Seroxat. The dangers of prescribed medication.
Paroxetine,Seroxat and Paxil.
Paroxetine, also known as the trade names Seroxat and Paxil are drugs used as anti depressants. From the the class of anti depressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which are meant to increase the brain's levels of mood improving serotonin and is manufactured by Glaxosmithkline.
Serotonin is known as happy neurotransmitter which is a chemical messenger in the brain that allows communication between brain cells and is thought to act as a mood stabiliser as well as other regulatory functions of the body. It is believed that SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain as serotonin deficiency can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems as well as other problems.
Seroxat and Paxil are used in the treatment of:
- Major Depressive Episode
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder with and without agoraphobia
- Social Anxiety Disorders/Social phobia
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
As a full time, mature Degree student with just months to go before I finished my studies, and with three young children at home, juggling two part time jobs and knowing that my marriage to my alcoholic abusive husband was over, I sought help from my doctor for stress and anxiety and inability to sleep. After explaining to my doctor about the situation I was dealing with in my life, I was prescribed a popular anti depressant and the latest drug on the market, Seroxat. Marketed as the ‘Happy pill’ Seroxat seemed my only option if I was to get some rest from the stress I was under. I was tired enough and desperate enough to give the drug a try despite my reservations about anti depressants not being the answer.
As a child I had been physically, emotionally and sexually abused by my alcoholic mum and dad and experienced a life long depression. I knew that anti depressants had never helped me in the past and in some cases anti depressants have had an adverse affect on my mental state. Prescribed drugs have left me feeling like a zombie and I did not want to take them but this time I was promised that Seroxat was new and had few side effects, was not addictive and that they would help me sleep.
Within days of starting on a dose of Seroxat I felt changes in myself. I started feeling aggressive and was afraid I could hurt someone should I be pushed. It felt like all my anger about everything negative that had happened to me throughout my life was coming to the surface and I did not know how to deal with it all. I was more suicidal than I have ever been. I was bombarded with intrusive thoughts, urging me to end my life for everyone’s sake. I was seriously battling with extreme paranoia and panic attacks since starting this medication yet my doctor would not believe me. I knew that I was slipping into serious mental state of which I might never recover and I knew Seroxat, had some something to do with my declining mental state. I could not prove that nor would anyone listen to me about my fears despite warnings on leaflets inside the medication which claims,
‘Suicide-related behaviours (suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (predominantly aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger) were more frequently observed in clinical trials among children and adolescents treated with antidepressants compared to those treated with placebo. If, based on clinical need, a decision to treat is nevertheless taken, the patient should be carefully monitored for the appearance of suicidal symptoms. In addition, long-term safety data in children and adolescents concerning growth, maturation and cognitive and behavioural development are lacking.’
I felt trapped, useless, worthless and desperate to escape from my constant internal worry and paranoia. I was convinced that the drug Seroxat was playing havoc with my brain chemicals and preventing me from being able function properly. I knew my own mind and I knew something was very wrong with mine. I went from a hard working mum and student to a quivering wreck too afraid to leave the house. I was so angry at myself for trusting that doctor that day and allowing myself to be convinced to take a drug to cope with my unhappiness instead of dealing with the problem by facing them. Life had been hard and I was learning to deal with everything and then I messed it all up by taking a prescribed drug. I just needed help to cope with the anxiety I felt and to calm down enough to finish my degree. The drugs were just meant to see me through a very unhappy difficult time and I was regretting taking them.
Late one night after yet again begging my husband for a divorce, I snapped. I took a cocktail of drugs, washed down quickly with a bottle of wine. I went into my children’s bedroom and kissed them good bye. One of my children woke up. ‘Where are you going mum?’ my son asked. ‘Whatever happens, know that I love you and always will’. I kissed him and told him to go back to sleep and then I went into the bathroom and lay on the floor and waited to die. As I laid there sobbing and waiting for the end to come, I felt a calmness come over me. 'This is for the best,' I thought. No more will I mess up my life or the lives of my children. I felt like I was sinking in to a nice warm cosy place and I allowed myself to sink into that place. Then I suddenly realised, as I lay there waiting for the end, that my husband would not love my children and care for them like I do. He would not think to tuck them up in bed and let them know they are loved. It all came flooding back, how I had felt when my mother had taken her own life and left me here all alone and I pulled myself together and ask for help.
