In trying to salvage varenicline from the FDA chopping block following reports that it is generating far more complaints of serious harm to the FDA than any other prescription medication, Pfizer is attempting to hide varenicline induced harms inside the normal smoking cessation withdrawal syndrome. The problem is that experienced quitters know the difference, are not buying it and sounding the alarm.
A May 21, 2008 report by a medication watchdog non-profit, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), for the first time alerted smokers and physicians as to the actual number and seriousness of adverse reactions reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by users of Pfizer's quit smoking pill varenicline, which is marketed in the U.S. as Chantix and other nations as Champix.
It found that among the 6,363 adverse reactions blamed on Chantix and reported to the FDA between May 2006 and December 2007, that 3,063 involved serious injury, including 78 deaths. This article focuses on just one subset of serious varenicline use reactions, mental injuries and serious behavioral incidents. Among them were 227 reports of suicidal thoughts, acts or attempts, including 28 suicides, 397 cases of possible psychosis, 525 reports of hostility or aggression, 41 mentions of homicidal ideation (wanting to kill), 60 cases of paranoia and 55 cases of hallucination.
Pfizer's chief defense to mental health concerns documented by the ISMP report is the implication that nicotine addiction and depression accompanying withdrawal were to blame, not Chantix.
"Nicotine is a very powerful addiction," asserted Ponni Subbiah, Pfizer's vice president of Medical Affairs at a June 5 press conference held at Pfizer's New York headquarters to defend Chantix. "We don't know what is causing what, but the withdrawal phenomenon is important to bear in mind and it is something we're going to have to do more research on."
The Wall Street Journal attended the press conference and reported that "Pfizer did say that smoking is associated with suicide." "One of the key points the company tried to make at the meeting was that depression - which is a risk factor for suicidal behavior - is not unusual in people who are trying to quit smoking," reported NewsInferno. "During its own key trials, Pfizer said that it did not see an increase in psychiatric events in patients taking Chantix compared with placebo," reported the Associated Press.
In a June 11, 2008 Wall Street Journal editorial by Dr. Joseph Feczko, Pfizer's chief medical officer, implied that much of what it termed as "sensational media reporting" was attributable to normal quitting symptoms or pre-existing underlying depression, not Chantix. "Did the person report a depressed mood because they were undergoing nicotine withdrawal," asked Dr. Feczko? "Did they smoke because they were depressed - or was their depression caused by Chantix?"
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, "historically, the great majority of smokers (more than 90 percent) who successfully quit smoking did so on their own" (see PDF page 6). Today there are 45.7 million U.S. ex-smokers. If Pfizer and Dr. Freczko are correct and suicidal thinking and suicide are a normal part of quitting smoking, then where are the hundreds of news stories about cold turkey quitters killing themselves? You have probably never read one. Search as you might, I doubt you'll locate any.
What Pfizer and Dr. Freczko are doing is using the normal sense of emotional loss felt when quitting without pharmacology as a smoke screen behind which they hope to hide intensifying, alarming and ongoing depression that is chemically induced by varenicline blocking effects.
A similar Pfizer withdrawal syndrome association tactic uses memorable and recurring dreams about smoking a cigarette in non-pharmacology quitters, dreams which are common, as a screen behind which varenicline induced nightmares, vivid non-smoking dreams and hallunications are tucked. Nausea, insomnia, headaches, depression, sleep disruption, Pfizer's five clinical trials recorded and compared the occurrence of each in both placebo and varenicline users, not the symptom's scope, characteristics, intensity or duration.
Smoker Suicide is Not Quitter Suicide
Although Pfizer is correct in asserting that smoking is associated with suicide, it knows there is no evidence that quitting smoking without using pharmacology products is associated with suicide. What it hopes is that smokers and journalists won't recognize the difference.
Yes, millions with serious mental health issues smoke cigarettes. But how many smokers on the brink of committing suicide will endure full-blown nicotine withdrawal in hopes of extending life?
The fact that Pfizer has been unable to produce even one news account of any non-pharmacology quitter being driven to committing suicide is fully supported by medical research databases. PubMed may be the world's largest free searchable database of summaries (abstracts) of articles, studies and editorials appearing in the world's medical journals. It indexes 15,096 smoking cessation articles and 45,860 suicide articles. But a simple search of "smoking cessation" + "suicide" will not produce a single medical journal report of suicide by any non-pharmacology quitter. None. Why?
