RxISK says Doxycycline causes Suicide

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March 12, 2013 | 30 Comments

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  1. If this really checks out (and it sure looks solid) someone needs to warn the young men and women of the United States military. And fast. Up until 2009, U.S. troops were routinely given mefloquine (Lariam) to prevent malaria. That drug has a terrible reputation, well-deserved, for inducing violence, suicide and psychotic symptoms which in some people may persist for months or years after stopping. As of 2009, the Defense Department, finally giving in to the avalanche of evidence, switched their drug of choice for malaria prevention. To doxycycline.

    Elspeth Ritchie, former lieutenant colonel and DoD’s leading psychiatrist in the field, presided over the mass dosing of soldiers with Lariam for most of the 2000’s. Now, however, she is endeavoring to present the drug as somewhat of a scapegoat. She’s due to lecture at the upcoming American Psychiatric Association convention in May on the psychiatric side effects of two drugs she’s prepared to admit could play a role in military suicides: mefloquine, which is seldom used anymore, and steroids, whose use by active-duty troops is often illicit.

    Ritchie has speculated in Time magazine’s Battlefield blog that the massacre of Afghan civilians carried out by Sgt. Robert Bales in 2012 was due to mefloquine intoxication. But it’s far more likely Robert Bales would have been given doxycycline, not mefloquine in Afghanistan in 2011-2012. In 2011, the Army gave doxycycline to 151,802 soldiers, compared to only 1,780 soldiers who received mefloquine. Meanwhile, the role of multiple antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleep aids and painkillers continues unexamined. Add doxycycline to the list of medications that soldiers and their families need to watch out for.

    Much of my information here comes from the progressive online magazine Truthout – which seems well-sourced on this:

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/8624-former-guantanamo-psychiatrist-promotes-dubious-drug-theory-on-afghan-killings

  2. I think the Rxisk score will vary from person to person simply because some people are likely to ‘play’down certain effects they have experienced-which is why the score may need to be higher than how it first appears on a report.
    I speak from experience – the report I submitted didnot sound as serious as in fact it was – Only now several months after the event am I actually determining the ‘damage’ my side effect had or potentially could have had- if I hadn’t caught it in time and delivered myself for help. I feel the Rxisk score could well have been alot higher- but I suppose the main thing is I reported it.

  3. I am very interested in this, and the wider purpose of RxISK. However, it is important to capture the reason the drug is given, alongside the drug itself. For instance, doxycycline is prescribed both as an antibiotic and for malaria prophylaxis in the military. The risk associated with use in military personnel who may be exposed to traumatic situations is fundamentally different from antibiotic use, and the potential for suicidality will also vary. Incidentally, doxycycline is also used for acne, and here again there is an enhanced risk of suicide among such patients. I am not dismissing the evidence at all, merely pointing out how the information can be better gathered and used. I am sure that there are many side effects which are under-reported and we should encourage more thorough feedback; but do tie it in with the drug’s use.

  4. I personally have been taking this pill day to day and I have been noticing the effects I have been receiving from this medication. I fell as though I am less anxious and depressed when I do not take it which I got from being off and on the pill many times throughout the past four years. I took the pill today and I have decided to stop.

  5. I was prescribed Doxycline for a respiratory infection. Almost immediately I had serious depression evidenced by weeping, a feeling of sadness, general anxiety as well as nausea.
    I will not take this drug again.

