Psycho-Babble Medication Thread 47805

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prozac/suicide

Posted by cindyh on October 31, 2000, at 6:33:33

what is the correlation of taking prozac for 10 days and taking one's life? My husband did this, and he seemed to get worse instead of better. We were waiting for the month or so we were told it would take to get better. Could the two be related? I'm searching for answers...I don't understand any of this. Please help. please. Thanks

 

Re: prozac/suicide

Posted by Bill L on October 31, 2000, at 8:48:02

In reply to prozac/suicide, posted by cindyh on October 31, 2000, at 6:33:33

Cindy - I am really sorry to hear about your husband. You are in my prayers. It's especially a shame that died so soon after taking a big step in the right direction by starting an antidepressant.

Ofcourse I can't give a definitive answer to your question in your husband's specific case but the general rule is the other way around that drugs such as Prozac prevent suicides. Prozac has a very strong and positive 11 year track record as an antidepressant.

People do commit suicide on Prozac, but that's because it doesn't work very well for everyone. Some doctors postulate that Prozac may cause some people to commit suicide. The theory is that Prozac gives a depressed person the strength and energy needed to kill himself. Some doctors think that Prozac causes people to commit suicide more so than other antidepressants (due to some studies) and therefore prefer to start patients on different antidepressants.

On the other side of the coin, for a lot of people Prozac works better than the other antidepressants. It's still the first antidepressant that many doctors prescribe for depressed patients.

In any event, it does take about 4 to 6 weeks for Prozac to build up in one's blood and have a significant antidepressant effect. Since your husband was only taking it for 10 days, it would not have very much of an antidepressant effect. But Prozac can have side effects including agitation. I guess it's hard to know if it caused him to be agitated in such a short time frame and even if it did, if it caused him to kill himself.

You didn't say how depressed he was before taking the Prozac but I imagine that it must have been pretty bad. If it's any consulation, atleast you know that by starting him on Prozac, he and his doctor took a step in the right direction even though it didn't work out.

Once again I am really sorry to hear what happened and you are in my prayers.


> what is the correlation of taking prozac for 10 days and taking one's life? My husband did this, and he seemed to get worse instead of better. We were waiting for the month or so we were told it would take to get better. Could the two be related? I'm searching for answers...I don't understand any of this. Please help. please. Thanks

 

Re: prozac/suicide

Posted by Judy on October 31, 2000, at 9:16:30

In reply to prozac/suicide, posted by cindyh on October 31, 2000, at 6:33:33

Cindy,

I too was so sad to read your post. I offer my sincerest condolences.

Like the previous poster, I am wondering how deeply depressed your husband was when he began taking Prosac. It was suggested that it might not have been working for him. Another thing to consider is that it *had* begun to work - just enough to give him the strength to carry out an act that he was too ill to attempt before starting treatment.

I'm so sorry that you are left with all of these questions and confusion, but please understand that a depressed person's mind does not reason like that of a 'normal' person and there is sometimes nothing family, friends or doctors can do to to change that.

Judy

 

Re: prozac/suicide

Posted by JohnL on October 31, 2000, at 17:50:16

In reply to prozac/suicide, posted by cindyh on October 31, 2000, at 6:33:33

Cindy,
I'm so very sorry. My heart just crumbles when I see or hear of these things. I'm not sure there's anything that pains me more. I feel stupid commenting on your question, as if it is so minute in importance compared to what you've been through. I don't want to go into details, but depression related suicide is no stranger to what my eyes have seen. There are no words.

As far as I know there has never been a relation between Prozac and suicide. The supposed relation was started up in Prozac's early days, primarily by the media. At the time, and still today, Prozac is more frequently used than its competitors, so logically any adverse events also seem to be more frequent.

Any psychiatric drug can cause a worsening of depression, including antidepressants. Any of them. It's not Prozac specific. I myself have experienced this, and it can be dramatic and swift. If you look through the PDR book which doctors use, every drug listed that has any psychiatric effects whatsoever also states that suicide risk exists and patients should be monitored closely when starting treatment.