Again, there is no debate but that there is often a normal sense of emotional loss associated with nicotine cessation. There is also no debate but that some unknown percentage of smokers have both untreated and undiagnosed organic depression that can become pronounced and beg treatment once nicotine's contribution to brain dopamine pathway stimulation ends.
But should any cold turkey quitter experience either a temporary sense of emotional loss or the onset of a once hidden and masked organic depressive condition, some degree of relief, via a powerful brain dopamine "aaah" reward explosion, was always just 8-10 seconds away.
A 2006 study found that just 1 puff of nicotine can result in up to 50% occupancy of a4b2 type acetylcholine receptors, the receptors known to be responsible for triggering dopamine release.
Not so among Chantix users where varenicline's blocking effects have a 24 hour elimination half-life. Page two of Pfizer's varenicline prescribing sheet asserts that, "varenicline binds with high affinity and selectivity at a4b2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors." It asserts that, studies show that varenicline "stimulates receptor-mediated activity, but at a significantly lower level than nicotine. Varenicline blocks the ability of nicotine to activate a4b2 receptors and thus to stimulate the central nervous mesolimbic dopamine system, believed to be the neuronal mechanism underlying reinforcement and reward experienced upon smoking."
What Pfizer is not telling smokers is that using varenicline to block nicotine from activating brain dopamine pathways also blocks life and arriving acetylcholine molecules from activating them. Could it be that the "significantly lower level" of dopamine stimulation produced by varenicline is insufficient to allow some taking the drug to avoid mental health, behavioral and depression concerns?
Could it be that the reason there are no news stories or medical journal articles about cold turkey quitters killing themselves when quitting is that non-pharmacology quitters always have an immediate escape route, a route blocked by varenicline's nicotine blocking effects and 24 hour elimination half-life? Could it be that as varenicline's captive prisoner to escalating depression, that the minds and thinking of far too many varenicline users saw only one way to make it end?
We don't yet know. What we do know is that when health care providers or quit smoking counselors learn of depressive type symptoms in any quitter, they do not encourage relapse or emotional suffering but immediately refer them to physicians for treatment. Given proper treatment relief from depression, freedom from nicotine is within their grasp too.
Whether or not Pfizer is able to convince the media that it is normal and expected to see cold turkey quitters attempt suicide, both common sense and a massive body of historical evidence scream otherwise.
Part of that evidence are the millions of archived quit smoking support group message board threads and posts across the Internet, where prior to the arrival of Chantix and Champix, suicide in quitters was probably never a discussion topic. Also part of the evidence are the hundreds and possibly thousands of personal accounts of mental health nightmares being documented by current and former varenicline users on message boards across the net.
Pfizer may spend millions on marketing proclaiming Chantix safe but it must do so against a massive and growing chorus of victim and survivor voices bellowing a contrary message. Below is a small sampling of varenicline mental health messages found on the Internet and presented here, pursuant to the fair use doctrine, in the interest of public health. Although their accuracy and truthfulness cannot be verified, their numbers are far too many to ignore. They stand in stark contrast to Pfizer's assurance that Chantix use is safe, even among smokers with a history of mental illness.
Many of the below comments have been shortened in order to share as many as possible. This article was originally written in 2008. To see the original link to any comment simply right click on the page and click "View Page Source." There you'll see a hidden comment sharing the original link, which is very likely no longer functional. Each author's name and comment date is from the original full-text post. Please note that posts may be protected by a copyright notice appearing at the original posting site.
Chantix and Champix
User Mental Health Incidents
My husband who has never had ANY mental health problems, tried to take his own life after being on Chantix for 13 days. He has no recollection of the day it happened, but I was around him alot that day and he was a little more tired than he usually is. But he was normal in every other way. He is home now and doing much better, but maintains that he would never had done this and is really still in a state of shock that he did. I know that it states that in rare cases suicide ideation can occur, but what is rare?? Pfizer never states what the statistics are. Since this happened, I have numerous people say that, yes it helped them with the stopping smoking, but that they felt funny, depressed, agitated, and one lady said she thought about taking her life. It scares me that this drug is even available.
Deanna - June 24, 2007
Omar Jama was a 39 year-old 20 cigarette per day smoker and television editor found dead in his home with his wrists slashed 4 weeks after starting Champix. He had booked a vacation to celebrate his 40th birthday. "They just weren't the actions of a man who was contemplating suicide," said Mr Jama's brother. "He's got no history of depression and was never the sort of person you would see feeling sorry for himself."
