A selection of e-mails have been below. They are reflective of the messages we have been sent.
Do not stop taking this or any other medication without consulting a doctor or take any medical decision without professional advice.
I would like to congratulate the Panorama Team for an excellent well balanced investigation of the harm and benefits of Seroxat. It is so important that when the public system of regulation fails, as in the case of the MHRA (MCA), that there is a free media (BBC, Panorama) that has the capability and will to investigate the consequences of the failure and to expose how people are affected Watching the programme was a very distressing experience for me.
I have had to be reminded of all my sad memories of Rhona's emotional and mental degeneration from day 2 of Seroxat up to her death by induced suicide. These have been described so consistently by many of the comments from other victims on this comment page. The photographs of Rhona were my sad sad reminder of our happy life together, it is much more cruel to see them on television. Inspite of the pain for me, I chose to take part in the programme because I wanted to expose the MHRA and GSK, and thus perhaps help to save other lives in the future, for me that will be a fitting memorial to Rhona.
Many comments have exposed the same misunderstandings that I had about the MCA(MHRA) when I started to research how and why the Drugs Safety regulation fails in the UK.. There are several facts that may help the understanding of the Seroxat situation, The UK Dept of Health Regulator is called the MHRA (was the MCA)
1) The MHRA is 100 % totally funded by the Drugs Industry. There is no State funding.
2) The MHRA is staffed by a majority of people who are secondees from the Drugs Industry, i.e. they will return there.
3) The MHRA is mandated to "facilitate the development the UK Pharma. Industry" (YES, IT'S TRUE !!!)
4) The MHRA is equally mandated to "protect and promote public health...... by ensuring that medicines meet appropriate standards of safety..... and are used safely" (Ref. NAO Executive Report 16.01.03) I believe that MHRA is fundamentally flawed by these funding arrangements.
It is flawed ethically, operationally, and managerially by contradictions where public safety and caution are in direct conflict with urgency and profit. The failure to control Seroxat is one predictable consequence of these conflicting objectives. The MHRA has no independence, how can it possibly take action against its paymaster ? This is the equivalent of a police force funded and part staffed by the Mafia.
Mr. Justin Marsh (on this comment board above) makes similar points and asks the right questions e.g." What can be done if a monolithic Government Agency like this fails to do it's job, to be seen to do it's job, and has the power to ignore anything and everything? "
For those of us who want to change this situation, the MHRA is the soft underbelly of the problem, a worthy candidate for a future Panorama focussed and balanced investigation and certainly a focus for any letters to MPs by those who are concerned by the issues raised by the Programme. A stream of correspondence between Dr. David Healy and the MHRA can be seen on Charles Medawar's socialaudit website (in section 4.3) where warnings of risk and clinical evidence of actual harm (i.e. suicide) are given but continually rejected by the MHRA.. Warnings that could have saved the lives of all those who were induced to suicide attempted suicide and addiction in at least the last 4 years or more.
My daughter took seroxat for post natal depression it has completely changed her life.She is now getting divorced although before the drug her husband and herself always appeared to be able to overcome any problems.While on the drug she became alternately euphoric, aggressive, distant these are just a couple of examples. There is so much i could say but it is difficult to describe.I even spoke to her G.P who put everthing down to relationship problems and did not seem interested in what both my son-in-law and myself were telling her. Eventually my daughter realised herself there was a problem after hurling her 3 year old daughter the length of the hall then throwing a chair at her.Another G.P weaned off seroxat and put her on another anti-depressant.
anne taylor, england
My Sister has now had 3 attempts to come off Seroxat and has failed yet again. Her GP and psychiatrist have now come to the conclusion she will have to take Seroxat for the rest of her life and should never attempt to come off this drug again. I wonder if others have had the same advice?
Michelle Hammond, England
My wife Carol was prescribed Seroxat in the March of 2001 to help her deal with the anxiety she was experiencing due to a balance disorder. At no time was she diagnosed as 'depressed' She quickly changed into a twitching, pacing wreck, complaining of 'electric shocks' in her head and shooting feelings in her limbs together with several other symptoms which she tabulated in a sad, diturbing diary Listing her torment and 'horrible thoughts' getting progressively worse over a period of three weeks. Carol was a vivacious, out-going girl of 34 years and a devoted loving wife and mother of our two little girls Anna and Katie (then 3 and 21 months) On the 24th of April I came home from work at 1130 to take her to a doctor's appointment and found her hanging in our garage. despite my efforts to revive her she died that day. My life is forever changed and my daughters miss thier Mummy desperately. Something changed my love into an emotionless shell. I know Seroxat was to blam! e, there are no other reasons for such a behaviour change. When questioned, the psychiatrist who was helping her deal with the anxiety said she was in no way depressed. I concur.
I watched the first programme but didn't make contact. Then, seeing the second programme, I wish I had done. I too have strange experiences on Seroxat. I've taken them for around 8 years now. The main sypmtoms I experience are 'electric shocks' when the dosage is reduced, normally from 20mg to 10mg (half a pill). I feel the shocks coming slowly after just one day if I miss a dose completely. It actually acts as a reminder, and it clears up relatively soon after I take the missed dose.
Also, I wake up sometimes in a panic stricken state, not knowing who or where I am, or anything else come to that. It normally lasts for around 30 seconds, I guess, till I slowly realise what's going on. The funny thing is, I remember the episodes vividly afterwards, although I haven't got a clue what's going on at the time. Despite this, I still see a benefit in taking the pill.
Gavin Scott, England
I have been on Seroxat for 3 years & it has solved many of my problemms, Maybe a G.P should refer a patient to a psychiatrist before any medication is prescibed. I think that is very important, so the correct drug is used for the condition/s
A big thank you and well done to Panorama for all of your hard work in exposing some of the serious side effects of Seroxat. I realise that this drug has helped a lot of people but it has also destroyed the confidence and mental well being of thousands of others.
