fluoroquinolone psychiatric reactions

Can Antibiotics Induce Psychiatric Reactions?

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In Stephen Fried’s 1998 book, “Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs” he describes his wife Diane’s severe adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, floxin (ofloxacin). Diane became bipolar after taking floxin to treat a urinary tract infection. She also suffered from delirium, visual distortions, insomnia and other central nervous system and psychiatric issues after taking floxin, an antibiotic. This drug is in the same class and has the same mechanism of action as cipro/ciprofloxacin, levaquin/levofloxacin and avelox/moxifloxacin; together they are some of the most popular antibiotics in the United States (26.9 million prescriptions for fluoroquinolones were written in 2011 alone).

Diane was not bipolar before she took floxin. She was bipolar after she took it. Floxin CAUSED Diane to become bipolar.

What??? How does that happen? That’s not possible, is it? It can’t be possible. Antibiotics can’t lead to serious psychiatric illness, can they?

Not all antibiotics can, but fluoroquinolones most definitely can, and do, cause many central nervous system and  psychiatric problems, including, but not limited to: seizures, dizziness, confusion, tremors, hallucinations, depression, psychosis, suicidal ideation or thoughts, insomnia, memory loss, loss of reading comprehension, inability to concentrate, bipolar disorder, extreme anxiety, and more. Every one of the neuro-psychiatric symptoms listed has been reported as a long-lasting adverse effect of fluoroquinolones in many of those suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity. A couple of recent studies reveal how fluoroquinolones can lead to long-lasting psychiatric illnesses.

Mitochondrial Damage, Oxidative Stress and Lipid Peroxidation in Bipolar Disorder

In “Lipid Peroxidation in Psychiatric Illness: Overview of Clinical Evidence” it is noted that, “While its underlying pathophysiology remains multifaceted and elusive, recent data have indicated that mitochondrial dysfunction and aberration in oxidation status are important components of bipolar disorder.” It is noted that indicators of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress, such as thiobarbituric acid, malondialdehyde, and carbonylation and nitration of cells have been found in the brains of people with bipolar disorder. Additionally, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and lipid peroxidation levels are abnormal in patients with bipolar disorder. The cellular processes that regulate oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation are not working properly in people suffering from bipolar disorder. “The brain is known to be sensitive to oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation” and when oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation are occurring at unhealthy levels in the brain, serious psychiatric diseases can result. (Schizophrenia, major depressive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are noted, in addition to bipolar disorder. Each of these psychiatric illnesses are related to oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.)

Mitochondrial Damage, Oxidative Stress and Lipid Peroxidation caused by Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics

In a 2011 article entitled “Oxidative Stress Induced by Fluoroquinolones on Treatment for Complicated Urinary Tract Infections in Indian Patients” it is noted that, “There is significant and gradual elevation of lipid peroxide levels in patients on ciprofloxacin (3.6 ± 0.34 nmol/ml to 6.2 ± 0.94 nmol/ml) and levofloxacin (3.5 ± 0.84 nmol/ml to 5.1 ± 0.28 nmol/ml).” Additionally, it was found that “There was substantial depletion in both SOD (superoxide dismutase) and glutathione levels particularly with ciprofloxacin.” As lipid peroxide levels increase, and SOD and glutathione levels decrease, reactive oxygen species (ROS) – which cause oxidative stress – build up and cause hugely deleterious effects on all areas of human health – including, but not limited to, mental health.

In “Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells” it is noted that ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone, as well as a couple other bactericidal antibiotics (but not bacteriostatic antibiotics like tetracyclines), “induced dose and time-dependent increases in intracellular ROS (reactive oxygen species) in various human cell lines.”

