Depression, Champix: Doctor, NO!

 

*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

Rachel Whalen wrote:
Hi Chris,
I have had clinical depression from a very young age and over the years have
found a medication that lets me live a normal life. I work in an interesting
field (forensics) and have a loving home and family life. My doctor who issues
me with my medication offered, quite sincerely, to give me a script for Champix
to assist me when I asked about giving up the smokes. I was shocked that she
would do this knowing my history. Needless to say I told her I would get back to
her on that and promptly went home and started researching Champix in earnest
which is how I came across you site. I ordered your book from Lulu.com and am
now half way through it. What you are saying makes total sense to me
and I have
chosen a reputable hypnotherapist which I will be seeing in a few weeks. I am
really looking forward to stopping smoking and getting rid of that compulsive
behaviour the safe way. I can only imagine the kind of hell I could have
experienced had I just blindly took my doctors offer. Thank you, Chris.

Just in case anyone still doesn’t know, Champix should NOT be prescribed to anyone with a history of depression according to current medical guidelines. These are not the only smokers that have been severely affected by “psychiatric events” whilst taking Champix, but the risk is certainly higher. So why the hell is this happening over and over again all over the world? Don’t doctors bother to read the guidelines?

Anyway, I asked Rachel if it was okay to reproduce her email here – anonymously if she preferred, to which she replied today:

Hi Chris,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my email and you may certainly reproduce it on your website using my full name, I’m happy to support your campaign as much as I can. I will also write a review on Lulu for the book. I always read the reviews so it is nice to have a recent one to read when making a decision.
Chris, I look forward to purchasing Vol. II and my dad is eagerly waiting for me to finish Vol. I so he can read it too ( he doesn’t smoke) as he is very interested in the smoke and mirrors that health professionals/Pharmaceutical companies pass off as fact to the public all in the name of profits.
Kindest regards
Rachel

Ah, splendid. It seems the Truth Will Out Campaign is getting its message across to the public, if not the medical profession. In this case, the patient was fortunately more clued-up about the medication than the Doctor. Scary, that, isn’t it?

Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was (Volume II: A Change of Mind) is available now as an ebook, a pdf or a paperback. The Nicotine Myth is doomed, it is only a matter of time now.

the hypnotherapy option

 

15 Replies to “Depression, Champix: Doctor, NO!”

  1. Rachel the same thing has just happened to me! I also have suffered from clinical depression almost my entire life; have only recently (as of 3 weeks ago) weened myself off anti-depressants as I am in a stable period of my life, getting off the anti depressants has not been to bad though I have had a few depressive moods lasting around 3 days or so at a time, my doctor of 5 years who also prescribed the anti-depressants, who has seen my depression every step of the way (sometimes quite bad with suicidal thoughts) has just recommended I take Champix to quit smoking. When I brought up these side effects (I had heard of them before now from friends) asked if he really thought it was safe for someone with a major depressive disorder to take this drug knowing it’s possible side effects he simply shrugged them off, saying none of the other patients who have taken it has had a problem…I refused the champix saying I would like to do more research before I would feel safe in trying it – now I have done this research, I cannot beleive a doctor knowing my history like that would not only offer me champix but also get cranky with me when I refused it. I told him I will try patches or something instead he quite crossly told me “Well good luck with that!”

    I mean SERIOUSLY the last thing I could possibly need after only being off anti depressants for 3 weeks, still feeling “a bit depressed”, is a drug that even has a slight potential to increase that depression but I don’t even know how much… I can’t believe the recklessness of this doctor! If I had not been so cautious, his choice to offer me champix could well have endangered my very life.

    I think I need a new doctor.

    Scott

  2. Scott, I think you do! They’re not all like that, of course. But some doctors are convinced that being a doctor makes them wiser than everybody else… a condition that is somewhat exacerbated by being ‘consulted’ all day long and generally treated with reverence by people who are not doctors.

    He got a bit stroppy with you because you had the temerity to demonstrate the power to think for yourself, which just sounds like insubordination to some doctors! You dared to question his judgement, you see, when you are supposed to just say: “Thank you, Doctor!”, and take the evil mind-twisting suicide pills. If you later went off and hanged yourself, your suicide would (of course) have been blamed on your depression, not on Champix. No-one would even interview your GP about that, or the manufacturers of Champix either.

