Antibiotics and Psychiatric Reactions

Psychiatric Adverse Reactions to Pharmaceuticals Ignored

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In CALL 6: Mother blames antibiotic for son’s death – Purdue University student took Levaquin, a news piece aired on WRTV 6 out of Indianapolis, Heather McCarthy tells the story of the tragic death of her son, Shea McCarthy, who lost his life after experiencing severe psychiatric adverse effects of Levaquin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic.

Heather McCarthy notes that when Shea jumped out of a second story window, got in his car, and crashed into a cement embankment, “’It was a moment, I believe, of sheer agitation and anxiety and I believe it overcame him.’”

Anxiety can truly make people want out of their own skin. Levaquin, and related drugs, can cause horrible psychiatric problems, including psychosis and suicidal thoughts and acts.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, Floxin, and their generic counterparts) can cause severe psychiatric adverse effects. In fact, the drug warning label notes that toxic psychosis, and other serious psychiatric symptoms, can result from taking Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones:

Fluoroquinolones may also cause central nervous system stimulation which may lead to tremors, restlessness, anxiety, lightheadedness, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, depression,nightmares, insomnia, and, rarely, suicidal thoughts or acts.

I encourage everyone who has experienced an adverse reaction to a drug or suffered from psychiatric illness, or who has a loved one who has suffered from an adverse drug reaction or psychiatric illness, to read this article and watch the associated video:

CALL 6: Mother blames antibiotic for son’s death – Purdue University student took Levaquin

No one Listened

Heather McCarthy states that she spoke out to the media in order to give a voice to her son. “’The hardest thing about this is my son knew what was wrong with him, and no one listened to him,’ McCarthy said. ‘It breaks my heart. We put faith in a system that failed us horribly.’”

Too many people with psychiatric illnesses are being ignored.

Too many people suffering from iatrogenic illnesses and adverse drug reactions are being ignored.

The people suffering from psychiatric symptoms as a result of adverse drug reactions, are most definitely being ignored.

As Heather McCarthy said, “’People don’t make this stuff up.’” No one wants to experience psychosis, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, confusion, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, or any psychiatric illness symptom. No one wants to experience an adverse drug reaction. People certainly don’t want to experience psychiatric illness as a result of an adverse drug reaction.

So, when a person claims that a drug made them feel psychotic, or depressed, or anxious, or that they experienced horrible insomnia, or if they blame an adverse drug reaction for a psychiatric illness diagnosis, please, please, BELIEVE THEM.

There is no benefit in having a mental illness diagnosis. People don’t make these things up.

Lack of Adequate Help

Unfortunately, what to do about psychiatric illnesses, adverse drug reactions, and psychiatric symptoms caused by adverse drug reactions, is not fully known.

Shea McCarthy got worse after he began treatment for bipolar disorder. The drugs he took for it may have had suicidal thoughts and actions as a potential effect—many drugs that treat psychiatric illnesses do.

There is some interesting, and promising, research being done into probiotics as treatments for depression and other psychiatric illnesses. I am hopeful that probiotics will be helpful in treating both mental illness and adverse drug reactions in the future, and that the role of gut destruction (from antibiotics and many other environmental stressors) in mental illness is soon elucidated.

While microbiome and probiotic research is being done, please BELIEVE the victims who are providing testimony about how antibiotics caused them to have psychiatric problems. They’re telling the truth, and they deserve to be heard.

My heart aches for Heather and all those who loved Shea McCarthy. I hope that Shea’s tragic story will help people to see that psychiatric adverse reactions to drugs, especially to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, should be taken seriously.

Antibiotic Induced Psychiatric Reactions

The testimony of Heather McCarthy, and many other people who have been hurt by fluoroquinolone antibiotics, as presented to the FDA in November of 2015, can be found in this transcript.