I was prescribed 30mg a day of Seroxat back in 1999 and again in 2001. I asked my GP then if it was addictive but he assured me it wasn't. I telephoned the number to get an information pack and chart. The chart did predict that I would have down moments and sure enough after six months I began to feel better - but too better! I felt so confident that nothing fazed me. However at the 7th month I spiralled down into a deep and scary black hole. I had mood swings, sweats, horrible dreams where upon waking you would question your sanity, anxiety, no confidence, no desire to eat, move, communicate and ultimately live. I honestly believe that if I had not had the strength to quit taking Seroxat at once, then I would be dead now.
The withdrawal symptoms were horrendous and even now despite being in a happy relationship with a lovely fiance who listens and helps, I still get days when I am so self-loathing. It's still a battle for me and the anger of not letting the drugs company beat me keeps me going.
Sincere congratulations and best wishes to those people whom the drug has helped. Believe me you are the lucky ones and I hope that depression never affects you again. Best wishes too to the sufferers, please keep believing that one day you will be the happy person you deserve to be.
Suzy Johnson, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
In June 2001 my brother killed himself. He had been suffering from depression,and had been prescribed Seroxat,which he took for 8 days before the effects became so intolerable that he could stand his condition no more. He told me that his mind was filled with horrific images of killings and indescibable acts of brutality. Voices told him to act out these scenes,and he described his brain as 'boiling', and himself as the embodiment of evil.
He suffered vertigo, paranoia and sleep deprivation. We couldn't believe the speed with which he had declined. My brother was a vibrant, outgoing character who loved life. Athough he had a history of depression, I don't believe he would have taken his own life but for the highly toxic properties of this drug. Action must be taken to bring these drug companies to account and I would be happy to add my voice to those who wish to take this subject further.
Georgina von Etzdorf, UK
I sat and watched this programme with tears streaming down my face. i couldn't believe that what i had suspected for six years might actually be true. When I was fifteen, I became ill with depression. i was given seroxat. I took it for a while (sorry can't remember how long) and it didn't seem to be working so my doctor decided to increase my dose from 20mg to 30. Within two days, I had thoughts of suicide and self-harm. I became convinced that there were supernatural evils out to get me. I had no thoughts of this nature before taking this drug.
Within a week I attempted suicide. Luckily for me, the drug I choose to OD on was prozac, impossible to OD on although I only found that out later. My family and I were convinced it was the drug although of course my doctors said this could not be true.
I decided to come off the drug anyway with my family's support.Despite remaining depressed for 6 months after that, I had no more thoughts of suicide or paranoia.
Coincidence? I don't think so!
As a qualified Social Worker formerly working in the field of mental health, and as someone whom has suffered with depression and anxiety, both programmes were informative. There was however, without a doubt, a massive over emphasis on the down side of seroxat (maybe rightly so) Prior to taking this medication I was hardly able to leave the house, let alone my bed, and after a course of treatment the medication undoubtedly gave me my life back.
I can empathise greatly with others who have taken the drug and have experienced devastating side effects intially, since I felt exactly the same. My levels of anxiety increased within hours of taking the first dose.
I became extremely agitated and restless, and my mind was constantly in a state of unrest. In addition, physically I felt sick, and was trembling.These uncomfortable symptoms continued for the next few days, until I began to feel less anxious over a period of weeks. Gradually I was able to rebuild my life, and I wanted to stop taking the medication.
Once again I can share the experiences of others whom have found it difficult to stop taking the drug. It took me a couple of months in fact, until in the end I was taking half of a 20mg tablet every 3 days. Some three years later I no longer take the medication. It saw me through a very troubled period in my life, but when I think back now to how I felt having had taken the first tablet, I don't think that I would take the same medication again, unless the pharmacuetical company introduced tablets in a far wider ranging dosage, from 1mg to 30mg, in order to ensure that the first tablet and last can be administered in a safe way, and to monitor patients who take this drug properly.
As with other psychotropic medicines, the side effects can be terrible, and clearly the drug company would not want to have its 'star' drug associated with even worse mental health problems, than those that the drug is intended to help with, it therefore seems perfectly clear to me, that such a useful drug should have patient monitoring in the same way that for example
Finally I would like to add that however much this drug helped me, my heart goes out to those whom have lost someone as a result of taking the medication. I do believe you AND I understand why these people may have behaved in such an irrational and uncharacteristic way within days of starting the course of treatment.
You let us down , Dr Benbow. You were economical with the truth.
Yvonne Clark, England
I have been taking Seroxat for 3 years and it has literally saved my life. I am currently on a dose of 50mg per day which has allowed me to live my life in the "normal" way again. I have had no negative effects from taking Seroxat, I was seriously clinically depressed when I started and am now functioning wonderfully and feel happy to be alive.
My GP has always been very clear about not just suddenly stopping my medication and I would have to be weaned off over a period of about a year, she monitors me every month and makes sure that I am feeling well. She often spends a long while chatting to me to make sure that my tablets are right for me still. I found the Panaroma programme in October a ridiculous one sided opinion from a small minority of people, so when I discovered there was going to be follow up I thought great maybe they will put across another side to this drug.
Apart from a token 5 or 6 people at the start I was horrified to find that the programme was just as biased as before. Please Panorama consider the implications of a programme such as this, we are on this drug because of depression and after watching your programme it would have been easy to be led by your terrible one sided bias. The patient information leaflet clearly states that at the beginning of treatment your symptoms may indeed get worse and it will be probably about 3-4 weeks before you notice an improvement, this was also pointed out to me by my Doctor, the leaflet also states that should you feel any worsening of symptoms than seek medical help straight away.
A programme such as Panorama should be responsible enough to put forward 2 sides of any debate and not lead people to believe they are taking adrug which could cause them more harm than good. The people that you showed who had very serious effects on first taking the tablets may have felt like this even if they hadn't started the Seroxat, people dont exactly shout from the rooftops when they are feeling suicidle and many people self harm without ever telling anyone.