The Daily Telegraph - June 12, 2007
My brother in law committed suicide Aug 19. He had taken Chantix and went off it in the spring, then we found out he had started retaking it 7 days before his suicide. He had NEVER shown suicidal ideation before this medication, and shot himself before anyone could stop him or get him to his doctor. I hold Pfizer responsible for his death, since the psychiatric effects are very well hidden in the prescribing info, and if my brother in law had known this beforehand he would have never taken it.
Zezrie - August 29, 2007
My son, age 30, also experienced psychotic behavior while taking Chantix. It was sever enough that his wife feared for her safety. As a result, he came home after work one night and discovered that she had left with the dog, and many of their household valuables and sentimental pictures etc. Thinking the love of his life had gone forever, he hung himself. I was the last person to talk to him. He was clearly not himself. His wife has blamed Chantix for his death since the beginning. (He died on June 6, 2007)
Kathie Jones - September 23, 2007
I took Chantix for about a month. I was nauseous, but it wasn't that bad. Then I started feeling extremely depressed. I was angry, sad, disgusted and somewhat suicidal. I don't recommend Chantix at all. I'm still smoking, but at least I'm alive.
CM - September 28, 2007
My boyfriend was depressed for 2 years but came out of it around 18 months ago. He had since been happy and healthy UNTIL he took Chantix, and by the second week began feeling depressed. Of course it terrified him to return to those dark days. It escalated, and we weaned him off of it on Labor Day weekend. The depression did not ease, and he became more and more unfocused and anxious.
Two weeks ago, he took an overdose of Paxil and Wellbutrin in an effort to end his life. Thank God he survived, and I know the Chantix triggered this depression and incident. I urge anyone with a history of depression to avoid this drug. I was shocked that his psychiatrist had no idea of this side effect, and feel it needs to be known and publicized.
Lynne - October 5, 2007
I have suffered from intermittent depression for years, usually stress related. I started Chantix and by day three I was experiencing emotional outbursts, suicidal ideation, and lethargy. Were any studies done on patients with a history of depression? I have started back on Lexapro as a result... total loss of control for me.
Staci - October 8, 2007
I too have been taking Chantix. I took it last fall and had severe depression and thoughts of suicide. I could stand being sick to my stomach but not the extreme feelings of loss and sadness as I had never felt this way before. I stopped it after 3 weeks and went back to smoking. I have subsequently started taking Chantix again last week, I am now in severe depression and have taken my last dose.
Kathie - October 11, 2007
Our dear friend committed suicide. He also took Chantix. It was completely out of character for him to be depressed. He was a loving father, grandfather and an ex-Marine. Many of us felt it was caused by this drug.
Lynn Rapkiewicz - October 16, 2007
We just buried my brother-in-law two weeks ago. Shot through the heart. An apparent suicide. He had been taking Chantix in the weeks leading up to it. I am concerned that Chantix might have contributed. This was completely unexpected. He was not suicidal, but I know that in days leading up, he was depressed, un-motivated, confused. If you're depressed and thinking bad thoughts...please bail off the drug...think of your family. They love you, tobacco breath and all.
JSC - October 16, 2007
My father in law committed suicide in April, 2007 after having taken Chantix for 2 1/2 months. he was also drinking when he committed suicide. to say our family was in complete and utter disbelief is an understatement. he was not one i or the rest of our family would have ever thought would to something like this. his wife reports very odd behavior prior to and even after his death (belongings she found in very strange, out of place places unbeknownst to her) ... if those that have had similar side effects do not say anything to help get this drug off the market, then we are no better than these enormous drug companies making a "killing", literally.
Jules in Arkansas - October 23, 2007
Chantix started out to be the best thing I could imagine for quitting cigarettes ... I, too, started losing interest in things but frankly never attributed it to the Chantix.... until 36 hours after my last dose. I flipped between rage and suicidal depression so often and so rapidly, I was looking back at menopause as no big deal! I even had some difficulties keeping clear thought patterns and some word-finding difficulties (as though I had had a small stroke--which I did not).
It is now 1 week after stopping the Chantix. The major swings and degree of the depression have lessened, but I still fight bouts of depression several times a day. I had been ready to quit my job and give up on everything. Fortunately, I seem to be holding things together. I do not have a history of either depression or suicidal thinking. I just have to hope that these mental effects resolve soon. This is no way to live!!!
