Serious Psychiatric Reactions from Fluoroquinolones

Heather McCarthy News Story

Please read and share post, “Psychiatric Adverse Reactions to Pharmaceuticals Ignored” that was published on Hormones Matter. It highlights the tragic story of Shea McCarthy, a young man who lost his life after suffering from a severe psychiatric adverse reaction to Levaquin.

The severe psychiatric adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones need to be recognized and acknowledged. No one is choosing to have a severe psychiatric adverse reaction to a drug, yet people with psychiatric adverse reactions are often ignored and disregarded. As you can see from Shea’s tragic story, not listening to people who have psychiatric adverse reactions to drugs can have tragic consequences.

Here is the video of the news story, “CALL 6: Mother blames antibiotic for son’s death – Purdue University student took Levaquin:”

There are several possible mechanisms through which fluoroquinolones can cause anxiety, depression, insomnia, psychosis, and other severe psychiatric adverse-effects. Oxidative stress may be the mechanism through which fluoroquinolones cause severe psychiatric problems, as I described in “Can Antibiotics Induce Psychiatric Reactions?” Maybe gut microbiome destruction by fluoroquinolones leads to the psychiatric adverse effects. The Psychology Today article, “The Gut-Brain Connection, Mental Illness, and Disease” goes over evidence that our gut microbiome is intricately linked to our mental health. Obviously, fluoroquinolones are powerful antibiotics that destroy the gut microbiome. Another possibility, one that I have not previously explored, is that fluoroquinolones cause severe psychiatric reactions because they have a piperazine attachment to the quinolone core. In the picture below, the quinolone core is zone 4 and the piperazine attachment is zone 3.

Cipro Molecular Structure

Ciprofloxacin is 1-cyclopropyl-6-fluoro-1,4-dihydro-4-oxo-7-(1-piperazinyl)-3-quinolinecarboxylic acid.

Piperazine blocks GABA activity. GABA is gamma-Aminobutyric acid, “the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. It plays the principal role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. In humans, GABA is also directly responsible for the regulation of muscle tone.” (wiki) When GABA is blocked, people feel edgy, agitated, excited (not in a good way), anxious, and can suffer from insomnia, muscle spasms, seizures, and more.

Piperazine is often used “for making fake ecstasy because of the similarity in taste, and at certain doses, a user may experience favorable side effects and feel ‘high.’” (source) It is also often mixed with MDMA in ecstasy.

Additionally, it is noted in “Acetylcholine (ACh) – Related Damage” on that:

“Piperazines (anti-parasiticals which kill parasites by paralyzing them) have neuromuscular effects which are thought to be caused by blocking acetylcholine at the myoneural junction. (Plenty of pets have been poisoned with over the counter piperazine toxicity from wormers – so no, it’s not just helminths they affect). Among the numerous properties of Piperazine derivatives, they are not only muscarinic antagonists, but also are the basis for recreational drugs with euphoria and stimulant properties, such as amphetamines, BZP, MDMA [rather, ecstasy, as noted above], and TFMPP, along with all the negative side effects of these drugs (no wonder I was hallucinating during my acute reaction). So now we have a toxic neuromuscular agent with amphetamine/ecstasy-like effects (piperazine), along with a toxic iodine displacer (fluorine), attached to a chemotherapeutic agent with an intracellular, intranuclear, and intra-mitochondrial genotoxic mechanism of action (quinolone) – a synthetic, fluoridated, neurotoxic, genotoxic chemotherapeutic poison masquerading as an antibiotic and being given en masse to the human and animal population.”

Fluoroquinolones “are known to non-competitively inhibit the activity of the neurotransmitter, GABA, thus decreasing the activation threshold needed for that neuron to generate an impulse.” (source, source, source) Fluoroquinolones have also been shown to have similar effects on GABA neurotransmitters as benzodiazepine withdrawal (source).

The inhibition of GABA by the piperazine part of fluoroquinolones is a plausible, even likely, mechanism for the many horrible psychiatric effects that people suffer from after taking fluoroquinolones.

