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Singulair Psychiatric Side Effects Result in ‘Do Not Use’ Recommendation

Nightmares and other psychiatric side effects of the asthma drug Singulair have led the consumer watchdog Public Citizen to place the medication on their “Do Not Use” list. 

In the July edition of the “Worst Pills, Best Pills” newsletter (subscription required), the group urges consumers not to use Singulair (montelukast), even though it is the third-most prescribed brand name drug in the country.

According to Public Citizen, research has shown that side effects of Singulair can include nightmares, insomnia, hallucinations and other psychiatric problems, especially among children. In addition, the drug provides minimal benefits.

Children may be more susceptible to the Singulair problems, with research suggesting they are more likely to suffer nightmares when given the drug. While, those nightmares are likely to stop when they are taken off the drug, some research has also shown that the nightmares returned when some children were placed back on Singulair, which many see as a strong sign of a causal link.

Singulair is a Merck & Co. asthma drug in pill form. It was prescribed 28 million times in 2011. It belongs to a class of drugs known as leuktriene inhibitors.

In 2009, the FDA called for increased label warnings on Singulair and similar asthma drugs due to the psychiatric side effects.

Although the FDA indicated in January 2009 that no evidence had been found to suggest a link between Singulair and suicide, the warning label update was requested to highlight that they are continuing to see the psychiatric problems among patients.

According to a statement posted on the FDA’s website June 12, 2009, the agency recommends that patients and healthcare providers should be aware of the potential risk of suicide and neuropsychiatric events with the drugs, and patients should be encouraged to contacted their doctor if they notice any potential side effects. Doctors have been advised to consider discontinuing the drugs if signs of suicide or other psychiatric symptoms develop.

While Public Citizen recommends that those using Singulair to treat asthma do not stop using it until they have had a discussion with their health care provider, the organization recommends consumers not start on Singulair, and instead rely on an inhaled corticosteroid, like Flovent, to treat asthma. According to the organization, inhaled corticosteroids have a proven track record of treatment that is missing from Singulair without the psychiatric side effects.

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17 comments

  1. kate Reply

    It is about time!!!!!!!!,Our child died in 2007 from suicide while taking Singulair , that is when our fight for more awareness of the damaging effects of this drug began! More physicians need to listen to their patients when they complain about neuropsychiatric changes while taking any new med,it should never be discounted that it couldn’t be an asthma allergy drug.The FDA let most of us down, by not following the thread of reports that were streaming in until after our children died or were driven nearly crazy.The lead investigator left the FDA immediately after concluding her investigation into the reports on Singulair and went to work for a pharmaceutical co.,figure that one out…just saying!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Marie Reply

    My son now 8 was taking Singulair when he was about six months old. Thinking back he used to have extreme tantrums and it was difficult to calm him down. Maybe he was having hallucinations at the time. He took Singulair for a few months in his bottle. When his brother was born, he was three years old and jealousy used to trigger uncontrollable tantrums where he seemed to take different personality with difficulty speaking, screaming and running. He could be a great kid one minute and turn into an uncontrollable monster following certain triggers. Now his allergies have subsided and is no longer taking allergy medicine. Although his behavior has improved he still has tantrums and during these tantrums he may curse, run around like he doesn’t know where he is going , talk like a young child and contort his body in strange positions, may have difficulty walking. It is now easier to talk him out of it. When he gets violent I have to pin him down and restrain him during which time he fights me, screams and can’t look at me in the eyes. When he comes out of it he apologizes and asks for help. He is very hard with his litter brother and so we constantly have to tell him to keep his hands to himself. He also took Zyrtec for some time. At school he functions very well , has good grades but I think we get the brunt of it at home when he has had a bad day. A psychiatrist diagnosed him with functioning ADHD and oppositional defiance dissorder. We are seeing a therapist but he behaves well there. A few times we have tried to take him to he psychiatric hospital but didn’t make it. I keep thinking that Singulair may have caused this problem. So far we haven’t been able to control the tantrums. Clearly my son has remorse after but doesn’t seem to be himself I am concerned for his future.

