggle, it includes research about pharmaceutical companies and psychoactive drugs.

 

The author eventually realized the drugs were responsible for her ‘mental illness’ and is now fully recovered and completely off all medication. She did experience some withdrawal but her major problems occurred whilst actually on medication.

 

The book is dedicated to "all who have endured the living hell of acute drug-induced akathisia."

 

 

I came off Seroxat in August 2005 after a 4 month taper. I was initially prescibed a benzo for several months and then Prozac for 5 years and after that, Seroxat for 3 years and 9 months.

 

"It's like in the great stories Mr.Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."  Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

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HI Gem,

 

I read this book while i was tapering off paxil, its an excellent read, although as you rightly say, a very harrowing ordeal, but also a very accurate description of the truth, as is experienced by so many unfortunate patients, who trust the medics to know whats best. x

Began taking 30mg Seroxat on 15th Jan 1997 for grief issues. Remained at that dosage until Dec 05, did doctor ct, akathesia set in along with being non functional and overly emotional, brain fog. Doctor prescribed prozac, propranelol and diazeapam to counteract side effects, and told me to ct those 3 after 2.5/3 months use, induced wd seizure on 2nd day after ct. Was reinstated on seroxat 20mg in april 06, remained at that dose until Nov 07 and began a very slow taper lasting 56 months, finally DRUG FREE on 11th may 2011.

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When I was in my early thirties I started experiencing headaches, dizzy spells, and random angry outbursts that resembled PMS. The doctor I saw, some wet-behind-the-ears first year resident, insisted I was neurotic and prescribed 10 mg. of Valium four times a day. This was my first experience of ever having talked back to a doctor, and I really gave him the business as I knew in my gut that my symptoms were physical. I got the prescription filled, but I broke the pills in half and only took the 5 mg. as needed for really bad episodes, seldom more than once or twice a day..

 

Shortly thereafter, while strolling through Sears, I noticed their optical department and it dawned on me that I hadn't had an eye exam in a long time. Here, I lucked out and got an elderly, kindly, and very sharp optometrist who explained to me that my binocular focal point had gotten way out of whack and that's what was causing my symptoms. He said that my problem was highly unusual, but his prescription fixed everything.

 

I shudder to think of the addiction 40 mg of Valium a day would have caused!!!

 

Thanks for posting this book. I have a copy on order.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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Barbarannamated

When I was in my early thirties I started experiencing headaches, dizzy spells, and random angry outbursts that resembled PMS. The doctor I saw, some wet-behind-the-ears first year resident, insisted I was neurotic and prescribed 10 mg. of Valium four times a day. This was my first experience of ever having talked back to a doctor, and I really gave him the business as I knew in my gut that my symptoms were physical. I got the prescription filled, but I broke the pills in half and only took the 5 mg. as needed for really bad episodes, seldom more than once or twice a day..

 

Shortly thereafter, while strolling through Sears, I noticed their optical department and it dawned on me that I hadn't had an eye exam in a long time. Here, I lucked out and got an elderly, kindly, and very sharp optometrist who explained to me that my binocular focal point had gotten way out of whack and that's what was causing my symptoms. He said that my problem was highly unusual, but his prescription fixed everything.

 

I shudder to think of the addiction 40 mg of Valium a day would have caused!!!

 

Thanks for posting this book. I have a copy on order.

 

That's an incredible story :-)

What a great optometrist ~my optometrist once diagnosed a pregnancy thru vision exams (someone else's pregnancy)

I am very sensitive to vision changes ~they can really put me in a bad mood

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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That's an incredible story :-)

What a great optometrist ~my optometrist once diagnosed a pregnancy thru vision exams (someone else's pregnancy)

I am very sensitive to vision changes ~they can really put me in a bad mood

 

I wear blended trifocals and the slightest maladjustment can put me into a tizzy. I also recently had cataract surgery, for the second time, again performed by an eye surgeon who is highly skilled but humble, and who takes plenty of time to listen to his patients' concerns. The surgery was quite successful, but still I am aware that the slightest changes in vision may cause a lot of other symptoms. The first time my glasses slid down my nose, I thought I was having a heart attack. I've also had episodes that might have appeared to be epilepsy or a heart attack because I was looking through the wrong space in my glasses - convulsive movements, pulsating fixation on some particular object that I was viewing too closely, dizziness, shortness of breath.

