Suicide is Painless: Sylvia’s Story

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May 30, 2013 | 33 Comments


  1. Good to hear how uncontrollable thoughts of suicide brought on by medicines can be halted if the connection is made between the medicines and the person concerned.
    I feel it also has a lot to do with a person’s own personal make-up, as to how resilient they are.
    Wouldn’t it be better if Doctors were able to say ‘be careful’ with drugs and to point out they are capable of causing thoughts as severe as suicide rather than just saying – ‘don’t worry this drug is safe’ and there is no evidence to show otherwise?
    Surely it is better to err on the side of caution and to make patients more self aware- rather than a Doctor be afraid of scare mongering?

    • I disagree about the resilience comment. It’s a chemical effect on your body. I consider myself happy, strong and resilient, I took these pills for anti malarials for only 2 days and had the same anxiety, sleeplessness etc. So I stopped.

      • Me too. I took it as an anti malarial and to be honest if I knew what the outcome would be I would never have done it. I am still suffering two years on and I only took them for a month or so. High anxiety rules my life and I feel like I am living in a bubble. Everyone else seems to have fun but I am on the outside. I changed jobs as a result because I put it all down to stress at work. But it isn’t I could always cope before and I was on the go all the time and enjoyed my time off. It has ruined my life and now my relationship with my family is starting to suffer.
        I am fearful of taking any drugs now. I just don’t trust them.

        • It is a terrible drug I will never take it again been in hospital twice this week my anxiety is so bad I’m afraid been of it four days now I’ve taken this before but the dr said try it again never again just hope it all passes soon can’t control my feelings

          • Suzann I have the same symptoms as you I suffer from anxiety and take medication for it. Last week I contracted a chest infection and was given doxycycline . My anxiety has been off the scale panic attacks thinking I’m going to die and also suicidal thoughts. Terrible drug I have stopped it now my psychiatrist says it should get better now.

  2. Plath’s first documented suicide attempt occured in 1953 in which she took her mother’s
    sleeping pills and laid in a crawl space under her house. She was reported missing then found under her mother’s house three days later The biggest predictor in completed suicide is a previous suicide attempt. At that point, she felt unaccomplished in her writing career. Her father died when she was eight. Parental death death during childhood is statitically correlated with
    depression. Her mind was unbalanced long before she took the Doxcycline. Correllation does not equal causation. Also, she’d been on the antidepressant a few days, not a week.
    Alledgedly, she was despondent, as her husband was cheating on her. Supposedly, she was
    under watch by caretakers, as her melancholy was so severe it was felt her life was in
    danger. Her suicide seemed planned, not an act of impulse, as she sealed the doors of
    the children’s room to protect them from asphyxiation when she stuck her head far in the oven.
    She also had plans to go to the UK to visit Dr. Katherine Dalton, who brought what was then
    called Premenstual Tension. Now, in academia the studies of her writing shows the
    cyclical pattern of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Dr. Dalton brought the condition into
    the public eye, but her progesterone treatments have proven suspect. Progesterone surges
    premenstually. Having had PMDD I could not tolerate either natural progesterone nor
    progestin. Plath was most prolific the year before her death.

    Her son commited suicide showing a strong genetic component. Her daughter struggled with

    Certainly antidepressants can cause suicidal ideation, but sources state she was in a precarious mental state, prior to the AD. Plus, AD’s generally take more than three days to kick in.
    Considering Plath’s mental health history blaming medication for her suicide seems suspect.

    Yes, one should carefully research meds, but the above piece with the sensationalistic headings
    proves predjudice in blaming her long time precarious mental state on drugs.

    As her husband philandered this creative woman could have felt constricted by the role of
    mother/writer. Writing meant everything to her, and concentration falters during

    Therefore, given Plath’s history her suicide hardly came as a shock.

    Regarding her written experience

    • Chris

      Sylvia Plath certainly had a lot of other things going on. A range of pills can trigger suicide in people whether or not they have other things going on. In this case she got her medication in the UK. The doctor didn’t think she was an acute risk. She committed suicide roughly a week later. Anything from 24 hours later to several weeks later are all consistent with the effects of the drugs.

      Do we know the drugs caused it? No. The evidence we have is that all things being equal when present the drug are more likely to be linked to suicide in cases like this than not – there is an excess of suicidal acts in people entered into depression trials in the active treatment arm compared to the placebo arm.

      I hope I haven’t confused things here. Sylvia in this story is a fictitious name. Sylvia Plath was given phenelzine.