The Vicious Cycle of Mitochondrial Damage and Oxidative Stress

When mitochondria are damaged past their tolerance threshold, an over-abundance of ROS/cellular oxidative stress is produced and the “vicious cycle” of mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress is initiated. Mitochondrial damage causes oxidative stress, oxidative stress further damages mitochondria, damaged mitochondria produce more oxidative stress which further damages mitochondria – and so on, and so on. Therefore, diseases that are related to mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress are chronic in nature, and when a pharmaceutical causes mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress, the effects of the pharmaceutical are not transient or stopped when administration of the drug has stopped. They can be long-lasting – sometimes permanent.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics have been shown to damage mitochondria and lead to both an increase in lipid peroxidation, oxidative stress and a decrease in antioxidants that mitigate oxidative stress. The brain is sensitive to mitochondrial damage, oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. Bipolar disorders, and other severe psychiatric illnesses, are linked to mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress.

THAT is how Floxin caused Diane to get lost in her closet and receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

She was not bipolar before she took Floxin. She was after she took Floxin. Floxin caused mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress, which led to deleterious effects on her brain and psychiatric illness.

Recognizing the Connection between Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics and Psychiatric Illness

Of course, not everyone who takes a fluoroquinolone antibiotic ends up with a psychiatric illness. But many people do and very few of them have any clue that their mental health problems (including anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. as well as more severe psychiatric illnesses) are connected with the prescription antibiotic that they took to treat a simple urinary tract or sinus infection. The delayed reactions and tolerance thresholds that come along with pharmaceutical induced mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress make the connection between the cause – cipro, levaquin, avelox and/or floxin, and the effect – mental illness, difficult.

Psychiatric Illness Paradigms Need to be Adjusted

In addition to fluoroquinolones, statins, metformin, acetaminophen and all psychotropic drugs have been shown to cause mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress, which has been linked to many psychiatric illnesses. Rather than looking at how pharmaceuticals affect mitochondria and/or oxidative stress, or how any of those things affect the brain, psychiatrists have been stuck on outdated notions of psychiatric illness. “Although different psychiatric disorders are currently thought to stem from unique abnormalities in neuronal biochemistry, circuitry, and/or brain architecture, emerging data indicates that oxidative stress is present and may play an active role in these psychiatric illnesses.” If it was acknowledged that mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress were causally related to psychiatric disorders, and all chronic diseases (including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, obesity, etc., along with psychiatric illnesses) perhaps some M.D.s would think twice before prescribing drugs that damage mitochondria and led to oxidative stress.

They should start with thinking twice about prescribing fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Bitter Pills was a bestseller in 1998. Sixteen years has passed, perhaps it’s time to pay attention.

Information about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

Information about the author, and adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin and Floxin/ofloxacin) can be found on Lisa Bloomquist’s site, www.floxiehope.com.

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Painting by Tine Heine depicting hallucinations in Lewy body dementia; Source T. H. Jensen from Pixabay; edited to black and white.

This article was published originally on June 4, 2014. 



Lisa Bloomquist was "Floxed" on her 32nd birthday by Cipro, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. After 2 years of battling the mysterious health ailments that come with an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone, she has fought her way back to health. Lisa is now fighting for recognition of the harm that these drugs can cause and hoping to help those who are suffering from them through their fluoroquinolone induced illness to find recovery. Her web site, highlighting stories of hope and recovery, is www.floxiehope.com. After a while of studying how fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria, she noted that mitochondria were being systematically ignored when forming disease models. She started www.mitomadness.com to bring attention to the role that mitochondria play in health and disease.


  1. What few people understand is that normal health requires energy. The energy is generated from the combustion of food (oxidation). Protein, fat and carbohydrate are all changed to glucose that requires thiamine and magnesium to create energy that is stored as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is used to release its energy for ALL mental and physical function. If you fail to make enough ATP, the first symptom that develops is FATIGUE and many other symptoms follow. They are usually not recognized as brain energy deficiency and are termed “psychosomatic”. This is the beginning of a tragic story affecting millions of Americans because the medical profession has decided collectively that vitamin deficiency does not exist in America. Please see the many posts written on HM and see how easy it is to find treatment at this early stage. Be educated on a subject that is not even recognized by doctors.!!!!!

  2. Was prescribed cipro after bad infection in foot. Insomnia, paranoia and the overwhelming feeling that I was going crazy set in immediately. My family recognized something was wrong and took me to a pychiatrist, put me in a mental institution where I was diagnosed bipolar, even though we mentioned all the side effects of cipro which matched my feelings. Spent weeks in phych ward being fed more drugs, lithium, halidol, depacote, and many more. This was 13 years ago and I don’t take any medications now. And have not had a manic episode since.They are a means to an end. This drug should and will be banned for its life altering side effects.