 

Oddly, some specialists that you wouldn't expect are quite sensitive to the medical aspects of so-called mental illness and lots of other medical problems that can be seen in the eye and elsewhere in the body. This particular optometrist had seen a lot in his life. He had some trouble just walking around the office and must have been in his mid-seventies or even older, but he had had an enormous amount of experience and was as mentally clear as he must have been in med school. He spent a lot of time with me and explained so many things that an eye exam can reveal. My podiatrist has slipped me a few "under the counter" recipes for herbal remedies. She is diabetic and Celiac and apparently "cain't got no satisfaction" from mainstream medicine.

 

My episode with the deluded resident actually got to be rather funny. He got very upset when I wouldn't accept his diagnosis and was nearly jumping up and down in frustration. He said that he had a neurosis and that there is nothing wrong with that. I told him that if he liked his neurosis so well, he could have mine too. He nearly fried out a few brain cells at that point, so I left.

 

All of us need to educate ourselves as well as we are able and work up the courage to talk back. My current personal physician couldn't think of a thing to say when I told her why I was no longer taking Lipitor: that very low cholesterol causes depression and muscular wasting (I have severe problems with tendonitis and shoulder pain). She just admonished me to get my blood panel done ASAP since I was no longer taking the Ultimate Cure for Heart Disease. The ultimate cure for just about any disease, IMO, is staying away from doctors.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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Hi Angie,

 

Yeah I agree it is a great book, excellently researched. She is one brave woman!

 

Jemima, wow it’s just as well you got to see the Optometrist. The further along I get in my recovery, the more I am finding that I am able to talk back and speak up for myself.

 

 

I came off Seroxat in August 2005 after a 4 month taper. I was initially prescibed a benzo for several months and then Prozac for 5 years and after that, Seroxat for 3 years and 9 months.

 

"It's like in the great stories Mr.Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."  Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

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The further along I get in my recovery, the more I am finding that I am able to talk back and speak up for myself.

 

Keep up the good work! I sometimes think that talking back to the revered medical establishment is the only thing that's going to change it. My doctor of fourteen otherwise good years doesn't quite know what to make of me these days. I've told her that Lipitor is crap which I will never take again, and that I won't take any more tests involving radiation for a good long time. (I had a chest X-ray, two chest CT scans, an upper GI with Barium, and two mammograms in 2011 - does anybody keep track of radiation exposure, especially when several doctors are prescribing? I think not.) I have the genetic advantage of being part Irish, so I generally keep my temper in a cage and only let it out on appropriate occasions. Herr Doktor has met The Tiger in person and she didn't like the kitty one bit. :blink:

 

 

Yes, God was on my side the day I wandered into Sears Optical. I expect Dr. Miller is dead by now, but I still think of him from time to time and hope that he knows how grateful I am for his encyclopedic medical knowledge and, especially, his kindness and caring.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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“I’ve told her that Lipitor is crap...”

 

I like it! :)

 

I have a little Scottish and Irish blood. I definitely have a fiery side. It was a bit diminished in earlier withdrawal. I am so glad it is getting stronger.

 

Kindness, caring and compassion within healthcare just cannot be underestimated.

 

 

I came off Seroxat in August 2005 after a 4 month taper. I was initially prescibed a benzo for several months and then Prozac for 5 years and after that, Seroxat for 3 years and 9 months.

 

"It's like in the great stories Mr.Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."  Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

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Thought y'all might like to know that I got my blood panel done and everything was A-okay. I bet my doctor was really pi$$ed that there were no bad effects from dumping her revered Lipitor in the trash. She's come a long way from being the fine osteopathic physician she used to be, unfortunately for all, in the wrong direction.