Gillian Cameron, Edinburgh
I was prescribrd Seroxat in Oct last year, after one tablet I felt very wierd, after the second completely spaced out. If I hadn't expirienced LSD in the early 70's I would have struggled to cope with the feelings generated. I took no more and reported the effects to my GP. For some people I could well imagine this drug could cause all sorts of problems.
I am a medical student and it made me bit worried what we are being taught is not implemented! If people have gathered negative feedback and result about seroxat surely a case control study should be undertaken.
I've been taking 40mg's of Seroxat for nearly a year now and, although it has stopped my panic attacks it has heightened my state of depression and social anxiety. As with other posts and e-mails on this site the hardest thing to cope with are the side-effects, which for me include profuse sweating, electric shocks, trembling, hunger, confusion and lack of concentration. Despite these unwanted side effects I am extremely wary of coming off the drug as I'm affraid that my panic will return or maybe the electric shocks will worsen as I gradually reduce dosage.
Graham Rotherham, England
Noticed lots of messages from people on Seroxat saying what a good drug it is and how it has saved them. I would have agreed at one time. I wonder how many of them will still be as positive when they try to come off it?
Julie Newbury, UK
until last night I thought it was just me this drug should be banned. I have been trying to come off it and can not because of the electric shock effect that I get I have had nothing but problems with this treatment. the first time I was on it I was getting that many bad side effects I had to stop so I do not no why they put me on it. that guy from glaxo was talking a load off rubbish, if he went through what I had recently. I blame this drug
Alan Murray, Scotland
Like many people who have been helped by Seroxat, your Panorama programmes have alarmed me greatly. It is no exaggeration to say that this drug saved my life in 1998 and it is very distressing to hear of people who were not so lucky. Whatever problems there may be with Seroxat - lack of patient information and the very real withdrawal symptoms are among them - it seems to me that the drug has been wrongly prescribed to a huge number of people who should never take it. It would have been helpful to hear the exact prescribing guidelines for G.P's and to examine if these need to be altered in any way. Many of the people described on your programme as having severe adverse reactions to Seroxat may have been prescribed the drug in error. My two experiences of clinical depression and anxiety are that you experience extreme exhaustion, depression, despair, negative thoughts, irritability, anxiety, tearfulness, disturbed sleep, lack of ability to feel enjoyment, to interact with people or to laugh, lack of concentration, mood swings, inability to cope, and finally a complete emotional shutdown with recurring suicidal thoughts. These are the symptoms that occur BEFORE being prescribed Seroxat, not after. As I say, perhaps I am very lucky, or more likely, perhaps my GP prescribed correctly and monitored me properly, seeing me every month and giving me her mobile number to report any problems immediately.
Two days after taking my first 20mg dose of Seroxat, I had my first full night's sleep in eight months. A week later, I felt noticeably more relaxed and calmer and could return to work. Two weeks later, I suddenly saw the funny side of something and had an uncontrollable urge to giggle. This was a miracle for me at the time. I continued to feel well and able to cope all the time I was on Seroxat. Twelve months later, my dosage was reduced and then stopped. I immediately felt agitated, restless, irritable and very blue. Two months later, I started taking Seroxat again and the symptoms stopped. After six months, the dosage was reduced again, very gradually, to half a tablet every day, every second day, every three days and so on. When I stopped taking the drug, I had the same symptoms of restlessness, irritability and feeling blue. However, this time I did not go back to my GP. I could remember how my depression had felt and I knew that it was not as bad as this, however awful! I was feeling. It was a long struggle, over almost nine months, before I felt well again. Two years later, my depression has not returned, thankfully, but I am aware that it could recur at any time in my life. If it does, I hope that an improved version of Seroxat without any side-effects, will be available to me. If this drug were withdrawn from the market at this time, it would greatly alarm the thousands of people like me who owe their lives and their mental recovery to Seroxat.
I think that it may be of medical help to those that are on Seroxat or who have come off of the drug. Maybe even Glaxo if they are willing to listen! Jersey Hospital have documented my (cold turkey) withdrawal from this drug during which time I had to be hospitalised for a period of six weeks.
I was a victim of crime and the doctor recommended that I took Seroxat - February last year. My whole character changed whilst I was on the drugs so I went to my GP and asked to be weaned off Seroxat 30mg. This failed and I experienced all the common side effects that we know. I was admitted to Jersey Psychiatric Hospital in October last year and had to remain their for 6 weeks, during this time I tried to kill myself and started to self harm. I have never done anything like this before.
I was monitored during the withdrawal on a day to day basis. The Psychiatrist finally admitted that I had a sensitivity to the drug. This being correct it sounds to me that thousands of others are experiencing the same sensitivity that the doctors admitted and recorded over this six week period.
Maxine Marvin, Jersey
I was described Seroxat 4 weeks ago for panic attacks but I have had to take myself off of them because I was getting severe headaches dizziness and very breathless
sally anne turner, united kingdom
Watching your programme last night and reading comments on this page I find it absolutely disgusting that no-one is accepting responsibility or acting on any of the data given with regards to Seroxat.
I hope you won't let this subject stop until sufficient action has been taken, this drug needs to be banned, so no more lives and families are destroyed. My heart goes out to the people whose lives have already been ruined, I hope they one day get justice.
Miss Buckley , UK
I watched the 2nd programme - my husband committed suicide on 6th sept 2002 after taking Seroxat off and on for a year - I cant believe other people experience the same things my husband did especially the head tremors, leg pains, flu like symptoms and nausea - I havenżt been strong enough to 'do anything about it' until now and I owe it to my husband to fight - he left behind 2 small daughters who he adored - it was a very violent end and clearly he wasnżt thinking straight! he wasnżt a manic depressant and although he struggled sometimes I really donżt believe he should have been prescribed such a strong drug - the doctor seemed all too quick to dish the tablets out rather than sit and listen a bit more - I could go on for ever but I have lost a husband and my best friend and the girls have been denied a father - the fight will go on
I was given Seroxat but did not realise what it was going to do with me. I now have "hell" carved into my left arm. I could not have done this before Seroxat. I have come off it because I feel the cure is far far worse than the problem. I loath myself for accepting it. A big big mistake.