More information about the psychiatric adverse effects of fluoroquinolones can be found in Can Antibiotics Induce Psychiatric Reactions?, and Psychiatric Side Effects of Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics. The article, “Fluoroquinolone-related neuropsychiatric and mitochondrial toxicity: a collaborative investigation by scientists and members of a social network” published in the Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology also goes over the psychiatric effects of fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Additionally, articles like Combinations of Gut Bacteria Affects Myelin Content and Brain Function and The Gut-Brain Connection, Mental Illness, and Disease go over the connections between gut/microbiome health and mental health.

Information about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

Information about the author, and adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin and Floxin/ofloxacin) can be found on Lisa Bloomquist’s site,

Participate in Research

Hormones MatterTM is conducting research on the side effects and adverse events associated with the fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and others: The Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Side Effects Study. The study is anonymous, takes 20-30 minutes to complete and is open to anyone who has used a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Please complete the study and help us understand the scope of fluoroquinolone reactions.

Hormones MatterTM conducts other crowdsourced surveys on medication reactions. To take one of our other surveys, click here.

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Lisa Bloomquist was "Floxed" on her 32nd birthday by Cipro, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. After 2 years of battling the mysterious health ailments that come with an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone, she has fought her way back to health. Lisa is now fighting for recognition of the harm that these drugs can cause and hoping to help those who are suffering from them through their fluoroquinolone induced illness to find recovery. Her web site, highlighting stories of hope and recovery, is After a while of studying how fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria, she noted that mitochondria were being systematically ignored when forming disease models. She started to bring attention to the role that mitochondria play in health and disease.



    Just sharing a cautionary comment that requires consideration so as not to inadvertently perpetuate misinformation that puts peoples health and safety at risk.

    “Too many people with psychiatric illnesses are being ignored.”

    In order to be accurate, the above sentence should state: “Too many people with SYMPTOMS currently classified as “psychiatric illness”s” are being fraudulently conned into believing that they have “chemical imbalances” in their brains requiring life-long adherence to ineffective, dangerous neurotoxic drugs.”

    The literature is abundantly clear that psychiatry has no tests, no cures and NO DISEASES, the DSM is but a poorly designed classification system that list SYMPTOMS and labels (the people experiencing them) into categories misnomered as “diseases/syndromes.

    Misdiagnosis is in fact a legal fraud. The DSM is a fraud and the “mental illness’s” manufactured out of that slight of hand and quackery are equally fraudulent. Fraud is an actionable tort and a felony.

    Symptoms themselves are NOT diseases, they are the bodies warning that something is wrong. The drugs used to treat “mental illness’s” also cause iatrogenic death, disability, addiction, discontinuation syndromes, murder, suicide etc. In fact many REAL disorders, such as Thyroid disease and hormonal imbalances (prevalent in women) are consistently MISDIAGNOSED as “mental illness” which is why women supposedly suffer from higher rates of “MI”. Medicine at large continues to ignore women’s hormones in it’s drug tests and in it’s “concepts” of disease to begin with which has a profoundly negative affect on the quality of women’s lives. SEE:

    Clearly dr’s are risking peoples lives and harming us with antibiotics to the point of putting the future of humanity at risK. Yet, even this fact does not stop them from continuing to profit from doing so. However, the problem of adverse drug events is by no means limited to antibiotics as ANY drug can kill you at any time and there is no legal informed consent informing the public to that fact which is also medical malpractice.

    Congratulations on noting the missing link to mitochondria damage in helping people find their way back to some semblance of health after being injured by “psuedo-science and unethical businessmen practising fraud that is ironically killing us under the guise of ‘medicine.” Wishing you continued success and abundant health.

    • Hi Jay – Thank you very much for your insight! Many people, along with many doctors like Dr. Brogan, and journalists like Robert Whittaker, are waking up to the travesty of dangerous drugs permanently harming people. I appreciate your input into the conversation and for correcting my use of the term psychiatric illness.


  2. The story of this promising young man and his mental deterioration has both touched me and angered me as well. I too came up against that brick wall, where people in the medical industry refuse to think outside the box.