In a survey of 94 people who experienced adverse reactions to Levaquin/levofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, 72% reported experiencing anxiety, 62% reported depression, 48% reported insomnia, 37% reported panic attacks, 33% reported brain fog and/or cognitive impairment, 29% reported depersonalization and/or derealization, 24% reported thoughts of suicide and 22% reported psychosis. (source, source)

More than 20 million prescriptions for fluoroquinolones are given out in the U.S. each year. If even only 1% of the people who take fluoroquinolones experience a psychiatric adverse-reaction, that’s still a lot of people whose minds aren’t their own, who are suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia and worse, because of an antibiotic that is made with a chemical that has amphetamine/ecstasy-like effects.

These effects can have tragic consequences, as can be seen in the video and article mentioned above about Shea McCarthy.

Psychiatric adverse effects of prescription drugs are serious, and they should be taken seriously. They are not a choice. No one would choose to feel psychotic, or even anxious.

There are many plausible mechanisms through which fluoroquinolones can cause psychiatric problems. Perhaps it is time that the psychiatric effects of fluoroquinolones become more widely recognized.


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14 thoughts on “Serious Psychiatric Reactions from Fluoroquinolones

  1. Cindy Jones May 8, 2016 at 3:52 pm Reply

    Psychosis etc from fluoroquinolones.

    Hi everyone
    Does anyone know if Clobazan is a GABA antagonist. Many thanks.

    • Lisa May 8, 2016 at 5:57 pm Reply

      Hi Cindy,

      Yes, according to the wiki entry, it is – It’s a benzodiazapine. There are pretty serious consequences to benzos, and benzo withdrawal, so I encourage you to be careful, cautious, and informed as possible with them.


    • Thomas Shamp December 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm Reply

      it is a partial gaba(a) agonist.

  2. Lukasz May 9, 2016 at 8:49 pm Reply

    Sad, sad stuff. RIP Shea.

    This easily could have been me. I recall many days and nights of extreme agitation / irritability / anxiety while behind the wheel and wanting to crash the car into anything solid enough that would kill me on impact.

    Condolences to his family.

    Big Pharma and profit-first doctor$, this young man’s death is on you.

    • Thomas Shamp December 8, 2016 at 12:59 pm Reply

      i can definitely sympathize with this. im still going through the extreme waves of agitation. i keep waking up from a dead sleep in a blind rage for no reason; ill start storming around the house, etc. then i realize whats going on and manage to calm down. its really quite terrible. i didnt sign up for this.

    • Lauren February 8, 2017 at 8:53 am Reply

      Omg. Me too. If only back then I could have found someone that felt the same. When this happened to me there was NOTHING out there I could find on this.

  3. Lynn May 10, 2016 at 5:36 pm Reply

    Fluros can utterly destroy mental health. I will never forget the feeling of being at the supermarket and being afraid that someone would come talk to me. I was so terrified as I was literally afraid of any stimulation. Being in public was too much for me. However, I do not think their mechanism on mental health is through the gut microbiome. If that were so, then psychiatric reactins would be a massive problem with all antibiotics. I was on Augmentin every day for 2 years and had zero psych symptoms. I was on Cipro for 1.5 days and yet experienced dramatic anxiety and paranoia. Horrible poison!

    • Cindy May 5, 2017 at 6:14 pm Reply

      Did it ever go away? I’ve been floxed 4 times and found the flagyl I just had the last couple times, because I get diverticulitis gave me extreme anxiety. I got it from the cipro mixed with flagyl the first four time, and I have horrible side effects from the cipro, to any to list, but this last bout with flagyl in Jan. and Feb. made me feel crazy, panicky, full of anxiety. Now that it’s been 3 months ago, I’ve got a bit better, but still can’t work, don’t want to be around people, just like everything you said. I use yo be funny, loved to be around people, now I avoid anything where people are. Tell me it goes away, the brain fog and dizziness are horrible, males you want to stay in.

