The Zoloft-rage/violence connection

[This post is quite lengthy so I suggest you grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and read it. The following is not for the faint of heart (or those with a lack of time).]

It’s been amazing to me that I’ve received numerous comments on Zoloft inducing rage. I’m humbled by having a Pittman supporter visit my site and post some comments from the ChristopherPittman.org forums. Read the following:

In my senior year in high school I was diagnosed as being severely depressed and put on medication. The first medication that I was on I took for 5 months and it made me really aggressive. My friends and family noticed the change and I told my doctor about it and she changed my meds. After that I was fine. I am normally a very passive person and will let just about anything fly. But the medication made me really aggravated and aggressive toward my friends and family and it seemed that I wasn’t overcoming my depression. I just got done watching the 48 hours investigation on the Discovery Times Channel and felt a connection with Chris. I felt that I had to write this to let you know that Chris is not the only one out there that had these side effects. I think there should be a study done to see how many people that take antidepressants have increased aggression. The problem is that the pharmaceutical industry has deep pockets and many lobbyists. I hope this helps in some way.

And another:

I remember the case when it happened.

At the time I thought, “Zoloft right”.

Let me tell you my physician put me on Zoloft and it took about three weeks for my to become psychotic and I’m a 50 year old woman.

I have three children and I don’t make a lot of money but please let me know if I can do anything for the Pittman boy.

The jury should have been placed on Zoloft before they made they decision. Unless you’ve experience it you simply cannot believe its’ effect.

Brynn and Phil HartmanI did a bit of quick reading/research into Zoloft triggering violence in people who otherwise would have never been violent and it seems that are a few stories out there to support the assertion. I found a few comments on depressionblog.com that mentioned a link between Zoloft and rage fits. A Salon.com article published a story antidepressants inducing rage in 1999. Apparently, Brynn Hartman, the wife of famous comedian Phil Hartman, killed herself and her husband while taking Zoloft. While close friends attribute the sudden behavior on the antidepressant, others attribute it to a combination of the medication with cocaine and alcohol in her system. (Zoloft does have a warning against alcohol use in conjunction with the drug.)

One interesting thing I learned from the article is that this kind of behavior is often labeled under the name akathisia on patient safety guides. Most – if not all – of the major antidepressants list akathisia as a side effect. Here’s the initial description of this condition from Wikipedia:

Akathisia, or acathisia, is an unpleasant subjective sensation of “inner” restlessness that manifests itself with an inability to sit still or remain motionless… Its most common cause is as a side effect of medications, mainly neuroleptic antipsychotics especially the phenothiazines (such as perphenazine and chlorpromazine), thioxanthenes (such as flupenthixol and zuclopenthixol) and butyrophenones (such as haloperidol (Haldol)), and rarely, antidepressants.

Akathisia may range in intensity from a mild sense of disquiet or anxiety (which may be easily overlooked) to a total inability to sit still, accompanied by overwhelming anxiety, malaise, and severe dysphoria (manifesting as an almost indescribable sense of terror and doom).

No real mention of extreme anger or irritability mentioned there. But if you read on…

The 2006 U.K. study by Healy, Herxheimer, and Menkes observed that akathisia is often miscoded in antidepressant clinical trials as “agitation, emotional lability, and hyperkinesis (overactivity)”. The study further points out that misdiagnosis of akathisia as simple motor restlessness occurs, but that this is more properly classed as dyskinesia. Healy, et. al., further show links between antidepressant-induced akathisia and violence, including suicide, as akathisia can “exacerbate psychopathology.” The study goes on to state that there is extensive clinical evidence correlating akathisia with SSRI use, showing that approximately ten times as many patients on SSRIs as those on placebos showed symptoms severe enough to drop out of a trial (5.0% compared to 0.5%).

I checked the Zoloft patient safety information guide and it does warn against increased suicide risk, agitation, and irritability among other negative behavioral changes:

Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications… There has been a longstanding concern that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients. Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in short-term studies in children and adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders.

Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled trials of 9 antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) in children and adolescents with MDD, OCD, or other psychiatric disorders (a total of 24 trials involving over 4400 patients) have revealed a greater risk of adverse events representing suicidal behavior or thinking (suicidality) during the first few months of treatment in those receiving antidepressants. The average risk of such events in patients receiving antidepressants was 4%, twice the placebo risk of 2%. … No suicides occurred in any of these trials. It is unknown whether the suicidality risk in pediatric patients extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond several months. It is also unknown whether the suicidality risk extends to adults. All pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases. [Pfizer bolded the last two sentences.]

So the average risk of patients feeling suicidal or exhibiting suicidal behavior was twice the risk of placebo. I’m not handy with math, but that would mean out of 100 patients, half of them are at risk for “suicidality.” That’s twice too much. Suicides may not have occurred with patients while enrolled in clinical trials, but of course, Pfizer wouldn’t follow the suicides that may have occurred after patients dropped out.

The company also points out that pediatric patients should be closely monitored for “unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy.” I wonder how many psychiatrists really know that.

The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.

Most people – including myself – would take the akathisia parenthetical definition at face value and assume it’s an accurate description of the symptom. If you agree with David Healy et al. above, it’s not.

In these trials, hostile events are found to excess in both adults and children on paroxetine compared with placebo, and are found across indications, and both on therapy and during withdrawal. The rates were highest in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), where the odds ratio of a hostile event was 17 times greater (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.22–130.0).

In healthy volunteer studies, hostile events occurred in three of 271 (1.1%) volunteers taking paroxetine, compared with zero in 138 taking placebo. Although not statistically significant, this finding is striking because hostile events are unusual in healthy volunteer trials, and this figure was higher than the rate reported in clinical populations above. GlaxoSmithKline ascribed these episodes to the fact that the volunteers were confined, although this applied to both paroxetine and placebo volunteers. One other healthy volunteer study has reported aggressive behaviour in one volunteer taking sertraline.

Healy goes on at length about the sertraline/violence link:

In data from sertraline paediatric trials submitted by Pfizer, aggression was the joint commonest cause for discontinuation from the two sertraline placebo-controlled trials in depressed children. In these trials, eight of 189 patients randomised to sertraline discontinued for aggression, agitation, or hyperkinesis (a coding term for akathisia), compared with no dropouts for these reasons in 184 patients on placebo (95% CI, 1.72–infinity). When discontinuations for any manifestation of treatment-induced activation (suicidal ideation or attempts, aggression, agitation, hyperkinesis, or aggravated depression) were considered, there were 15 discontinuations on sertraline compared with two on placebo, a relative risk of 7.3 (95% CI, 1.70–31.5; p = 0.0015). The report of these studies does not include an analysis of these data. In the only other placebo-controlled sertraline paediatric trial, undertaken in children and adolescents with OCD, there were ten dropouts out of 92 patients on sertraline, five of whom discontinued for behavioural activation, two for agitation, one for aggression, one for nervousness, and one for emotional lability. In comparison, there was one discontinuation for hyperkinesis out of a total of two dropouts from 95 patients on placebo.

I have no knowledge of confidence intervals and won’t attempt to act like I do, but I’m sure many former Zoloft users and their loved ones wouldn’t be surprised by Healy’s conclusions above. Healy expounds on the vague pharmaceutical labeling of akathisia, which makes the symptom seem like agitation or restlessness rather than increased irritability and behavioral mood swings. He does cite sources, but for the sake of readability, I’ve deleted them. You can feel free to read the article here.

Events such as these in clinical trials of antidepressants have commonly been coded under headings such as agitation, emotional lability, and hyperkinesis (overactivity), and only rarely to akathisia. In clinical practice the term has sometimes been restricted to states of demonstrable motor restlessness, but by definition it cannot be a simple motor disorder or it would be classified as a dyskinesia. There is good evidence that akathisia can exacerbate psychopathology in general and consensus that it can be linked to both suicide and violence. A link between akathisia and violence, including homicide, following antipsychotic use has previously been reported.

