2009 FDA ACTION UPDATE: Since the below article's original publication on April 2, 2008 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced on July 1, 2009 that Chantix must carry a black box warning, the FDA's highest warning level. This FDA site link discusses the new warning and allows viewing of September 2009 FDA video on the black box warning update.
WARNING: As advised by the FDA and Pfizer, "If either you, your family or caregiver notice agitation, depressed mood, or changes in behavior that are not typical for you, or if you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, stop taking CHANTIX and call your doctor right away."
WARNING: Do not rely upon any information in this article, including comments made by other Chantix users, to replace individual consultations with your doctor, pharmacist or other qualified health care provider.
WARNING: If you or your loved one is using or considering using Chantix or Champix be sure to read the new patient Medication Guide released on May 16, 2008. Also watch the safety warning video clip released by the FDA on April 1, 2008 (FDA website clip in various formats or WhyQuit link in Windows Media format only). If unable to watch the clips you can read warnings discussed in the clip at the FDA website.
I experienced severe depression, anxiety and anger ranging to rage (very unlike me) and suicidal ideation while taking this medicine. I thought I was going crazy and did not attribute it to the medicine until I stopped the Chantix and symptoms abated. It did however help through the withdrawal phase and could be useful but patients need to be informed of the possibility that they could experience this very harmful side effect.
BT - November 26, 2007
I have been taking Chantix for 15 days. My symptoms started immediately. The first week it was mainly the nausea, weird dreams, weakness, and the headaches and constipation. The headaches are more like migraines. Towards the end of the first week is when the mood swings and depression started. It has just gotten worse.
I am usually not this way, but I scream and yell a lot. I can't stand to be around my children. Which is so not normal. I love my children. My husband says that I have turned into one of those crazy chicks. I usually talk to my best friend at least once a day and now I don't even answer her phone calls. I do not want to be around anyone or talk to anyone. It is nothing for me to lock myself in my bedroom and just cry.
2 years ago I quit cold turkey. I did not have a cig for 7 months. The withdrawals then were not near as bad as what I am going through right now. I am just going to pray that I will not have any long lasting effects. After going through what I am going through- I would not suggest this medication to anyone. If you really want to quit, go cold turkey.
CBN - November 26, 2007
I started taking Chantix 11/2/07. I have quit smoking but I have to stop this med. I seriously am afraid of what will happen to me if I continue. Every second I don't occupy my mind with something I am thinking that I don't need to be alive.
My life is very stressful right now. Holidays, struggling marriage, kids. I have always been one that handled stress well, even thrived on it to some degree. Since taking this stuff I just want to give up. I cry too much, I get angry if the wind blows the wrong way, I'm afraid I am going to hurt myself. I started cutting back to just one tablet a day. I am afraid to stop it cold turkey. I don't want to smoke ever again.
Cindy - November 27, 2007
I absolutely feel like I have to write this: my experience on this was frightening. I have extreme mood swings, nightmares, and impatience I can't describe. However the most scary thing is the SUICIDAL THOUGHTS out of nowhere. Severe intense depression too. Just QUIT!!!
RR - November 30, 2007
One scary drug. I am a nurse administrator and well know the anticipated side effects of quitting smoking. What I experienced with Champix was not one of them. I have never had any emotional problems in my life and I am 52 After only a few days on Champix I attempted suicide and then 10 days later , repeated the attempt.
Pam L - December 3, 2007
Started Chantix and had great initial success... I work as a counselor in a psychiatric hospital. I've never had a period of aggressive behavior, I don't drink alcohol or use drugs... pretty much laid back and calm.
After starting Chantix I started experiencing increased irritability--I knew irritability was a side effect of Chantix and decided to live with the irritability. By the third week, I was having intense rageful episodes... 2 to 3 times per day. I had destroyed a laptop computer, a desktop pc, I had even at one time seriously considered shooting a train engineer because his train was "blocking" traffic...
Again I had never--even at times when I stopped smoking without anything--had these thoughts and feelings of intense rage. After the shooting thought though, I decided that I would discontinue Chantix...
JW - December 6, 2007
I started Chantix in October. After 5 weeks I became depressed and suicidal. I tried to end my life but was saved by a co-worker. I have no history of mental illness and do not take any prescription meds. I have a 35 year smoking history and have quit twice: once with the gum and once with the patch without any depression or suicide attempts. Chantix has been detrimental to my life and career. Be very careful with this drug.
GCH - December 12, 2007
I have been taking Chantix for a month and quit smoking 19 days ago. I had to cut back the Chantix to 1/2 pill twice a day because of nausea and wicked dreams. I noticed that lately I have been crying unexplainably and having brief suicidal thoughts.