With myself I know if I increase my serotonin levels too much too fast, I become nearly suicidally depressed. Real fast. Like in hours. And it continues to build momentum with each passing day. I know for a fact if I wanted to feel suicidal (just for the sake of example) I could take 80mg Prozac instead of my usual 10mg. That would do it. Or 100mg of 5HTP. Or 200mg Zoloft. Or 300mg Serzone. A mere 100mg Moclobemide. Doesn't matter. Too much serotonin too fast and I'm a goner. All of these doses I mentioned are within therapeutic ranges, but they are all capable of making me feel very very depressed. With antidepressants, I have come to learn more is not always better, is actually sometimes worse, and slow and low is the way to get started.

I think too often doctors think that somehow the depressed patient has the endurance to wait 6 weeks to feel better. No. In my opinion, someone who is very depressed needs to feel better now. Why? Because maybe they can't wait 6 weeks. Maybe they can't one day. Maybe they might commit suicide. Starting antidepressant treatment is good. But it's only half the game. I think doctors should also give the patient something to feel better immediately, to buy some time while waiting for the antidepressant to work. Stimulants can do that. Benzodiazepines can do that. These are in my opinion grossly underutilized in psychiatry. Just my opinion. But in Dr Bob's Tips there is mention of using stimulants for quick relief while waiting for the antidepressant to kick in. Also verified in clinical studies. In other studies, Clonazepam served a dual purpose of allowing the depressed patient to sleep and rest and simultaneously have their Prozac start working in just one week instead of six.

Adverse reactions such as suicide occur with all psychiatric drugs, not just Prozac. All of them. One other thing I think doctors hardly ever do, but should do all the time, is give the patient an antidote for a bad reaction. A couple doses of a benzo, or a couple doses of a tranquilizing antipsychotic like Stelazine are marvelous antidotes for adverse reactions. If a stimulant had been given to your husband along with only half the dose of Prozac he was given, and some antidotes on the side for an emergency, he would likely be alive and well today. It isn't Prozac's fault. As advanced as our medical doctors are, they are also often ignorant when it comes to treating severe depression. Six weeks? Get real.

I know I want to, and you probably want to, point a finger at Prozac. I just don't think that is the case. People get worse with any of them sometimes. As well as our doctors are trained, they often aren't trained in ways that are immediatley helpful to the suffering patient. I still ask myself the same thing today that I did ten years ago when I started antidepressants. That is, "4 to 6 weeks? You gotta be kidding?" You know, anyone who says just wait it out a few more weeks is naive as can be. As you've seen, the worst case scenarios do happen. They don't need to. They can be prevented. I want to bury my head in my knees and cry over your loss. I would like to wring that doctor by the neck. But it's not his/her fault. It's the entire medical training system. Somehow they have students duped into thinking everyone can wait 6 weeks. And no, antidepressants help people feel better, not worse. Right? Maybe. Not always. Any doctor who likewise didn't warn the patient to call if he feels worse right away also in my opinion is a lousy example of a doctor. Didn't do anything wrong, but still a crumb of doctor.

So so sorry,
John

 

Re: prozac/suicide

Posted by S. Howard on October 31, 2000, at 20:23:36

In reply to Re: prozac/suicide, posted by JohnL on October 31, 2000, at 17:50:16

Cindy-
There is not much I can add except that my heart goes out to you. It's common (at least in my experience) to want to blame something or someone for so great a loss, but I doubt if the paxil is responsible. It sounds like your husband was so seriously depressed, prescibing paxil was like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound.
At the same time, you didn't say whether it was prescribed by your regular doctor or a psychiatrist. A general practitioner might have missed signs of severe depression, particularly if your husband was good at dissimulating or downplaying his symptoms. I can tell you - also from experience - that even a person who is suicidally depressed can "act normal" for a time if it seems necessary, i.e. to avoid unwanted attention or questions.
Above all, never blame yourself, and never believe your husband left you because he didn't love you. < 3

 

Re: prozac/suicide - my father did the same :-( cindyh

Posted by Leonardo on November 1, 2000, at 12:01:00

In reply to prozac/suicide, posted by cindyh on October 31, 2000, at 6:33:33

Hi Cindy

May I add my condolences to those of the previous posters. I know you will be desperately searching for answers at this time - I am assuming this tragedy happened quite recently.