MC - October 24, 2007
My ex-wife committed suicide on June 5th. We found Chantix in her nightstand with 4 doses gone. She had been diagnosed with bipolar and was taking anti-depressants. Are there any warnings from Pfizer on mixing Chantix with anti-depressants or people with bipolar? I thought her bipolar had been under control for the past 5 years....now this.
Purple Sage - October 25, 2007
My daughter is one of the Casualties of taking Chantix for 12 weeks. In early September she ended up being hospitalized for observation and every since has experienced all of the things that are not listed on the medication.....only on the 17 page report on Chantix by Pfizer. How about an acute psychotic episode that has left her possible permanent damage. Attention span altered anxiety, depression, emotional disorder, irritability, restlessness, aggression, disorientation, libido decreased, mood swings, thinking abnormally, euphoric moods, and more. My daughter has never had any of these types of problems before starting to take the Chantix and now even after nearly 2 months off the medication our entire family has been living in "hell"...
katsrkool1 - October 26, 2007
After viciously pulling my daughter's hair in a rage of anger, I took to my bed planning the best mode for committing suicide. I had an old bottle of Ambien with one tablet left and called the auto refill line.
While suicidal ideation has been my friend in the past during some major depressive episodes, this latest round is different. In the past suicidal thoughts "helped" me cope, somehow soothing the crushing heartache of depression. For the uninitiated, a near constant feeling I can most liken to the first moments after hearing of my beloved father's sudden death. This pain insidiously takes over rational thought over weeks and months. This Chantix suicidal ideation is different. It is meaner. More evil ...
andrew 04103 - November 4, 2007
I am on day 10 of using Chantix. Severe depression, crying, yelling, lots of sleeping, not wanting to do anything started around day 5. The suicidal thoughts started about 3 days ago. I have had depression in the past, but haven't had to use antidepressants for years.
MN - November 14, 2007
I started taking Chantix 12 days ago. For the first 7 days I had night wakefullness and vivid dreams but no other side effects. I was taking .5 a day. On the 8th day I doubled dosage and on day 9 and day 10 I had a constant awful metal taste in mouth and exhaustion and nausea. Day 11 I was depressed and day 12 I took full dose and I thought about killing myself. I'm 49 years old and have never taken any drugs,or had any type of mental illness ever. The not wanting to smoke part works.
JH - November 20, 2007
My son started taking Chantix in late September. He has had a severe change in mood swings, depression, violence and suicidal expressions. Tonight he went on a rage and had to be removed from my house. Another son took Chantix for two days and just informed me of his experience (nightmares and thoughts of suicide) which has prompted me to do an internet search of this poison. Please help with any info related to adverse reactions. He has also had rashes and horrible pus producing bumps under his armpit and on one side of his face.
deb orne - November 23, 2007
Thank you all for posting because I thought I was alone in how Chantix has emotionally brutalized me. I even ruined Thanksgiving by going into an utter rage on my daughter. I have had horrible thoughts of killing myself, alienated most of my friends and sleep 10 or more hrs a day. I've been taking the drug about 5 weeks and smoke free for over 2 but I'm NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE!! It is evil.
Nancy - November 25, 2007
My 25 year old son died Nov 10. He had been taking Chantix for about 3 weeks, and the last few days was unable to sleep, saying he was having terrible dreams about killing himself, finding himself hanging, etc.He was an alcoholic and drug addict who was trying to clean up his life and stop the smoking before the birth of a son due in January. I now wonder if the Chantix had anything to do with his sudden death.
Connie Schlabach - November 25, 2007
I was on Chantix and after two weeks I began to be the most moody person,did not like my self and all I could think of was I didn't want to live, it was not just a few thoughts it was all the time, I stopped taking it but the thoughts were still there, I went to my Dr. and had to go on anti-depressant drugs. It has been two weeks and I am fighting it everyday. This is a very bad drug and should be pulled off the market. Please help pull it.If you take Chantix be very careful.
Kathy - November 25, 2007
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
My brother-in-law began taking Chantix 11-07, started losing weight, tingling in fingers and toes, depressed, with anxious feelings about his health. He went back to physician and was taken off his celibrex. Was told he was just having panic attacks, was not taken off his Chantix. This man was a very happily married my of 40 years with Grandchildren. He had not, had anything happen to him to which he would have had a reason for what occurred. On 1-3-08 he got ready for work, kissed his wife goodbye, finished loading his vending van with frozen food and walked into his garage and shot himself with a 20 gauge shotgun. You have to understand, this is the most traumatic, horrific thing that has ever happen in all of our lives !!! I need help trying to help my sister get through this, as she found her husband when she came home for lunch. I"m not sure how or what to do. I am so afraid for her. PLEASE HELP US ! ! !