  3. Hello, i can relate to this so much i have been scared because I have been taking bacterial antibiotics for and a bacteria in my stomach and been feeling horrible psychiatric feelings, visual distortions oxidative stress since feel like i am going crazy. Can i recover from those affects? Someone please help

  4. Hi Lisa – I was floxed 13 months ago. I only had and continue to have severe psychiatric symptoms – anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and almost nightly insomnia. I’m especially concerned because I already had anxiety (on & off most of my life) & mild insomnia setting in about 6 months before I took Cipro. Since I had these problems prior to taking Cipro, and they became 10x worse immediately after Cipro is it likely that I could be “stuck” this way? I don’t know what would possibly help that I haven’t tried. Thanks for your thoughts and any suggestions.

  5. Amazing, this article is almost four years old, and the same old, same old issues with these antibiotics and all the bio-medical problems in humanity continues — EXPONENTIALLY. And the rush for creating (sic) more antibiotics, newer and more broad spectrum and more targeted ones is on, as we live in a world of 7.8 billion people with ecosystems failing, with the food system (industrial) toxic, with the incredible amount of hormone disrupting chemicals, all those cancer-causing chemicals, all the off-gassing, all the meat, poultry, swine and lamb products filled with banned antibiotics, prions, bacteria, heavy metals, PCBs, and the list goes on and on.

    The big lie about Industrial Western Medicine is that it has extended lifespans (sic) and that it is a panacea for all our systems breakdowns.

    Imagine, Cipro for UTIs, for people with Marfan’s disease (my friend she had Cipro and other antibiotics prescribed for UTIs and acne, and she had Marfan’s).


    You should NOT take calcium channel blockers or fluoroquinolone antibiotics like levaquin or Cipro, as the former have been shown to increase the rate of aortic expansion and the latter carry a significant risk of aortic dissection or rupture, which persists for months at least after finishing a course.

    My own aorta grew 2mm with each of three courses of fluoroquinolones, before the warnings came out. This class of drugs also carries a risk of tendon rupture. It appears to be very damaging to connective tissue, and as a Marf, your tissues already have issues.

    You should have a cardiologist, and your GP should understand the implications of Marfan. You should check with your doctor about what sort of exercise is right for you, but make sure it’s a doctor that knows what they are talking about.

    –end quote —


    I have had significant others who also were prescribed various antibiotics for skin issues, acne, UTI’s, and the amount of mood altering days and weeks were significant enough to have us seek professional help.

    All the issues tied to serotonin reuptake disruption, all the depression the US is now under, hmm, how much of that is tied to the antibiotics prescribed?


    Depression is a mental illness that is characterized by negative thoughts and behaviors. Mental illness is a worldwide epidemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that mental disorders account for 4 out of 10 leading causes of disability worldwide. In 2020, major depression will lead the pack of mental illness as the cause of disability among women and children across the globe. Mental illness impairs one’s ability to carry out daily activities and to interact with others. Depression can become so stifling that it disrupts a person’s quality of life and may result in substance abuse and poor work performance. In the U.S., suicide is the 10th leading cause of death taking about 40,000 lives every year. Studies show that feelings of hopelessness and mental illness are associated with suicide. So it’s crucial to seek help for someone you know who has expressed a sense of hopelessness.

    –end quote —


    The medical industrial junkyard is full of arrogant, misinformed, mis-educated, shallow people who are not in the arena of medicine to be a people person but to be money folk. Imagine, I had to argue with several arrogant folks trying to talk me out of my decision to NOT have general anesthesia for a colonoscopy. It’s a daily insult how industrial junkyard medicine believes its hubris? Want to talk a look at memory and dementia and other issues tied to general anesthesia?