Gareth Griffiths, Wales
I watched with great interest most of the initial panorama programme relating to Seroxat 2002, but just couldn't respond at that time because of my grief following the death of my beloved father. Having watched the second programme last night - I too must add my comments about Seroxat. My father, a kind and gentle man, underwent what I can only describe as a complete personality change whilst on the drug for depression.
He literally changed into someone I and my family didn't recognise, with displays of aggression, confusion, sweating, restlessness etc. etc. many of the side effects described in previous correspondence on the Panorama site. My beloved father died from pneumonia in March 2002 after suffering 2 years of what I can only describe as absolute hell.
All our pleas to doctors fell on deaf ears. Dad was even referred to a Psychiatric Department at our local Hospital for treatment although no-one there could understand his symptoms. I have wished many, many times that we had never heard of Seroxat. Maybe my dad would still be here with me today. Who knows. I am sure this drug may help some people, but for the ones who suffer the side effects their lives can become unbearable. Please, please Panorama carry on your investigation - don't let it drop and find out the extent to which lives are being damaged by the prescription of this drug.
Mrs Pauline Gates, UK
I have recently come off Seroxat by being gradually weaned off it with NO problems I also wish to say that my experience of taking Seroxat was positive and helped tremendously when I was suffering from depression
I'm wondering whether the people concerned did not inform their GP's of the adverse effect of Seroxat. Each persons chemistry is different, and what works for one person can have a detrimental effect on another.
This aspect was not covered by your programme
I grant that some people reacted very quickly to it and sadly took their own lives
It's comforting to know I'm not alone in experiencing severe side effects from the tablets but it really concerns me that it can take so long to come off them. I have been on Seroxat for over a year and have tried to come off them twice but have been unsuccessful. I have now reduced my dose from 20mg down to 15mg and feel ok but I'm dreading trying to reduce it any more. Seroxat has made a massive difference to my life and I felt the first programme didn't do it justice but last nights account has reinforced my fears about the side effects. I really want to come off the tablets but can't keep putting my life on hold while I reduce the dose. I've already taken time off work because I have felt so ill and the stress of having time off work adds to my anxiety. It seems that some people have taken 5-7 years to come off Seroxat - maybe I am rushing things - but there is no guidance whatsoever about the timescales involved? My husband and I are hoping to start a family in a few years and the thought of being on them then really worries me, has any research been done on the effects of Seroxat on pregnant women?
Thank you for continuing to expose the dangers of the drug Seroxat. I had intended to write after the first episode in October to log the story of a family member who had a terrible experience on the drug. Within weeks of starting Seroxat her behaviour totally changed and she experienced uncharacteristic violent and aggressive spells, of which she had no real recollection later. At the time she knew this behaviour wasn't normal and struggled to try to explain it to people, but her behaviour was just put down to her "illness". Luckily she was able to switch medication with the help of a very understanding GP. After watching the programme in October, she finally felt vindicated, but also very upset, that it was the drugs that had made her behave like that. However, it did untold and irreparable damage at the time.
Aideen, Northern Ireland
I would like to say that I found Seroxat nothing but helpful UNTIL I tried to get off it. I too suffer from electric shock sensations, dizziness and, at times, uncontrollable crying. I understand the comments made by others that they are frightened about trying to get off this drug.
Beverley James, United Kingdom
Medics' dismissal of the adverse affects of Seroxat relies on the false notion of a person with mental health problems not being a reliable witness. The volume and consistency of these e-mails gives the lie to this, at last. I was prescribed Seroxat in 98 for a period of anxiety. I was not depressed, just very hyper. The drug made me sweaty, feverish, lethargic, nightmarish, frightened suicidal and, most disturbing of all, violent. For the first time in my life I started fights. I came off it of my own accord when I noticed red blotches on my face. All the other effects stopped immediately and I felt fine again, if anxious as before. Here's the thing: my doctor redefined my anxiety as depression in order to prescribe an ssri. I never needed it, probably only needed to go for a run. Wake up.
I really want to thank the BBC for this follow up programme to the one shown in October. I know that Seroxat can work really well for some people but it can also cause no end of problems for others. In February 2002, I was suffering from depression and the doctor prescribed me Seroxat, after only three days on the drug I was like another person, I didn't want to see or speak to anyone and spent more time than ever shut away in my room. I started to feel dizzy every time I stood up, and felt so sick I couldn't eat. I went to the doctor about this and was told I was imagining it, after seeing another doctor I was taken off Seroxat and prescribed venlafaxine. The couple of days in between when I took nothing, I had my first symptoms of 'electric head shocks'.
I hoped that on venlafaxine I would be ok, but I was wrong. Like Seroxat the patient information leaflet in venlafaxine states the drug is non addictive but after 4 months on it and with it making me more and more suicidal to the point that one night I got really drunk because I hoped it would cause me to die, I decided I didn't want to take it anymore.
I spoke to the doctor who had once before told me it would be fine to stop whenever I liked and started taking a tablet every other day. The days I missed a tablet were a nightmare, I was more depressed than ever, dizzy, sick, sleepless, and having these constant 'electric shocks' in my head whenever I moved, all I could do was lie in bed. It took over two and a half months for me to get off venlafaxine completely and during those months I thought I was going to die. The weekend I finally stopped taking them completely I spent the whole time lying down unable to move.
I really think it would be worth people being aware that Seroxat isn't the only 'dangerous' anti depressant out there and that there are other people on other anti depressants who are also suffering.
I think its time the regulatory bodies and the drug companies were made to listen to patients and I feel GP's need to be able to know and understand more about all the possible symptoms these drugs can cause.
Sarah Pringle, England
I have been taking Seroxat for the last 9months. I previously took it for 6months when I was 16 (I am now 20). I saw both of panoramas programmes. Although the first time I was on the drug it helped. This second time around I donżt think that it has. I have self harmed more while on this drug than when I was not. I am also more anxious. When I told my doctor about this, he just increased my dosages of Seroxat. Thank you for a very informative, but frightening programme about this drug.