    Absolutely no one would believe me that on the 7th day of a 10 day Amoxicillin prescription for an infected tooth, my mental state went ballistic. I should explain that I already had (and have) bi-polar depression. But this was over the top. I woke up in a haze one morning to a voice telling me to run into the kitchen, grab a knife and stab myself in the stomach. Thankfully, I became fully awake and stopped in time. My paranoia went over the top. None of my medications seemed to be having any effect. It took more than a month to return to what was normal for me and my mental conditions where the medications were thankfully again effective.

    I know Amoxicillin is not in the same family as Levaquin. Nevertheless, there was nothing else to explain the huge exaggeration of my symptoms. When I reported this to the pharmacist and the prescribing doctor, they insisted it was not the antibiotic as this wasn’t one of the side effects listed. It was frustrating beyond belief. I could have followed through and stabbed myself, possibly fatally.

    The one who believed me was my psychiatrist. He posited that because antibiotics effect the digestive system (even though I had been eating yogurt etc. in order to minimize this well know attribute of all antibiotics), they interfere with the amount of serotonin being produced in the gut. A study from CalTech has shown that 90% of the body’s serotonin comes from the digestive tract (CalTech publication NOW, April 9, 2015). What other antibiotics may be having this effect?Only upon doing research after my horrible experiences did I find other people on forums in various places on the internet complaining about having psychiatric problems after taking Amoxicillin. Some were very severe, and suicidal ideation was not uncommon. One woman reported trying to cut her wrists using her own fingernails. And the majority had never experienced these severe mental symptoms before.

    Doctors leap to prescribe them even before a need has been established. After a sinus procedure which caused some unusual bleeding, the doctor packed the area with gauze padding and then was about to write a prescription for an antibiotic because, as he put it, he wanted to prevent an infection from starting. He got a resounding NO from me-I never did develop an infection. So far I am refusing any and all antibiotics. I understand they can be lifesavers and if the situation arises again, I don’t know what I will do if there is serious infection present.

    Thank you for this information, sad as it is. I feel it has exonerated me regarding my terrible reaction to this drug. For those like myself who are already suffering from mental issues, much thought must be given before prescribing these body altering drugs, and caution should be used in all cases before doctors reach for that prescription pad.

    • Sharon, what a horrible experience. The gut serotonin theory is quite interesting. I wonder if you might be willing to take your comment and make it into a blog post. That way we can share it more broadly and others who might have experienced similar reactions will see it and come forward.

    • Hi Sharon,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! Shea McCarthy’s story is tragic and my heart aches for all his loved ones. I briefly met his mom, Heather McCarthy, when testifying before the FDA about the harm done by fluoroquinolones, and her pain and anger were palpable. I am so sad about what happened to Shea, and I hope that advocacy efforts can keep what happened to him from happening to someone else.

      I am also saddened to hear about what you experienced! Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. I saw that Chandler asked if you wanted to share your story on If you’re interested, I am sure that there will be people who will be able to relate to your experience.

      As the gut/brain connection becomes more and more clear, and as the fact that so many of our neurotransmitters are produced in our guts becomes accepted, I suspect that the link between psychiatric illnesses and antibiotics will become more and more clear.

      To be honest with you, your story is frightening on many levels. I want to think that we have some safe antibiotics, and that amoxicillin doesn’t have horrible effects. Unfortunately, as your experience illustrates, it can have horrible effects. Since sometimes antibiotics are necessary, that makes me quite sad.

      I appreciate your comment very much though – it is important to learn from each other.


  3. Thanks for writing this Lisa. As you know I 100% believe I took a Fluoroquinolone in 1992 that ended up causing severe depression that put me into the mental health system for years. I believe that Fluoroquinolones and other antibiotics helped me stay stuck in that system. It wasn’t until I took Cipro late 2014 that I was able to piece my health history together. I thank you for all your work. Because of your vigilance and dedication, I am free.

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