    How a general anesthetic could harm your memory for life: Research finds that three quarters of older patients develop memory loss after surgery

    Significant numbers of patients have long-lasting behaviour changes

    A study shows that general anesthesia may increase the risk of dementia

    And it could even weaken the immune system

    The longer the surgery and the older you are, the more you’re at risk

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2358493/How-general-anaesthetic-harm-memory-life-Research-finds-quarters-older-patients-develop-memory-loss-surgery.html#ixzz57Zq3bTa2


    at, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141103192130.htm

    Until now, scientists haven’t understood why about a third of patients who undergo anesthesia and surgery experience some kind of cognitive impairment — such as memory loss — at hospital discharge. One-tenth of patients still suffer cognitive impairments three months later.

    Anesthetics activate memory-loss receptors in the brain, ensuring that patients don’t remember traumatic events during surgery. Professor Beverley Orser and her team found that the activity of memory loss receptors remains high long after the drugs have left the patient’s system, sometimes for days on end.

    Animal studies showed this chain reaction has long-term effects on the performance of memory-related tasks.

    “Patients — and even many doctors — think anesthetics don’t have long-term consequences. Our research shows that our fundamental assumption about how these drugs work is wrong,” says Orser, a Professor in the Departments of Anesthesia and Physiology, and anesthesiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

    –end quote–

    Even conservative Scientific American four years ago looked at gut bacteria and depression. You think mainstream junkyard industrial doctors look at those factors, even entertain discussion from well-informed patients? They scoff:


    The digestive tract and the brain are crucially linked, according to mounting evidence showing that diet and gut bacteria are able to influence our behavior, thoughts and mood. Now researchers have found evidence of bacterial translocation, or “leaky gut,” among people with depression.

    Normally the digestive system is surrounded by an impermeable wall of cells. Certain behaviors and medical conditions can compromise this wall, allowing toxic substances and bacteria to enter the bloodstream. In a study published in the May issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, approximately 35 percent of depressed participants showed signs of leaky gut, based on blood tests.

    –end quote —

    So, how do we push that Sisyphus Industrial Toxin-Chemical-Military-Financial-Punishment bolder up the hill when the so-called “helpers, do not harm practitioners of medicine continue to put more and more of their junkyard (but very profitable) science-medicine weight to that bolder?

    That gut controls the serotonin signal system.


    Brain-Gut Dysfunction

    When the nerve impulses from the gut reach the brain, they may be experienced as more severe or
    less severe based on the regulatory activities of the brain-gut axis. Signals of pain or discomfort
    travel from the intestines up to the brain.The brain has the ability to “turn down” the pain by
    sending signals that block the nerve impulses produced in the GI tract. Recent studies, including
    brain imaging research at our Center, have shown that this ability to turn down the pain is
    impaired in patients with IBS. In addition, the pain can become more severe when an individual is
    experiencing psychological distress. Often this may occur because of stresses in life or even the
    stress and frustration of the GI symptoms. This brain-gut dysfunction can be remedied with either
    psychological treatments or antidepressants or a combination of both.

    –end quote —


    Thanks for this reprint of the article on Hormones Matter. Imagine, how many junkyard industrial doctors would even be able to handle even this simple quote of yours?

    “Catalase, glutathione peroxidase and lipid peroxidation levels are abnormal in patients with bipolar disorder. The cellular processes that regulate oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation are not working properly in people suffering from bipolar disorder.

    “When mitochondria are damaged past their tolerance threshold, an over-abundance of ROS/cellular oxidative stress is produced and the ‘vicious cycle’ of mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress is initiated. Mitochondrial damage causes oxidative stress, oxidative stress further damages mitochondria, damaged mitochondria produce more oxidative stress which further damages mitochondria – and so on, and so on.”

  6. Just stumbled on this old thread but I’m glad I did. I thought I was the only one who had experienced this!
    I was prescribed Levaquin for a infected tooth and almost immediately I thought I had gone crazy!…no, I mean literally insane. Could not lay or sit still. Couldn’t sleep. Being dressed felt like I was in a straight jacket. Having even just a sheet over me was like being buried alive. I almost ripped my knuckle off in the middle of the night because I HAD to get my wedding ring off!
    They quickly switched antibiotics but some of the symptoms hung around for a long time to some degree.
    e.g.: it was over six months before I could wear my wedding ring again.
    I described this to the dentist and later to my regular Physician and they both looked at me like I was crazy without any drugs. Lol! They had never heard of that kind of reaction.