Lulu Marie - January 22, 2008
When Karen McGhee woke up in a hospital bed and saw her teenage daughter looking anxiously at her, she was completely flummoxed. "My arm was bandaged and the left side of my mouth and neck felt numb, as if I had been to the dentist - but I had no idea why I was in hospital," says the 38-year-old. "Then Jenna told me I'd tried to kill myself. She said her nine-year-old sister, Aynslie, had found me in the middle of the night hanging from the banisters with the pelmet from the curtains tied around my neck." Karen listened in horror as her daughter recalled how she had turned blue through lack of oxygen, and her heart stopped five times in the ambulance on the way to hospital. With absolutely no memory at all of what she'd done, Karen says her daughter's account of what had happened was like hearing about another person. "My last recollection was of being extremely happy," she says. "Just weeks before I was feeling blessed that my husband Robert had survived a heart attack. I was looking forward to the rest of our lives together." In fact, the mother-of-three from Greenock, Scotland, had developed severe depression and tried to hang herself after taking Champix..."
Daily Mail - January 22, 2008
I took Chantix last October for about 3 weeks. I was concerned about taking Chantix because it is a mind altering drug. It seemed to really be working for the first 2 weeks. I wasn't sleeping well but I wasn't craving cigarettes either. I started having terrible nightmares and I thought I was becoming homicidal. I had dreams about killing people. That really scared me so I stopped taking it.
Mac 1964 - January 22, 2008
I started taking Chantix in the beginning of Nov. last year and quit after a week. Normally a happy go lucky guy who got engaged in sept. of '07, but all of a sudden I broke up my engagement, drink every night heavily, cry at the drop of a hat and have suicidal thoughts non-stop, dropped the Chantix adn I am slowly getting better over the last week or so, but also realizing that I did so many things that I never would have even possibly thought have before, most of them terribly bad ...
Anonymous - January 23, 2008
I began taking chantix on May 25, 07. I stopped smoking on May 31. I ended up being admitted to a psych unit with "major depression" on July 22. I have always handled stressful and depressing times in the past with the help of my family and friends. Instead, I was so depressed and isolated that I couldn't continue to function.
Not once did I connect these feelings to the chantix. Hearing the news talk about "a link to chantix and depression" I immediately began researching on sites like this. Thank God for this site. I was able to put the missing piece of the puzzle in place! I have been chantix-free since my hospitalization and continue to get stronger every day. I strongly urge people to opt for other methods of quitting. Chantix has had a devastating effect on my life.
CLM - January 24, 2008
I started taking Chantix about 4 weeks ago. For the first two weeks it was great! However, I slipped up and started smoking again at the beginning of week 3.
After a few days of smoking again and not being motivated, I was planning on continuing with the medication. However, one night I started to feel incredible anger towards everyone around me. I picked a fight with my husband and bad-mouthed my step children, to the point of calling them names and declaring I hated them! I love my children to death. By the next day I was also contemplating suicide and threatening harm towards others ...
Brittny - February 3, 2008
I started taking chantix, and the first week I would get bad headaches, but I was trying to deal with it. But the second week I didn't get out of bed, I just wanted to die. I felt like I was a burden on everyone, and my husband and children would be better off without me. I stopped taking chantix and got better.
I went to the doctor, and he did nothing. But if I hadn't stopped taking Chantix, I don't know if I would have been here one more day. I have never really been a depressed person, and all this took me by surprise. Someone needs to do something!
Crystal - February 7, 2008
This drug has also affected my family. I received a call notifying me that my cousin is in jail for 3 counts of attempted 1st degree murder of an officer. My cousin is the most mild tempered person I've ever met... Good looking, excelled in school (both high school and college) and was working for a law firm... he had it all. Apparently, he made a call to 911 telling them that demons were trying to kill him, when the police arrived, he thought THEY were the demons and began shooting at them. Luckily no one was injured. I just found out today that he was on this medication... Stay away from this drug!!