The Salon article cites that the Hartman case is “one of more than 170 wrongful death lawsuits filed against the makers of these new antidepressants since Prozac first hit the market 12 years ago.” Stories about violence stemming from antidepressant use have long been documented. Pittman’s case occurred after the following incidents:

But Zoloft and Prozac — along with other similar antidepressants — are being blamed for hundreds of violent deaths, including these:

July 1997: Thirteen-year-old Matthew Miller of Overland Park, Kan., kills himself in his closet one week after he begins taking Zoloft. According to his father, Mark Miller, Matthew had been moody and withdrawn for about nine months — the result, Miller believes, of the family moving to a new neighborhood and Matthew starting at a new school. In June, his parents took him to a psychiatrist. The doctor, accompanied by two medical students in training, talked with Matthew and his parents, but Matthew had little to say. When they met again three weeks later, one thing Matthew did tell him — in response to a question — was that he would never consider suicide. The doctor ruled out attention deficit disorder, but offered no other diagnosis to the Millers. But he did give them a three-week supply of Zoloft to try, and told them to check back in a week. Seven days later, members of Matthew’s family noticed that he seemed agitated. That night, he took his own life.

Feb. 19, 1997: Patricia Williamson, 60, of Beaumont, Texas, stabs and slashes herself more than 100 times in the bathtub while her husband eats breakfast in their kitchen. On the advice of a psychiatrist, she had begun taking Prozac six days earlier to help her through a depression that had arisen just a few months before. Her husband, hearing strange noises in the bathroom, pried open the door and found his wife of 20 years semi-conscious in a pool of her own blood. She died the next day in the hospital. Lawyers for Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant that makes Prozac, recently reached an out-of-court settlement in the case.

March 1996: Daryl Dempsay, 35, stabs his wife and two children at their home in Burlington, Kan., then shoots and kills himself with a .22-caliber rifle. His wife and children survive, and have charged in a recently filed suit against Pfizer that Dempsay’s violent outburst was caused by an adverse reaction to Zoloft, which he had been taking for several weeks.

What interests me about many of these cases – including Pittman’s from what I gather – is that the family members continue to support their loved ones, despite a homicidal act. I’m not one for the “blame game,” but the increasing number of these stories nullifies coincidence. The issue of healthy volunteers becoming hostile during clinical trials is alarming. In the clinical trial date for fluoxetine cited by Healy above, zero patients on placebo exhibited hostile behavior. It sounds pretty damning to me.

Eli Lilly, of course, defended Prozac with a twisted lie:

“This is an old story, it’s gone around and around,” says Jeff Newton, a spokesman for Eli Lilly. “But there’s ample evidence that Prozac is in no way linked to these kinds of violent behavior.” In fact, he added, Prozac reduces aggressive behavior and may lower the risk of suicide.

Prozac’s patient safety guide mentions the following:

In clinical studies, antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults with depression and other psychiatric disorders. … Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older.

Prozac table improvement scale In a series of 2-month clinical trials, the analyses showed “a tendency toward an increase [in suicidal risk] in the younger patients for almost all drugs studied. There were differences in absolute risk of suicidality across the different indications, with the highest incidence in MDD.” Eleven antidepressants were used for 77,000 patients in 295 trials. (Anyone who can explain the table to the right gets brownie points.)

The highest incidence occurred in those with depression. It’s sad that the drug prescribed specifically for that problem is the same drug that increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. While the trial concluded that suicidal risk increased in those 18 and younger, no suicides occurred in that age range. The same could not be said for adults:

There were suicides in the adult trials, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.

Right. It’s dubious how “the number” that wasn’t “sufficient” isn’t mentioned. [It's also worth noting that on the Prozac Web site, the location of the side effect information isn't clear. The patient safety guide is only 2 pages. The prescribing information guide (which most patients wouldn't read) is 35.]

Moving back to Zoloft, Pfizer’s spokesperson also threw the same bullcrap out:

Pfizer representative Celeste Torello rejected the notion that Zoloft had any role in causing suicides or violence. “There’s no scientific or medical evidence that Zoloft causes violent or suicidal behavior,” she told Salon Health. “At this point, there have been over 90 million prescriptions written and there hasn’t been any evidence that it causes anything close to what Brynn Hartman did.”