May I firstly congratulate the makers of Panorama on an excellent programme. I e-mailed after the last programme when I realised I was not alone in this living hell. The second programme went a step further in high-lighting the problems suffered by people at the start of taking Seroxat. Since realising that my problems were down to Seroxat I started to analyse how I was feeling and to read with interest other peoples experiences. The symptoms associated with addiction and withdrawal to Seroxat fall into various categories. There are those who suffer initially and are fine till withdrawing others who only have the problems on withdrawal and those who have problems continually whilst on the medication both at the start during regular medication and upon withdrawal. I believe a lot of people like myself were prescribed Seroxat incorrectly and have suffered because of this permanently whilst on the drug. I was one of the lucky ones and didnżt commit suicide at the beginning! of the prescribing purely because after being prescribed the drug twice I quit after 3 days as I didn't like how I was feeling. The surgery nurse informed me that it would take 3/4 weeks of feeling bad before the medication would begin to benefit me. I took to my bed for a month and warned the family what might happen. The nightmares and suicidal thoughts were horrendous however I was expecting to feel bad so stayed locked away and rode it out. The problems subsided to a certain extent, however nearly three years later I am still waiting to "feel better".
I find some of the problems with Seroxat rather disturbing, the emotional blunting, the total lack of enjoyment in pursuits once found to be pleasurable, the roller coaster ride of one day feeling ok and the next in a dark black hole with no way out. Yes I have and still suffer very painful physical problems on Seroxat but the above I find unendurable. There is also the problem of affecting relationships due to the total lack of libido. the inability to work, and so people like myself find themselves alone on a very small income leading to yet more problems and worries financially. DLA not being granted when Seroxat is cited as the cause of the problems.
There are many issues to be addressed with regard to the damage GSK and the regulatory body have inflicted on innocent and trusting patients. Lets hope that lasts nights excellent programme gets the ball rolling for better patient information and help for those trapped in hell that is life on Seroxat.
Another issue not yet explored is the effect of liquid Seroxat. I for one have had different disturbing problems on the liquid whilst previous problems on the tablet form have all but disappeared. I can only describe this drug in my case as mind-bending.
Lynn Bretana, England
I started taking Seroxat, for quite some time in early 1998, after a bad experience while serving out in Bosnia. I came of the drug after I attempted an overdose, and was subsequently prescribed something else. I to had head pains, and found my self thinking up the many ways which I could end it all. Being a serving member of HM Forces I came close to shooting myself while on duty, but never like the idea of leaving such a mess.
I have been off Seroxat for about 5 years now, and I still donżt feel the same. I have lost pretty much all my motivation, self confidence, I still get anxiety attacks, bad dreams, head aches, and not to mention the weight I have gained and to top it all off I have a general unwilling ness to socialise with people, (including my wife). I wont go to the Army doctors with my continuing problems, as like so many of you have pointed out, they just look at you funny, and either tell you to go away, or they stick you on another drug. I donżt think doctors or physiatrists (and Iżve been through both) know what to do about Seroxat.
I was prescribed Seroxat approximately 4 years ago for generally feeling low / feeling mildly depressed. Your programme has opened my eyes to the change in my personality and behaviour since taking this drug - 20 mg per day. I could relate to so much you said about the effects on some people prescribed this drug.
I have become much more aggressive and have violent outbursts / mood swings. I occasionally have had thoughts of self-harm but have not acted on them. I have had very unusual dreams - usually very vivid.
After watching Panorama I have decided to cut down my dosage and eventually come off of the drug - hopefully with few withdrawal symptoms. Thank you for showing me the light!
this programme is almost as biased, distorted, one-sided, unscientific and sensationalist as your first programme. You risk frightening many patients whose lives have been transformed by Seroxat. No patients are likely to be prescribed it without evidence of serious psychiatric disorder. Of course they are more likely to have psychiatric symptoms. I am a GP with no link to the company and can assure you that from my experience the benefits hugely outweigh the drawbacks.
dr sean magennis, England
I think today's Panorama program makes it quite obvious there should be additional patient information leaflet warnings and that doctor's are made aware of these problems.
Thank you for tackling this issue. I took Seroxat for two weeks in 1998, in this time I had lucid and terrifying dreams, severe mood swings, obvious twitches and many other side effects which culminated in a suicide attempt, and admission to a psychiatric hospital! This was the worse two weeks of my life, and I was completely out of touch with reality whilst on this drug. I have NO doubts that Seroxat was responsible for the vast changes in my behaviour!
Your programme has helped me realise I am not alone. I am just grateful that my suicide attempt was unsuccessful, and I am here to tell the tale.
Karen Waldron, England
Seroxat tends to be given in high doses which are unnecessary. I was prescribed 20mg twice per day - which was made me very ill and gave me severe nightmares. I down-scaled my dose to 10mg once per day for two months, then 5mg once per day to wean myself off. And yes, it was most definitely addictive.
Melanie Wold, UK
I was prescribed Seroxat 7 years ago due to severe Panic Attacks and within days of taking them came the onset of terrible nightmares that made me afraid to go to sleep, they were coupled with excessive sweating both at night and in the daytime and the strangest jerky shock like sensations in my head. I reported all these symptoms on numerous occasions to my G.P. who either dismissed them as continuing mental health problems or the onset of Menopause. I went back to my G.P after the first Panorama documentary on Seroxat and asked him if these problems could be side effects of the drug, he became very angry and accused Panorama of scare mongering and insisted that there are no side affects nor a dependency problem, but that the problem lay with the Patients and their Mental Health. Twice in the 7 years I've tried to come off Seroxat but I've become totally disorientated each time, my Doctor said that I can stay on them indefinitely, it looks like I will have no choice.