  3. Matt Reply

    I took Singulair for four days and within 24 hours began feeling unusually extreme emotions towards stresses in my life at the time. Within three days I was a complete mess and began having uncontrollable panic attacks. The final night I took it before bed I was very restless and became extremely depressed when my partner became hot and removed my hand from his side. I broke into tears and sobbed uncontrollably for hours with no ability to control my emotions or actions. We sat up most of the night because I continued having panic attacks and sobbing for no apparent reason. Even I didn’t understand why I was acting this way and finally concluded that it must have been medicinally induced. The only thing I had changed within the time frame of these symptoms beginning was beginning to take the singulair. After a short google search I was convinced that this was my problem. I threw the pills down the toilet and rushed to my Dr. first thing the next morning to get something to calm the side effects. It is now about 5 weeks later and although the effects are much less sever I am still experiencing increased anxiety, numerous panic attacks each week, and I cannot get to sleep without the help of a sedative. I fear that this may never get better and I have been instructed to find a psychiatrist to help me work through it.

  4. C Fielding Reply

    I have been taking Singulair (generic) for about 7 weeks. I have experienced crazy sleep patterns, terrible anxiety, some depression, and definite mood swings. At first I just thought it was a bad month in this menopause process, but have finally come to the conclusion it has to be the Singulair. I also take Zyrtec and believe the mixture may also contribute to the problem. I have also gained weight that is highly unusual. I have always been really thin and now I feel like a blimp. The unfortunate side of this is – I have insomnia, and for once, Iam sleeping – seemingly another “weird” side effect – but that works for me and is one of the blessings of it. But since it makes me sleep – that in itself says it is working on brain chemicals abnormally. Hate to admit it, but I think I have to say good bye to this wonderful asthma and allergy drug. I have taken my last one. I am looking forward to feeling “normal and not crazy again.”

  5. Barbara Reply

    I took singulair three nites n third nite I woke up lookin for my friend n thought we was in a big house.I unpluged my phone n took it with me to the bathrm.to txt my fr.I realized I was home after I reached the kitchen..I caint sleep.I feel anxious. N my best frs get on my nerves. .but it really works for breathin n congestion.

  6. jin Reply

    Not to underestimate the side effects of a drug, they can often not be predicted.

    Myself and my three kids have taken singulair with NO side effects like that. In fact the drug completely changed my kids life for the positive, sick always running to the hospital for asthma treatments, not growing because of the steroids. And on singulair, less treatments, less steroids, less trips to the hospital, less trauma of the oxygen mask, and for one kid less eczema.

    I am not saying singulair didn’t cause these symptoms, i am just pointing out they don’t cause them in everyone.

    I think mixing Singulair with other meds might have a lot to do with it and this of course is less documented and studied.

    take care or yourself.

  7. Charles Reply

    Singulair cost me my family , they disowned me and demanded that I comitt suicide to make the family happy.

  8. Lisa Reply

    Our son, then 8 years old (now 14), was prescribed Singulair for his asthma. His doctors NEVER once mentioned any side effects. The paper they gave us at their office only listed “stomach upset” as a possible side effect. Within a few weeks, the nightmares started, along with not wanting to brush teeth because “there are bugs in the water, mom!” Became paranoid, saw things that weren’t there…. Sad thing is is that he knew they weren’t there. To hear a little boy keep asking, “What’s wrong with me?” One night (husband out of town) things got so bad that my friend told me to take him to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital. After a couple hours with the doctor, I am the one who came up with the idea that it was his meds. All the hospital wanted to do was give him activities to do when he was having an episode….. “read the phone book”, “match socks together”, anything to keep his mind occupied. Well, I wanted to know what had changed my perfectly happy child into a psychotic mess! Didn’t take long on the internet to figure it all out. I should have sued his allergy doctor for mental anguish. It took about 2 or 3 weeks after we stopped the Singulair for him to feel completely normal again. WORST, WORST experience of my life!!!!!

  9. Julie Reply

    I am 58 and took Singulair for asthma about 6 years ago. I had never suffered from asthma before. It was triggered by stress. I took it for one month. It took care of my respiratory problem, but caused me to have very vivid dreams. One night I dreamt I was at the beach. I could clearly feel the water and sand with my feet, I could smell the ocean air, feel the breeze, feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, and hear the waves crashing on the sand. But what scared me the most was how bright and intense all the colors were. I was wearing a red bathing suit and the color was so intense I had to squint my eyes or look away. When I woke up I was terrified. Even though it was a pleasant dream it scared me to think what a nightmare would be like. These dreams happened everyday and I was waking up exhausted. I researched the medication on the internet and read about people having horrific nightmares while taking Singulair. At the end of the month I told the doctor about my dreams and he said it was all in my head. I asked him how long would I have to take this medication and he said for the rest of my life. Because it was the best thing to control my asthma. I told him I didn’t like the idea of having to depend on this drug and the way it made me feel. I also told him about what I had read on the internet and he looked at me as if I was crazy. I told him I would not be coming back and would find other ways of controling my asthma. The vivid dreams stopped once I stopped taking Singulair. I now take homeopathic medications and the asthma is under control.