GL - December 14, 2007
I tried to kill myself three days after starting this evil medication. From the first day, I felt a horrible depression that did not let up until two days after I started taking it. I had overwhelming thoughts of suicide and just gave in to them. Lucky to still be here.
Terri - December 21, 2007
I tried Chantix for 3 weeks, and I woke up every morning after the first 2 weeks with the thought: why am I alive. I had no desire to do anything. It took me 15 minutes to gather my strength and actually get out of my car in the parking lot to go to work. I had no desire whatsoever to do anything or even say anything; and worst of all, horrible bed experience, it practically put a bullet in my sex life. I think smoking is much better than chantix. Pfizer should change their slogan for chantix to: "Dead people don't smoke!!!
Feras - December 26, 2007
Wow..I thought I was going nuts!! My husband and I both started Chantix the 18th of Nov. 2007. We stopped yesterday 12/25/07... It has been the month+ from hell... Besides the dreams, lack of sleep, nausea (I LOST 5 LBS), we have both dropped into a terrible depression (not speaking to each other or snapping each other's heads off).
Thanks to you all we stopped the meds and today was the first day I almost felt normal in a month. I confided in my husband that I have been trying to figure out a way to kill myself for over 2 weeks but kept thinking what if I only hurt myself and become a burden...
... I hope they pull this poison off the market before others have to go through this hell... and PLEASE tell your doctors... They may have more power in stopping this than anyone...
Jo (JV) - December 26, 2007
I started taking Chantix three and a half weeks ago. At first I felt great and stopped smoking after the first five days. The vivid, crazy dreams were even kind of fun, but now I am so depressed I can barely get up in the morning. I am agitated and it's very hard for me to focus. All I want to do is sleep and cry. I thought about killing myself yesterday. The nausea, stomach pain and constipation are so bad it's been a chore to function. I have never suffered from depression in my life, so I was kind of blind-sided by all this ... I would not recommend this drug to anyone. Beware!!! I'm sure the repercussions of this drug are going to be widespread.
Pam - December 27, 2007
My father was happy, fulfilled, had a 1 year old granddaughter, great job making great money, no debt, beautiful house, and was retiring in a few years. He had no previous depression or psychological issues of any kind and no indication of suicide. Yet, 6 months ago, after taking Chantix for 2 months, he went into a field near his home and shot himself with a rifle. I lost my hero, my daughter lost her grandpa, my grandfather lost his son, my aunt lost her brother, and my husband lost his best friend.
Anonymous - December 27, 2007
I am a nurse who has smoked for 17 years ... I tried Chantix when it first came out and it was horrible. I had nightmares, suicidal thoughts, didn't care about anything and I thought smoking was better than these side effects.
JP - December 28, 2007
I took Chantix for about a month and went from a pack a day plus to only 2 cigs a day. I was ecstatic. Trouble was I am bipolar and had a serious psychotic episode at work that landed me in the local behavioral health unit for five days and also cost me my job (I actually quit during the episode and did it quite verbally). I've been out of work for 2 months now and still have a long time until I will be stable enough to work.
TLS - January 2, 2008
I left my doc's office with a script for Chantix and no direction. Chantix worked very well for me. I quit smoking my third day on the medication ... Everything went smooth some slight nausea till my 48th day on Chantix. Probably the best week of my life and I went to bed with an overwhelming feeling of wanting to kill myself. Like a driving voice telling me to. Like my thoughts were..OH GOD I CANT PAY THIS BILL..JUST SLICE MY WRISIT AND NO MORE WORRIES..I was hardcore..and lasted days..Some major meltdowns also during that few days ...
Angel in Seattle - January 3, 2008
I was on Chantix for 6 months. I quit smoking but... I have been hospitalized 3 times during this period for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and actions. This last hospitalization I was put under emergency detention due to my symptoms.
Thankfully, with this last hospitalization, my MD was aware of the recent reports of bad side effects from Chantix. The medicine was discontinued and the intense anxiety has decreased. The depression, mood instability and general feeling of instability has remained. In addition, I was having trouble controlling my blood sugar level (diabetic) and developed bad edema and water retention. I think they are all related to the Chantix.
I would urge all who are using or are planning on using Chantix to do so with extreme caution. Any change in mood stability or physical health should be looked at in relation to the Chantix. Share the side effects with people around you so they can help you identify any changes you might have after taking Chantix. I was not able to see the downslide in myself. Thankfully I did not eternally harm myself or anyone else.