Jennifer - February 8, 2008
I was fine at first, just nausea was the worst, but hey, it was worth it if I wasn't smoking. So I continued and I started getting really emotional and crying and yelling all the time. (Very depressed and suicidal) I was a mess. I hated myself, then I felt sorry for myself. It was so HORRIBLE. I took myself off the drug and within 2-3 days it was so much better. It's definitely worth quitting smoking but at what expense??
DS - February 13, 2008
This is my 3rd week on Chantix, and I plan to quit taking it. Although I have quit smoking, the side effects are too much for me to handle. I feel like I live in a fog all day. I have no recollection of the drive to and from work. I forget things all of the time. The nightmares are more like night terrors for me... I wake my husband up screaming. My vision has been blurry--I thought I needed new glasses. I have insomina and average about 3 hours of sleep a night. I am tired all of the time. I no longer have a personality. I am on an emotional rollarcoaster ride that seems to never end. I'm so depressed--I don't know how to function. I have no energy!
BEFORE Chantix, I was the happiest person alive! I would NEVER recommend this product to anyone! I do not believe enough studies were conducted on this product before FDA approval.
PT - February 14, 2008
Yeah, my doc told me only one guy in Texas had problems with Chantix. I am on week number 5 and smoking 1-2 a day. I smoked at least a pack from 14 and am now 48. The nausea was awful the first three weeks. Gas is still there. There is definately a difference in mood when you get to the higher dose, and it intensifies with every day. Depression, suicidal thoughts, pissed off at everything. Life feels pointless. I have no psychiatric history. I knew this was too good to be true. I will start reducing dose and stopping it tomorrow--hopefully I won't smoke.
Ste - March 11, 2008
I started Chantix in January and took it about 3 weeks ... But. . . I almost lost my job. My supervisor gave me 10 days to get myself together or she was going to fire me ... I knew that something was terribly wrong one day when I was sitting at a red light and couldn't figure out what to do, so I watched other drivers around me to know when I was supposed to go. I had no motivation to go to work ...
Angela - March 15, 2008
im taking chapix now , and never in my whole life have i had depression or any suicidal thoughts until yesterday , and a wave of depression came over me , didnt want to go home , just wanted to take my dogs lead and go hang myself , i talked it through with my very understanding wife, and she got on various sites , and said yes their was maybe a link to the stop smoking pills. so im stopping them and just see how it goes from there
David - March 21, 2008
I began taking Chantix to quit smoking at the end of February ... I started getting extermely irritable and "down" ... I began having bad nightmares, and this began to concern me. I was having dreams of things I would never even think about, things that have never crossed my mind. For example: I dreamt of shadows coming out of my legs that were some sort of deamon or devilish thing. I knew that the only way to get rid of these shadows was to cut my legs off. I woke up the next morning panicked, thinking what if I wasn't in a deep enough sleep and I actually went into the garage and fired up the chainsaw. This was my final straw, I thought it must be the Chantix ...
A few days went by and my craving for cigarettes returned. I thought, well I'll give it another try, maybe it was a fluke. Five days later I got into an argument with my mother, which for us is no surprise. But this time I just snapped. I decided to take a drive to clear my head. I ended up driving about 70 miles from my home. I was frustrated that I had gotten lost (at this time it was 4am). I pulled off the road after passing the same farmer's field 5 times.
At this point it's like I completely gave up. I took a pocket knife from my car, went into the woods and slit my wrists. I was in a remote location on an unmarked road in a field not very visible from the dirt road. I severed the main artery, 3 tendons and 2 nerves in my left hand and 1 tendon in my right. By the grace of God someone saw my car in the field and called 911. A police officer got to me at 1pm, I had been unconscious for approx. 9 hours. It is a miracle I am alive. I've never been one who wanted to hurt myself. I have the most amazing and supportive friends and family, whom are all baffled.
Anonymous - April 6, 2008
... After about 6 weeks i couldn't take the feeling of wanting to hide in my bedroom away from everyone because i knew my behavior was not normal. I was talking to myself, crying alot and had to no idea what was happening. My faimly talked me into quitting the chantix and i did.
A year later i wanted to try chantix again, this time i was having nightmares, sleepwalking, and had thoughts of overdossing just to make everything stop! I decided i would rather smoke and die slowly then keep going through this horrifac experiance. I DO NOT RECOMMEND CHANTIX TO ANYONE!
M.G. - April 17, 2008
I started taking Chantix in Sept. i went through the second dose pack, then had to quit. I ended up in the mental unit at the hospital, was having severe panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.