    The relatively low overall official figures for suicides attributed to Champix are totally misleading, because those are only the cases where someone has realised the possible connection AND taken the unusual step of making sure those concerns are officially reported. In all other cases of suicide, if the deceased jumped off a bridge or hanged themselves then THAT is recorded as the official “cause of death”, and although the standard practice is to NOTE any medications they were being prescribed, there is no investigation into it because medical authorities do not want anyone to pin these things on a medication THEY have already approved, it makes them look incompetent. They would much rather the blame remained with the person who did away with themselves, or their “depression”.

    Maybe the Freedom Of Information Act could be used to find out exactly how many successful suicides were actually on Champix since it became available? It wouldn’t take long to find out, would it? Of course Pfizer would always suggest that nothing can be proven from that, but at present it is a pretty obvious “missing piece” of the jigsaw, isn’t it?

  3. And there’s more: this came in by email from Leigh on Dec. 2nd 2010:

    Hi Chris,

    I started using Champix in Jan 09 and stopped in March 09 realising that it was messing with my head big time – suicidal thoughts mostly. 2 weeks later when I was planning to kill myself I realised it was actual depression. I had no history of mental illness whatsoever prior to this.

    It is now nearly 2 years later and having been on antidepressants since 6 April 09, I still have depression. I feel as though it is never going to go away and that the damage this drug did in my brain by deadening the pleasure receptors is permanent. I do
    not mean this in a negative way, in that it’s all I think about, but just to let people know that the reality seems to be that you do not just take this drug,
    suffer the side effects while you’re on it and then get better once you stop.

    The getting better part can take an extremely long time, if it ever happens at all.

    Kind regards,

    Leigh

    As always, I checked with Leigh if it was okay for me to add this to the site. She said:

    Hi Chris,

    Yes that would be great if you put it on the website.

    The thing that made me email in was the number of people saying they had only been on it for a little while and they loved it and also one man who said 12 weeks of bad side effects were worth it for a lifetime of being smoke free. If only he knew the effects he was experiencing were not going to go away once the
    twelve weeks were over, I wonder if he would feel differently.

    Kind regards,

    Leigh

    Yes. And he might feel differently if he knew how low the chance of long-term success actually was: only about 14% anyway, far less than the hype.

    So, clearly you don’t need to have had a previous history of depression at all for this drug to make you suicidal, and the side effects do not necessarily go away. Pretty scary that, isn’t it? And some doctors don’t understand all this yet. OMG that’s bad. That’s very, very bad.

    btw some people reading this page may not realise at first that there are hundreds of other comments about Champix on other threads on the site… to see more click on Champix/Chantix in the Blog Categories list right of this screen, near the top. They have been coming in steadily for two and a half years.

  4. Rachel later added:

    “Thought I would tell you about two incidences I had this previous week:

    A woman at work was missing from the smoking area for a few weeks, I’d thought she was on holidays but when I saw her next she wasn’t the same person, kind of a bit crazy if I’m honest. She told me last week that she had been taking Champix, given to her by her doctor while she was on ANTIDEPRESSANTS. She told me she was suicidal while on it and was getting ready to do herself in. I was not surprised, it is such an evil drug. Her mum told her to get off the champix and go back to her doctor who then told her that what she was experiencing was part of the quitting cigarette withdrawals. What a load of crock!!

    The second experience was…”

    Only I can’t tell you that bit (yet) as both these incidents involve other people, and so far we only have permission from the first lady to publicise her experience. Meanwhile Rachel, who lives and works in Australia, added this:

    “I have a lot of New Zealand friends and we travel there on occasion as well so I will start passing the word around among them on the dangers they face should they choose this drug. It’s not much but word of mouth can be a powerful tool at times. I’m very keen to do what I can. I was helping one of our coronial counsellors yesterday and her brother in law had wonderful success with hypnotherapy and hasn’t smoked, or wanted to in two years. She is a big advocate of this kind of assistance.

    Kind regards, Rachel”

    Please do not assume from these cases that you will be safe with Champix if you have no history of depression. Many of the reports we’ve had from smokers who have been horribly affected by Champix specifically state that they had NO previous history of depression. It is already clear, however, that the risks are significantly higher if the smoker has ever had any kind of mental health issue – that is precisely why Champix is contra-indicated in these cases in the guidelines – so what possesses any doctor to flout the guidelines and put their patients at serious risk of hospitalisation or suicide is beyond me.