  4. Eileen A. OBrien. A 19 month Cipro victim, from Nashville TN June 7, 2016 at 11:58 am Reply

    RIP Shea McCarthy. A totally innocent victim of a pharmaceutical industry whose greed and ongoing lies dramatically PROVE their callous disregard for human life. Just a few years ago Bayer( Now Janssen) recorded an astounding ( even SHOCKING) 1 year PROFIT of over $6 trillion from the sale of just ONE fluoroquinolone antibiotic and that is ONE DRUG- they produce and profit from many thousands of drugs by the way) so this is truly UNBELIEVABLE! Tell us Janssen- How much of that PROFIT did you put into Desperately needed RESEARCH on the terrible side effects being reported DAILY to the FDA from Victims being given such horribly over-prescribed fluoroquinolne antibiotics- unnecessarily! They may work on Anthrax or Ebola or even life threatening bacterial illnesses unresponsive to other antibiotics. However they are readily and frequently given for NON-CULTURED minor SUSPECTED ( not even PROVEN) UTI’s, sinusitis,, pre-op for surgery for a deviated septum with absolutely NO EVIDENCE OF A BACTERIAL INFECTION!, And in my personal case for a simple non-infected CAT BITE.!! I also received NO INFORMED CONSENT OF ANY POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS!! So I was given 500mg tabs of Cipro to be taken every 12 hrs for 14 days.. After the second pill I had an enormous full body rash, a swollen tongue blocking my airway and a seizure. ( Absolutely no prior reactions or seizure history.). Short story is also severe suicidal ideation I could not complete due solely due to the fact my entire muscular system totally collapsed ( or stopped working, who knows) and I could not hold the gun to my head or even pick it up. These fluoroquinolones maim, disable and kill. Many, many terrible side effects are permanent. It breaks my heart this wonderful man had to die.And still today Janssen refuses to even discuss their role in killing him. This is a travesty!!! This is DISGUSTING!! And we still consider America the best place on earth???

  5. tarkonis December 17, 2016 at 11:37 am Reply

    What about mercury redistribution?

  6. Nancy gaspar December 12, 2017 at 10:16 am Reply

    I had a lot of depression anxiety heart muscle Skelton due to this medicine

  7. Kirby June 8, 2019 at 12:26 pm Reply

    Hey people,
    First of all it is great to hear we are not alone. I got cipro for a pretty shitty reason in 2012 or so. At first I had nightsweats, horrible gas and then my legs fell asleep. They were literally numb at night. Didn’t think about cipro back then. After a while i got serious stomache pain. I nearly cried, couldnt eat or drink without pain. I am chronically fatigued, foggy, cant concentrate or think straight, i feel derealization from Time ro time and fell into depression. I developed several food intolerances like dairy, histamine and gluten and a bit fructose. I turned terifically sensitive towards any chemical substance if taken orally. My tnf alfa is increased, i am very bloated all the time. Might be clostridia too. I am completely left alone by the doctors. Barely anyone knows about the deleterious side effects of cipro in germany. They are so behind with everything… However to give you guys some faith. Despite my shitty health i managed to get my a levels! and i wanna study medicine now. Then i can be a better doctor than them. Together we can stand up against the pharmaceutical industry! Take care and lots of hope

  8. Attila July 16, 2019 at 6:56 am Reply

    In 2006 my doctor gave me Clonazepam 1,5mg/day (3×0,5mg) and Zoloft 150mg/day becasue i told him that i dont feel happy in the days.. His reaction was to helping me with these drugs. After a 7months i was addicted, and I tapered down to 0mg during 1year. Than hell begun 😦 It’s took me 7 years to be normal again, without anxiety and panic attacks. But i won the battle. Now Fluoride poisoned me, so today im 18months free but i feel anxiety again 🙂 So i think if i won the battle with benzos and ssri’s I will win the next battle against fluoride poisoning. The feelings are verry similar than in benzo withdrawal. Sorry for my english.

  9. Attila July 16, 2019 at 6:59 am Reply

    I really sorry for Shea :((( it is a sad storry…

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