Mood-stabilizers get FDA suicide warning

This came up months ago but has been more seriously followed up on. As Philip says on Furious Seasons it’s unclear if this is to be a “black box” warning yet, the most serious of warnings on pharmaceuticals. These are the “mood-stabilizers” that were first created as anti-convulsants.

“The risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior was generally consistent among the eleven drugs analyzed and was observed in patients who were treated for epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, and other conditions,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on its website. (read article here)

If I recall correctly the first time this came up the correlation was said to be stronger among non-psychiatric users. Now it’s clear it doesn’t matter what condition is being treated.

And to quote Philip because I can’t say it better:

I think it’s pretty safe to say that, taken together, psychotropic medications have more warnings and black boxes on them than any other therapeutic group of drugs. Pretty staggering when you consider how widely they are used.

There is very little information available right now about exactly what the FDA is doing, but I think it’s important that what so many of us already know is being put on the labels of these drugs. I know I’ve had radical behavioral and emotional shifts triggered by all sorts of psychotropic drugs. I have no problem imagining, from my experience alone that there is not a psychotropic drug on the market that might not be able to trigger a radical and unexpected response in any given individual. It’s a game of russian roulette doing med trials and a lot of people want to play.

The drugs they’re talking about now are:

Epilepsy drugs include Pfizer Inc’s Lyrica and Neurontin, GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s Lamictal and Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax.

And I can say that Topamax made me wildly insane if not suicidal. And Lamictal caused the withdrawal from hell, which you can read about by following that link. It’s over now but I’m still suffering from the fatigue and malaise it caused.

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20 thoughts on “Mood-stabilizers get FDA suicide warning

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  1. Thanks for this info, Gianna. And holy cow! 3,000mg of Depakote. But you explained lack of withdrawal symptoms from that very well, and I never even thought of that. It does make a lot of sense that people who are on so many drugs at once may not notice any withdrawal from the first one or so due to the effects of the others. And thinking about that, too, is scary.

  2. I think we just need to stop thinking of mental illness as a primarily biological function and instead a holistic one…there are biological pieces to it but it’s not primary.

    eastern practices can help to some extent, yes…

    but transformational spirituality or psychology is what is really needed…and that too borrows from other cultures quite frequently.

  3. I was quite surprised when I read this news a few days ago. Ok, maybe not too terribly surprised, more saddened. Lamictal worked for me, for approx. 1-2 years. I requested it after going through the hell of Seroquel (weight gain, etc) The only problems I had with Lamictal were headaches and body aches…but I was able to fix those with acupuncture. I tapered off Lamictal when I hit that very familiar plateau, it had stopped working like so many in the past. but, i had no nasty withdrawal symptoms from Lamictal which was great.

    I guess this just proves nothing out there works long-term. We need more science and less advertising. And most importantly we need to venture into eastern medicine as western medicine is clearly not helping the majority of the mentally ill. only making us sicker.

  4. you know I was on 3,000 mg of Depakote…my doc said I was on more than anyone he’d ever met…

    but he did it based on blood work…I guess my body didn’t wanted in there and tried to flush it out

    I was always freaked out being on so much and I gained 70 lbs on it…

    but you know what…I did get off it in a matter of days…and then I stayed off it for two weeks…with nothing bad happening….then I started Lamictal…

    but I think the reason the withdrawal felt like nothing was because I was on high doses of neuroleptics…in general if you’re on a lot of drugs cutting out one or two doesn’t make a big difference…especially if they are all sedating like mine were..

    the first few drugs I discontinued I didn’t have trouble with….it was later down the line I started having problems…

    in any case you’re not alone having a nasty time with depakote…I’ve encountered many others.

