Anyone experienced severe anxiety/depression taking Clarithromycin?

Posted , 51 users are following.

I take Citalopram for anxiety/depression. This year I have had 2 chest infections that needed treating and was given Clarithromycin, 500mg twice a day. The latest chest infection was recently and I stopped taking the antibiotics 5 days ago. I have had some awful symptoms that I don't know what has caused. Shaking, increased anxiety and depression, loss of appetite, twitching muscles and weakness in legs. Balance problems. Heart Palpitations. Now I am having difficulty walking and it is really scaring me. I seem to remember having these side effects when I took these before but not so severe.

I would love to hear from anyone who has had a reaction like this and how long was it before you felt better.

1 like, 66 replies

66 Replies

  • Edited

    I have just come back from the Doctors after experiencing terrible side effects from taking a course of Clarithromycin for Tonsilitis. I am on my last day of a 7 day prescription and have been having terrible leg pains for a couple of days which I put down to symptoms of the Tonsilitis. Anyhow, last night I forgot to take my dose (i should take a tablet once every 12 hrs for 7 days) and noticed that the pains in my leg had eased, again I just thought that the tonsilitis was getting better. This morning I continued to take the tablet as prescribed and by this afternoon I noticed that the pains were back in my legs but I also had tingling/numb arms and fingers, short of breath, palpitations and could not stand up for fear of fainting - basically all of the symptoms of a severe panic attack (i have never suffered from anxiety). My husband took me for an emergency appointment at the Doctors who determined that the Clarithromycin was too strong for me hense the feeling of anxiety and pain in my limbs. They have now told me to stop taking them and given me diazepam to ease the anxiety symptoms. Sorry for the long story but basically if you are in doubt, drink plenty of water to flush your system and go back to your Doctor straight away. Apparently this is quite common as they are strong antibiotics.
  • Edited

    I know this was ages ago but have just started a similar course of Clarithromycin yesterday for tonsillitis and I shan't be taking any more. Just realised the dose was 500 mg and i am quite small. I have spent two hours today wondering where and who I was and in a state of extreme anxiety, and could hardly walk around the room without legs feeling as if they would not work. All very odd and I read the side effects and it said disturbance to perception and vertigo, etc. It is totally unlike me to panic and it's a great relief to see I am not  going mad. Quite frankly I would rather have the tonsillitiis! I hope you are recovered now. I am going to tough it out and if it don't go away go back to good old penecillin low dose (although I have read some things about that too), It makes you wonder why the drug companies keep quiet about these types of side effects as they are to my mind so much worse than the expected physical ones!


    • Edited

      I started taking this on Wednesday after finishing amoxicillin for chest infection last Sunday it cleared my chest infection but I was having sensitivity towards light and sense of fullness. I had two treatments of hoopi ear candles and the wax both times was thick.  I. Having panic and heart racing and anxious all the time since being on these. I never have panicky or anxiety I'm scared it's not going to go. I finish tablets Tuesday 
    • Edited

      Hi , how long since you stopped taking this medicine did u start to feel better? I stopped due to similar effect but that was 4days ago&I dont know when ill ever feel normal again.

    • Edited

      Hi claire, I know it's late but can you update on your symptom ?, I have a really similar side effects and it's worrying for me.

    • Posted

      I took Clarithromycin (500 mg twice a day) and Prednisone (20 mg a day) for five and a half days and 10 days respectively.

      I had a strong headache day 1 of starting the antibiotic. On day 4, I ended up going to the ER after a crying bout that came and went for hours ended up in a full-blown panic attack with horrible chest pain and shortness of breath.

      I ended up stopping the Clarithromycin but spent the following 16 days or so with intermittent feelings of fear, doom, anxiety that would peak into crying and/or panic attacks. This is very unusual behavior for me. My usual anxiety is mild by comparison.

      Good news is that now on day 17, the fear/anxiety/doom has greatly diminished as has the severity and duration of the attacks. This all had been accompanied by strong tension headaches and lump in the throat feeling that have both greatly diminished. I expect to go back to normal soon based on this progress.

      I used Xanax for when the attacks were super severe but SPARINGLY to not get an addiction to the Xanax.

      My advice is to avoid stress/fear/anxiety triggers, take it easy with light/fun activities, and let time do its job.

    • Posted

      This is axel87473 with an update. It's been about 83 or so days since I last too this drug. I still had intermittent symptoms when I wrote the original reply. However, I am now about 93 percent back to normal. Only lingering symptom is mild panic attacks that happen few times throughout the week, lasting less than ten minutes each episode. It's quite mild panic, better than before.