I allowed myself to be taken to hospital to have my stomach pumped. I can remember the shame and guilt of knowing that my children would know what I had done, as I was vomiting up buckets of black charcoal given to me instead of a stomach pump. I realised that taking my own life was not the answer. Running away from my problems was not going to help my children. In that moment, between vomiting, I vowed to find a way of feeling happiness in my life so that I can be a good role model for my children. I realised that I had to find myself, my true self and find out what would make me happy without the use of drugs. My doctor wanted me to continue taking Seroxat because it takes a while for it to start working and apparently I had not given it time.
Within a week of my over dosing I packed my alcoholic abusive husbands clothes and asked him to leave. We went through a bitter divorce where he constantly threatened to have my children removed and have me thrown out on the street.
For a while I continued taking Seroxat but was still convinced that it was having a detrimental effect on my already struggling mental state. When I ran out of my supply I did bother asking for another prescription and within 24 hours I experienced what I can only describe as electric shocks in my brain. I was driving my car when I suddenly got a sensation of having a bad electric shock inside my head. I was convinced that I had been struck by lightening and manage to pull my car to the side of the road when I was hit by another powerful shock. Fortunately I managed to get home before I collapsed in a heap just inside my house door and I could not move as the shocks kept on coming. Later that day I started having hallucinations about elephants chasing me and surrounding my house looking through my window at me. I was absolutely terrified. I went back to the doctor and explained what I had been experiencing, the electric shocks inside my head, terrifying nightmares, hallucination, paranoia and I was becoming too afraid to leave my house because of over whelming panic attacks.
I told him I was experiencing much more pain than usual in my legs and back since starting the drug from not yet diagnosed fibromyalgia and lupus but the doctor told me that was because I imagined I was in pain. I told him that I felt aggressive towards others which was unusual for me. The added aggression was a warning to me that something was seriously wrong. I felt like a time bomb waiting to go off and I was afraid that I might hurt someone, especially while I was hallucinating. I told him I felt scared and suicidal for most of the time. His response was to increase my dosage and ignore all my fears. All the time I was explaining how I felt to this doctor, he looked bored and quite angry, like he usually did. I felt that he was not taking me seriously or showing me respect even though I was desperate for help. I demanded to see a psychiatrist before I left the doctor’s office that day and the doctor reluctantly agreed to arrange one.
A couple of days later, I received a letter from the doctor saying that he did not want to see me or my children again. He claimed that I was a non compliant patient. When I received that letter, I was laid in bed, back in spasm so that I could not move or walk and my legs in terrible pain. These symptoms, which were not new symptoms, were more intense since starting the drug but doctor says that my pain is not real and was part of being depressed.
The experience of pain of undiagnosed fibromyalgia and lupus were put down to imagination and I was more or less told I needed to pull myself together. Yet again, as it had been all my life, I was let down badly by the NHS and the mental health team who, ignored my pleas for help when I was in physical or emotional pain. Even though I was told that my physical pain was all in my head I was prescribed dangerous and addictive drugs and when the drugs had an adverse reaction I was left in serious distress to deal with it all on my own. I know there must be others who feel like they have been labelled with depression as an answer to all other problems. I feel for them all because I know the distress and confusion that it can bring knowing your doctor calls you a liar and a fantasist. I laid in bed the day I got the letter from the doctor, in terrible pain and I cried. Again I contemplated suicide because I did not know where else to turn. I had the children to care for and I had no family or friends who could help me. I was crippled with emotional and physical pain and I was sick of making a mess of life. I thought it was over for me as I did not think I would find the help I needed. I felt that I would lose my sanity and there would be nothing I could to stop it happening.