  10. Kim Reply

    My doctor prescribed singulair to enhance the over the counter loratadine allergy med I am taking for my seasonal allergies. That is the only med I’m on. I took singulair for 3 nights and had nightmares each night. 3rd night was the worst – bats were attacking me, sticking to my arm, I’d have to peel them off and they’d stick right back on like they were magnetized. They were injecting me with stingers. If you’ve ever been on chloroquine (anti-malarial) and had chloroquine nightmares, it’s similar to that hell. 3 nights was enough for me – I stopped taking them. Never again.

  11. Angelia Reply

    Oh my lord I have suffered asthma all my life and was placed on Singulair back in the late 90’s and don’t remember ever having problems with it then. In 2014 I lost my health insurance and had to stop taking most of the medication I was on at the time, I felt so good after that happen to me but in 2017 I started to have an increase of allergy attack that seem to make my asthma bad so I asked to be put back on Singulair and WOW. In the last 4 nights since I have taken the Singulair I have had some of the most vivid nightmares and had an increase in emotional feelings and anxiety toward my every day stress I go through. not to mention heart palpitions and night sweats,not to mention how bad it made my insomnia. I now have an explanation for some of the neurological psychiatric issues I suffered all those years while on Singulair. And why the doctors was sending me for psychiatric treatment. After reading articles and testimonies has opened my eyes and made me see the error of my ways. I woke up for the last time tonight from a horrible nightmare and have now decided I will no longer take this medication. please DO NOT TAKE MEDICATION WITH RESEARCHING IT FIRST!

  12. Pierre Reply

    I took montelukast in the winter 2009, i had then a depressive syndrom but i didn’t make the relationship in betwin first. I stoped it because it was no one effect on my asthma. On day, 3 month after, i took on pills of singulair, one hour after, i started to be creazy, i fell my brain like melting, and then i have made the relationship, of my depressive syndrom and the laps i took that toxic pill.
    Of course i spok about it to my allergologue docteur, he aproove this way to describe the sides effect: stop treatment and retaking it suddenly.
    I told him how can you give it to a child? A can a child speak about his mental feeling? For some adult it’s difficult, so…
    Don’t take that pills! Besides there is no effect on asthma.
    Singulair shouldn’t be allowed simply.
    Pierre 37 old today in 2017, nurse.
    From Nantes, france.
    Nb: sorry for my english.

  13. Pierre Reply

    I took montelukast in the winter 2009, i had then a depressive syndrom but i didn’t make the relationship in betwin first. I stoped it because it was no one effect on my asthma. On day, 3 month after, i took on pills of singulair, one hour after, i started to be creazy, i fell my brain like melting, and then i have made the relationship, of my depressive syndrom and the laps i took that toxic pill.
    Of course i spok about it to my allergologue docteur, he aproove this way to describe the sides effect: stop treatment and retaking it suddenly.
    I told him how can you give it to a child? A can a child speak about his mental feeling? For some adult it’s difficult, so…
    Don’t take that pills! Besides there is no effect on asthma.
    Singulair shouldn’t be allowed simply.
    Pierre 37 old today in 2017, nurse.
    From Nantes, france.
    Nb: sorry for my english.

  14. Therese Reply

    I moved into a new apartment about a year ago and began seeing a great increase in asthma attacks. This last spring my doctor concluded their was probably a mold issue in my basement apartment. I concurred, and he placed me on singulair.

    The problems began immediately. I began having super vivid nightmares. They never let up. I immediately saw an uptick in Lupus flares, the worst I have had in years. Also, my neuropathy symptoms began suddenly getting much worse. Again, for the first time in years…

    Additionally within the last month, after seven months on singulair, I began having kidney pain and extreme nausea in my lower abdomen, which was quite unusual. My neuropathic pain invaded my abdomen, my ribcage, my neck. I began shaking all the time and getting angry for little reason. I began having migraines again for the first time in two decades. I have had trouble swallowing, wasn’t able to sleep on a normal schedule and was suddenly experiencing neuropathic spasms at an ungodly rate, the frequency of which I had never experienced.