Please see Zoloft’s own Med Guide above. I admit, this was 1999, but they’re still saying the same thing today. In a May 2007 blog post by the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP), the organization featured a profile on Kim Witczak whose husband, Woody, committed suicide while on Zoloft. She claims that her husband had no history of depression but had been feeling anxious and had trouble sleeping. The profile says that although his doctor did not believe Mr. Witczak suffered from depression, the doctor prescribed Zoloft for Witczak’s insomnia anyway. He committed suicide several weeks later. Bryant Haskins, a spokesperson for Pfizer, essentially delivered Celeste Torello’s line from eight years ago:

“Zoloft has been used safely and beneficially by literally millions of patients since it went on the market more than 14 years ago. The comprehensive medical data, of which there has been a great deal collected over those 14 years since Zoloft was launched in 1992, strongly indicate that allegations linking the medicine to suicide are not supported by scientific fact.”

As of 1999, at least 170 lawsuits can’t be wrong; as of 2007, more are pending.

(Image from Frank’s Reel Reviews)

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37 Comments

  1. Stephany said,

    July 6, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Great fact finding post Marissa. You are the same age as my oldest daughter, who of my 3 kids, it was the youngest who was on Zoloft, placed on it age age 11 in August of 1999, for a 30 minute dx of O.C.D. if we had not lived with this changed personality, raging 6 hours a day, and increasingly aggressive[light term for violent]and suicidal, I may be skepital myself. But having the oldest[imagine it being you in 2001]clean up glass and wipe blood off of the floor, while Mom called the on call psych and hear the psych say that the months of Zoloft increases by the managing psych for irritability!–could actually be the culprit—well we suffered equally with my youngest. She went inpatient to remove the 150mg a day of Zoloft, and it took 2 months to see the raging stop. She has never had days like that again, and she has taken many psych meds.
    I want the Pittman family to know, that I signed a petition to prevent their Chris from going to adult prison. Many, many families they will never know, understand the grief, the horror and shock of what they lived more than they know.
    The Zoloft was a commonly prescribed med for kids with OCD,[she no longer carries that dx]and I just found a DTC brochure for Zoloft at the psych office for OCD and kids, outdated, no warnings on it…unbelievable. This is not a simple case of drug=murder; but that is what some people dismiss these discussions with–and they need to live on a hot summer day, with sweat running off your head, and blood running down your legs while your 13 year old is thrashing at your feet, and try to ask an on call doc what is wrong?!! I thank God she got off of that drug, more than anyone can imagine.

  2. Gianna said,

    July 6, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    fantastic job Marissa! Do you know the story of Traci Johnson? She was a healthy, non-depressed volunteer in a Cymbalta trial. Cymbalta is a SNRI. Similar to SSRI, but a bit different. Effexor is also an SNRI.

    http://www.ahrp.org/infomail/05/06/19.php

  3. Stephany said,

    July 6, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Furious Seasons has quite a good run on Cymbalta and Traci Johnson and someone who knew Traci left a comment there somewhere.She was in the trial for incontinence, is what the Cymbalta trial was ran for, and common practice for the local University kids to sign up for studies at Lilly for cash. She killed herself in their laboratory. Alarming that Cymbalta is on the market isn’t it?

  4. keener said,

    July 7, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Hi
    Great post – the more balanced information out there the better!
    I am one of the many who have had their lifes turned upside down by anti-depressants, first prozac, then seroxat and then a few years later I had horrific problems when I withdrew from Effexor.
    I became acutely psychotic, manic, paranoid and violent… Like you point out I was supported by family and friends throughout this, all of them knowing that this complete and utter personality change did not just happen to me but was a drug withdrawal reaction…
    It was a huge battle to get off the psychiatric wards and to get psychiatrists to re-prescribe effexor. Eventually they did and just like magic, within hours, I became ‘me’ again… I have written about some of this chaos on my blog..
    I would urge anyone to consider all the ‘facts’ before ingesting these chemicals…
    Best wishes
    Keener

  5. July 9, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Stephany,
    “Alarming that Cymbalta is on the market isn’t it?”
    “There were suicides in the adult trials, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.” – They probably used that quote.