Terri - January 6, 2008
I stopped taking Chantix on December 16th. Since taking it I have developed some sort of psychosis. I cannot sleep. My behavior is erratic and out of control. I can only do one thing at a time and have to intensely focus on it or I'll forget what I'm doing. I used to be a very efficient multi tasker and now...I don't know what the crap I am. I don't even know myself any more. I quit smoking after the first intro pack and continued with two a day for a few days and found it to be too strong so I went to one a day of the second week pack for about seven days and then stopped because I couldn't sleep or focus. I talked to the physician who prescribed the medication to me and he is very disturbed with the side effects I am having (kind of scary that he prescribed it and is shocked and amazed at my side effects). I advised him to warn his other patients about Chantix as I fully understand why someone would commit suicide from this stuff. I just hope I eventually go back to normal or at least lose the thoughts of suicide and short temper. I wanted to quit smoking, not lose my mind. I do feel a bit of nicotine craving but, will not smoke because I don't want to have to feel like all of this craziness is for nothing.
Anonymous - January 7, 2008
I'm in the UK. On Christmas eve my boyfriend of four months had been drinking... he has been using Champix for some months. He went beserk for no reason, assaulted me & spent two hours destroying my apartment causing endless damage. I waited in an ambulance for the police to come which took approx an hour... they found him unconscious after taking an overdose of 50 paracetamol & co-codamol. He survived, I have ended the relationship & pressed charges... then found this information. As far as I know he has no past mental health problems or violence in his past.
Lisa - January 8, 2008
My ex-wife committed suicide 4 days after starting Chantix. She was still smoking and had been previously diagnosed as bipolar. This was in June of 2007--prior to any warnings. Pfizer talks about no suicides in their clinical trials but in my research, it seems that bipolar people were specifically excluded from clinical trials (likely due to the fact that bipolar people have issues with dopamine levels). However, Pfizer does not warn against prescribing Chantix to bipolar people. Just doesn't make sense to me or my 2 daughters who miss their mom!
LeRoy - January 9, 2008
My brother-in-law went the same way last September. He took the pills for only a week and shot himself 2 weeks later. It wasn't the quitting that killed him. Norman had an empty pack of cigs in his pocket when we found him. I observed the downward emotional spiral first hand. It was only afterwards that we connected the dots between Chantix and his brief shotgun moment....how could a laughing fearless man with a full life's experience behind him suddenly see fit to just end it? I think that Norman needed something from his brain chemistry to help him through a situational depression...something that Chantix had blocked. While on the drug Norman clearly visualized an easy and painless path out. And he's dead now.
Anonymous - January 15, 2008
After only being on Chantix for a three weeks I became very depressed and suicidal. I believe that is what led me to drinking because I was not a big drinker before that. Maybe once a month or every three months not like when on Chantix and drinking every day every weekend. I tried to commit suicide December 8, 2007. Yes I was on Paxil for panic attacks but I had quit taking it a month before starting the Chantix because the panic attacks had stopped and I don't like being dependent on any pills. I started the Paxil and Chantix at the same time because my heart felt like it was not beating right and I was afraid I was having a heart attack. Not for depression just panic attacks. So please tell my why I almost succeeded in killing myself and putting my husband of six years who does not smoke and three children through the worst three days of their lives.
Dawn - January 16, 2008
I have been on Chantix for 2 weeks and stopped 2 days ago. The depression was unbearable!!! PURE INSANITY!! Fits of rage, I was seeing shadows--I thought I was going completely crazy!!! The dreams were PURE TERROR... It scared me soooo bad, I just quit taking it, before I killed somebody or myself... My legs and feet are so swollen! How long does it take to get out of my system?? WHY DIDN'T MY DOCTOR TELL ME THIS COULD HAPPEN!!! Instead I thought these feelings were side effects of not smoking. I would never rec. Chantix to anyone...
Kayla - January 16, 2008
I was on Chantix for about 5 to 6 weeks. The drug helped me quit smoking but I had such nausea, severe abdominal pain and low back pain with it that, after talking to my doctor, I quit taking it. Soon after that, I started feeling severely depressed and 2 days before Christmas, I attempted suicide by overdosing on muscle relaxants. I was taken to the hospital for treatment and overnight observation.
I am a housewife and mother of 2 teenage daughters and am 55 years old. I had never attempted suicide in my whole life before taking Chantix. I am still trying to deal with the bouts of severe depression though. If any of you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please stop taking the drug before it's too late.
donna - January 20, 2008
Father-of-two Wayne Marshall, 36, was found hanged shortly after completing a 13-week course of Champix ...Mr Marshall's widow Emma said he was prescribed the drug by his GP last August to help him quit his 20-a-day habit, but quickly went downhill, cutting himself off from his family and friends. "I don't want anybody to go through what myself, his children and his family and friends are facing," she said. "It is horrendous. "People need to think about going on this drug, particularly if they have a history of depression."
Daily Mail - January 21, 2008