Smoking-cessation drug can cause depression for some

People's Pharmacy

May 29, 2008|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

I started taking Chantix and was surprised how quickly it cut my smoking in half. I continued with the Chantix until I finally quit. Depression was slowly creeping up on me, but nothing prepared me for what happened. One day, I woke up feeling as if I'd never be happy again.

I have never felt such despair in my life. I have found it almost impossible to get help. I went to a mental-health facility, but they could do nothing unless I was suicidal and committed myself to their locked facility. They sent me to the emergency room, but all I could get was a mild anti-anxiety drug.

Finally, the cardiologist who prescribed the Chantix called in an antidepressant. I hope it helps.

Many people find that Chantix is very helpful in quitting smoking, but the Food and Drug Administration notes that some report the drug can trigger depression, thoughts of suicide or bizarre behavior. Some people have withdrawal symptoms, including depression, when they stop taking the medication. We hope the antidepressant is working.

A wasp stung me today on the inside of my thumb. Then I logged onto your Web site and found the method of bicarbonated soda and vinegar. It worked really well!

Ten minutes after I first applied it, the pain was nearly gone.

We are delighted that making a paste of baking soda and vinegar worked for you. Many other readers have found this home remedy eases the pain of bee or wasp stings.

I have a condition (Wegener's granulomatosis) that had made me miserable for years and stumped several doctors.

The symptom that troubled me was like hot flashes, but instead of flashing, they were almost constant.

I finally searched "hot flashes" on peoplespharmacy .com anyway. Now they are gone, and I'm telling everyone I know!

Taking 50 milligrams of Pycnogenol twice a day has done the trick.

Thank you so much for writing about this on your Web site. I haven't had a flash since the first day I started it. My disease is not curable, but the flashes bothered me more, and now they are gone.

We are so pleased to learn that Pycnogenol (maritime pine bark extract) worked for your symptoms. The study we cited (Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, August 2007) showed that it helps reduce hot flashes for menopausal women. We did not know that it might work for hot flashes from other causes.

After taking Aciphex to treat serious heartburn for four years, I developed a severe vitamin B-12 deficiency. I complained to my doctor about being extremely tired all the time. I needed to rest after just a simple task. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

I had to beg to have my B-12 levels tested, because my doctor didn't think it was a problem, but we found out it was. When I contacted the manufacturer of Aciphex, the company seemed uninterested in my experience.

Vitamin B-12 levels drop very slowly, so the problem wouldn't show up in just one year, and studies don't last longer. The companies make tons of money on acid-reflux drugs, and I'd like to see them take some responsibility in studying the long-term consequences of these medications.

Acid-suppressing drugs (PPIs) like Aciphex, Nexium, omeprazole, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix relieve symptoms of reflux.

There is a downside, however. Stomach acid is essential for absorbing certain nutrients like calcium, vitamin B-12 and even thyroid hormone (levothyroxine, Synthroid).

People who take acid-suppressing drugs long term may be at increased risk for hip fractures. Cases of vitamin B-12 deficiency have been linked to acid-suppressor therapy (Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, March 2008).

Symptoms of this nutritional deficiency include fatigue, confusion and memory problems, peripheral neuropathy, constipation and depression.

Getting off acid-suppressing drugs can be challenging. Acid rebound can last for months after stopping such medications.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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