  6. I’ve been in healthcare for 25 years and have cared for a number of people over that time who have been prescribed doxycycline for infection control. Just as there is no scientific evidence presented in any of the above articles and comments, I too will give anecdotal evidence. NONE of the people I cared for developed depression or attempted suicide that I can recall. In the instances listed above I note many are incomplete personal testimonials from parents. What parent is going to admit their child was not perfect? How many times do we hear of someone committing or attempting suicide and their family and friends are perplexed because everything appeared to be fine? We just have seen L’ren Scott commit suicide by hanging herself. Mick Jagger and all her aquaintances were shocked even though it was well known she was having serious Relationship,financial and business problems. I understand the pain and guilt associated with the death of a loved one, especially a child. But in an effort to place blame for the actions of the deceased on anyone BUT the deceased, are these allegations that doxycycline “caused” their suicides legitimate? I have never known a thought to actually kill someone. I’m unsure how a medication is physically capable of loading a gun and firing it. Or hold a knife and slit a wrist. Or tie a noose and force it over a persons head. Or cram other pills down a persons throat. In other words, each individual who attempted or committed suicide had to take a series physical actions to perform the act. No where have I heard in the anecdotal evidence that the individuals were otherwise mentally impaired by using the medication. Since their mental status did not appear to be affected adversely, their actions should still have been able to be controlled by themselves. Why then no call for assistance to those nearby? Why no questions to Doctors, family members or others about these strange new thoughts? In fact, I have heard no anecdotal evidence AT ALL that explains why there has been made a definitive link between taking doxy and suicide much less establishing causality. In no case of suicide EVER has the culprit been the item used to commit it. Inanimate objects are incapable of jumping up and performing an action which would lead to the death of a person. It is ALWAYS the person who performs the action and thus it is the person who is responsible for their own death. This is sad and unfortunate. But it is NOT a reason for people to blame anyone but the individual for their actions. Individual accountability for ones actions has been downplayed in this country for decades. The willingness for people to blame every bad event in their lives on anything but themselves has come into vogue currently. The desire to have rights without responsibilities is seductive because accepting personal accountability is difficult and opens oneself up to recriminations and consequences. Who wants to accept consequences that are negative? However that is exactly what needs to be done here.

    • I’m a mental health nurse in New Zealand near to having prescribing rights. I have no idea of the pharmacodynamics & how it may impact the central nervous system however our national medicines authority notes depression & anxiety as uncommon side effects of doxycycline. I found this out after seeking this info out due to increasing flat affect, consistent low mood and loss of appetite. I will be stopping the medication as I suspect I am experiencing these as side effects. Doxycycline will not ’cause’ suicide however if it precipitates a major depressive episode then it can be linked to a suicide.

    • As with other extreme side effects in medicines, depression/anxiety/suicidal thoughts may be rare in Doxycycline. Your attitude and closed mind exemplifies the ‘I haven’t seen or heard of this so it must be you’ wall that many patients come up against. You say that: ‘The willingness for people to blame every bad event in their lives on anything but themselves has come into vogue currently’. Well, the willingness to blame the individual for something, when in actual fact they were mentally healthy before taking a medication has been in ‘vogue’ a good deal longer.

      Just because a side affect isn’t officially documented, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The pharmaceutical companies rule with an iron fist. They will fight tooth and nail to avoid losing sales. Due to this and many other factors, it takes a long time for a rare side affect to become officially recognised. If you have been in healthcare for 25 years and are still unaware of how seriously some medications can seriously alter a persons personality then I wouldn’t want you treating me.

    • How dare you decide people are making this stuff up! I never feel like this. This drug has caused me to feel extreme anxiety and hoplessnes. It is the WORST feeling of anything I’ve ever experinced! I am patiently waiting for 5 days, to get it out of my brain. I used to work at a mental health facility. I was a secretary for a psychiatrist. Most people don’t make this stuff up in order to have something to blame. This is very real and so are most mental disorders! So called, health professionials, like you, treating others like their making this up because they have never heard of it before are the cause of certain people to lose hope and commit suicide! That’s why I’m on this thread. Everyone was nice at my clinic until I insisted that this drug is causing mental side-effects. So if you are not in the majority, you aren’t really experiencing this horrific side-effect? You couldn’t be more wrong! You are in the wrong profession!

  7. *discussion of suicidal thoughts/mental illness below*

    I was on Doxy for about 2 months. I became increasingly paranoid, felt intense anxiety and developed severe symptoms of OCD. The feelings I experienced were horrific. I felt like I was having some kind of nervous breakdown.

    My brain became compulsive. I had music constantly playing in my head (an earworm) and my thoughts would race. I became terrified that I would never have peace in my brain again, and for the first time in my life seriously contemplated shooting myself in the head to get some ‘quiet’. I honestly felt like I would never have a quiet moment again.

    I also suffered from morbid intrusive thoughts and images. I became afraid of hurting myself and others, even though I’ve never self harmed or seriously harmed anyone in my life before.

    I am now off the Doxy and my symptoms are settling down. I am now able to sleep in my own room alone, and am not having nightly panic attacks. The whole experience was terrifying and because of it I have now developed triggers. Seeing or hearing discussion of things such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis etc make me feel ill, as these were the mental illnesses I was convinced I had developed.

    I wish I had been warned by my Dr that there was a possibility for these symptoms. I suffered depression as a teenager and feel that I was possibly more susceptible due to this. I wish my history had been taken into account before I was prescribed such a terrible drug for me.

    I suffered through all of this because I have hormone related pimple breakouts. A nightmare, over achieving clear skin.