  6. Mary Brumbaugh said,

    February 28, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    My son Mikie 14 years old was on Trileptal for siezures. Nop depression of any sorts or any other rx in his system. He shot himself in the heart and alled my name I held him when he died. The new report about anti lepti rx is true it also auses suicide thoughts and actions. Mary Jane Mikie’s mom

  7. February 20, 2009 at 3:40 am

    My name is Steven Martin and i would like to show you my personal experience with Zoloft.
    I am 35 years old. Have been on Zoloft for 7 months now. This med did clear up the PPD, but weaning off of it has been absolute HELL. I got/am still getting the “zaps” that so many others talk about. Had I known it would be like this, I would have requested a different med. I will NEVER take this med again under any circumstances!
    I have experienced some of these side effects –
    Weight loss, upset stomach
    I hope this information will be useful to others,
    Steven Martin

  8. Angela Boughner said,

    February 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Well let me start off by saying my name is Angie, im 25 with 2 wonderful children. i have been with the same man for the past 4 years his name is tony he was prescribed zoloft he is also a world of warcraft addict. well his dr seemed to think that zoloft would help him i personally just believe hes bipolar however. since starting zoloft his attitude has gotten a thousand times worse hes resorted to screaming at our 2 year old telling him to get the F- away from me your getting on my god damn nerves. he has screamed at me so much that my 7 year old is scared of him
    i begged him to stop taking it and he did and went back to the doctor the doctor told him to stay on it for 30 days longer to see the side effects for herself well since the 30 days its now like day 20 and in this past week he has asked members of his “guild” in world of warcraft if they own guns if they can come shoot me because im “pissin” him off but honestly i dont do anything but to ask him to stop screaming and throwing and beating on his desk when someone kills him in game. i attempted to unplug the computer and i grabbed by my wrists and a finger in my face told that if i ever touch his mf-ing computer again he was going to kick my teeth down my throat and bash my head in with a baseball bat..
    zoloft was supposed to make him calmer instead its made him psycho. i am taking the kids and leaving we cant deal with it anymore
    good luck to everyone who is suffering from the affects of zoloft keep your heads up and hopefully one day everything will be ok.

  9. Peyre said,

    March 5, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Wow … same reaction here to Lamictal. I’m not bipoloar nor do I have epilepsy, but I was agitated and irritable. I had been on a low dose of Lexapro which seemed to work until these rages started. The lamictal has made it worse to the point where I have homicidal thoughts. Not suicidal, homicidal. This was after I had reached the 100 mg dosage and my target was 200 !!!!!!!
    I called my doctor and he told me to get off it quickly by cutting back to 50 mg for a week and then 25 a week. He obviously knows that this is a side effect of some medicines.
    Philosophically, anxiety, depression, agitation, and moodiness are, in many cases, the result of the world we live in and not a malfunctioning brain neuron. Good therapy and temporary treatment with an SSRI should be the standard. Experimenting with these drugs on people is criminal and should be banned.
    I could go even father and say that that this is the 21st century of “Soylent Green” but I won’t. That is a little too tinfoilhattish. But these powerful mind and mood altering drugs are used way too frequently on the wrong people and for too long a period.
    We should all feel some anxiety and stress because the world is a nasty place to live in sometimes. To neuter those feelings with drugs rather than teach people how to deal with them and channel the energy properly is a crime.

    • Veritas said,

      September 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

      “Philosophically, anxiety, depression, agitation, and moodiness are, in many cases, the result of the world we live in and not a malfunctioning brain neuron.”
      This has been my theory all along, and it makes me want to cry just hearing it from someone else. The world & my life depressed me, so I went to three different Therapists (one for over 3 months) trying to get a grip, and they ALL pushed me to get on meds. I was prescribed Lamictal and after titrating up to 100mg and beyond, things got very strange…I had insomnia and nervousness and agitation and anger under a blanket of I DONT CARE. After an angry destructive meltdown(!!) I’m weaning myself off this stuff now, I want to feel, to live, to be creative, but I really can’t stand the world as it is… and have no-one to talk about it anymore.