      • I think this information about docycycline should be made very public,particularly in universities where young suicide is increasing..I know it’s not always the cause but I feel it needs more exposure..
        I am a very level person..never suffered from depression but last year I was prescribed this as I had a bad chest the case history Sylvia,I had the most strange suicidal thoughts popping into my head from nowhere..I thought they might be caused by fever from the infection..
        I didn’t associate these thoughts with docycline for a few days but,it was so out of character for me that I looked up possible side effects on the Internet and immediately stopped taking them..
        I still had the fever but the weird thoughts of how I could commit suicide vanished ..
        It made me wonder as my ex husband had been on tetracycline for years and he shot himself in 2001.. I’ll never know if there was a connection..
        I went back to the doctor and recounted my experiences..he told me I had imagined it..I know I didnt..
        I am 69
        How can we highlight this side effect?

  3. It was confusing, but you straightened out the seperate Sylvias. I do need new glasses.

    The off label usage of 2nd generation neuroleptics , as an adjunct treatment for depression is disturbing. A friend complained of a massive weight gain. I asked what meds she was taking to find Zyprexa on the list. I showed her an article revealing the side effects of Zyprexa to increased weight gain. The article stated the increased risk of
    diabetes being linked to Zyprexa.

    I read of Dr. Healy’s work in “The New York Times.,” for exposing the link between suicide and
    antidepressants, years ago. Now a black box warning appears on AD link to youth suicide.
    Biig Pharma is slick. I understand the newest ploy by Big Pharma is to employ certain
    physicians to lecture to groups of physicians since the wooing of doctors with various perks
    has been publicaly exposed. I’ve seen seen a doctor give me a Big Pharma sample then, as if by rote, write a prescription for that exact drug. My GP brother in law’s office has a policy of not
    seeing pharmaceutical reps, which is rare and admirable.

    Alledgedly, the reasoning behind the suicide/AD link is in the very early weeks, prior to the AD
    full antidepressant efficacy, one’s increased energy levels could cause one attempt suicide.
    However, AD can induce mania or increase anxiety. I also understand the studies don’t show nuch difference between a placebo or an AD, percentage wise.

    Sorry for the confusion regarding Sylvia


  4. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease at the beginning of the month and was given a prescription for 100mg tablets of Doxycycline for 21 days, twice a day. I was feeling ill from the Lyme but after taking the medication for four days I began feeling even worse. Not just a sick feeling but weird feeling. My eyes were not working right, almost like I couldn’t focus them. My head has felt strange too. It is as though I am in a constant fog or something with a tight/tense band around it and down the back. I just do not feel like myself. I have had this off balance feeling where I am not really dizzy but almost. I called my doctor to report how I felt and was told that I needed to take the medication anyway. My stomach has been messed up as well. I have had anxiety, heart palpitations, and real trouble sleeping. This medication is bad. I want to feel like myself again, not a zombie whose brain is in a fog. I took my last tablet today. I have no idea if it took care of my Lyme Disease, but I will NEVER take doxycycline ever again. I found a website where many other people have had these same reactions. The list of side affects needs to be more extensive as to what this medication has the capability of doing. Or it simply should be done away with all together.

  5. I took doxycline for 2 weeks 100 mg 2 x a day for lyme, and have been of it for 4 weeks and feel so sick still, digestive problems, weird feelings, feel suicidal, sick feeling, tightness in throat, chest, stiffness in back, legs, and the list goes on. I also took Mepron for co-infection of babesiosis, and took azithromycin all with the doxycline. The doctors stick up for each other, and said I needed it all. Well, now I am not myself, feel I will never be normal again, and just want to die. On top of all of this, I was already depressed having lost my husband to a lethal cancer. So, why go on?

  6. I also took Doxycycline for Lyme, and experienced very severe side effects in terms of really severe nausea (retching so violently it was terrifying) dizziness (so that I had to instantly lie flat on my back for hours till I could move again) and such extreme sensitivity that my face and hands got very badly burnt (not at all like ‘sunburn’ but more like being fried – so that my skin was bright red, and cracked, and bleeding and so painful I could not sleep) and this wasn’t even in bright sunshine, but in mid winter, in the rain, after going outside for only 10 minutes, with gloves and scarves and hats on all the time to try and protect me!- my hands even ‘burnt’ with leather gloves on, covered in wounds, and my nose was permanently red and cracked and scarred so that I looked really weird..
    But what I want to say is that these symptoms were specific to me taking Doxycycline – I have never experienced the skin sensitivity before or after, with any other kind of medication; or the same kinds of nausea and dizziness I did taking Doxycycline. But though I did also experience various psychological side effects, including the depressive/suicidal phases taking Doxycycline, I HAVE experienced them (and to a greater degree) taking other antibiotics and herbal anti-microbials since then, and in fact to a much more severe degree. As far as I can see these suicidal states (almost like strong physical impulses rather than logical consideration of options – an overwhelming desire to die not just an idea) are ‘herxes’ caused by the chemical effects not so much of the medication taken than its effects on the bacteria and other pathogens they are attacking – all to do with the release of cytokines, and especially quinolone it seems to me ….