  8. My 15 year old daughter started taking 100 mg doxycycline twice daily for acne last summer. After about two months of taking the drug I noticed that my normally type A perfectionist child was becoming even more obsessive and fatalistic. She kept talking about how hopeless everything was and how she was a big disappointment to everyone around her. She obsessed over being a failure and despaired over every decision. This kid with a great sense of humor stopped laughing and seemed unable to experience any joy in her life. The only change in her life/routine I could identify was the doxy (which didn’t seem to be working anyway). I took her off the doxy and within two weeks she began to act like her old self. She laughed more, slept better, started to look forward to things, and began to have friends over again. Incidentally my younger daughter was also on doxy for acne and she never seemed to experience any difficulties from the drug. She is a more laid back kid and not as intense as her older sister. Neither one of them have taken the drug since last fall and I have no intentions of putting them back on it ever again. I hope this is helpful.

  9. Was given doxycline for kidney problem after bad food poisoning. First day or 2felt washed out still very ill from kidney problem then by the 3rd or 4th day started feeling really bad deep inside felt like someone had ripped my personality and all the joy out of my body… felt like there was no point to anything and no point living. I saw my local surgery nurse who new as soon as i told her the drugs nane – she new what problems this has caused to other patients including suicidal tendancy idealisation…. its incredulous that the full side effects are not being shared with the general public.

  10. My dad was on and off doxycycline for 7 year the last couple months before his suicide my dad had a reaction to it and went to the er and was told he is allergic to it but his doctor told him to keep taking it and take benadryl with it .Day we before my dad took his life he was vomiting and had very bad stomach pain he was also very anxious and obsessing over stuff he normally wouldnt .The day of my dad went to my daughters game and came home and eat lunch with in minutes of my mom coming home my dad started acting weird .he then went and go his gun and told my mom he was going to kill him self .my dad never in a million years would say that .My mom tried her best to stop him but she couldnt he ran out side and took his life in front of my mom .My dad was a very sensitive person and he had zero emotion to him when he took his life not even one tear in his eye .I wouldnt have ever been able to put the puzzle together if it wasnt for tara sharing her story about her son .Because of her my family can have closer .My dad passed away march15,2014 .Im not trying to blame anyone and We dont want anything but a little warning on the bottle cause maybe if it did my dad would have known to stop taking it and call his doctor

  11. i had the worst side effects to doxy. dizziness, nausea, head pressure, anxiety.the worst thing ever. was on it for 2 weeks. it took a week to come out of my system.alot of it was in my head too. doctor told me to relax and get it out of my head.i took panadol every 6 hours and meditated as well.good luck coming off this horrid drug

  12. i had the worst side effects to doxy. dizziness, nausea, head pressure, anxiety.the worst thing ever. was on it for 2 weeks. it took a week to come out of my system.alot of it was in my head too. doctor told me to relax and get it out of my head.i took panadol every 6 hours and meditated as well.good luck coming off this horrid drug

  13. I’ve only taken 3 of these damn tablets and it’s made my anxiety so bad that I’m ticking every 5 minutes in bed. This has been happening now for the last 2 nights. I’m suffering with my anxiety and depression anyway as we had to put my dog down who was my best friend 3 days ago but this has made me think of killing myself just to stop the pain and I’ve never had those thoughts before. I’ve stopped taking them now. Horrible medication.

  14. I was prescribed doxycycline by my dermatologist for acne-like eruptions on my face. It has only been 3 days and I’ve grown weepy. I begin to cry about every small thing that does not go well, and I’ve also been feeling increasingly sad, even though logically I know there’s nothing wrong with my life. I’m going to stop taking this medicine now that I’ve read about others experiencing similar symptoms, because my weepiness has coincided so strikingly with taking this medication.

  15. I took this medication for 3 weeks and was consumed with fear and thoughts of death. I was involuntarily shaking for days. The fear and emotional pain was so intense that I prayed to god to kill me. After the initial effect wore off, for some reason, caffeine and certain medications will trigger the effect again. I have never had a problem with caffeine before. Even when it’s not in effect, the dark thoughts still linger with me and I have become depressed to the point that I cannot work. I cry with feelings of despair multiple times during the day. I feel no hope in my life. I pray that this will improve with time.

