Second paragraph reads: "Janice Leonard spent 12 years battling to free herself from a "living nightmare" after being prescribed the anti-depressant Seroxat [Paxil]."
Drug turned Janice's life into a 'living nightmare'
Janice Leonard wants people to be aware of the possible side-effects of the anti-depressant drug Seroxat.
A MUM left isolated and suicidal today reveals her fears about a controversial drug used by thousands of Wearsiders.
Janice Leonard spent 12 years battling to free herself from a "living nightmare" after being prescribed the anti-depressant Seroxat.
It was hailed a wonder drug when it was launched more than a decade ago, but Mrs Leonard, 53, claims it left her prisoner in her own home.
She said: "I couldn't go out any where. I couldn't see anyone. It was horrendous."
More than 50,000 prescriptions for Seroxat were handed out in the North East in just 12 months, and it is one of the most common anti-depressants available through doctors in Sunderland.
But Mrs Leonard, a florist, believes not enough is being done to let people know about the side-effects.
She said: "When I was put on Seroxat they told me there'd be no side-effects.
"But they didn't tell me I wouldn't able to drive a car or that I wouldn't be able to go to work at the end of the street without calling a taxi. It was a living nightmare."
Suffering a difficult time after the death of her father, Mrs Leonard, of West Boldon, was prescribed the drug by her doctor. She had previously been taking anti-depressants after suffering severe post-natal depression.
But just 12 months after starting on the medication, she found herself spiralling into a pit of depression and even having suicidal thoughts.
She added: "I was afraid of everything. It was like I had been frozen. But I don't blame the doctors. They'd been
told this was a marvellous drug, that it was going to change everything."
Married to Ian, 55, Mrs Leonard spent more than three years trying to get off the drug.
In the end, she used Prozac and Valium to help handle her depression and free herself from Seroxat.
She also received help and support from the Council for Involuntary Tranquillisation and Addiction (CITA).
She added: "I want people to know they can get through it, but more really needs to be known about what Seroxat can do."
A recent BBC Panorama programme claimed people can get hooked on the drug, while pop star Robbie Williams, who recently admitted himself into a U.S. rehab centre is also alleged to have used the anti-depressant.
A spokeswoman for CITA said: "We believe withdrawal from this drug can be terrible. Whatever good was done by the person taking it is undone when they try to get off it."
Makers GlaxoSmithKline, which maintains that Seroxat is a safe and effective drug that has already helped millions of people, says there is no reliable evidence available to suggest it is addictive.
A spokesman for GSK told the Echo: "Patients are advised to speak to their doctor when considering whether to stop taking Seroxat (paroxetine).
"The majority do not suffer symptoms on stopping treatment and most find that any symptoms they do experience are mild and go away on their own within two weeks.
"However, for some these symptoms may be more severe, or go on for longer."
A CITA helpline is available between 10am and 1pm weekdays, tel. 0151 932 0102.
Last Updated: 16 February 2007