    In the last week, I had begun to fear that my lupus was shutting down my kidneys and this may be it for me.

    And then… it occurred to me that ALL of these horrendous symptoms started when I began taking singulair.

    I stopped taking the singulair two days ago. I already feel better. I am sleeping better, my shakes and spasms are dissipating and the weird lower abdomen nausea (almost like very strange menstral cramps) has disappeared.

    Sadly, this is the second time I stopped taking singular. I was on it a few years ago and had problems. I have a pcp who has no idea of how to deal with autoimmune issues and who’s only answer to anything is to push dangerous drugs on me. I obviously have to watch him like a hawk, and it’s my bad for letting him do this to me twice.

    Back to my inhaler and nasonex (at least neither cause me any major problems) for me and the hope that my system adjusts to this apartment. Otherwise, I’ll move… but I won’t EVER take the chance on Singulair again.

  15. Therese Reply

    Oh, and in reading other posts, something I forgot…

    The night sweats, oh my god, the night sweats have been unbearable. They have been unrelenting. I am awoken by them constantly. And they progressed to day sweats within the last three months. And now these day sweats have gotten to be a daily thing, too.

    One day this week, I was out at a department store when a heavy sweat hit. When I went to my car, I am not kidding you, my car windows and windshields steamed up within a few seconds from the influence of my body heat. It was unbelievable.

    The longer I have been on singulair, the worse ALL OF MY SYMPTOMS have gotten. I think if I had stayed on Singulair, it could have killed me. My autoimmune system is messed up enough and it doesn’t need provocation from this awful drug.

    Not to a surprise, since I started this drug, my blood pressure has increased again into a danger zone.

    I can not possibly convey to you how relieved I am to have quit taking this horrible drug. And, yes, since I stopped taking it, my episodes of sweats are shockingy very quickly dissipating… I expect my bop will normalize now.

  16. Chris Reply

    After being through the ringer my 78 yr old mom is monitored by us when put on new drug. Singular recently, she was on it maybe five days, i began to notice a change in her, very quite, distant, very forgetful, and when asked how she felt was very agressive with “I am fine, dont worry”. I was worried, she has now been off of it for two days, she is back to herself, i have zero doubt it was the new drug. We have learned alot since Mom has been sick with a stomach issues that drugs can caues more problems in a health issue, so dont always think its another problem, check side effects to all drugs you or family members are prescribed. The crazist part is that the warning is always consult your doctor if you have ANY side effects, we would, they would never think or say it was the drug, no it would be another health issue, prescribe more drugs, pay attention, dont think you cant question the doctor, we did, saved our mothers life twice!!

  17. Brianna Reply

    I’m a 29 y/o female and I was diagnosed with (MCAS) Mast Cell Activation Syndrome which causes me to have a hightened reaction to most medications. I’m also dealing with Ehlers Danlos and Spinal Fluid Leaks and have to take 40mg of oxycodone a day due to the pain. I am usually very wary of medications and other than the oxycodone use mainly homeopathic remedies/ mindfulness and natural supplements. However I’ve been super itchy head to toe and it’s thought to be caused my the MCAS and use of the oxys. It’s gotten so bad that I asked the pharmacist if there is anything other than Benadryl to help the itch and he had my dr prescribe me singular. I am such a happy, anxiety free person as I’ve worked very hard usuing MEDITATION and not medicine to help me with anxiety/depression ( and it did work) until I started singular… dun dun dunnnnnn. I’ve been taking singular for 4 days now and am throwing them away immediately. I immediately began having the WORST nightmares of my life and feelings of doom and isolation began, like the whole world is against me even my own 9 year old son. Today I woke up to THE MOST TERRIFYING NIGHTMARE ANYONE CAOULD EXPERIENCE!!! I am done, I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past and have overcome them through meditation. No one, and I mean NO ONE ever listed or warned me any psychological side effects or warning of this!!!! DO NOT TAKE THIS MEDICATION. Hopefully the side effects go away soon because it’s that bad 🙁

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