    Has Champix EVER been tested for safety in conjunction with antidepressant medications? Or indeed, ANY other medications? The answer is NO, which makes the patient a guinea pig in a potentially lethal experiment. Is that not medical negligence? And if it isn’t, can anyone explain to me WHY it isn’t? I do understand that reactions can occur with any medication, so doctors are not held responsible for reactions no-one could predict. But they have a licence to practice medicine, and to do that responsibly. They do not have a licence to kill, or to experiment. So if they prescribe within current guidelines, their actions are not negligent because that is appropriate.

    But what if they don’t? What if someone close to you died as a result – what would you think of that? Wouldn’t you want to know what the hell that practitioner thought they were doing?

    N.B. I am not tarring all doctors/smoking cessation personnel with the same brush here, I already know from smokers’ feedback that some are cautious and well-informed about Champix (Chantix in the U.S.) But now that we know for sure that lives are at stake, shouldn’t they ALL be?

  5. I am on week 4 of Champix and feeling really low, not exactly depressed but a numbness of feelings and more prone to cry rather than laugh. It is 4 days before Christmas and I feel no spirit whatsover and have made no preparations this is totally unlike me.

    I have been a bit down since coming back to live in Australia in April, but I am going back to live in England in Feb. 2011, have my ticket and everything and don’t even feel excited or happy about that!!

    After reading all this stuff on your site today, the Champix are going in the rubbish bin.

    Oh and I am still smoking BTW. And for the record I have no history of depression whatsoever.

  6. This came in by email:

    Hamish wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    I suppose you’re sick of hearing them, but I have a horror Champix tale.

    On December 6th, 2010, I woke up early, showered, shaved and got dressed. I had an appointment with the doctor. I was going through a period of transition – graduating from university; turning 30 in the new year; hoping to change jobs; embarking on post-graduate study. I thought, “What a perfect time to quit smoking! I’ll start both a new decade and my thirties with a clean bill of health.”

    So, off I trotted to the doctor to pick up a prescription for this drug I’d heard so much about. He congratulated me on my decision, and handed me the script, which I had filled at the adjoining chemist, before buying a Christmas present for my girlfriend.

    I had a work-related social function that night, so decided to avoid taking the medication straight away. I didn’t want there to be any interaction between the Champix and alcohol, so I decided to leave it until later in the week. I got home, cracked a beer and chatted with my partner a while, cheekily dropping hints about what I had bought her, before hopping on a train into the city. I spent the rest of the afternoon and much of the night drinking and laughing with work mates. I was in one hell of a good mood — the future was bright, and I was young and full of life.

    This would be the last day I felt happy.

    I nursed a hangover for a few days — “Phew! Never drinking again” was my statement (a hollow one, I believed). But I bounced back, and began taking Champix once the headaches had cleared.

    For the first week of the medication I felt ‘off’. I can only describe it as that. I attended my graduation ceremony in a foul mood. I felt detached from what was going on. People were taking photos, and I was becoming annoyed. I attributed my stressed feelings to the knowledge that I would be saying goodbye to cigarettes the following week.

    Quit day came, and it was hard. The pills kept the cravings at bay, and I breezed through the first week of my cigarette-free life. But something didn’t feel right. I should have been elated that I had made this milestone. Instead, I felt… hollow.

    Despite many invitations to various events, I elected to spend Christmas Day alone. Steadily, I became more withdrawn. A friend came to visit in the first or second week of January. I recall seeing my mother at some point. It’s all a blur.

    Around the fifth week of Champix, I fell into a deep funk. I didn’t like who I’d become since quitting, and not having experienced depression in the past, mistook a depressed state for simple nicotine withdrawals. I believed that it was just a phase of quitting, and that it would pass.

    Some time in week six, the anxiety started. It would happen without any external stimuli. I could simply be watching TV, then feel my guts twist. My heart would start racing.

    By week seven, I had become legitimately depressed. I began to question the value of my own life. I felt like I had achieved nothing in my 29 years on this planet, and for the first time in my life, felt worthless.

    About half-way through week eight, my mother convinced me to stop taking the Champix tablets, as she had become concerned about my mental deterioration. I took her advice, and scheduled an appointment with the doctor who had prescribed them — his advice was that the symptoms should clear within the week.

    Wrong.

    I endured a horrific withdrawal process and felt — and this is the only way I can describe it — like I was dying. After a couple of weeks, I went to another GP for a second opinion. He informed me that these withdrawal symptoms would subside within another week or two, and prescribed me some medication used to treat both anxiety and depression.