  10. Marissa said,

    March 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    “I could go even father and say that that this is the 21st century of “Soylent Green””
    I know a good number of people who would agree with you on this.

  11. Gary said,

    March 27, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I’ve been taking Zoloft for almost a year, I was getting the muscle twitching but eventually it went away. Teeth grinding was horrendous, most of my teeth became loose and I have to wear a mouth guard every night. Apart from the side effects at the start, it did take the edge off a lot, I felt more normal again – the anxiety I was feeling was crippling, I ignored it believing I could overcome it on my own. Because of this, I suffered almost every day and the only person I really ever loved left me because I refused to get help. I’ve found zoloft to be good, I was taking the max 100mg but it doesn’t seem to work anymore so I haven’t been taking it the last few days and I’m changing to a different drug. You do lose all sex drive whilst on zoloft, I’m not interested at all, and I used to be pretty sexually active – I just have no interest in it anymore. Since being off zoloft, I’m getting angry thoughts, feelings of rage, racing thoughts. I’ve yelled out in bed at night and actually started to punch my bed – I had to understand what was happening and attempt to stay calm and not to think of things that made me angry. It was bizarre. ..but this is while coming off zoloft, on it – had no anger issues at all.

  12. Helene said,

    August 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I was in a 2-year relationship rocked by aggression and hostility on my part while on Zoloft. This was back in 2000, 3 years after starting self-prescribing the drug, telling my doc to prescribe it for PMS rather than for the depression and anxiety that my father refused to let me see a proper psychiatrist for. Had to numb the pain somehow. I used to throw glasses on the kitchen floor, lash out at my boyfriend daily and once even tried to swat at his nether region with a wrought iron candlestick holder. Thankfully he was never hurt (physically at least). He told me it was the Zoloft but I never believed him because no one was monitoring me or educating me about the drug and I had not done the research on my own. I thought it was a God-send and cure-all. I yelled at him “There’s no way it’s the drug!” Now I know. I can’t believe what I put him, my family and myself through.

  13. Rico said,

    February 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I have been on and off zoloft since I was 16 iam now 24 and I have never realy understand why I had those moments of uncontrolable rages until now,
    I’ve been a weekend drinker since I was 16 and a drug abuser since I was 19, I’ve lost everything I have worked for and a marrage since I was 22, I have been in 2 rehabs since then, I was put back on zoloft 3 months ago starting at 25mg to 100mg after the 1st month and its now all clear to me,
    zoloft causes me to become emotionless except for extreme anger, impulsiveness and rage fits expecialy when I drink. Iam currently weening of it and planning to never have to take this evil medication ever again. I hope the best for all of you who are trying to get of this stuff.

  14. Brenda said,

    May 4, 2011 at 2:38 am

    My easy going, lovable 23 year old son, has been taking Zoloft for depression , and a severe panic disorder., before he was put on this medication we had to call EMS every day and night. No one could ever understand the hell this boy went through. we were so relieved that he was finally getting help so we just kind of blew off the way he was acting different., he was scared and confused but we thought it would pass. My son is now in jail, charged with murder. he is still confused and needs help.. this boy has never been in any trouble, and no matter what they are trying to say, he does not, nor has he ever taken drugs. I’m afraid that they won’t even drug test him. We couldn’t afford a lawyer so he has been appointed one and I’m terrified that he won’t really try to help my son., I’ve heard of cases like that. Please’ any advice that anyone can give me will be appriciated. He needs help, not locked away !

    • Kassi said,

      May 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Brenda,

      The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law might be the best resource for you in this instance. You can visit the website at http://www.bazelon.org or contact them by phone at 202-467-5730. It’s the best resource I can think of in regard to mental health and legal issues.

      Best to you.

      • Brenda said,

        May 6, 2011 at 1:25 am

        Kassi, Thank You so much. I will look into it.

  15. Brenda said,

    May 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    If anyone can help with this situation in any way, please contact me via email.

  16. Brenda said,

    May 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    If anyone can help me in this situation, in anyway, please contact me via email. Prayers and advice would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Mya Harris said,

    October 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Hey,
    Have you heard children whose mothers take Zoloft or similar SSRIs are twice as likely to have a diagnosis of autism? If anyone knows anything about this please respond with some advice!