My experience is this, I hope it will be some help. My father killed himself about 2 weeks after starting on Prozac. He had been prescibed 2 other antidepressants in the month or so before that, one was reboxetine, the other I can't remember. He was switched so often because he couldn't tolerate the severe side effects he got from all these meds.

I didn't see him in those last 2 weeks unfortunately, but from what I can gather he did not appear very severely depressed either to his family or his doctor, so there was no indication he was about to kill himself or consider that he was at great risk.

I also understand that the meds made him feel worse, probably because the side effects were so bad for him. I think he skipped some doses because of this, but I doubt that had any effect on the outcome.

I have heard about the reputation that Prozac has for inducing suicidal feelings in a small minority of people. I had understood that this was noted particularly with Prozac, more so than other meds, but that may be due to it being used more often, so this extreme side effect occurs more often with Prozac than other medications. However, I have noticed that some doctor's in the UK will not prescibe Prozac, and this may be the reason why...

In the weeks and months after my father's death (over 2 years ago now) I did tend to blame Prozac for my father's death. As others have said, I now think that it could have happened on any of the antidepressants. The real problem was that the follow-up medical care was not supportive enough. In his case, as far as we can tell, he was given the information that it may take up to 6 weeks for the drug to becomer effective. We also believe that his doctor told him to go back after a couple of weeks to check how he was going on. My father seems to have been confused about this, and insisted he had to wait 6 weeks before going back to see the doc, and even when family urged him to go, he did not. Had he been forced to make a follow up appointment, or chased up, maybe he would have got professional the support he needed.

The other thing that saddens me is that I don't think he was given the advice to start taking these meds at a low dose and gradually work up. I have found from my personal experience that this can make all the difference between going through a living hell with severe side effects, and getting quite a good boost almost immediately. I have been on antidepressants for the past 2 years as I have struggled with coming to terms with his death, and been close to suicide myself. But I have learned the hard way that it is possible to make the meds work for you. In my case this has required selectively ignoring the doctors poor advice, and supplementing their advice with information I found from groups like this on the internet. If I could have told my father in those last few weeks what I know now , I think I could have got him through it...

One thing I did was to go and visit his doctor and talk through what happened. I could see that his doctor was almost as shaken by my father's unexpected death as I was. I had a big problem with the inquest. I had hoped that there would be some ercognition that the Prozac may have contributed to his death as an unfortunate side effect, but this was swept away in the proceedings when I mentioned it. Easto see why, it would open the drug companies and doctors to liability. However what I wanted was not to apportion the blame, but to get recognition that he did not kill himslef deliberately, but because he was not acting rationally due to bad side effects from the medication. This would have meant the difference between a verdict of 'accidental death' rather than suicide. It means a lot to thoise left behind. Unfortunately we got the suicide verdict which was very distressing for me for a long time afterwards.

You may like to know that there are internet support groups and local support groups particularly for relatives left behind after a loved one has killed themselves - survivors of suicide as they are called. The one I used was called SOLOS (Survivors of Loved One's Suicides) which you can find at http://www.1000deaths.com/

Those who have been through this dreadful experience realise that it is much more difficult to come to terms with than a 'normal' breavement, for a variety of reasons.

Please feel free to mail me if you want to talk more about all this.

Take care of yourself
Leonardo

> what is the correlation of taking prozac for 10 days and taking one's life? My husband did this, and he seemed to get worse instead of better. We were waiting for the month or so we were told it would take to get better. Could the two be related? I'm searching for answers...I don't understand any of this. Please help. please. Thanks

 

Re: prozac/suicide

Posted by Noa on November 1, 2000, at 16:20:36

In reply to Re: prozac/suicide, posted by Bill L on October 31, 2000, at 8:48:02

> Cindy - I am so sorry for your tragedy.

I don't know if prozac has unique risks for suicide, but I think that the period following initiation of any antidepressant is a high risk time, because people who were extremely apathetic and lacked any initiative or energy sometimes start to have more energy and initiative, but before they feel better or more hopeful. The combo created the increased risk--they may still feel suicidal but are more "awake" and "alive" to act on those feelings.

Have you had a chance to speak with other survivors for support?


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