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Scroll All News Items. All medicines come with side effects, some good, some bad. The corticosteroid prednisone is no exception. Prednisone has life-saving anti-inflammatory properties. But this miraculous drug is also known to have sinister side effects. Most doctors will warn patients about weight gain, body hair growth, insomnia, acne, nausea, headache and redistribution of fat to various parts of the body. Typically, these side effects are minor but increase with longer-term use.
See Need to Know: But too few patients are warned about the psychological side effects of prednisone, and patients can be surprised and confused. Feeling happy is a great side effect some people feel with prednisone. The delayed effect I had to prednisone was startling and scary. Prednisone treats conditions such as allergic reactions, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders like lupus, breathing disorders, arthritis and ulcerative colitis. I was prescribed a day high-dose course of prednisone to treat a severe allergic reaction.
I was warned about the possibility of developing insomnia and several of the other physical reactions. Nothing was mentioned about a possible psychological response. When insomnia struck, I just went to the doctor to get a sleep aid. When I completed my course of prednisone without any other side effects, I thought I was in the clear.
My prednisone problems were only beginning. A lot of doctors will talk about the physical side effects, but not the psychological ones. Five days after my last dose, I was struck with sudden shortness of breath.
I thought I was having a heart attack and went to the hospital. The doctor determined that my heart was fine, and diagnosed me as having had an anxiety attack. Neither the doctor nor I made a correlation between the prednisone and the anxiety attack. I had not been battling any anxiety prior to the shortness of breath. Over the next month I continued to have smaller versions of the episode, resulting in many doctor visits. Finally, I was urged to see a psychiatrist about my recurring anxiety.
When I told the psychiatrist about my allergic reaction, which had ended 2 months ago, and my prednisone treatment, she reassured me that my anxiety was an expected side effect of the drug.
While reassuring, it would have been nice to know that sooner. According to a December study , 1 percent of the patients who take a dose higher than 40 mg will have an adverse psychiatric reaction. Females may be at a higher risk. The higher the dose, the higher the risk is for a psychiatric reaction. At 80 mg, the risk rises to I was high-dose, starting at 70 mg and stepped down by 10 mg every 3 days.
A case study describes a year-old woman with no past history of mental illness. She was being treated with prednisone and started reporting severe mood swings. Her symptoms were similar to severe bipolar disorder. It was determined that her psychiatric condition was prednisone-induced. Many people enjoy the benefits of prednisone and other corticosteroids when they elevate mood, creating a sense of euphoria and excessive energy.
Lene Andersen, a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, has occasionally taken the drug. For example, rather than taking antidepressants to treat depression, find emotional support from friends to lessen the impact.
There are pros and cons to knowing all the adverse side effects to prednisone before taking it, she says. She urges those taking prednisone to ask friends and family to keep an eye on you. Shawna De La Rosa is a freelance writer living and working in the Seattle area. Join our list and get our MedShadow Update every Friday. We do not share our email list. Is it Safe and Does it Work?
I wish someone had told me that prednisone had psychiatric side effects including anxiety and insomnia - and that they can show up after the course is done. By Shawna De La Rosa.