I began treatment with Zyprexa in January. I was diagnosed with having a “psychosis”. I was informed that I would need to stay on this medication for the rest of my life.
As it turns out, Zyprexa is intended to treat people who are psychotic (schizophrenic, etc.) and not intended for long time treatment.
The reason I had gone to see a doctor was because I had obsessive thoughts regarding a personal matter that was becoming distressing to the point that it was interfering with my daily life. I was seeing a psychologist at the time for bilateral atypical facial pain, depression, and anxiety. We began discussing treatment options and I was referred to a psychiatrist. It is clear to me now that I was misdiagnosed or at the very least given haphazard treatment and advice regarding my problems with ruminations and obsessive thinking.
It is important to note that I used Zyprexa for obsessive thinking/ruminations before. At the age of 19 I was prescribed Zyprexa at an Outpatient Mental Health Clinic (run by a Private University) – the only care I could afford or had access to. Additionally, during brief periods of incarceration I used Zyprexa and other medications that were prescribed by “Jail Psychiatrists”.
However, it is my conclusion that based on the mismanagement of my mental health (being passed on from Dr. to Dr. or clinic to clinic) and lack of “collective care” (within the Mental Health System) that led to my medication being mismanaged.
I finished a Bachelor of Science degree and resigned from a 4 year tenure in a high level corporate environment (Property Management).
I had attended university full time whilst juggling a full time high level executive position for close to 5 years.
I don’t know anyone that’s psychotic that manages 65 people, is on call 24/7, and attends university full time.
But I was in so much (mental) anguish because of my ruminations that I “bought” what the Doctor was “selling”.
Given that I had used the drug before (and it worked) it was an obvious choice for the Doctor (an easy decision for him to justify).
(After approximately 5 months of using zyprexa) I met with my psychiatrist and informed him that I had been experiencing severe side effects with zyprexa (weight gain, erectile dysfunction, elevated prolactin levels, and more). He insisted that I just stop the medication completely; even though I questioned these methods (psychotropic medications should always be titrated).
I did not sleep for four days once I discontinued zyprexa.
I contacted my physician and he wanted to put me on sleeping pills. I declined.
I asked if we should try titration of the Zyprexa and he agreed. However, even after titration of the drug (as 4 days had already passed without the medication) I had trouble sleeping.
Therefore, I was prescribed Ambien and then Lunesta to sleep.
Finally, after lunesta was not helping (and my physician was asking me to take two at night) I called and spoke with him on a Saturday afternoon. I had been suffering from sleep deprivation for 2 weeks (only sleeping for 2-4 hours a night). I was extremely depressed, and suffering from withdrawal symptoms from zyprexa. He asked that I stop using lunesta (again, with no titration of the drug) and that eventually my body would just “give up” and I would fall asleep. The only other option that he offered was to call in a “cocktail” of drugs that would definitely put me to sleep. I told him that this was not an option for me.
I was always a healthy, fit, outgoing and personable young man who now could not sleep, suffered from severe depression (withdrawal symptoms) and sleep deprivation.
I told him enough was enough and I wanted to see him to get to the bottom of this.
I wasn’t getting any better, I was getting sicker.
Therefore, we scheduled an appointment for the coming Monday to discuss my concerns.
June 15 2008
I took my last lunesta and had a night of no sleep. I woke up extremely depressed and broke down into tears. I contacted my family who live in ——————- (It is important to note that my family and I have a “strained” relationship, so the fact that I was calling them was a cause for concern).
They said they would visit me so they could accompany me to see this “Dr.” to ask what was going on. I still could not sleep, so I decided to watch the European cup soccer tournament.
I made a lethal mistake by drinking approximately five beers watching a soccer match.
Please be aware it was about 14 hrs since having my last Lunesta. That was the only medication I was on after titration of zyprexa, which had been discontinued about 2 days earlier.
I idiotically thought perhaps a few beers would help me sleep.
Immediately during the ingestion of approximately five beers, I felt a “numbing” sensation. I IMMEDIATELY experienced the following symptoms –
1) Felt as if I had “no emotions”
2) Could not “feel anything”
2) Inattention – could see what was on TV but could not “absorb” any information
3) Could not read (lasted 3 weeks)
3) Memory loss / was extremely disoriented / Confused /
4) Visual processing problems (could not focus on moving objects / saw “trails”)
5) Visual perception problems / Felt like I was in a “trance” or was constantly “staring”
6) Had no sense of time
7) Had no sense of “self” / no “soul
8) Mind feels “blank” /
9) Had bad perception of the floor, ceiling, height and slope
I called the psychiatrist who prescribed the medication and advised that I had these problems after I drank; I was told to “SLEEP IT OFF” as the only harm from drinking a day or so later from taking a lunesta would make me tired and he would see me the following day.
