Heath Ledger’s deadly cocktail of anti-depressants and sleeping pills

This from the Daily Mirror:

He was one of the greatest actors of his generation – but tragic Heath Ledger could not hide his anguish at being parted from his daughter.

Sick at heart and exhausted by crippling insomnia, the Brokeback Mountain star tried to stave off his mounting depression with cocktails of prescription pills.

On Tuesday he was found dead from a suspected accidental overdose.

Drugs nearby included Ambien and Zopiclone sleeping aids, the anti-depressant Zoloft, antianxiety drugs Xanax and Valium and antihistamine Donormyl.

Yesterday as tributes poured in Jack Nicholson – who has spoken out against Ambien – said grimly: “I warned him to stop.

“I tell people about Ambien. Somebody said ‘Take this, it’s mild’. I almost drove off a cliff 50 yards from my house.”

Oscar-nominated Heath, 28, was so besotted with two-year-old daughter Matilda Rose that he said after her birth: “I feel in a sense ready to die because you live on in your child.”

He was felled by grief at not being able to see her after splitting with fiancee and Brokeback Mountain co-star
Michelle Williams, 27. Weeping Maggie Gilliam, wife of director Terry Gilliam who was working with Heath on his latest movie, said: “He was on prescription drugs because he was dealing with tragedy in his life.

“It was not being with his daughter. It was very, very hard for him. It’s a tragedy for everybody who knew him.”
Despite Heath’s despair, Maggie insisted he was not suicidal.

She and Terry met him for dinner in London a week ago. She said: “He was on great form, sparkling and really relaxed. He was speaking about Matilda.

“He was a fabulous and generous person who threw himself 100 per cent into everything whether it was being a father or an actor.”

But fellow actor Jonathan Zarin told of the dark undercurrents in his friend’s life. He said: “I’d been hearing for a while that he was in a really bad place.”

Heath’s naked body was discovered at his New York apartment on Tuesday afternoon by his housekeeper Theresa Solomon and masseuse Diane Lee. A postmortem was inconclusive and toxicology tests are still being carried out.

Sources claimed the apartment was in a “brokedown” state, virtually unfurnished with a mattress on the floor serving as a bed.

In one of his last interviews Heath confessed to taking one Ambien pill after another while filming the new Batman movie The Dark Knight – only to wake an hour later.

He said: “My body was exhausted and my mind was still racing.”

At the time of his death he had pneumonia.

Ambien is not recommended for people with respiratory diseases.

Patients prescribed Ambien, sold in the UK as Zolpidem, have driven their cars and had eating binges while still unconscious.

Britain’s official medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, recorded 68 incidents of adverse reactions to Zolpidem between 2001 and 2005.

Michelle flew to New York with Matilda from Sweden after learning the grim news of Heath’s death.
She left the star after three years, reportedly concerned by his increasing use of drugs including heroin. Her father Larry said: “My heart goes out to everyone in Heath’s family.

“The saddest thing is his daughter who he loved so dearly.”

What he was on..
AMBIEN
Sleeping pill. Patients report binge-eating and driving while unconscious after taking. Known in Britain as Zolpidem.

VALIUM
Used for insomnia and anxiety. Can cause dizziness and depression.
Should not be taken with anti-depressants.

ZOLOFT
Most popular antidepressant in US. Said to carry lower risk of suicide than other drugs. Also known as Sertraline.

XANAX
Treats anxiety disorders. Success is reduced if taken for more than eight weeks. Highly addictive.
Can cause hallucinations.

ZOPLICONE
One of the most addictive sleeping pills. Patients can suffer increased heart rate, mood changes, anxiety and fatigue.

DONORMYL
Antihistamine with common side-effects of drowsi – ness, insomnia and anxiety. Users should check before taking with others drugs.

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21 Responses to “Heath Ledger’s deadly cocktail of anti-depressants and sleeping pills”

  1. truthman30 Says:

    Whatever Psychiatrist or doctor prescribed him this lethal concoction of pills should be locked up…

    Although it is tragic and sad that Heath Ledger has died so young from prescription drugs which should never have been prescribed, thousands of ordinary people every day are pushed on the same path as him by GP’s and psychiatrists. People who could be anyones mother, father, friend , sibling, son, daughter or work colleague.. People who we pass by everyday on the street…
    His tragic story of over prescription of dangerous meds reached worldwide attention because he is a celebrity.. But maybe he has not died in vain.. Maybe his story will open up the floodgates for the ordinary people whose lives are being destroyed by these types of drugs literally everyday .. may he rest in peace..

  2. squirrel Says:

    Yes this is another tragic story with a trail of antidepressants and tranquillisers just like the very sad story of the man who jumped from the balcony in Greece with his children he too had been on the dreaded stuff but had stopped taking them just before the holiday (according to news reports).It is happening too often too many tragedies but always one common link.

  3. bob Says:

    seems all celebrities are on antidepressants.on a matrass on the floor.and everybody wants to be his friend.