  7. I’ve been on Doxycycline 100mg twice a day for a week and a half now. The past 3 nights, every night, like clockwork I start to get the worst headache of my life. I used to get maybe 1 headache every other month that was treatable by asprin. Now I feel like there is a tight band around my forehead and back of my head. the only way to get ride of it is to go to sleep. I have to no suicidable thoughts, I do however get the worst upset stomach every morning when I wake up to the point of wanting to vomit. I avoid dairy and eat a small something when I take my dose but I still can’t shake the feeling. I don’t know if I can take a whole month of this! I’ve never had this reaction to any other antibiotic!

    • Hi hope u are feeling better now. I am taking it my last day of it, cause me sleepless nights ,headaches ,n joint pain and head feels cloudy. Heart palpitations . I don’t eat diary and.take withe 90 billion probiotics organic . Would not reccomend this drug either .

  8. I’m 38. Was prescribed Doxycycline last year and the pill. Fir my acne. I almost took an overdose after about 6 months of taking both medication to fix my skin. Had prepared my suicide over a week. Had picked the day. Everything was clear about what I was to do. But I had an intervention at the last minuet. I stopped taking the medication and the suicidal thoughts went away.

    A year later and still desperate to fix my acne problem. I tried the antibiotic again. Hoping it wouldn’t have the same effect. I ran out about a week ago and couldn’t afford to get a new prescription. Within 2 days of not taking it. I have been hit with intense suicidal thoughts and disppear. I had disturbed sleeps the first 3 nights. It’s been a week now. The thoughts are subsiding but I have lost motivation and can hardly get out of bed. I realised it had to be the drug because the thoughts were so strong and out of character. I’ve tried to control them with much difficulty.

  9. My son (19 yrs old) was on Doxy for about 5 weeks (for acne) & has had fitful nights of sleep in about 4 of those weeks, w/ the last 4 or 5 days w/ NO SLEEP what-so-ever! He called the dermatologist who prescribed him this & the nurse stated that “Dr. Von-whoever has never had a patient that has been prescribed Doxy have insomnia.”…..ummmm, well, there’s always a 1st time & guess what? This is it! We went to the ER yesterday, because of him not sleeping & suicidal thoughts & was told by the ER Dr to stop taking Doxy immediately. Last night was his 1st night of actually getting some decent rest…..ER Dr advised to take Benadryl, which he did. My advice to anyone prescribed this medication is to do some serious research. We have done our research, after the fact, & will take everything found to this so-called Dr./dermatologist, as well as ER report & just see what is said to that “never had a patient w/ insomnia” bit……again, my advice is DO NOT TAKE THIS MEDICATION!!!!!

    • Wow..
      I’ve been on
      …doxycycline 100 mil twice a day now for 5 days.. I swear I almost killed my self because of anxiety and depression..
      I Just threw them away..

  10. Doxycycline is a killer drug… I took for two weeks and felt like bipolar disorser mania…. I wld never take antibiotics again widout my doc prescription…..

  11. Hi all,I have been taking doxycycline for twelve days and stopped it slowly by taking alternately for two days and then three days and then stopped completely. Since then I have been facing issues falling asleep and staying asleep. I am not able to sleep for more than 5 hours and have weird dreams. I have anxiety symptoms as well. I started blaming my protein powder intake which I doubled just around the time I stopped doxy. I want to know how long these symptoms last. I took doxy 100mg once a day for around twelve days. I am in dilemma if my sleeplessness and difficulty falling asleep is due to doxy or too much protein(which I hv completely stopped now).

    • There can be a withdrawal syndrome from doxy – no one knows much about this – how long it lasts for instance.


      • What do u mean by withdrawal syndrome of doxy? I’m having anxiety attacks and shivering while lying down and unable to sleep. Called up a doctor friend of mine to check if these are withdrawal symptoms but he denied and even his senior doctor did.

  12. Hi David,
    Thank you for replying. I consulted my doctor friend who says doxy doesnt cause any such withdrawal symptoms n its just something else. I am due my appointment with my derma who prescribed this to me. Confused whether I should consult a derma or a gp.

