My name is Tara and I had an awful reaction to sertraline in March 2021. After two weeks on this medication, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital after attempting to take my life! Prior to that, I was never suicidal!

From the onset of taking this drug, I lost my appetite and developed insomnia. I would lie in bed at night breaking out in cold sweats accompanied with a feeling of terror that’s difficult to put into words. After a few days I began to feel as though I were in a dream. Nothing felt real. Alongside this, I developed violent, intrusive thoughts about harming myself. They were so dark that I didn’t even know my mind was capable of going there! I felt like I was possessed! The worst thing about all of this was that I started to believe my son wasn’t really mine and he was swapped at the hospital. I felt no love for him, when 3 weeks ago I was a doting and dedicated mother. During moments of lucidity, I felt such guilt that I considered suicide as a viable option. When I rang my local A&E department, complaining of panic attacks and insomnia, they told me it’s common with the sertraline and prescribed me diazepam (to be fair, although I told them I felt like I was going crazy, I didn’t tell them everything).

It all came to a head when I woke my husband up in the early hours of the morning and told him I believed I was possessed and had to jump off the bridge into the water to “save” my family! He rang our GP surgery (who prescribed me the sertraline) and told them that I started acting weird when they put me on antidepressants. I spoke to the Crisis Team later that day and they told me to stop taking the sertraline with immediate effect. I begged the lady on the phone to have me sectioned and even told her I believed I posed a danger to both my son and myself. She told me that there weren’t enough beds and the Crisis Team would come out to see me on Monday.

The following day I took an overdose. I was convinced in my mind that I was sacrificing myself to save my family so God would understand and I wouldn't go to hell (I know how insane this all sounds!). I even thought that after I’d spoken to God, I might be allowed to come back and carry on as before. When the paramedics came, I told them I did “the right thing” and God would understand! Later on in the hospital (when I realised the OD didn’t work), I tried to strangle myself with my dressing gown cord. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital that evening.

After a lot of diazepam to calm me down and more sleep than I’d had in weeks, it didn’t take me long to find people with similar stories to mine. I was discharged a few days later, but I’m still struggling massively! Although the intrusive thoughts are gone, I feel like I have PTSD and still sleep with the lights on.

I strongly believe that doctors or nurse practitioners aren’t fully aware of the risks and need to prescribe these drugs with more caution.

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Tara

Tara became psychotic and suicidal days after taking sertraline