      NOTE: I think the Prednisone I took with this antibiotic may have contributed to the symptoms because I've heard it also causes the doom feeling I had. Either way, I'm avoiding both drugs as long as I can.

      But for those who fear the symptoms won't diminish, they definitely did in my case. So I wanted to share that hope with people in the same situation.

  • Posted

    On day 3 and very anxious and feeling drained....awful metallic taste too.
  • Posted

    Although I've recently posted that Clarithromycin (7 days for a toe infection in someone with newly-diagnosed diabetes) wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared it would be, I Am now wondering how long the anxiety side effects could last.

    Yesterday was the 2nd day after I completed the course, and I felt twinges of anxiety all day, culminating in a lot of crying and sobbing in the evening. A thoroughly disturbed night followed (according to my tracker, while I slept for 7 hours, it was broken 30 times.......) and I was very low and very tearful this morning. Slightly better this afternoon and, in a way, I hope it Was the clarithromycin - I presume it will just wither away.....

  • Edited

    Beverley and others,

    I am experiencing the same symptoms following the taking of clarithromycin 500 mg for a bronchial infection. After only 4 days on it I began to experience hearing loss and stopped taking it. That was over two months ago. I am still experiencing extreme anxiety, very strange sensations in my body, like hot flashes, muscle twitches, and have lost 12 pounds - and it was always hard for me to lose weight. There are so many other symptoms like sudden food allergies, dry mouth, post nasal drip, the list goes on. Please, if any of you have found an antidote for this, would so appreciate what helped. Your postings helped me to figure out that it was the clarithromycin and not the bronchitis that brought all of this on.

    • Posted


      I am so glad that I found your post! I thought I was losing my mind. I was prescribed 500mg and made it 5 days before I had to stop from an allergic reaction in the middle of the night -'metallic taste, tingling in my bladder, sweating on the soles of my feet, etc. Very weird stuff. That was two weeks ago, since that time, I have suffered from sleeplessness, anxiety attacks, phlegm in my throat and chest, weight loss, loss of appetite, head aches, nasal drip and sudden food allergies. I am now on the BRAT diet and hoping to clear up diarrhea. Any suggestions you could give me to feel "normal" again, I would appreciate! BTW, those playing thru this antibiotic, eat a full banana with each tablet. Minimizes side effects.

    • Edited

      Hello Tuwanda,

      I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through this. Thankfully, with time, prayer, and help from others (including on this board), I was able to have a full recovery. My first breakthrough came after taking a probiotic (Jarrow 35/15). It contained two strains of bacteria that studies had shown helped with anxiety (b. longum and l. helveticus). Within 24 hours of taking one capsule, the anxiety left and I was able to sleep again. I didn't stay on the probiotic long because of side effects (at that time I was having some kind of reaction from nearly everything I ate). I suspected a leaky gut and began following a diet for that for about six weeks. I also took slippery elm capsules. The foods that I was able to tolerate pretty well included organic chicken, green beans, sweet potatoes, range fed ground beef, and cooked carrots. It helped to cool the food down before eating it to prevent hives. I ate at least five times a day. Within a couple of months I was able to begin adding back foods I had become allergic to. Other supplements I began taking included Clear Tract d-mannose powder (for UTI), methyl folate (a more absorbable form of folic acid), and Gaia Oil of Oregano capsules which helped with the phlegm and post nasal drip). Once I was able to add back dairy products, I began eating plain Greek yogurt. Once I started regaining weight, the pounds came back on QUICK! The entire recovery process took a few months, so hang in there. You WILL GET BETTER! For me, faith was important. I will pray for you, as I know that God will lead you on your path to healing and restoration, and you may have special needs that He alone knows how to get resolved.

      This too shall pass... Caryn😊

    • Posted

      Hi Caryn,

      I hope your still checking this thread. I ve been treated with amoxicillin 2G and clariythromycin 1G daily for 2 weeks. 2 weeks after finishing treatment im having depression anxiety and insomnia. also i have bloating, gas, and stomach pain every after meals. im suspecting SIBO and leaky gut. my GI told me its IBS. can this be resolved by your diet?

    • Posted

      Hi moderator. may i know why are my replies being deleted? i hope you can understand what im going through now. i really needed some help. if my posts are not allowed is there a way i can reach CARYN personally? Thank you.

    • Posted

      Dear Caryn,

      Your post has helped me, suffering crippling anxiety on Clarithromycin, i suffervwith anxiety anyway. Thankfully i finish the course tomorrow, prescribed for chest infection which does seem greatly improved. Grateful for prayers that

      this anxiety eases soon, thanks again for your post its helped me alot.

      Blessings Liz.

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