Anne Meecham, England
I am a pharmacist and after watching today have really been made aware of the extent to which this drug can affect peoples lives. what do you suggest we now tell anyone asking about the possibility of taking such a drug? a while back it was Prozac that was under the hammer, how much more information must we gather to make sure these drugs are safe for our patients. I am aware that under the right circumstances any ssri will do its job but doctors need to be more cautious in their prescribing. I must say in my eight years as a practicing pharmacist I have never had any mention of side effects by this particular ssri, and therefore assume in the majority of my customers it was properly prescribed.
abda shafique, england
I have been on Seroxat for 7 years. I have tried several times to reduce my dose from 30 mg down to 10mg and experienced very bad side effects, eg electric shock pains in my head, insomnia, severe mood swings, pains to the stomach and cramps in muscles and sweating. With the recent loss of a family member ,the doctor has now increased my dose up to 20mg.to the effect I now find my life difficult to live with.
Beverley Trevor, N Wales
1995 after the birth of my daughter I was prescribed Seroxat due to postnatal depression. I had the most dreadful side effects going on them but thought it must be me and not the drug. I was told by my doctor these drugs were not addictive as I was so concerned by taking tablets. I put my trust in my doctor and after eight months of pure hell I got better. In the last seven years, while trying to come off them off I would get so ill I had to resort into going back onto them. After seeing your program last year it made me feel better knowing I wasn't alone. I went back to my doctor and told him about your program. It took me six months of utter unbelievable side effects to come off them only to be put onto effexor XL because I didn't think I'd make it! I never had these symptoms before I took antidepressants....I wish I'd never took them in the first place!!
Kerry Roberts, England
The programme was interesting but did not have interviews or comments from people who have used Seroxat without any of the bad side effects. As such it was very one-sided and could cause alarm to the many people who have used the drug without any problems.
I have used Seroxat about 10 years ago for some months and did not have any suicidal or self harm thoughts or actions.
I cannot believe what I have just heard on Panorama people describing electrical like shocks in the brain, as I just stopped taking the drug last week. I was supposed to take it on alternate days but I had the most awful nightmares on the evenings when I had not taken my tablet, I therefore decided I would stop them altogether. I have had a constant dizziness and these electrical shocks in my head for the past week and thought I had a virus. Watching the programme tonight explained everything.
Elizabeth Meikleham, Scotland
My husband has been taking this drug for over a year and if anything his symptoms have got worse. He went back to his doctor a few months back feeling suicidal and had the dosage increased. He does not seem to be getting any better and now I am worried not only about the effect the drug is having on him whilst he taking it but also what may happen when he stops. As for the drug company, well they are never going to admit there is a problem because they have a financial interest as do some doctors who are given freebies by them to "sell" the drug to patients.
Teresa Jewell, UK
I watched last October's programme and was too upset at the end to contact then time dragged on.. Now I have to tell of my experience with Seroxat. I was first prescribed the drug in August 1997 and feel initially it did help with my depression. After a time I felt I wanted to stop taking it and when I told my G.P he sent me away with a prescription for a 10mg tablet which incidentally is not available, The pharmacist told me to break the tablets in half which I did. After a couple of days I was experiencing severe mood swings, crying for no reason, sweats and the 'head shocks' described in the October programme. I went back to the full 20mg dose and my GP said I probably was not ready to stop taking them. I carried on until the end of 1999 but felt that I was no better with them than I had been before I started taking them, I was still experiencing bad bouts of depression. Without any help from my GP I weaned myself off them. Every night for a year I filed the tablets with a nail file, counting the amount of strokes with the file and staying on that 'dose' for a week adding another stroke with the file when I felt ready. If I took too much off the tablets too soon I still had some of the side effects I described above so I did it very slowly and eventually I was free but it took a whole year. When I told another GP at the practice how I had stopped taking the tablets he just said well done. I am so glad to be rid of Seroxat and as far as I am concerned they are addictive.
My 14 year old daughter was put on 30mg Seroxat some 6 months ago...it was, I believe, correctly prescribed for her particular condition and circumstances. She has 'recovered' spectacularly since. The only 'disturbing' change my wife and I are concerned about is the great increase in her weight in that period, some 4+ stone...is this a side effect? If so, will her weight reduce when she is taken off the medication?
Mr. May, England
If only I saw the original and the whole of this programme.
I felt nothing whilst being on Seroxat. I made irrational decisions - bought a car on credit that I couldn't afford to pay for as I was off work for 9 months with depression, I cut my hair extremely short (before I loved my almost long hair). Seroxat aggravated my illness, not cured it. Granted, I had good days, but I didn't know they were good!
Seroxat is an anti-depressant and, as such, has to be PRESCRIBED. It would appear that the 'modern-day' GP is just as willing as ever to let patients take ANYTHING that may make them GO AWAY! We are being told to not cease taking medications without consulting a GP. Why? It is the GPs who cause people to take them in the first place?
Ralph Beal (66yrs), United Kingdom (England)
Thank you for the 2nd programme, but my GP still thinks my withdrawal problems were based on 'feed' from the BBC. I have come off the drug with the help of my family, and I am back to normal and would like to help anyone with this problem. Incidentally I suffered from brain 'buzz', dizziness, insomnia, bad dreams, self harm (cutting off eyelashes), unreasonable worry about family ( including one night when I was going to put a pillow over my husband's face, although we all love him) and a host of other anxieties. I was on Seroxat 2 years until November 2002.
A very alarming, but informative programme for the viewer. Following the programme on Seroxat last October, there are many more cases that have come to light through the programme on the side effects. There should be more notice taken by doctors when patients report harmful side effects from any treatment given or prescribed by the doctor. This is the only way the doctor can act and should act on any information given by their patient. There should be a more powerful regulator to look into side effects by any drug prescribed by doctors. There are very sad stories told by viewers and these stories need to be acted upon urgently by regulators. This very clearly is a health and safety issue and these problems are very serious. Yours Sincerely, Steve Fuller. Hove,
I felt after watching the programme that it degenerated into tabloid journalism, especially the analogy about the dark tunnel, linking this with depression, I feel very well being on this drug, although in the beginning the side effects were in my opinion quite horrendous, although not as bad as some people portrayed in the programme, no self harm or suicide thoughts, panorama was a great documentary programme at one time, ranking alongside world in action et al, please donżt degenerate into a TV version of the sun, which is what I thought this programme eventually became.