It started about a week after starting the drug but I continued taking it thinking the symptoms would go away. But they didnt. So had to stop. I have been smoke free since then. this medication will definetly help you stop smoking. But your life will never be the same. I now can not have a relationships with my children or my grandchildren because of the depression and the anger. I miss and love all of them but i dont want to hurt them.
I have had a big change in my personality, Im not the same persom anymore. I really have no feelings about anything or anybody. Its really sad to live like this. I miss my family. The depression and the suicidal thoughts are there everyday. Have been many places for help, but have not got any.
I have lost my home and the people I know I still love. This is no way to live your life. Am having chest pain and arm pain also, am still having severe panic attacks. None of the medications help.depression is getting worse. Don't want to go out or see anyone. Cant think straight. My life as I once knew it is over, I don't think I will ever get it back. I sure hope someone finds somethig soon to help.
Suzann - April 25, 2008
My brother committed suicide at age 43 taking this horrific drug one week. I was within for two days before he blew his head off. He had horrific dreams, insomnia for days, and did not know what was real or unreal, if he was in reality or a dream, or nightmare. He was a non smoker, but "dipped." He was a manufacturing eecutive, had just seen his daughter graduate from an Ivy league school six months prior, and was ready to hire his son for the summer at his company after completing his first year of college ...
A Sad Brother, Dayton, Ohio - April 28, 2008
I started taking Chantix on April 20th and noticed a severe change in my mood only three days later. By the seventh day If I had any emotion at all it was angry. I have the best husband in the world and by the seventh day could care less if we were together or apart. We have two children and by the seventh day they heard me crying myself to sleep.
I felt as if no one cared about me and I just felt like crawling in a hole and dying. I explained to my 11 year old that sometimes you just have to cry to get "things" out of your system and that I had been upset and just had to "get it out". But I actually had feelings of --well, my family would be better off without me--but I really knew deep down inside me that was not true. I only took seven days of this medication. Yesterday, on Monday I was in bed all day not wanting to live and tried to sleep the day thru. I also take Wellbutrin and Xanax ...
mmw - April 29, 2008
I have tried many times to quit smoking, without the help of drugs. Nicotine withdrawel did not cause me great harm or the horrible side effects I suffered from Chantix. You are correct in stating the drug works. But, after taking Chantix 3 weeks I had nightmares, delusions, nervousness, and pain. All these effects were acceptable. Smoking can be fatal. I pray that you never experience the biggest side effect as I did. I tried to kill myself in Jan of 2008. Thank God I pulled through. Please don't discount those who actually did commit suicide and those of us who lived thru it.
Lucky to Be Alive - May 9, 2008
I took this poison for 2 weeks, and it was the worst 2 weeks of my life. I guess it's great if you are one of the few that don't experience the awful side effects, but for most people it is a gamble not worth taking. I felt horrible all the time. Extreme depression, anxiety, rage fits, suicidal thoughts constantly, it's a miracle that I'm not in prison or 6 feet under right now.
I have quit before using nicotine replacements and cold turkey, and although I did experience some anxiety, irritability, and trouble focusing, I never at any moment thought I might as well end it all or perhaps hurt a loved one.
TNF - May 13, 2008
My father and my family have become recent victims of the rare but severe adverse reactions linked to Champix in which my father had accidentally taken his own life during what appeared to be a major "psychotic event". He had been drinking in combination with taking Champix, which appears to have resulted in hanging himself in the garden shed.
I had spoken to him only hours before, and he was his usual happy self, just settling in for the night to watch some TV and have a few drinks. He was a contented happy man with everything going for him and everything to live for. He was happily married and had recently become a grandfather and was about to become one for the second time. With no financial worries and his working life nearing an end, he was positively looking forward to his twilight years of watching his grandkids grow up and share his retirement with my mother, family and his wide circle of friends.
He had began taking Champix in early February and had reported to the family that he had suffered from some of the more common side-effects including vomiting, headaches and disturbed sleeping, but did not elaborate on why he thought his sleep had been effected. On the 23rd of March 2008, his body was discovered by my brother at the family home ...
Mark - May 14, 2008
My girlfriend has been on Chantix for about a week and a half, and it has caused a number of serious side effects which make me question why anyone would ever let this drug reach the market! ... She told me yesterday that she had thoughts of killing herself at the worst moments.