A week later, when I finally saw a psychiatrist he diagnosed me with Serotonin Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening adverse drug reaction to the Seroxat. My dosage was reduced very slowly over the next few weeks and I was prescribed high doses of Valium to help deal with the horrendous withdrawal symptoms from Seroxat which has been described as a similar experience to withdrawing from heroin.
I could not cope with the withdrawal that seemed to be taking forever because I had my children to care for and I could barely function properly. I set a date April 3rd 2001 to stop taking Seroxat altogether. I had tried to tell all the doctors over the years the drugs don't work and were not helping me, and never had, but they would not listen. I lost all faith in the medical profession when it came to my physical and mental health and at the time, trusted no doctor to help me. I knew I needed to cleanse myself of this drug quicker than the weeks that it was taking. I did not want to waste more weeks and months of my life while I waited for the right doctor to help me.
Within a couple of days of stopping taking the low dose of Seroxat, I started experiencing the electric shocks to the brain and body again. The electric shocks to my brain were powerful enough to knock me of my feet. I was experiencing terrifying nightmares, hallucinations and feelings of paranoia. Hallucinations seemed to be one after the other and I was beginning to lose my grip on reality. I knew that I had to be strong mentally and I was afraid because I had no support.
I knew that I was having thoughts of hurting others and I knew that was not in my nature to want to harm another. I felt that I was on the edge of the cliff of insanity and was in danger of toppling over. In my journal, I wrote, ‘I feel like I am finally allowed to become insane. It will soon be over and I will cease to exist and I will never have to deal with this life again’ and then I heard a voice coming from deep within myself, telling me to face my fears and follow my passion. At the time, I had no idea what my passion was.
Stopping taking the drug seemed to open the flood gates to all my suppressed fears and now I had to deal with them all on my own. In my journal at the time, I wrote, 'I am terrified that I am not going to get through this. The terror I feel has me crying out with pain and fear and there is no escaping my fear this time. I knew I need to be free of drugs to continue to live. To be free I had to face my fears and deal with them.
At times, during withdrawal, I would hear the children talking or sound coming from the television and then the sounds would fade away and I would float deep down to a state of semi consciousness before floating back to awareness of the children somewhere in the distance.
I would feel an intense emotional high and then a dramatic drop as another long forgotten memory presented itself to my awareness. Withdrawal opened the floodgates to many forgotten memories of my childhood and the memories of my mother’s abuse and the pain I felt all came flooding back. I felt like a child reliving all those experiences that I had buried deep down inside. Each memory came like a wave, one after the other. I was sobbing with my heart broken one minute and the next lifted so high emotionally that I felt like I could fly. Emotionally I felt like I was on a very steep roller coaster, up to the top and the excitement climbing and then the deep descent back down to my internal hell. Days blended into night and back in today and I would not know what day of the week it was. The whole experience, at that intensity, lasted just a few days but at the time, felt never ending. I knew it would all be worth the pain because I really felt that I was on the road to recovery.
Many demons were exorcised during withdrawal of the drug Seroxat, but the experience drained me to the point of extreme exhaustion. At times, I lost touch with reality and very nearly lost my mind for good whilst going through withdrawal. During those days of withdrawal, I had convinced myself that someone was going to take my children away. I tried to remind myself that such thoughts were a result of the drug affecting my mind and not to listen to them.