After several years of going on and coming off Seroxat, I realised that it was doing me more harm than good. The side effects (an 'electric' sensation throughout my body, dilated pupils, shivers among others) were eventually so overwhelming and degraded the quality of my life so much I ended up taking an overdose to gain some respite from them. Luckily, I recovered, and was taken off Seroxat which spelt the end of a very long and painful experience, and the beginning of a new lease of life.
I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face as I write this...I have just finished watching your show and immediately logged on to the web-site. I am originally from Birkenhead, UK (but am currently living in Canada) I am home with my family trying 'my last attempt to get well'
I have been under the treatment of a very highly respected Psychiatrist in Winnipeg, Canada, for Major Clinical depression. I had at the time experienced a large number of life crisis' occur at the same time ( job loss, relationship problems, deaths of loved ones etc ) ......I know now all I really needed was a counsellor, or someone to talk to......instead 18 months of HELL ensued.
I was admitted to the hospital in January this year because my suicidal thoughts were uncontrollable. the Dr stopped my PAXIL cold turkey, all my thoughts of suicide disappeared, my intense floods of sweats and hot flushes stopped, my concentration and appetite returned ( I had no appetite the entire time on Paxil... maybe eating once a day .... despite this fact my weight ballooned up ....I gained over 60lbs) my nightmares stopped....I could go on and on.
The thing I am most upset about is that deep down I KNEW all of these things that were happening to me was NOT depression, it was side effects of the drugs, BUT NO ONE WOULD LISTEN !!! While living in Canada I have NEVER seen/heard/ read ONE PIECE OF NEGATIVE REPORT for Paxil - it took me flying half way round the world to find out the TRUTH from your programme. I feel I have lost almost 2 years of my life that can never be returned, but at last I feel sane and relieved in the knowledge that I am not alone.
PLEASE keep your message up loud and clear- you will save many lives with the knowledge you have spread.!
Amanda Carrington, CANADA
I was quite unimpressed with the first programme, feeling that the way the data was presented made it come across as incredible. I particularly disliked the fact that, as I recall, no mention was made of the minor(!) fact that depressed people commit suicide because of the illness, and appeared to assume that every suicide was Seroxat-related. This programme to my mind was far superior. I was convinced by the research carried out and I did find it quite worrying in parts, since I have been on Seroxat for a while.
I strongly believe I am one of the group for whom it is a lifesaver but my heart went out to the families who had lost someone. I rarely cry at TV but I did then.
One thing that has been bothering me in a while is the potential problem of coming off it, although my GP was excellent and I did know withdrawal symptoms might occur. She also only offered the drug after I was suicidal and Prozac had failed to help.
Lastly, I found the comments about suicidal thoughts very interesting as I have had these on Seroxat even when feeling well (and I am recovered now, although on a maintenance dose). They don't bother me, and they're not thoughts of wanting to kill myself, but of how I could, like you might choose what you're going to wear. It is very strange. I can explain them when I am depressed but not when well. Like I said, they don't bother me as such and I will happily live with them as Seroxat has so many positive effects...
But it does beg the question, how difficult must it be, if this is a good reaction, if one has a bad one?
Why will Dr Benbow not admit that Seroxat causes problems on withdrawal, I feel he tries to avoid the issue by talking about Seroxat not being addictive. By not being honest he and the makers of Seroxat have been neglectful to all the individuals who have difficulty stopping Seroxat.
My experience of Seroxat comes from supporting a close friend who became aggressive and violent while taking the drug and also had problems similar problems coming off the drug. He appears to have bi-polar tendencies (denied by the medical profession who diagnose only unipolar depression) and the drug seemed to magnify these symptoms, is this possible?
I have found a lot out about the drug over the internet, but my friend's doctor, occupational therapist and psychiatrist all say that after two days there should be no side effects from coming off the drug and I was asked by the OT not to show my friend any of the information that I had got from the internet. Is such denial by the medical profession common?
An interesting and important programme.
I had an extremely sociable friend who was on antidepressants but asked to be taken off them after an attempt at self harm. He was refused by his doctor, and the clinic he was attending for mental health problems. He finally took his own life, which was against all his previous social concerns and religious principles.
At the inquest I attended the coroner, against the evidence, denied that the medical treatment was to blame.
Mr J. Phillips,
I was prescribed Seroxat by my gp and then continued taking it under a psychiatric consultant. my dosage was increased to 50mg of which I am now told was a high dosage. I experienced a highly confused state of mind, horrific nightmares and sleepless nights due to the restlessness I felt whilst on the drug. The constant restless state of mind was very disturbing and the persistent desire to keep moving never rest or relax was intolerable. I lost all feeling and emotions and I'm now sure that it was more often than not the drug that did the talking and that drove me. I was very determined that the illness of depression and the debilitating drug was not going to destroy me. I was a fanatic, erratic, and paranoid psychopath. I only hope that my comments along with others will help to prevent others suffering.
Lea-ann Thompson, uk
The two programmes about Seroxat concern me very much since I am a user of the drug. In my case, like Dawn, it has saved, rather than ended, my life. I mean this literally because the severity of my depressive episodes led to my being sectioned under the mental health act to prevent me committing suicide. Seroxat is the only anti-depressant that has had any noticeable effect on my condition, and since being on it I have not had a severe episode of depression. (About 8 years now.)
Having said this, I still feel passionately that the safety of the drug for all users is paramount and needs to be investigated fully. I had a horrible experience when put on the sister drug Prozac, which quickly resulted in my being put on tranquilisers for a short time to calm me down.
What I do not want to see is Seroxat being taken off the market. That would be hugely scary and dangerous for people like me.
Surely there is a middle course which was not put forward by your programme or contributors (probably because it was a head to head battle of totally opposing views......do you have to use this dramatic trick?): PATIENTS ON SEROXAT SHOULD BE MONITORED MORE CAREFULLY, just as is done with lithium treatment and, I'm sure a huge number of other medications.