I am sorry but no one should ever take this drug. If the thousands of people having the same effects don't change your mind... maybe the fact that suicide shouldn't ever be an acceptable risk when quitting smoking. After all, you're on the drug to SAVE YOUR LIFE.
MPS - May 22, 2008
I have quit smoking using Chantix (3 months now) but the side effects from the drug are NOT WORTH QUITTING SMOKING!! I have lost what so far hasn't come back and that's my memory!!!! I can''t ascertain whether what I did yesterday I actually did or I dreamt it!! We won't even begin to address my aggression and hostility issues. I'm blacking out (while driving!!!!) I have lost my life to this drug. The health issues associated with smoking are NOTHING compared to what I feel is losing my mind!!!! If I could be certain that smoking would reverse what this drug has done to me I'd be smoking right now!! I don't drink, I'm not taking any other medication so don't try and tell me there's an interaction between something else I'm doing. This is also not nicotine withdrawal as pfizer claims. I've quit smoking before both on Zyban and with no medication whatsoever and NEVER had these side effects. I won't tell anybody what to do but PLEASE do your own research on this drug before you decide to take it.
Debbie - May 29, 2008
Three days on this medication and I was having thoughts about driving off a major city bridge and slicing my wrists, and I was extremely depressed. I am an RN, and for patients and myself, I usually advocate/take the 'non-pharmacuetical' approach, however with quitting smoking I wanted a kick start and spoke to my GP about Chantix. Ashamed to say I neglected to do my homework prior to taking this drug and paid a price for that. I could not believe the experience - I can handle wierd freaky dreams, but when I am having suicide ideation - well, I KNOW it was the drug. I don't need a new study to tell me this medication caused these side effects ...
Sarah - June 3, 2008
I thought I was going insane. I took the Chantix, only experiencing the crazy dreams and mild nausea. I gradually smoked less and quit after 6 weeks. After another 15 days on Chantix... I didn't like how I was feeling. Something didn't seem right, I was sad, cried way too easily, and I felt hopeless, like my life had no meaning.
I stopped taking it and thought I would get better. Bad idea!! I crashed big time! It only lasted for about 3 days but was very severe! I wanted to kill anything in front of me and hurt my family and friends emotionally. I am a soft-spoken, kind person. Yes, I quit smoking, but this is horrible stuff. Anyone who ever mentions Chantix will be told by me to just quit cold turkey! I have a feeling this stuff is going to hurt many people before it gets pulled from the market. Take care everyone.
SMB - June 4, 2008
I too used Champix for the 12 week program and was quite sucessful at quiting however, 3 weeks after stopping the drug I was hospitalized for 2 weeks for overdosing myself and severe depression. I have suffered from depression but never had suicidal thoughts or tendencies prior to taking Champix. I am now wondering if this was what caused my suicide attempt. P.S. Unfortunately I am back to smoking and taking anti-depressants now.
Laurie - June 12, 2008
A depressed woman from Putney hanged herself almost three months after taking anti-smoking drugs thought to be risky for people with psychiatric illness. The 33-year-old, of Galveston Road, was found by her mother, who lived at the same address, hanging from bannisters by a length of electricity cable on February 18 this year. Dr Patel had prescribed her a course of the anti-smoking drug Champix, whose guidelines advised GPs ... to show caution when prescribing the drug to patients with a history of psychiatric illness ... However he said he was unaware of the drug's dangers for people with psychiatric illness until after Ms Murray's death. He told the inquest: "She had suffered from depression and overdoses in the past but recently had become much better. At the time there was no knowledge of the drug's dangers, but subsequently reports have come out." A post-mortem conducted by pathologist ... showed that Ms Murray had no trace of alcohol or drugs in her blood but a small reading of Champix was detected.
This is Local - June 14, 2008
i started on chantix or champix as they are called in England. Please do not take them, i ended up suicidal on them with an admission of 2 weeks in hospital with clinical depression ... with regards to the depression i can only describe its like a light going out of you, a feeling of numbness, being within your own bubble, not wanting to participate in life, not finding no beauty in anything, not cleaning or even doing the basics i.e paying bills, opening letters, hoovering, tidying basically you just want to sleep all day and night...not good...these tablets should be banned....they turned my life upside down...look for other methods to stop smoking...PLEASE ADVISE ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO NEVER TAKE THESE TABLETS..thanks
Victoria Dillon - Liverpool, UK - June 15, 2008
Article last updated June 16, 2008
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