I kept a journal of the whole withdrawal experience and tried to stay calm and keep from slipping into insanity. Then, late one night, I heard a knock on my door and my heart nearly burst. I was terrified! It was dark outside but I pushed my children out the back door, telling them not to make a sound. "Go and hide behind the garden shed and stay there until I come get you", I whispered, as I pushed them out into the garden. I quietly sneaked out of my garden's side gate, made my way along the wall and then hid behind a bush in the darkness, watching to see who was knocking on my door. Two, rather large looking men, stood at my front door. I suspected they were police coming to take the children. As I watched, one of them pulled a gun from his pocket. I was shocked and confused and there was not enough time to think of what to do next. The one with the gun, said, ‘I’ll go round the back’, and started walking in my direction. I was terrified as I sat in the dark watching them. I seriously thought they were going to kill me and take my children. In a split second I was diving for the legs of the man with the gun, knocking him off balance. I jumped on his back and I found strength to hold down his hand that was holding the gun, to stop him from aiming at me and blowing my face off. Somehow, the gun ended up in my hand and I was now aiming it at the man who was now on the floor, looking up at me. In the seconds that followed and in fear of the other man coming round the corner, I felt that I had no choice but to kill him. I aimed, closed my eyes and fired the gun. When I opened my eyes I saw that the bullet had hit him in the forehead and he was laid there with his eyes wide open, dead!
The next thing I remember, I was hiding in a dark doorway of my neighbour’s house, holding my breath for fear the other man would hear me breathing and find me. I had just killed a man and I felt hysterical. I stifled all sounds by gagging myself with my gloves. I saw the feet and lower legs of the other man very close to me. Convinced he was going to find me I buried my face in my hands and quietly begged God to help me. When I opened my eyes again, I found myself hiding behind a chair in my own house. I felt shocked and confused; I could not understand what was happening to me. Eventually I realised that what I had experienced was another hallucination but even knowing that, I was convinced I had killed a man.
Withdrawal left me exhausted and I felt like I was dying and did not have the strength to fight it. A day came and I was aware of drifting away to a deep dark place, somewhere inside of myself. Everything was closing in on me. No sounds penetrated my darkness and I felt like I was fading. It was a peaceful feeling. I felt no emotional pain, just a deep dark calm. Then I heard these words of a song that I had never heard before, 'The storm is over', by R Kelly, coming from a radio somewhere in the distance. Mentally I latched on to the words of the song and felt like the song got louder and clearer. ‘Who is singing that? I shouted out. One of my children came to me and told me there was no song on, no radio on in the other room. ‘You were just dreaming mum’, he said. The song gave me some comfort and the words of the song seemed like a personal message for me. I felt enlightened and that the storm was really over now. In my journal I wrote, "I am crying tears of joy because I can feel heaven and I know that freedom is just before me. I feel that I am not alone and I am close to releasing all my pent up pain. In the next line I wrote, "I am terrified now and seriously want to scream and panic. The feelings come over me in terror ridden pain and sometimes I feel like I will suffocate and will not survive the next wave of fear. I feel like I am on a emotional roller coaster to hell in one second and then I feel like I am soaring up to heaven in my heart before crashing down to hell". I remember constantly having to remind myself that I was going through withdrawal and not completely going insane because at times I thought was all over. At times I felt that I was losing myself; like my mind was trying to shut down and I would know no more.
Eventually the intense symptoms of withdrawal passed and again I was left feeling angry about what I had experienced. Later I researched the drug and the first thing I found out was that many other users suffered similar symptoms, including electric shocks, hallucinations, aggressiveness, anger and frustration. I found that in America the drug was marketed under a different name, Paxil. I read about a man in America, David Snell, who had taken the drug and killed members of his own family before killing his self when he had never shown any signs of violence before. The drug was found to be the cause of his personality change and his family was awarded over six million pounds in compensation. I found that many killings, birth defects and suicides have been blamed on this drug. I spoke to a well known women’s' magazine and they ran a story of my experiences and others who had taken the drug came forward. Some had positive experiences and some, like me, had a negative experience whilst taking this drug.
