Free-floating, often severe, anxiety is a common symptom of fluoroquinolone toxicity.
Fluoroquinolones thoroughly mess up GABA neurotransmitters, and GABA “plays the principal role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system.” Here are a few articles that describe how fluoroquinolones negatively affect GABA – Article 1, Article 2, Article 3.
To put what fluoroquinolones do to GABA neurotransmitters into a framework, they basically throw people into protracted benzodiazepine withdrawal. People who have gone through benzodiazepine withdrawal at any time in life should NEVER take a fluoroquinolone. See “Benzodiazepine tolerance, dependency, and withdrawal syndromes and interactions with fluoroquinolone antimicrobials” for more information about how fluoroquinolones affect people who have a history of benzodiazepine use and withdrawal.
The things that help people through protracted benzodiazepine withdrawal may be helpful for floxies too. GABA neurotransmitters and receptors have been iatrogenically damaged by both drugs, and they need to heal. From what I understand, the Ashton Manual has a lot of good information in it about healing from benzodiazepine withdrawal. Support sites like www.benzobuddies.org may also be helpful.
A very interesting review of supplements to treat anxiety (specifically benzodiazepine induced anxiety, but the advice is applicable to floxies too) can be found through this link –
Additionally, Ruth has researched and written extensively about fluoroquinolone induced anxiety and I suggest reading her story – https://floxiehope.com/ruths-story-cipro-toxicity/ and listening to her podcast – https://floxiehope.com/2015/01/07/the-floxie-hope-podcast-episode-6-ruth-young/. She also wrote some very interesting and insightful comments on my story starting about June 9, 2015 – https://floxiehope.com/lisas-recovery-story-cipro-toxicity/comment-page-13/#comments.
Ruth mentions supplementing uridine in her story:
I also have found that uridine works really well when I get that horrible insomnia and nothing else is helping. Uridine has it’s own receptors in the brain, so maybe it is a way floxies can bypass GABA receptor damage. I cannot prevent a relapse with it. I take it after the relapse starts, 500-750 mg with a fish oil capsule to help it work better. It’s something to have in reserve for those times you just want to crawl out of your own skin and you need to get some rest. Taking it every day did nothing for me. It has to be timed just right, at the moment that every time I’m starting to fall asleep symptoms are getting more intense and now I’m standing there by my bed with my skin just burning, knowing I am not going to sleep. A couple uridine and I’m out within thirty minutes.
It has recently come to my attention that uridine helps to reduce epileptic seizures and that increases free GABA, thus it has a calming influence. I have found it to be useful.
The things that helped me to get through cipro-induced anxiety are: 1. Acupuncture, 2. Meditation, 3. Stress reduction – especially flox related stress – that meant getting off the internet.
I went through a recent period of pain that induced anxiety. Kava helped me a lot. The longecity article recommends against kava, and I think that their concerns are valid. It is only for short-term use and it probably isn’t best for people who have had a history of benzo withdrawal. Personally, I’ve never had a benzo and I only needed to use kava for a short period of time. It was a life-saver during the time I used it. Be careful with it though.
There is a vicious cycle when it comes to fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms and anxiety. Fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms lead to stress and anxiety (it’s a pretty reasonable to be stressed and anxious when you’re suddenly in pain, you can’t move but when you do you tear tendons, you lose your memory, and suffer from chronic insomnia – to name just a few symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity), stress and anxiety negatively affect the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and lead to dysautonomia, ANS damage leads to more fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms, which leads to more stress, and so on, and so on.
I don’t think that fluoroquinolone toxicity is “just” anxiety, but I do think that anxiety makes every symptom of fluoroquinolone toxicity worse. I also think that there is nothing to be trivialized about anxiety. It’s not a choice. It’s the central and autonomic nervous systems going completely hay-wire, and both stress and anxiety can lead to serious health problems.
I know that anxiety makes you not want to do these things, but I also suggest trying really hard to do the simple things that make you healthy and happy. Sleep plenty. Enjoy your food. Laugh a lot. Be social. Hang out with a pet and/or children. Those things are healthy and they are healing. They’re easier said than done, but they’re certainly worth a try.
In my opinion, it’s imperative for floxies to get stress and anxiety symptoms under control. Neither stress nor anxiety are easy things to control, and, like I said earlier, it’s not a choice – it’s GABA neurotransmitter damage – but anything that can be done to reduce stress and anxiety will help the GABA neurotransmitters to heal, and will help the ANS and CNS to normalize.
Fluoroquinolone induced anxiety can be crawl-out-of-your-skin horrible, but it does get better. Hang in there, my friends.