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Flagyl: My Personal Hell

It all started when I was proscribed Flagyl, commonly known as Metronidazole, for a stomach parasite in late August. I was told to take 500 mg, 3 times a day for a week. Up until the 5th night, I was experiencing "common" symptoms such as lack of appetite, nausea, etc. I also happened to be working a night shift, as I was a summer student at a Grain Elevator, which didn't help matters. On the 5th night, I called in sick as I had a headache and was feeling generally unwell. I fell asleep around 3:30 am, after taking some Melatonin (graveyard shifts can really throw your body out of whack) and suddenly woke up at 5 am in what I can only describe as a jolt of panic. I didn't know what it was, thought it may have been a nightmare and managed to fall back asleep for about 45 minutes. Around 5:50 am, I again woke in a panic but this time I was sweating, felt like I was going to take a heart attack, I was dizzy, could't feel my hands and legs. I was running around my house like a maniac, waking up my parents  and telling them to call 911 immediately because I literally thought I was going to die.
By the time the ambulance had arrived, the paramedics were able to calm me down and told me I was having a panic attack. I've NEVER had a panic attack before in my life. After going to the hospital and injected with fluids/Gravol, I was told to continue taking Flagyl, despite my symptoms, as I only had two days left of my medication. I arrived home dead-tired, and managed to get a peaceful nights rest. The next day I work up, felt time and dreaded the moment I put Flagyl into my mouth again. All was well until 8:00 that night. I got up to get a piece of fruit and BAM another panic attack. I felt like a couldn't walk, breathe, was dizzy, heart was racing-basically impending doom. My mother had to sit with me on the couch from 8 pm until 5 am until I was able to sleep for 2 hours. I stopped taking Flagyl immediately.
Well, for the next few days the panic attacks, crippling anxiety and insomnia continued. It got to the point where it took me 2 hours to leave the house because I was in constant panic mode, for no reason at all. After two more visits to emergency, I was left in the care of a psychiatrist, who proscribed me with sleeping medication as well as Clonazepam. Even after taking two sleeping pills and 0.5 mg of Clonazepam, I was  only sleeping for a total of 3-4 hours. It even got to the point where I didn't necessarily feel anxious but when I was on the verge of sleep,  I would wake up in a jolt/panic for no apparent reason.
After the sleeping pills were clearly not working, my psychiatrist proscribed me with 10 mg of an SSRI called Citralopram. I have since been on it for 2 weeks. Last week, my sleep did seem to improve when I took 0.5 mg of Clonazepam at night but after my dosage was upped to 20 mg this week I experienced heightened anxiety and am now back to square one with my sleeping problems. I'm back down on 10 mg of Citralopram right now and am lucky if I get 2-3 hours of sleep per night after taking Clonazepam.
I have always been an anxious person when it comes to school, but I was always able to manage it (I've been in university for 3 years and was supposed to graduate this year). I've also never had major sleep issues. As of the past week, my anxiety has decreased significantly and I basically feel back to normal, besides the sleeping part. The doctors keep telling me that I have some pre-disposed anxiety disorder, but I truly believe that I was given too high a dosage of Flagyl for my body weight (I'm only 105 pounds) and have read on many forums, blogs, studies, and websites about the effects that antibiotics can have on the CNS even months after they have been stopped. Since the SSRI has only been in my system for two weeks, I believe its highly unlikely my anxiety has decreased due to these drugs. I think my body is trying to recover from a state of shock- whatever was triggered in my CNS by the Flagyl (FYI: The FDA notes that there is a 9% chance Flagyl is associated with Panic Disorders).
Has anyone had similar experiences after taking Flagyl? How long did it take for full recovery? I almost feel as though I'm further polluting my body by taking all these anxiety meds and masking the deeper issue- the damage to my CNS.
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Avatar universal
Here's the thing -- if it was the flagyl, and you say you never had an anxiety attack in your life, and it's getting better, then you might want to consider getting off the antidepressants and benzos quicker rather than later.  They can be very hard to stop taking once you've been on them for awhile, so if you don't have a chronic anxiety problem, and by your description you don't, you don't need medication for a chronic anxiety problem that can cause problems too.  It is common for antibiotics to cause anxiety problems -- not super common, but common.  One of the most important parts of our immune systems but also our mental health systems in our bodies are beneficial organisms, and antibiotics and antifungals kill off organisms without being able to distinguish the beneficial ones from the harmful ones.  Flagyl has been a particularly difficult med, though I don't know it being used the way you're using it.  Now, I don't know that the Flagyl caused this, but if you know it, you should trust your instinct.  My main concern is that you don't fall into a trap of taking unnecessary and difficult medications, as that's overly common in the US (as is taking unnecessary antibiotics, but I don't know if that's true in your case).  Good luck whatever you choose to do.
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Avatar universal
Hello Alexalsa, what about your sleep disorders? I suffer from bad insomnia caused by metronidazole (Flagyl). I don't have panic attacks, but this insomnia ruined my life. I was taking metronidazole 5 days a month. Then 3 weeks without it and again 5 days taking pills...this was 7 times and since the first day of metronidazole my sleep was more and more disrupted. It is a miracle to sleep 3 hours without waking up. I tried a lot of medicaments and sleeping pills for this problem and nothing works. Now it is 41 days without metronidazole. So how are you now? If your sleeping started to be better - how long after stop this medicament was it better? Thanks a lot. It is awful drug and I think it should be prescribed only if there are not other posibilities...if yes, it should be prescribed another medicament without these awful side effects.
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Avatar universal
This is an old thread, but make no mistake this drug in some people is hell. I fell into a deep agitated depression, had physical pains and weakness. Panic attacks and demanded to go to Aand E. When I got there i was told I was depressed. I kept saying, yes I’m depressed, but I am Ill, Nobody believed me. Nightmare
Helpful - 0
Sorry that happened to you.  How long did it take to get over it?
Started in October. Was very ill until Jan/Feb approx.
Wow, that's a crazy long time!  It's better now?
Avatar universal
I’m curious if you were able to recover 100% from this. I am experiencing the same severe insomnia you describe. It is awful. Just curious if it got better over time or if there was something you did that helped.  
Helpful - 0
Alexsa no longer posts here so won't answer with an update. You are better off starting your own thread and listing your issues.
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