In Health and Nutrition Secrets, Dr. Russell L. Blaylock writes, "It is also known that these medications increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which, in high concentrations, can also act as an excitotoxin." When antidepressant drugs raise serotonin to an excitotoxin level, the brain reacts in ways similar to mental illness. According to Burton Goldberg's book, 'Alternative Medicine', side effects of SSRIs include uncontrollable facial and body tics, dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, sexual dysfunction, addiction, electric-shock-like sensations in the brain and, of course, homicidal or suicidal thoughts and behavior.
The storm is over.
I wrote to a solicitor about my experiences with the drug and sent him all research I had found pertaining to the anti depressant Seroxat and he agreed to help me. Along with others we started action against the manufacturer of the drug ‘Glaxosmithkline,’ who had always claimed that clinical tests showed that the drug was safe and non addictive and so had no withdrawal problems. Unfortunately the drug manufacturer, Glaxosmithkline were found to be liars about clinical test results claiming Seroxat to be a safe drug and that it had no addiction problems. I was part of a group of people who were suing because of the trauma we experienced as a result of this drug.
I could not continue with my claim against Glaxosmithkline and was dropped by the solicitors when I could not raise £900 to pay a private psychiatrist to check me out and prove that without the drug I was fully functioning.
I was very angry at first that I had this experience because of a prescribed drug. I felt like I was owed for the robbed years, for pain and suffering, for the nightmare I had lived, for being incapable of working because I was too disturbed to even leave the house, for robbing me of my sanity, robbing my kids of a capable mother. They thought differently and I was to get nothing.
I was grateful that the campaign to make people more aware of some of the dangers of Seroxat had a good result. The drug and its side effects was discussed on the national news and in magazines and I hoped doctors all over the country would understood and accept just how dangerous this drug Seroxat, and others like it, was to the sanity of some of those taking it.
I was free of any kind of medication probably for the first time in my life and I felt sane and normal. For a while I felt angry and bitter about my past and about services meant to protect me. I was angry with the NHS for letting me down and abusing my body with drugs. This is what I call legal abuse, if you complain then you are punished or declared mentally ill and irrational. I felt angry for other women out there whose life, like mine, had been affected by the use of legally prescribed drugs. It hurt me to think that there were others who had found the courage to seek help only to be drugged and pushed to one side.
Determined to feel better and to help others in similar situations to myself, I trained as a Person Centred Counsellor in the hopes of helping myself and others to deal with the mental turmoil of surviving childhood abuse and depression. The experience gave me a purpose in life and that was to help others who were suffering from depression and unhappiness. I needed to talk about my experiences from my childhood and the drugs did not allow that and I knew others were going through the same. I made it my goal to learn to be there for others who were suffering but did not want to take drugs.
For many, taking anti depressants has proven to be beneficial. For others they can leave us feeling worse than before the drug treatment. I know I am not the only one that has taken anti depressants for years and never felt any better. And I know that others have turned aggressive or suicidal after taking anti depressants. For years, I let my doctors dismiss me and my worry of the drugs not helping, and my fears of what the chemicals in them were doing to my mental functioning. The drugs made me feel calmer about being really unhappy. Other survivors of abuse go through life numbed up or feeling out of it through the use of prescription drugs. They need support to be able to release their emotional trauma too so they can feel happy. It is very difficult to feel happy when you are suppressing something as traumatic abuse. For many survivors pretending to be happy is the only happy they know. I know about pretending and handling my distress when I could no longer pretend, I know how desperate a feeling that is. We all deserve genuine happiness. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves and we all deserve to feel love.
I found my passion and my passion is to write about my experiences and share them with others in the hopes I can give hope that life can get better. I wrote about my childhood experiences with my mum and dad and published 'Living with alcoholism in the family'.
Please do not ever just stop taking medications. Seek help and support before discontinuing taking any medication.
If you are experiencing similar symptoms to mine after taking anti depressants or you feel a change in your personality I urge you to seek professional help.
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1382551.stm11 Jun 2001 - The family of David Snell won a $6.4m payout from manufacturers ... a drug in the same family, had caused David Hawkins to murder his wife ...
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