  18. Sam said,

    August 4, 2012 at 7:23 am

    The average risk of such events in patients receiving antidepressants was 4%, twice the placebo risk of 2%…

    As you say..” I’m not handy with math, but that would mean out of 100 patients, half of them are at risk for “suicidality.” That’s twice too much.”

    That’s actually not correct..if for example there were 100 people in the trial, two out of 100 may feel suicidal on the placebo compared to 4 out of 100 on anti depressants, not fifty out of a hundred as you suggest.

    The studies were short term and covered several anti depressants which I assume included TCAs, MAOIs, anti-psychotics and benzos with a range of psychiatric disorders covered. I would again assume that several of the people who were involved in these trials had suicidal ideation before involvement so it is hard to draw any conclusions, except as I say, it is Not 50% of the subjects who are at increased risk of suicide.

    I am not defending Big pharma who do have a lot of questions to answer, just pointing out my view of discrepancies.

    Interesting post and thanks..

    • John said,

      March 20, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Thank you Sam, this should be cleared up in the article, as old as it is (in internet time). The statement of 50% is terribly misleading. The rest of the article is spot on!

  19. peter.jermyn@utoronto.ca said,

    September 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    WHAT HAPPENED TO DON’T HARM THE PATIENT??

    • pablo said,

      September 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      most dr.’s mean well. it’s big pharma that is to blame for this.

      • sandbar3000 said,

        January 1, 2014 at 8:48 pm

        It is big pharma that allows for a person to get medication for FREE through a county mental health clinic, but insurance companies don’t want to pay for someone to get 2 years of psychotherapy. insurance companies LOVE for people to stay on stupid SSRI’s for 10 years like me. I don’t need the meds, I need the psychotherapy, but noooooooooooooo, insurance companies don’t want to pay for that. Meds costs just as much as therapy. this is why poor people can’t go to long term therapy. It’s is stupid and I hate big pharma. See my blog sandra greg on WordPress. I have been on Zoloft since 2003 and I’m still trying to stop. I wonder if all of my anger issues is due to Zoloft.

  20. pablo said,

    September 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve been on setraline for about three years now. I’ve never been known by friends and family to be an overly aggressive person. while taking sertraline initially increased my energy levels and allowed me to get on with things, i’ve lost the ability to relate to people. People look down at their feet as if they are afraid of me or something, even tho im a small guy; i’ve been told in the workplace that i’m aggressive, which in retrospect is so out of character for me.

    I’ve gotten into physical fights with strangers and friends, somehow my behavior makes people anxious and want to punch me, especially when i’m drinking these agressive symptoms come out. i am often delusional and appear out of touch with reality to my peers, and suffer from paranoia, and abrupt homocidal and suicidal ideations, as well as the normal sexual dysfunctions–my dr. used to just brush these off as nothing to do with the medication: these were personal problems, social problems. “zoloft doesnt do that let’s change the subject”

    ive slowly watched most of the relationships i care about deteriorate while on sertraline, and only now are some of them beginning to recover since i’ve begun reducing my medication levels (without the help of my dr., who doesn’t want me to get off the drugs, even slowly, or wants me to just replace it with another….why i’m not sure…)

    • sandbar3000 said,

      January 1, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      I’ve also lost the ability to relate to others, lost empathy and my friend says that I’m a zombie and I don’t know how to have fun anymore. I never saw that, but she see’s it. What can I do? Call her a liar? She has known me since 1992 and I started the meds in 2003. I think she is right. I just can’t see what this Zoloft is doing to me. I want my life back. I took it originally for anxiety.