Its not even as though this would take an enormous amount of effort....an extra visit to a GP or by a CPN is probably welcome to the patient who is suffering enough to be considered for Seroxat. The only problem I can see with this is that GSK's sales of Seroxat may drop slightly as it would be a deterrent to "over-prescribing", but I expect that they would survive this slight inconvenience with good grace, since it would undoubtedly save lives (and expensive law suits).
I hope my comments are of some use/interest, and thank you for the programme.
A well made and balanced programme.
Heartbreaking too listening to those people who have lost an important person in their lives. I cannot understand why Benbow seems so untouched by the pain and suffering. The panel (also excellent) with Charles Medawar, et al reflected little compassion by Benbow. If he really found it "tragic" then he would do his utmost best to ensure that it didn't happen again: by making the warnings on the Patient Leaflet as clear to the Patient as GSK make the 'benefits' of the drug on their websites, adverts etc globally.
It is a great shame that both sides of this debate were not shown, as there would have been as many who would have told you about the success of Seroxat, and getting there live back.
E Godfrey, England
I feel that to be on Seroxat in the 1st place there would have to be some kind of suicidal thoughts for being placed on the drugs. I have been on Seroxat for 2 1/2yrs and the only side effect I have is that I am forgetful. I do feel I am getting more forgetful as time goes on but there was no mention of this in your programme could you please let me know if this is common. I myself do not have any suicidal thoughts and was put on this medication for depression.
I have 176 scars thanks to Seroxat!
How can MHRA justify licencing a drug with so many questions over safety when they have recently banned the sale of Kava Kava which has been safely been used by millions of people for hundreds of years? Explain yourself!
Rob Woodward, uk
Whilst the programme raised some important areas for further study, its educational value could have been much improved. As a doctor working in psychiatry I have personally overseen the treatment of a number of patients on Seroxat. When prescribed for the conditions indicated (in particular clinical depression and certain types of anxiety)it can be very beneficial. Counselling patients about early side-effects which may include an increase in anxiety, and transient symptoms on stopping the drug is recognised good practice.
These "discontinuation" symptoms on stopping vary in severity from barely noticeable to problematic in some people, who may need to taper the dose more gradually. I thought your reporting was alarmist, as in my experience most people, given appropriate advice and reassurance come off Seroxat with minimal difficulty. My impression is that patients who have suffered clinically significant depression or anxiety which has been successfully ameliorated by! treatment are prepared to 'put up with' some transient discontinuation symptoms, given appropriate advice and support.
The issues raised around possible increased risk of suicidal behaviour are important to discuss, yet you omitted to mention relevant facts. Some depressed patients harbour suicidal thoughts, yet in their depressed state lack the motivation to carry them out. It is recognised that in the first few weeks of treatment a patient's motivation may increase before their mood, leading them to tragically end their lives. This is the case, potentially, with all treatments for depression.
The programme suggested that the mental state of a proportion of people on Seroxat was altered in a way that rendered them vulnerable to potentially dangerous acts. Though it seems more research is needed into this, the programme seemed rather narrow in its examination of this. For example, alcohol is known to influence people to behave in ways which may be 'out of character', aggressive etc, but there are other factors involved.
The field of psychiatry is constantly striving to improve the treatment of mental illness, however we still have much to learn. Though I feel very much for the people featured in the programme, I am concerned that your manner of reporting has at best misused an educational opportunity, and at worst may deter patients with incapacitating illness from getting the treatment they need.
Dr. Julia Hardy, Britain
I watch your programme Sunday night and my daughter Michelle and I thought it interesting. To hear about Seroxat. Since I have lost my husband John who died of Lung Cancer in November 2000, I have been on Seroxat. And I take 1 30mg a day in the morning. And I have had no side affects of any kind. I felt like those people soon after he died. I feel like I am gaining my confidence coming back. I also have panic attacks, between 6 to 8 a day.
Jean , London, England
A correct diagnosis is vital and this would not appear to be the case with some of the patients. it would appear from your program that GP's are not paying enough attention to the fact that any anti- depressant not just Seroxat may have adverse effects on a patient. It is the diagnosis and follow up that are lacking. If the drug is making the patient worse it should be changed by the GP to an alternative group of anti depressants. Regrettably some GP's are not following up on the medication to ensure it is suitable. After trying other anti depressants that made me feel worse, Seroxat enabled me to return to living a normal life without chronic panic attacks but it did not suit my daughter and was changed very quickly by the GP to a different group of drugs.
I would have liked to have heard more from the psychiatrist appointed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to review the e-mails under discussion. His point, that many of the patients to whom the e-mails referred should never have been on Seroxat, is a telling one.
Our society promotes a 'quick fix' approach to physical as well as mental health. There is a dangerous assumption that perfect health is something to which people (at least in the Western world) are entitled. This leads people to expect cures for 'conditions' which, a generation or two ago, were seen as the unavoidable inconveniences of being alive.
What people do not seem to understand is that (relatively) little is known about brain chemistry. This, and the fact that the brain is an incredibly complex and subtle organ, means that drugs to combat mental problems - such as depression - should be an absolute last resort. I am very surprised that the teenager featured in your programme who had experienced depression as a result of bullying and her parents' divorce was placed on Seroxat. Her reaction was a perfectly normal one to an extremely difficult set of circumstances. Equally, it is strange to hear people describing their spouses (who had problems while on Seroxat) as happy and well-adjusted before taking the drug. That begs the question whether their 'depression' was severe enough to warrant taking the drug in the first place.
Doctors cannot be expected to identify all the intricate facets of 'depression' in a short (or even a long) consultation. If psychiatric help (in the form of counselling and suchlike) is not available, it is up to family and friends to encourage those suffering from 'depression' to recognise the cause of their difficulties and reach some practical solutions, rather than to pander to society's current dangerous trend towards a pill to cure every ill.
Catherine Sharp, England