  4. carl magee Says:

    I have been on seroxat for the past twelve years on a 50mg dose,if i miss a dose i have the dreaded electric shocks in my head.I have an extreme anxiety disorder plus enduring personality disorders,this hasnt stopped me from serving in the army for ten years and gaining a degree,but when i was suddenly changed from seroxat to efexor i attempted suicide with the result of being sectioned and the loss of the two main tendons in my left wrist.The drug helps but im scared to come of it,i also have been on valium 30mg for 10 years,citalopram for 1 year,olanzapine 10mg,and lamotrigine.These drugs help me lead a near to normal life as i can ,but what is the long term effect,can someone please answer me.

  5. truthman30 Says:

    Hello Carl..
    !2 years is an awful long time to be on any psychiatric medication, and 50mg is a very high dose of Seroxat, it’s proven not even to work above 20mg and 50mg could increase the side effects and make withdrawals worse..
    I wish i could advise you, but really you should talk to a medical doctor who has experience with weaning people off psych drugs…
    I would advise you though to avoid psychiatry, those folks just push pills and have no interest in making people better..

    Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/

    Great site with really helpful people who give great advice ..
    Just register and post for help.
    someone will help you there..
    Good luck.. :)

  6. Mary Weiss Says:

    The death of Heath Ledger was very tragic! I am sure he had no idea what these drugs can do. Most people don’t. My son died 4 yrs ago while taking an antipsychotic in a clinical study at the University of Minnesota which I was unable to get him out of.

    I am asking everyone to write to Senator Charles Grassley, c/o Angela Choy, 217 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. Sen. Grassley is very dedicated to fighting the pharmaceutical companies and their drugging of the world. To wait may be too late. PLEASE HELP!
    Remember, one person can make a difference – YOU.
    We must show the pharmaceutical companies that despite their unbelievable power and wealth, we can
    STAND UP AND BE HEARD!
    If interested, my son’s story is under TwinCities.com “Death of No. 13″ (his number in the clinical study).
    Thank you.
    Mary Weiss maryweiss36@hotmail.com

  7. brick Says:

    anti depressants and sleeping pills are one of the biggest risk to health …. i was given them for mild depression and slighty forgetfulness … i was taken off them to early and then went on to suffer further depression from discontinuation side effects ….and a serious bout of mental confusion . I really believe i wouldn’t be in this mess now if i hadn’t taken them and my gp had sent me for counselling … In the uk dec 2004 NICE created guidelines to stop people being prescribed prescription anti depressants ……but unfortunatley it should have happened years ago

  8. TROY Says:

    I am the same age as heath and found it tragic about his death because I am on the smae drugs then only a month later I awoke in hospital having sleep ate 18 temazapam so I don’t think it was suicide those drugs are fuckin’ dangerous give me weed and lsd anyday, just because they are legal doesn’t make them safe. One can’t help but feel like a lab rat.

  9. Altostrata Says:

    It could have been Heath Ledger’s use of antidepressants and benzodiazepines led to the intractable insomnia.

    Quittting antidepressants or using them inconsistently can cause horrible insomnia, a very common withdrawal symptom. Withdrawal syndrome can last months or years. Mistaking the symptoms for anxiety, doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines. However, withdrawal syndrome can make a person hypersensitive to neuroactive medications, and the benzos go paradoxical — adding to the anxiety and insomnia.

    For a nervous system in chaos, additional drugs, such as sleeping medications, can also have paradoxical effects. The person becomes desperate for sleep.

    There are many, many reports of this on paxilprogress.org, a support site for antidepressant withdrawal (not just Paxil).

    I know, I suffered this myself after having Paxil withdrawal syndrome for 2.5 years.

    In my opinion, both Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson may have been done in by the intractable insomnia of antidepressant or benzo withdrawal. Medicine’s denial that withdrawal syndrome is a significant problem killed them.

  10. Hanora Brennan Says:

    Hello All! I am on Efexor 175 mg and stilnoct 10mg. I also take Crestor, Atecor, Atelenol, Calcichew 1000mg daily, Nexium, nuseal, Methotrexate 20mg, Folic Acid and others I just cannot recall off the top of my head. This I attribute to rape before the age of 6 years and numerous rapes when I was in my early teens whilst in the care of The sisters of charity in Kilkenny Ireland. They continue to attempt to hound me into my grave.

  11. mray2b1 Says:

    My daughter died from suicide weeks after being prescribed zoloft. Zoloft as is widely reported has a very high incidence of causing suicidal thoughts. It is an evil drug. She had also taken xanax that night for anxiety. New reports state that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos.
    Its only been 3 months I miss my daughter and wish these evil medicines were forced off the market.

  12. hasina Says:

    OMG!!! i was prescribed seroxat, because iv been feeling pretty depressed and sleeping alot etc, iv been taking this drug for 2 days, i cant sleep at all, and i feel numb, 2 days and i already feel like a robot! my husband has noticed severe behaviour change too, little things are making me soo angry! now i know why! this site has scared me! and am thankful that i came across it! im onky 26 and have a 3 year old boy, i dont wanna risk going crazy! im on the waiting list to see a phychotherapist, hopefully that will help me resolve some issues. But as for the drug, theyr going in the bin first thing tomorrow, thanks xx

  13. