Psychiatric Side Effects of Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics

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Lisa Bloomquist flouroquinolone antibiotics
In a survey of 94 people who experienced adverse reactions to Levaquin/levofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, 72% reported experiencing anxiety, 62% reported depression, 48% reported insomnia, 37% reported panic attacks, 33% reported brain fog and/or cognitive impairment, 29% reported depersonalization and/or derealization, 24% reported thoughts of suicide and 22% reported psychosis.  Case-studies and research papers also reveal that fluoroquinolone antibiotics can cause severe psychiatric adverse reactions.  Some of the studies include, Acute Psychosis Following the Use of Topical Ciprofloxacin, A Possible Case of Levofloxacin Associated Amnesia, Depression, and Paresthesia, Levofloxacin-induced acute psychosis, Ofloxacin-induced hallucinations, and others.  Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin and Floxin/ofloxacin, can cause severe psychiatric adverse reactions. These psychiatric adverse reactions, like other adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones that are encompassed in fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome, can be long-lasting and are sometimes permanent.

Petitioning the FDA about Fluoroquinolone Safety

A citizen petition has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting that increased warnings about the severe psychiatric effects of Levaquin/levofloxacin be added to the official warning labels. The petition, which was submitted by Dr. Charles Bennett of the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR), requests that a black box warning about serious psychiatric adverse events be added to the Levaquin/levofloxacin warning label. Black box warnings are the “strongest warning that the FDA requires, and signifies that medical studies indicate that the drug carries a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects.”

Psychiatric Side Effects of Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics: From the Survivors

The psychiatric adverse effects of fluoroquinolones are severe, life-altering and sometimes life-threatening. People with no history of psychiatric problems have experienced depression, paranoia, psychosis, anxiety, etc. after taking fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Traci describes the effects of Cipro on her mental and physical health as follows:

“It has almost been 3 years since I took a 30 day supply of Cipro for a UTI and just like most of the stories, my life has changed drastically. First came the weakness and fatigue, enough to where I would sleep for days and started wrapping my wrists, arms and feet with k tape on a daily basis. My eye sight started going bad very quickly, and just constant tingling, numbness, brittle, depression that I couldn’t control, loss of balance, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia that lasted for days at a time, nightmares.

I’ve  lost a couple of years with my children and husband that I will never get back. I left a very good job/company thinking stress was the cause and went to another smaller company only to get let go a few months after starting as I couldn’t make it to work every day.

My first doctor seemed angry when I asked her if the Cipro could be the cause and made me feel like an idiot. I went to holistic doctor, didn’t mention the Cipro this time as I thought I was wrong about the cause. She diagnosed me with fibromyalgia  and chronic fatigue syndrome and wanted to run tests to find toxins in my system, but due to job loss I could no longer afford. She was on the right track and I’m grateful for the things she has taught me in my short time with her, but I am still down more days than I am up and I lost a really good salary that has put pressure on my whole family. Finally when I heard FDA announced the link to peripheral neuropathy and started reading about what Cipro has done to others I at least know I am not crazy.”

Traci’s story of multiple psychiatric symptoms, including depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and the effects of those symptoms on her life, are unfortunately familiar for many people who have taken fluoroquinolones. Another victim of Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Ruth, reported:

“A couple days after stopping the Cipro, I experienced terrifying panic attacks every time I fell asleep. It was like being shoved down into hell: a place of loneliness and terror. I had never felt fear and hopelessness like that. It was like being thrust into a horrible place from which there was no escape.”

The adverse psychiatric effects of fluoroquinolones can seem to come out of nowhere, with panic and anxiety attacks striking while doing normal activities like watching television, driving, or falling asleep. Adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones are often delayed for weeks or even months after administration of the drugs has stopped; leaving victims and physicians alike with difficulty connecting the drugs to the ensuing psychiatric problems.

Serious and Life Altering Psychiatric Side Effects

The psychiatric symptoms described by Traci and Ruth are serious and life-altering. Neither physicians nor patients currently have adequate information about the severity of adverse psychiatric effects caused by fluoroquinolone antibiotics because the psychiatric effects are currently buried in the “Central Nervous System Effects” heading of the warning label. As the citizen petition notes, these effects should have their own heading and a black box warning. Perhaps when a black box warning of serious psychiatric events is added to the warning labels for Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin and Floxin/ofloxacin it will be realized that people who are suddenly suffering from panic and anxiety attacks, insomnia, paranoia, excessive fearfulness, psychosis, bipolar disorder, etc. after taking a fluoroquinolone aren’t suddenly crazy or deciding to be difficult, they’re suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome – an iatrogenic disease and a tragic assault to victims’ bodies and minds.

I hope that the FDA responds to Dr. Bennett and SONAR’s call for increased warnings about the psychiatric effects of fluoroquinolones by both adding the warnings requested, and by restricting the rampant use of fluoroquinolones when other, safer, antibiotics are available. Loss of mental health is not an appropriate price to pay for treatment of a urinary tract infection, traveler’s diarrhea, sinus infection or any other infection that isn’t life-threatening.

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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11 Comments

  1. Not having insurance, or having very cheap insurance, means I had to go to little medical centers that are full of nurses and not doctors. These places, though nice, are full of people who just don’t listen. Always wanting to prescribe me something that makes me 100x more ill then when I first came there. I took one cipro pill 3 years ago, and my life has been nothing but almost impossible to live. Every single day, I am overcome with horrible anxiety, something I’ve never had before. I can no longer drive a car. Getting up in the morning to go to work ruins my day because I spend the next 8 hours holding back tears and just wishing to go home. And I used to love my job! I used to love working and going to the beach and exercising. But now, my home on the ocean means nothing. I’ve withered away to a measly 100 lbs in weight because I am afraid to eat, sleep, think, or talk to anyone. Every single day I go through horrifying scenarios of ways to just make this stop. Tell me what I can do to get my life back? Tell me what we can all do to all get our lives back? This isn’t right that some big corporate company is making millions of dollars RUINING people’s lives. I’m 25 years old… I’ll never be able to have my own family or do anything I’ve dreamed of because anxiety and paranoia now run my life, and I’m so deathly afraid of “doctors” that I could never even try another “medication” to help me. I just can’t believe this is my life now. I used to be so full of love and life and now all I want is for it to be over… and I know 100% it is because of that horrible “medicine” that I didn’t even need to take.

  2. I was given Ciprofloxacin for uti I took one 250mg and had pain and a lot of stomach grumbling it was bad the drs kneoi had stomach problems before so they told me to not take it then a few days later after a culture test (positive) they gave me Levaquin I took one 250 mg before bed with food I felt confused and had A time with my balance I called the hospital they sad not to take any more of the Levaquin and to see my dr the next day the (pa) said with all my allergies to meds not to take any more ittold them my anxiety was worse they gave me diazepam mg twice a day it didn’t help much and then I felt foggy and so unlike myself it is the worst feeling I’ve ever had,l called mental health for an appointment but I wouldn’t be able to get in for a month and had to wait a day to go up to the main office 45minuets away to fill out application to be seen in a month I went online and read the side effects of Levaquin it was all there what I was going through I thought I was going crazy until I saw the side effects 5days after taking it I passed out in church having a hot flash which I’ve had 20 plus years it has been 3 weeks and I feel a lot better but still have foggy ness ,anxiety don’t like being alone I have worked hard and lots of prayers to get this far if I could sue the makers of this medicine I would my life has been bad since taking this I pray no one else takes it and suffers like this it is a bad antibiotic..

  3. Cipro has destroyed my physical and mental health. I took 500 mg twice daily for 10 days for periodontal disease. Side effects began to occur on day 9 of 10. Horrific joint pain, cognitive breakdown, depression, nausea after eating, and 8 months later, I had a psychotic episode that has destroyed my marriage of 26 happy years. Every symptom I have I google it with Cipro and there is another glaring scholarly article linking my floxing to my ailment. WHY IS THIS DRUG ON THE MARKET???????

    Thank you Lisa Bloomquist for your very important book. Please publish it in paperback for so I can give a copy to all of my doctors and leave it in the waiting rooms of medical buildings. It is incredibly hard to keep going today. I don’t know if I can. I will re-read Floxie Hope one more time and try. Thank you for shedding light on what fluoroquinolones do to people.

  4. Fluros can utterly destroy mental health. I will never forget the feeling of being at the supermarket and being afraid that someone would come talk to me. I was so terrified as I was literally afraid of any stimulation. Being in public was too much for me. However, I do not think their mechanism on mental health is through the gut microbiome. If that were so, then psychiatric reactins would be a massive problem with all antibiotics. I was on Augmentin every day for 2 years and had zero psych symptoms. I was on Cipro for 1.5 days and yet experienced dramatic anxiety and paranoia. Horrible poison!

