SSRI Ed note: Woman starts Prozac, has personality change, urge to take deadly risks. She recognizes this as a drug effect and quits taking it.

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Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA) 

People’s Pharmacy

December 13, 2004

Author: Joe and Teresa Graedon

Q: Since the age of 23 I have had frequent migraine headaches. Through the years, many doctors have prescribed medicines to prevent them, but none has worked. Drugs can stop the migraine if I take them early enough, but they shouldn’t be taken too often.

I was told the headaches would disappear at menopause, but instead they got worse. For the past 10 years I have awakened three or four times a week between 2 and 4 a.m. with a migraine. I look at my bedside clock when the headache wakes me.

I read an article about people taking melatonin for jet lag and wondered if my headaches were due to a body clock problem. The article didn’t say anything about migraines, but I tried an experiment. I started taking one 3-mg melatonin tablet each evening, and I stopped waking up with a headache in the wee hours.

For years I have been avoiding all sorts of foods that might be migraine triggers. The success with melatonin made me brave, and I ate some of them. No headache, as long as I take the melatonin. I consider myself lucky and want to share my discovery.

A: You get credit for creative thinking. Scientists have also looked at the role of melatonin in treating migraine, and found these headaches might indeed be related to biorhythm disturbances. One study is titled: “Melatonin, 3 mg, is effective for migraine prevention” (Neurology, Aug. 24, 2004).

Q: I want to tell you of my experience with Prozac so that no one else has to go through it. I had taken Xanax for several years for periodic stress. I used it only intermittently, when the stress of my job as a scrub nurse in the operating room was unbearable. This medication never caused me any problems, and I was never addicted to it.

My insurance required me to switch doctors. The new physician said that Xanax was addictive and prescribed Prozac instead. While on Prozac for only six weeks, I became a totally different person.

Increasingly, I took risks without regard to the outcome. On the way to work one day, I fantasized about how my car would look going over a bridge, with no thought of how this would affect me. I was lucid enough to recognize this as a medication problem, and I stopped taking Prozac immediately.

It took about a week to stop the risky behaviors, but at least I was aware of the nature of the drug. Not everyone reacts the same, but I think prescribers need to be more sensitive to how it can affect some patients.

A: The official Prozac label lists abnormal thinking , suicidal ideation and violent behaviors as rare but possible reactions to the drug. The Food and Drug Administration recently required that makers of antidepressants warn prescribers to monitor children closely for personality changes.

Your experience with Prozac suggests that some adults might also be susceptible to such reactions.


In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York NY 10019, or e-mail them at pharmacy(at sign) or via their Web site: on the network.

Record Number: 0412150087
Copyright (c) 2004 Press-Telegram