 

I'm sticking with herbal "medicine" as much as possible now. Garlic and thyme have done wonders for my blocked sinuses.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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I also wanted to add that Dying for a Cure is one of the best books I've ever read, harrowing as it is. It explained a lot about withdrawal that I didn't understand, but this book really brought it home.

 

Thank you for posting, Gem! :)

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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My episode with the deluded resident actually got to be rather funny. He got very upset when I wouldn't accept his diagnosis and was nearly jumping up and down in frustration. He said that he had a neurosis and that there is nothing wrong with that. I told him that if he liked his neurosis so well, he could have mine too. He nearly fried out a few brain cells at that point, so I left.

 

 

Good for you. Doctors and Lawyers like to sit on a perch and feel their authority should not be questioned. When you deal with people's lives and futures - questioning is absolutely necessary.

Withdrew cold turkey from six medications: Celexa, Zyprexa, Depakote, Ativan, Ambien and Phentermine in 2002. It has been 10 years since I told polypharmacy to take a hike and have joined this forum to let others know that success is possible and to hopefully save people from experiencing the suffering that I did under psychiatric "care".

 

MY STORY

 

"TENSION is when we try to be who we think we should be, RELAXATION is when we are who we really are."

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Hi Jemima

 

Glad your blood work was all ok and there were no bad effects from the Lipitor. Great idea to ditch it! I have been persuading someone close to me they do not need to go on Statins. I have succeeded so far.

 

I also much prefer natural medicine and using nutrition to heal and prevent things.

 

Really glad you were impressed with Dying for a Cure and found it helpful. :) It is such an important book. Everyone in the medical and psychiatric professions should be made to read it!

 

 

I came off Seroxat in August 2005 after a 4 month taper. I was initially prescibed a benzo for several months and then Prozac for 5 years and after that, Seroxat for 3 years and 9 months.

 

"It's like in the great stories Mr.Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."  Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/ssris-when-antidepressants-go-wrong-1763108.html Rebekah Beddoe suffered adverse effects from the first, but was prescribed more and more drugs that made her sicker and sicker.

 

SSRIs: When anti-depressants go wrong

Tuesday 28 July 2009

 

....

Like many new mothers, I was not prepared for the emotional and physical toll of having a child, though few experience the excesses I had to endure. When I gave birth to Jemima in June 1999 I was wrongly diagnosed with post-natal depression and was immediately prescribed anti-depressants. Soon, my life had spiralled out of control. But while I ended up being treated for everything from anxiety to depression with a host of strong, prescription medicines, it is likely that all I was suffering from in the first place were the normal difficulties associated with coping with a fractious child.

 

But it was not until I managed to wean myself off the medication that I realised that the drugs were not a cure for the hell I was going through – they were the cause of it.

 

It was clear from the moment she was born that Jemima was going to be fractious. Not only was she a poor sleeper, but she was also irritable when awake. I needed practical support, but my mother was entrenched in her career and my husband's mother had passed away. With that in mind, I made an appointment with my GP to see if there was anything he could do to help us.

 

Initially, we thought the problem might be with the baby. But when that didn't yield results, the doctor's attention soon turned to me. I was handed a trial pack of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) called Lustral, which, he claimed, would boost my mood. While I didn't take him up on the offer, his advice stayed with me. On his recommendation, I headed over to the Mother and Baby Unit at my local hospital. Here, I knew there were people in the same boat as me, mothers struggling to cope with their new babies. I was assessed by a psychiatrist. He decided I should go on Lustral after all. And so it began.

 

One day, I was sitting with the other mums waiting for our group therapy to start. Suddenly, my heart began to pound. I thought I was having a heart attack. Terrified, I buzzed for a nurse and she brought me a brown paper bag to blow into. I was told it was a panic attack.

 

There followed a meeting with my psychiatrist. He assured me that depression and anxiety very often went hand in hand. My dosage of Lustral was increased and, by now, Valium was being thrown into the mix. What I know now (and didn't realise then) was that many of the side-effects of anti-depressants are the same as the symptoms of depression.