  5. Saturday Sept. 24th I went to the ER with a UTI. They gave me IV antibiotic Levofloxacin. And i was sent home with 9 days of levofloxacin antibiotics. Sunday I started feeling strange, i had a hard time concentrating at church. It’s also the first day i took a pill. I would just kind of zone out. Monday, i took my second pill and all day i could not focus at all. I felt panicked and had anxiety. I immediately felt hit with depression, i couldn’t stop crying. I suffered thru the day until i got home. Tuesday I started researching why i could be feeling like this when i never have before. I found that these can be side effects of the antibiotic. This is absolutely devastating. I was fine going into the ER and i came out feeling like i’m going crazy and there is something wrong with my mental state. I would never wish this upon anyone and i just am looking for answers that i can get back to where i was before this horrible drug. I just need hope that i will be ok, that i will be back to the person i was for my family.

  6. Thank you to Lisa for all she does for the Floxie community and for highlighting this very serious aspect of fluoroquinolone poisoning. I’m the Ruth from the article and I will say that though I had tendon pain, fatigue and just about every symptom imaginable, the psychological symptoms were the worst, especially the intense fear that would come out of nowhere.

    The problem is that floxies experience that fear and then put labels on themselves: “I was afraid when I went outside so I’m agoraphobic now.” No, you’re not! You have a damaged nervous system and the fear is your body’s way of telling you about it. I got a feeling of heart pounding fear one day in K-Mart because I looked at some brightly colored underwear hanging on a rack and the colors and patterns were too stimulating for my damaged CNS. I didn’t decide I had a new phobia. I laughed and said, “Thanks to Cipro I’m afraid of bras now,” and my friend laughed too. I chose to look at my experiences as an interesting and temporary insight into the workings of my brain and nervous system.

    I went through a period of cognitive impairment, but it passed. I am at a point now where the extra adrenalin I get when I play the organ for church actually kicks up my brain’s ability to concentrate. I have this laser beam brain now and can play Bach on the organ like nobody’s business. I’ve learned that musicians actually need a certain amount of adrenalin, but if you are too nervous it can mess with your head. I get the adrenalin of a person who is very anxious about a performance without all the self-doubt and “I’m picturing the worst case scenario” garbage. I have a friend who said the beta blockers he is on for his heart condition have destroyed his ability to play a long set on his pedal steel guitar. His body can’t give him the adrenalin his brain needs to stay focused. This is fascinating stuff.

    Afte twenty months I seldom experience that fear out of nowhere or insomnia or intense anxiety anymore. Even when these things return they are very mild and short lived. I slept really well last night after a full day at work and a nice little exercise session in my back yard followed by a few hours of paper work before bed. I’m back to normal life.

    So if you read the article and my comments about my hallucinating I was in hell freaked you out remember that I’m not there anymore. I’m feeling better emotionally, spiritually and physically than I had for years before I was floxed.
    Ruth

    1. How did you feel better? What helped you? My daughter got prescribed Levofloxacin, and she started having the same symptoms about three weeks of taken it.

  7. Hi Juan,

    Because delayed adverse effects are common, it’s possible that your anxiety and depression have to do with the cipro that you took months ago. It’s difficult/impossible at this time to tell definitively. Destruction of the microbiome (fluoroquinolones are like an atomic bomb to the bacteria in the gut) has been linked to both anxiety and depression. Probiotic foods, like sauerkraut and yogurt, have been linked to improvements in mental health. They’re tasty too. Also, fluoroquinolones chelate magnesium from cells, and magnesium deficiency has been linked to mental health problems. Eating foods with lots of magnesium in them, and supplementing magnesium, may be helpful as well. I found that my mental health improved when I started supplementing brewer’s / nutritional yeast. I suspect that it’s because it’s full of trace nutrients.

    I’m not a doctor and what I just wrote is not a substitute for medical advice, but the things that I wrote about seem to help people with post-fluoroquinolone anxiety and depression.

    Ruth goes over some other things that helped her through anxiety and depression in both her story – http://floxiehope.com/ruths-story-cipro-toxicity/ and her podcast – http://floxiehope.com/2015/01/07/the-floxie-hope-podcast-episode-6-ruth-young/

    Also, there is some really interesting information in this link – http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/54028-treating-anxiety-safely-effectively/

    Meditation helped me immensely too. Breathing exercises may be helpful as well.

    Best regards,
    Lisa

  8. I took Cipro about 5 months ago and have recently been feeling anxious and depressed (been waking up in the middle of the night with feeling of dread, fear). I felt nausea and vertigo after I finished Cipro but this mental stuff has me all freaked out. Can this be from Cipro? I am not taking any other med except Symbicort for asthma. Thakns

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