    • Please if you are taking doxy stop and talk to your doctor It will take weeks to feel normal dont give up this med really messes with your mind

  16. I’ve been on doxy 100 mg per day for 3 weeks now and the depression/bad feelings started within a few days. I realized it was the doxy but kept going because crazy enough I’m willing to suffer through this to clear my acne. But it’s starting to become bad as I’ve felt detached from my husbad and thoughts of suicide have crossed my mind. I know it’s crazy but I’m still going to give it another week or two because my skin is a huge problem for me… but I am slightly scared. I may talk to my doctor about a different treatment plan…

  17. Taking Doxycycline 100mg 2x a day for a sinus infection. I started noticing a difference about a day into being on the medication. It just registered today though (4 days in) that something was wrong. I’ve been feeling very numb and disinterested in things around me, increased anxiety and depression for no real reason. I kept thinking everythings great so why am I feeling like this. I did some research and came across a few articles including this one where others have experienced symptoms of depression on Doxycycline. Needless to say, Im stopping the medication and calling my doctor in the morning for something new to take for the infection, I’d rather deal with sinus’ then feeling like this.

  18. I have a skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa and was prescribed doxy. I was on it for two months with no major problems other than stomach aches, until the third month. I started to experience feelings I’ve never had. A “foggy” mind was my biggest problem. I was 17 at the time and was too embarrassed to tell the doctor about my depressive thoughts. I know, big mistake. I am now on erythromycin and again after 2 fine months, the 3rd month is making me feel how I felt on doxy. I feel completely detached from my life, as if I have no control of anything. Both doxy and erythromycin made me very paranoid. My anxiety was always high, which also made me extremely exhausted. Both medicines made me feel like a completely different person. I stopped both mediciations and have no intention on starting them again, even though my skin condition did improve. If anyone has any advice on an antibiotic that works for them for acne/hidradenitis suppurativa, please reply to this post. Thank you.

    • Kal

      We don’t get into treatment options on RxISK but broadly there are likely to be a bunch of non-pharm and non antibiotic things as well as other antibiotics that won’t cause this (it may be that any antibiotic that’s anti-inflamm will have the same response). Check out
      http://dermnetnz.org/acne/hidradenitis-suppurativa.html

      Having consulted this last week for a skin complaint its a great resource for all things dermatological

      David

  19. If someone could call me in regards to this matter I would greatly appreciate it. My son has this been diagnosed with epilepsy he’s been taking doxycycline for less than 6 months. the uncontrollable Behavior no violence just very very high and very very Lows some school officials were even worried about him possibly committing suicide.. it went from everything from seizures 2 deep depression two absolute uncontrollable behavior that he did not know what he was doing to finally the diagnosis of epilepsy in an area that controls his behavior.. The monster drug along has destroyed lots of lives an the company that makes it needs to be stopped.

  20. I was perscribed doxy twice a day for 14 days for a sinus infection. The first two days I took this pill I should have recognized what was happening an didn’t I have never had such severe depression OCD racing thoughts unable to control my mind paranoia anxiety feeling like I have lots control of my life and that everything I enjoy doing is gonna be taken from me. I can’t get excited about anything an when I do start to have positive thoughts there interupted by horrific disgusting thoughts I’ve never felt uncomfortable around friends and family this is totally not me at all I have never felt like this I have been off this med for month an half now it’s gotten better but not 100 percent I’ll have some good days an the some days as though it never went away. I have heard it takes months for this to go away this is terrible. This drug is like doing meth or some sort of other mind alerting drug an it should be illegal!!!!!!! I feel this horrible feeling like something is trying to take my mind over an Iam contanstly fighting it. I just want my old self back this has been the toughest 2 months of my life!!!!!! An the depression is very bad try to think positive or think of things that get me excited an bam!!!! It’s like nothing makes me feel better I wanna f&:!ing scream!!!!! My beautiful girlfriend an family have been helping me threw this but I feel detached from everything Iam doing how long does this take to go away!!!!!!!!!

  21. I have read these comments with great interests, my wife has been on Doxy for several months for an infected implant in her mouth, and has come down with many of the symptoms commented on here, terrible anxiety, seeing supposed spiders, afraid to do anything and lies in bed all day.
    I started to suspect this and mentioned it to several doctors and they mostly dismissed it as to being some other cause.
    Many doctors say they have never had patients experience these things, well maybe most people don’t have problems with it just like most people are fine eating nuts and to others it can be deadly. Every body has a little bit of difference in their chemical, physical and hormonal makeup and can be effected quite differently than others with different foods and chemicals, for doctors to say that certain medicines won’t negatively effect people is just being naive and wrong.

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