 

I have strange recollections of the period that followed. I blocked out a lot of what happened, and only really found out the full extent of what went on later when I had the chance to refer to my medical records. I was referred to Ashgrove Private Hospital, which deals with those suffering from extreme cases of post-natal depression. My condition worsened, and I was placed on stronger drugs, which included the tranquilising drug Xanax. I considered self-harm, and became a suicide risk. I was transferred to Fernview, a major psychiatric hospital close to my home in Melbourne, and before long I became incapable of making rational decisions. I was even given electro-shock therapy. I ended up on a complicated cocktail of drugs including Prozac, Xanax, Zyprexa (which is used to treat schizophrenia), Dutonin (another anti-depressant) and sleeping pills. I was later put on Lithium, and several tranquilisers.

 

The dangers surrounding anti-depressants – particularly SSRIs, which help prolong the effects of neurotransmitters that can lighten mood – are well-publicised. I now know that, in many people, such drugs can create problems, rather than alleviate them. Hundreds of High Court writs have been served against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer of the anti-depressant Seroxat, since the medication was first prescribed in Britain in 1990. Since then it has been linked to some 50 suicides of adults and children. In 2002, BBC's Panorama programme "The Secrets of Seroxat" alleged that GSK covered up fears about Seroxat's safety, something the firm vehemently denies. It was this documentary that proved to be the turning point for me, even though I live many thousands of miles away.

 

I began to think, "What if all of my problems had come from the drugs?" and "What if they were the cause of it, rather than the cure?" I followed this questioning with research. By this point, I had reduced my Lithium intake and become dependent on another SSRI, Faverin. Everything seemed to point to the possibility that the drugs could have been making my situation worse. I realised that many of my symptoms may have been side-effects of the drugs.

 

Certainly, many of the ambiguities arise when doses are reduced. Dr David Healy, a psychologist at the University of Cardiff, explains that once you know what you're dealing with, it can be simple to distinguish between SSRI withdrawal symptoms and the problem the drug was prescribed for in the first place. If you stop taking the drug and the problems begin immediately, it is likely to be an effect of withdrawal; it is equally a giveaway if the feelings disappear when the patient is put back on the drug. The Panorama programme highlighted the fact that huge numbers of doctors are uninformed of the effects of SSRI withdrawal. Additionally, there are huge problems with the definition of "addiction". According to GSK, for a drug to be classified as addictive, it must create a need continually to increase the dosage in order to maintain the effect, and cause cravings on dosage reduction. But the Collins Dictionary of Medicine defines addiction as a condition where "the use of a drug has led to persistent changes in the way the body functions so that its absence causes physical symptoms – withdrawal symptoms". Based on the latter definition, who could deny that SSRIs can be addictive?

 

In the end, I took matters into my own hands. My solution was to buy a pill-cutter from my local pharmacy, and pare down my doses of Faverin by 6.25mg each fortnight. By January 2003, I felt so much better that I went to see one of the psychiatrists who had treated me early on. I wanted to clear my name and to convince myself and the world that I could now draw a line under what had happened. That doctor said he needed to assess me for 12 months, but by the end of that period gave me a full bill of health.

 

Meanwhile, Jemima's temperament evened out beautifully. She showed marked improvement at around five months when she could sit up on her own, then further improvement when, at nine months, she started to crawl. My theory is she was raring to go from the moment she was born and her persistent crying was an expression of her frustration at having such a mismatch between her physical capabilities and her mental will. We now have another daughter, born last year.

 

Since my book, Dying for a Cure, was published in 2007, it has become a large part of my life. I have responded to dozens of people who have been in a similar situation. It is really formulaic what happens when anti-depressants go wrong. It starts with panic attacks, then leads to insomnia, then goes on to self-harm, and eventually leads to suicidal inclinations and mood swings. People often get diagnosed with personality disorders. I tell my tale in the hope that others will recognise their story and I can help deliver some lives back to their rightful owners. To all those reading who are taking psychiatric medications, I urge you to think back: did the condition worsen after you began the drugs? They might just be to blame.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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