When I saw this psychiatrist the following day, he immediately informed me that my “psychosis” had returned and asked that I begin taking anti-psychotics (Geodon). However, my family and I knew that I was not psychotic, nor were the symptoms I was experiencing normal. They were likely caused as a result of the withdrawal symptoms of these drugs and the combination of alcohol and no sleep.
These HORRIFIC DISABLING symptoms lasted for 6-8 months until I was finally able to be diagnosed with Chronic Depersonalization Disorder. During this time (due to the severity of my Depersonalization) I developed severe depression, agoraphobia, I was afraid of the dark, my symptoms were so severe that I was suspected of suffering a traumatic brain injury!
Since this took place (on June 15), I have seen a number of doctors. Some of these doctors knew me prior to this incident so they could see that something had changed. Some of my symptoms have come and gone but one remains constant, it is a feeling of detachment, dissociation, lack of memory, focus, sense of time, and reality.
I also must note that only thru paying almost $400 a month to continue my Insurance from my previous employer via “COBRA” was I able to obtain the type of care I received. Had I not had the money to afford these visits, see various doctors, or have these tests covered, I would likely have ended up in an insane asylum.
The following is a brief synopsis of the appointments and tests I had (and findings) since June 15 2008 –
– 62+ appointments with specialists in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, etc.
– Standard and 24 hour EEG – both normal
– Brain and C-Spine MRI – both normal
– Brain SPECT Scan – normal
– Neurological Labs & tests – normal
- Neuropsychological testing (full 15 units) – ABNORMAL (see below)
– Meetings with my neurologist and (NEW) psychiatrist from the ————- came to the following conclusions –
1) I should have not been given zyprexa, although this medication can be used at the discretion of the physician (even for severe cases of OCD or “off label use”) it should not be a “first choice” for obsessive thoughts. I AM NOT psychotic and this medication is harmful. They also advised that this medication (and others) can NEVER be stopped without a gradual reduction (titration of the drug). In addition, I was misdiagnosed (told I had a psychosis – ??)
2) My symptoms were initially consistent with a brain injury (that is how severe they were); therefore, the initial diagnosis made by my neurologist was “encephalopathy of unclear etiology”
3) Neuropsychological testing concluded in November of 2008 (5 months after the incident). The Dr. met with my mother and I and advised of the following –
– I was diagnosed with “Chronic Depersonalization and Derealization” as a result of the above fore mentioned process.
– The combination of medication in my body (the antipsychotic and hypnotic), the no sleep, and alcohol caused this type of “experience”.
– Although not included in his report, the Dr. said to both my mother and I that the “anti psychotic (zyprexa) and hypnotic (lunesta) CONTRIBUTED to me having this condition” His exact words were “you had an anti psychotic you did not need”
– The exact “criteria” and/or ending diagnosis with Neuro-psychological testing was the following –
1) Axis 1
300.4 Dysthmic Disorder: Early Onset
300.02 General Anxiety Disorder
300.06 Depersonalization Disorder: CHRONIC
2) Axis 2
301.9 Personality Disorder NOS to include Obsessive Compulsive and Dependent Features
3) Axis 3
Post Concussive Syndrome x2; Atypical Facial pain / Subclinical hyperthyroidism / Incidental Right Intraventricular Chorold Plexus Cyst
Conditions prior to Chronic Depersonalization –
Bilateral Atypical facial pain, sub clinical hyperthyroidism, a right intraventricular chorold plexus cyst, mild (verified via previous testing) obsessive thinking and general anxiety.
There is much debate and speculation whether Depersonalization is a SYMPTOM secondary to another severe psychiatric problem. However, in my case (as seen above) it has been diagnosed by itself – not secondary to any other psychiatric illness – therefore being chronic and being obtained through the process described above.
– My tests also showed SEVERE deficits in my short term and long-term memory due to the severity of my chronic depersonalization and derealization disorder – visual and auditory tasks are impaired.
Through the stress, anxiety, tension, and suffering caused by this process (and medication) I developed an involuntary movement condition. Three neurologists classify it as being “tics” or a “functional movement disorder”, but say, it is likely caused by an imbalance in the brain (caused by this drug reaction on June 15, 2008) my head involuntary “twitches” and “clicks” to the left (on occasion).
Some Final Key Points I’d like to make –
1) I was told (in the presence of my mother) that these drugs (zyprexa and/or lunesta) contributed to my condition (Depersonalization disorder & deficits in long / short-term memory). In addition, I should not have been given zyprexa, as it is not indicated for my condition by the Dr. that conducted neuro psychological testing
2) I was told that these drugs should NEVER be stopped abruptly as they can cause severe withdrawal “effects” (as in my case) by the Dr. that conducted neuro-psychological testing, my new psychiatrist, my neurologist, and the psychologist I was seeing at the time
3) Even after June 15, the “psychiatrist” that I feel “caused” this process told me to abruptly stop an antidepressant that I was using for sleep. His answering service gave me ridiculous instructions such as – “do not listen to the pharmacist” and/or “do not even read the drug instructions, precautions, or warnings” regarding the medication I was given for sleep”. Given my mental state at the time I would then ask my current physicians at —–, who urged that I not follow this doctors advice. (Neurologist)
4) The psychologist I was seeing at the time (both prior to usage of this medication and after the incident occurred) would state things to me like “I think the Zyprexa did something to your brain” and “the whole thing is weird” (She is a PhD).