  21. Jasmine said,

    December 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve been on zoloft for 1 year on 100 mgs It was working perfectly fine for me but now i feel as if my arms and legs are tingling with anger, and now i have very agressive thoughts towards everyone around me. the smallest things make me want to smash my head in a wall, ive only felt like this for a couple of days so should i wait and see what happens or go see my doctor fast???? I am also only 17 if that changes anything

  22. January 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm

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  23. CK said,

    May 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I have just came across the pittman story and others on this site while trying to find info on my own problems. the stories ive read today are gut wrenching when I think about the fact that for one that has never experienced such a thing it is obviously impossible for them to understand the feelings of rage, anger and fight or flight response (which at the time feel perfectly rational to the affected individual) that one feels during an adverse reaction to Zoloft. I was prescribed zoloft in my 20s and did not react well to it and immediately stopped before it got out of hand, years later in an ongoing attempt to correct issues I was again prescribed Zoloft while living overseas and opted for a generic brand called Eleva. At this point i was unaware of the extent of my adverse reaction to certain ssris. For years on Eleva I was very happy and it worked well for me with no notable side affects until I was in a different country and filled a prescription but the only thing available was the brand named Zoloft. to make a long story short over the past 5 years I”ve realized I have a very adverse reaction to certain brands of sertraline including Zoloft and as I wasn’t positive, i slowly switched back and forth between eleva and the others and confirmed the issue with Zoloft for me. my current problem is I am back living in Canada and have tried the available versions of sertraline with dire consequences and one recent episode that felt quite rational at the time, but once I switched back to my foriegn meds became obvious that there was serious potential of me hurting myself and/or others around me. My current problem is that I have only a few days left and will run out of the meds that work for me and after talking to my doctor and pharmacist, they insist that all sertraline is the same and there cannot be an adverse reaction to one and not the other! basically telling me I am imagining it! I can’t find anyone in the medical community that can help or even appears to want to listen!
    What does one do when a call for help goes unanswered and the only thing that has worked over a lifetime is only available 5000km away? is there a professional in western canada that has info or has done research on this type of varying reactions to different brands?

    I,m on my last legs here!!!

  24. July 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

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  26. Laurie Makepeace said,

    February 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Reading this made me sob in relief. I’ve been a single mum for a couple of years but early last year started full time work soon after starting a new relationship. My daughters are 9, 12 and 14 and of course being preteen girls they are not easy to live with. I fou d myself struggling with all the new responsibilities and routines as have an auto immune disease to which leaves me fatigued, I’ll also mention I had am abusive childhood do do suffer from mental health issues but usually cope. As I was struggling and getting very tired and struggling with my girls (I have no outside help as their dad moved away and my parents live 200 miles away) I went to docs and was put on sertraline. I KNEW I was getting worse but doc told me to keep at it. . Over the course of the six months I was on them my fatigue got worse and my rage became out of control…it started with smashing plates to a few weeks later throwing myself at my bf in an animalistic rage, breaking his thumb, giving hima black eye and leaving him clawed to shreds… I just kept going and going until I was exhausted then tried to take a load of any pills I could find. :( I recently came off these evil meds and was prescribed diazepam over a short term which has helped teleive the pressure cooker in my head. I still feel a bit funny/zappy In my head but so sooo much better and back to ‘normal’ . I’ll never be as normal as some but THAT wasn’t me!! I nearly destroyed my life and my children’s lived :( thankfully my bf knew it was out of character and we are trying to rebuild. Those meds ate pure evil :'(

  27. Lisa said,

    February 23, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I wish I’d read this the first time my now ex-boyfriend said something about me getting so angry so quickly. He probably would be an ex today.

    • Lisa2014 said,

      March 15, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Obviously I was still crying when I posted my reply on the 23rd. That should be he probably would NOT be an ex today.

  28. June 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Good article – but your math is way off! When they stated that Zoloft users were twice as likely as placebo users to have suicidal thoughts, they go on to say that suicidal thoughts occurred in 4% of the Zoloft group (which is twice that of the control group (2%)). I don’t care how evil big pharma may be, they’re not going to be allowed to release a drug that caused 50% of users to have suicidal thoughts.

  29. Sheryl said,

    August 8, 2014 at 9:41 am

    My son has been on Zoloft for over 10 yrs. now for OCD. He has recently been experiencing full on RAGE! He’s told me he thinks it’s the Zoloft, and wants to cut down. After reading all these articles, I have to agree. He says the anger comes out of nowhere,,and he just feels like beating someone up.


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