    After a while, the depression became unbearable. I thought it must be related to giving up smoking, and decided that I’d rather be a sane smoker than the person I had become. I went back to my old job, pack of cigarettes in my pocket, with the belief that this nightmare would finally end.

    Smoking did not ease the symptoms.

    Currently, it has been two months since I stopped taking Champix. I am on antidepressants that don’t seem to be working. I’m taking Valium, which can’t keep the anxiety at bay. I am seeing a therapist, who seems to think I can control these symptoms with positive thinking and self-affirmation.

    But, you know when there’s something wrong with you? When you can feel that something is physically wrong? You can’t talk yourself out of a broken arm, and, I have found, you can’t talk yourself out of the depression and anxiety caused by this poison.

    I just want my old life back. I want the old me back.

    I liked that guy.

    HAMISH, I HAVE TO CONFESS THAT I AM SICK OF HEARING THESE STORIES. THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU, BECAUSE PFIZER HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THESE REACTIONS FOR YEARS NOW. BUT THEY CARE MORE ABOUT MONEY THAN PEOPLE.

    RUTHLESS BASTARDS, AREN’T THEY?

  7. Oh my God !!!!! My husband has been on Champix now for 10 weeks and he is not being very rational, after reading the stories from all of you on this site, i dont know what to do.. We have been happily married for 17 years , he has always been there for me (i suffer very serious depression but i am now on a good path with efexor}., I cannot beleive the person he has become, He hates himself and is so sad. I find it very hard to cope with, but will be there for him no matter what. How have others got through this hard time? I need some advice Please.

  8. I just cannot believe this drug is still being prescribed – been on it 2 times and that was bad enough. 2 years since coming off it doctors asked me if i smoked… I said about 5 a week now. right okay would you like to go onto champix again??? I told him if he looked at my records he’d have known about what I’d gone through b4. This drug changes peoples lives, and those around them, for the worse – sometimes indefinitely. Cannot believe it, when will this drug be banned ??

  9. I stopped taking champix after 3 weeks, as I was very depressed and could not cope. I have now been smoke free for nearly 3 months but I continue to have mood swings, and am a nightmare to live with

  10. Been on Champix for nearly four weeks now. After two weeks I could have thrown myself under a bus….it has only got worse since then. I have been a depressive for many years and am on a high dose of antidepresants……when they put me on champix they said I might feel down…..but this is ridiculous….I dont know what to do…..feel like coming off it and starting smoking again as the craving hasnt gone anyway

  11. Jane, get off it before it kills you. You should never have been given this in the first place with your history of depression, it’s against prescribing guidelines. As you’ve noticed, it doesn’t work for most people anyway. 86% failure in the long run – rubbish performance.

    Hypnotherapy, the Allen Carr method and acupuncture all work better, and they’re all SAFE. So, why give this mad shit to people, Doc?

  12. thanx for everyone who talked about his/her experience about this poison champix….i was going to try it but after your stories i prefer to stop it naturally by forcing my self …thanx again guys and wish you all the good health

  13. i have taken champix on two occasions and still smoke. I only now realise the side effects after being refused a fostering aplication for my second child due to myu display of all the above symptoms. My first aplication was a success and we gained my nephew on a guardianship order five years ago. I regestered with a new G.P and tried last year to get his brother. As my new G.P was not familiar with me and due to the side effects i displayed he wrote on my aplication i was only at present able to manage with pairenting. consiquently i was sent for a full psyciatric assesment which cleared. Too late for the second child he has now been adopted as no records that the way iwas was a result of the champix. Additionally, i was taking antidipressents for muscle spasm and am convinsed this was also a factor. The G.P says this was due to past depression and not the Chompix. Lives have been ruined and i am now struggling to have my notes amended to reflect this and hitting brick walls. I still feel the adverse effects of the tablet and nearly lost my three years at UNI as i could not concerntrate to study.

  14. iI have taken champix on two occasions and still smoke. I only now realise the side effects after being refused a fostering aplication for my second child due to displaying all the above symptoms. My first aplication was a success and we gained my nephew on a guardianship order five years ago. I regestered with a new G.P and tried last year to get his brother. It was documented I had a history of the above symptoms but not due to the meds. Too late for the second child, he has now been adopted. Additionally,I was taking antidipressents for muscle spasm and am convinsed this contributed. Lives have been ruined and all this reflects on my G.P notes.

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