    • I#m not surprised your doctor isn’t aware of a withdrawal syndrome. Most people have no very obvious problems but some do. What you do when doctors disagree is only something you can decide


  13. I have had the worst experience on Doxycycline – Having taken it for just under 4 weeks, I woke up with a burning chest pain and breathing difficulty. This developed in to a inflamed esophagos where I was unable to eat and swallow anything, even water, without serious pain. My breathing was hugely affected which in turn meant I wan unable to do much and was constantly exhausted. I heard that doxycycline caused chest issues so I decided to stop taking it.. However, the worst was to come – A few days after I stopped taking I began to experience blurred vision and visual disturbances (No crazy hallucinations, but things were moving slightly, which was still scary) I also felt extremely out of my body and had rushing pins and needles pain up and down my body, at one point I was unable to breathe, shaking and unable to swallow. These symptoms continued on and off every few days for the next 2 weeks or so.. But they did get less intense and further in between. I have experience feeling completely back to normal, but have had feelings of bad anxiety and hypochondria on and off now and also brain fog. This is one month on from taking this drug. It is a really small percentage of people that this happens too, but it doesn’t make it any better as they are extremely scary side affects and makes people feel as though they are crazy! So happy that I found this thread as I felt completely a lone with these symptoms. It’s important to stay positive and to remember that these symptoms will slowly leave your body – THEY WILL DEFINITELY GO.. but they may take time. It is a slow process for me but I am definitely getting there and feeling much better than I have before. Hang in there!

    • Hello i was on doxy for 14 days. I have anxiety, depression and insomnia. It has been about a month and a half and I still get waves of this. Are you at 100% now?

  14. Wow. A light bulb just came on in my head tonight and something clicked, I finally considered a link between my depressive mood and the 100mg doxy I’ve been taking.
    This article has 100% described how I’ve been feeling and I’ve had such a huge sense of relief to feel I’m not alone in this!!! I stopped the doxy to see if my skin would stay better, for two weeks. My skin got terrible again but my mood – wow, after taking doxy for a month, I hadn’t felt myself or completely happy until now!! I was so upbeat and outgoing and felt no anxiety at all. It was so liberating to feel like that again. Went back on the doxy to give one last try and sorting my skin out…its been just over a week now and I can already feel my mood dropping. Friends and boyfriend have talked to me about depression and anti depression and wondering what’s wrong with me. I feel like crying at every little comment someone makes, I’ve picked arguments I wouldn’t usually, and have felt so withdrawn and low about myself.
    After reading this I’m going to the doctor tomorrow to discuss it all. Thank you so much for helping me reaffirm my thoughts on doxy!!!

  15. Neuropsychiatric Outcomes After Mefloquine Exposure Among U.S. Military Service Members. 2017 Jan 11

    In comparison to doxycycline recipients in the nondeployed cohort, mefloquine recipients were at a statistically significant lower risk for adjustment disorder, insomnia, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, vertigo, and PTSD. The reason for this finding is not completely understood.

    Common antibiotic may help to prevent or treat PTSD. 4 April 2017

    Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline. 2017 Apr 4

    Scientists find common antibiotic could prevent or treat PTSD. Apr 4, 2017

    Doxycycline increases neurogenesis and reduces microglia in the adult hippocampus. 2013 Jul 25
    Doxycycline 40ppm = 15mg/kg/day(Oral)

    = blood-level 50ng/mL (Antibiotic Administration in the Drinking Water of Mice

    Doxycycline exerted neuroprotective activity by enhancing the activation of neuropeptide GPCR PAC1.
    Doxycycline 0.001 – 0.1mg/kg/day treat amnesia. (Dose dependency)

  16. Minocycline

    Population scale data reveals the antidepressant effects of ketamine and other therapeutics approved for non-psychiatric indications.
    Published online:03 May 2017

    Further, the Inverse-Frequency Analysis methodology provides robust statistical support for the antidepressant action of other currently approved therapeutics including diclofenac and minocycline.

    Minocycline exacerbates apoptotic neurodegeneration induced by the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 in the early postnatal mouse brain. 2016 Oct

    Microglia Activation and Schizophrenia: Lessons From the Effects of Minocycline on Postnatal Neurogenesis, Neuronal Survival and Synaptic Pruning. 2017 May (Schizophr Bull.)


    Inhibition of microglia activation by minocycline was shown to induce extensive neuronal cell death and to impair subventricular zone (SVZ) neurogenesis and synaptic pruning in the early postnatal and adolescent rodent brain, respectively. These deleterious effects contrast with the neuroprotective actions of minocycline at adult stages. They are of potential importance for schizophrenia, since minocycline triggers similar pro-apoptotic effects in the developing brain as NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonists, known to induce long-term schizophrenia-like abnormalities.

  17. I’m so angry right now. My 12 year old was prescribed Doxycycline for her acne last month. She just told me last night that she has been hearing the voice of a “mean lady” in her head telling her she is a failure and to kill herself. I’m grateful that I immediately questioned the side effects of the medication and that you have shared your stories. WHY DIDN’T WE GET A WARNING??? I could have been monitoring her or better yet not put her on the medication at all. How many teen suicides are linked to this? They sure are quick to prescribe it for acne. How can we change this? For any concerned, we are having her see a mental health pro ASAP.

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