Irene Dotson — (1991 FDA Hearings)

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Department Of Health And Human Services Public Health Service Food And Drug Administration

FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Hearings

Friday, September 20, 1991

DR. CASEY: Mr. Donnelly, thank you very much for your comments. We appreciate your time. Miss Irene Dotson?

MS. DOTSON: Good morning. My name is Irene Dotson. I came with my 10-year-old son and my sister from Jefferson City, Missouri, to share a personal experience that I had while taking Prozac.

In 1989 I was working at a very high-pressure job.   I was working for the Missouri Department of Social Services. I was managing an apartment complex and I was working on my masters. Things were going pretty good but it was very stressful. I finally just decided I’ve got to go to the doctor and talk to my doctor and find out why I’m not being able to handle this. I’ve handled much more in the past.

The doctor told me that this wonderful new drug Prozac would really get me through this rough time that I was having and just to bear with it. He said it’s sort of slow, you know, getting it started. It may take a while before you see any help, but once you take it, you will feel better.  I help my husband and my son at managing this apartment complex, we work side by side day after day — we had a very healthy, happy family. Once I began taking the Prozac that all changed. I underwent this complete personality change.

I became paranoid, I wanted to avoid everyone — I stayed in my bedroom — I wouldn’t answer the door, I didn’t go to see anyone, not even when I should have and it was always like a videotape, playing in my head every night, I just couldn’t deal with my son or my husband.

I started having these nightmares of dying – of me dying, different ways, it was almost like a horror movie being run through my head so then I didn’t want to go to sleep. I just wanted to stay up all the time. That didn’t help.

I didn’t know what to do about it, so I decided that I was just going to go ahead and take care of myself and that everyone else could just forget me. I was just going to take care of myself and get through this. And that is not typical of me and it?s not typical of me to ignore my friends and my family, and I was putting them through a very, very bad time.

It seemed like everyone was trying to push me over the edge. In citing one incident, which became a very violent time, my husband and I had what would have been a minor disagreement, say, six months before taking Prozac. On Prozac, I attacked him with a kitchen knife. Luckily, he’s bigger and stronger than I am and he defended himself, but I did this right in front of my son. Whenever I was stopped, I thought, “I can’t believe what I’m doing. I don’t believe what I’m doing. This is wrong.”

Then I decided that I was going to kill myself. My doctor had prescribed nerve medicine for me — I think it was Ativan. I had just had the bottle filled that day and had hundred pills in it. And so I went and I took all hundred pills, right in front of my son and right in front of my husband. I was really lucky, because my husband forced me to go to the emergency room, They saved me.

They told me that I could have had brain damage severely. We have put our life back together, but I’m sure that those incidents were caused by Prozac. Thank you.