6) My new Primary Care Physician (after I explained to him my “story”) advised that Zyprexa could have made chemical changes to my brain, but if so, there is NO way to find out. He continued to mention that it is a horrible drug & is very sympathetic with my case.
7) I have since made progress but will likely be on medication for life, since June 15 I have had over 63 appointments with different specialists directly related to this chronic condition (not including my COBRA premium monthly payment of almost $400).
8) What is even sadder, is the fact that I was given the medication zyprexa once before at the age of 18-19. This was given to me at Nova Southeastern Universities Mental Health Clinic. Due to a lack of health insurance I was forced to seek help for my obsessive thoughts (OCD) at this clinic. This clinic allows you to see graduate STUDENTS for counseling and an overall evaluation. Based on that evaluation a Dr. would see you and prescribe medication (give you free samples).
Can one consider that I was even given the wrong medication at this location too?
Because I was evaluated by a graduate student as part of her training (who was only 2 years older than me, therefore it was very difficult to be quite personal with my problems) and there was even more of likelihood then that Eli Lilly was illegally marketing this product?
This proves the disparity in our Mental Health system and more so our Health care system – had I had insurance I could have likely been exposed to better care.
It is quite possible that if i had access to seeing a good psychotherapist in combination with a psychiatrist that an anti psychotic (or perhaps any medication) would NOT have been used.
But in cases where people have little to no access to care (even doctors will admit to this) the “quickest fix” is used.
Mental Illness is so abundant in the United States yet it is a problem that is consistently underfunded and therefore our prisons and Emergency rooms are responsible for taking care of mentally ill patients when they have little to no experience in dealing with the mentally ill!
9) These drugs have been sued for consistently causing harm to individuals (zyprexa has been sued for side effects such as Tardive Dyskensia, diabetes, and being prescribed for off label purposes.
They settled cases in 2003 and 2005.
However, since most of these are for people who have developed diabetes or tardive dyskensia, the attorneys I have spoken with do not feel they cannot pursue my case (I still feel that Zyprexa had some effect in this process and the Psychiatrist I was seeing at the time was negligent) as they feel that they could not prove that my injuries are “significant enough”.
If Eli Lilly is still under investigation for soliciting physicians in South Florida for prescribing Zyprexa for “off-label” purposes, “ghost-writing”, and other non-ethical techniques (which are not yet deemed “illegal”), is it possible that my physician prescribed this medication because he was being “compensated” to do so?
I sent inquiries to 11 different medical malpractice attorneys and/or attorneys that specialize in drug litigation.
I only had the “privilege” to speak (mostly via phone) with 4-5 (Records of all my correspondence with attorneys I have spoken with have been recorded and kept in a separate document.
Therefore, I began mailing that document to different drug tort attorneys, advocacy groups, and state and government officials.
The results of these “mail outs” can be found in my “Mail outs and Correspondence link”.
Most state that a medical malpractice suit cannot be claimed despite the amount of negligence by my psychiatrist at the time. However, the attorneys I have spoken with state that a suit against the drug manufacturer is my “best option” (given that the drug zyprexa has been sued on so many occasions). However, each one goes on to say that, my injury does not seem “significant enough.” Therefore, I continue to be referred to different attorneys, ultimately leading to no feedback or no returned calls.
I wonder what “significant enough” really means?
If you wake up one morning, and cannot recognize yourself in the mirror, are not sure if your dreams or memories are real, suffer from memory problems, feel like you are in a constant state of panic, derealization, or a “dream like state”, take three different medications a day (8 pills), and because of this and other factors sleep up to 14 hours a day, I would consider this “significant”.
Nonetheless I was able to find a stable medication regimen that keeps my condition manageable which is the most important thing.
The three medications I currently take are – Luvox 150mg, Klonopin 2.5mg, and lamictal 200mg.
The University of London has a depersonalization research institute in which they recommend an antidepressant (in my case Luvox), klonopin, and lamictal to help treat depersonalization (reason for the combination of medication I take).
My name is Chris, a 33 Y/O male who suffers from Chronic Depersonalization (a very rare and misunderstood dissociative condition). The purpose of my BLOG is to tell my story, help fellow sufferers, raise awareness, meet others, post blogs/articles on related topics, and have constructive debate and discussion.
Please feel free to visit my blog at Mydepersonalizationexperience.com
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