  7. I was on cipro for a UTI and had a lot of problems from taking it. My question for anyone is I need advice on what to take when I get a UTI, I’m afraid to take antibiotics but my UTIs won’t go away without one and I have just developed another UTI unfortunately. Any advice would be appreciated. I’ve tried the natural way and it didn’t work. I really need an antibiotic but I’m scared. Is there anything out there that has worked for someone who has been floxed? Thank you

  8. Hello, I don’t know if this is still an active page, but hoping so. My mother went to after hours clinic for a basic UTI about a month ago and they prescribed her cipro…she was on it for nearly 10 days then was having severe issues (double vision, head pressure)..she then started having upper GI issues…so her doctor then put her on a Prevpac for H. Pylori (I am still not convinced it was active HP)…she was on Prevpac for like 6-7 days and asked to come off of it..but dr said now and a few days ago started expressing mania…I am terrified that this is from the Cipro and Clarithromycin in the Prevpac.
    Can anyone offer any advice for detoxing? Is this permanent? My mother has never had any issues her entire 67 years on this earth and now I am seeing her go through hell.

    • Theresa have your mum tested for serum & active vitamin B12,folate,ferritin,iron,thyroid ,vitamin D ,magnesium rbc.If serum is below 500 she needs supplements now.Memory loss,tremors,tingling,fibromyalgia ,pins & needles,tinnitus, ,incontinence requires injections.B12 deficiency can cause psychiatric & blood disorders .View videos on b12awareness.org for life changing facts.

  9. I am experiencing extreme anxiety and panic attacks for the first time ever in my life from take Clarithromycin.

  10. Psychotic problems hit me all at once after treatment for UTI. I had read about issues concerning tendons, but not the attacks on mental health. Have been given Cipro several times and have reported cognitive issues to my Dr. However this last time I was hit both physically and felt that I was going insane overnight. I tell Dr.’s that I am hypersensitive to Many medicines and have the adverse effects…And while at hospital in Nov. 2015, my Dr. said he would send me home with Non Quinolone anti biotic… also had injection while in hospital. I have gone thru hell…and now I see that my symptoms are being ignored. Two weeks ago my Dr. told me he thought the drama of having two blood transfusions in hospital must have triggered this ongoing Confusion, memory loss, anxiety and panic attacks. Insomnia. Plus nearly every one of my medicines seem to suddenly make it worse. Now I have read that this is also one of the symptoms of toxicity.

  11. Hi my Brother in law has recently come through a staph infection and was on intraveneous antibiotics for 6 weeks followed by some oral ones. He suffers from bipolar already, but hasn’t had a manic episode for a long time. almost immediately as he was finished treatment he has been hit with a manic episode. If you have any information on the possible connection between the two events, and possible drugs he might have been prescribed, please share anything you might have. We are trying to get him help, and avoid it happening again. thank you for your article, ~ Paula

    • Hi Paula,

      I am very sorry to hear that your brother in law is suffering from mania after antibiotic exposure!

      I believe that fluoroquinolone antibiotics damage mitochondria which leads to a massive amount of oxidative stress, which leads to mast cell activation, which leads to many illnesses, including psychiatric illnesses. I suggest supplements and a diet that supports mitochondria, reduces oxidants and de-activates mast cells.

      Here is a post about how fluoroquinolones can activate mast cells – http://floxiehope.com/2015/10/01/can-fluoroquinolones-activate-mast-cells/ If you look through the other posts I’ve written on this site, you can find information about how they affect mitochondria too.

      Many people have been helped by MitoQ – it is the mitochondrial support / antioxidant supplement that people have found to be the most helpful.

      Neuroprotek, a mast cell stabilizing supplement developed by Dr. Theoharides, may help too. Here is information on it – http://thelowhistaminechef.com/neuroprotek/.

      I also suggest meditation and getting him into a calm, peaceful environment in order to help reduce inflammation.

      I hope that helps!


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