  5. I’m so glad there’s a string going here re: these horrible mood “stabilizers”. I was on Depakote and it did nothing but bring me down even further, and am now going through withdrawal hell from it (along with a few other meds). I believe Depakote and the quick withdrawal from it really did me in and am now trying to heal from the chemical injury. My then psychiatrist believed it was depressing me (was on 750mg) and wanted me to get off. Her idea of “weaning” was to cut by 250mg every 3 days! Do you think anyone could have lived through that? I took 3 months and it still messed me up real good.

  6. I’ve been on so many medications in the past, most did nothing for me, or only treated me for a little while, the two that I actually felt worse on were Tegretol and Depakote, I actually did feel irritable and suicidal on those too. Lamictal is still my miracle drug for now.

  7. Carrie,
    I don’t know what “uncomfortable” means to you…

    If you feel at all unsafe and you think it might be an adverse drug reaction you need to get help. Do you have a doctor and/or therapist you trust?

    please take care of yourself and talk to someone if you need to.

  8. I spent 4 hours in a scientology lair once years ago as a sort of anthropological experiment…I was a religious studies student and took my learning to the streets…

    it was interesting…I had fun, but I did feel like they were out to get me, sorta kinda…

    be careful…they definitely charge you tons of money and they kick out people who they think are “too” mentally ill…they really don’t know much about healing people with serious trauma in their background as far as I can tell…

    on the other hand I don’t hate them like a lot of people in the critical of psychiatry movement…

    whatever floats your boat…

    best wishes to you. do report back…

  9. holy crap, scary. I have an appointment with the pill pusher on Thursday, but on Wednesday I’m meeting with – yes, it’s true- a scientologist to see what sort of non medicating tools they have to offer. Hell, if Tom Cruise thinks drugs are bad, then me too. Just kidding. I have never been into drugs for a cure. They don’t cure anything anyways, do they? I’d like to find a cure. There is evidence that scientologists have spent time studying the mind and have specific methods for releasing past traumas, which let’s face it, all of us bipolar folks come with full baggage, bursting at the seams compared to “regular” people. I’m willing to give their methods a whirl. The side effects can’t be worse than what you’ve outlined here. Unless jumping around on Oprah’s sofa is somehow worse than feeling suicidal…

  10. yeah, Topomax was a very bizarre trip for me…though I don’t recall the exact nature of the agony…it was just really, really awful.

    I hope the same Doe, once it’s all out of my system maybe the crap it all started will go away…

    Here’s to holding the truth of that in our hearts.

  11. Topomax made me feel suicidal and I had violent, weird, thoughts on it….I remember having images come into my head like sticking my tongue in a blender…or chewing on broken glass…really weird shit. I knew it was drug induced.

    As far as antidepressants, I never felt suicidal until I took them. Now it’s almost a default/knee jerk reaction to stress for me. I’m really hoping that one goes away when I”m completely off them. I will say I’m starting to feel a little more like the slightly depressed, yet mellow, person I used to be 15 years ago.

  12. I was put in Topamax. While tapering and feeling chemical crying and despair ths psychiatrist told me to go to her office because she would PROVE me that it was not withdrawal.
    “It’s psychological.”
    I was also withdrawing at the same time: Lamictal, Neurontin, Paxil, Klonopin, Seroquel…
    What a party!
    I was also put in Depakote few years later.
    What a wonderful experience!
    I only regret never experience cocaine because I was scared!
    I bet i would feel great for some hours something I never felt under any of the numerous drugs I was put because I went to a psychiatrist to help me get rid of Klonopin.
    I still take Klonopin, Seroquel and Effexor.
    Isn’t it good to be part of the medicine’s branch that will be part of the history as one of the most criminals?
    Perhaps I have to disclose my identity just to be part of the history.
    Surely it will be after my death.

  13. Strange? This post keeps getting eaten? Is it because it looks like spam? Last try!

    Full list: Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol and Tegretol XR, Felbatol, Neurontin, Lamictal, Keppra, Trileptal, Lyrica, Gabitril, Topamax, Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene and Depacon, Zonegran.

    Hope it gets through this time!

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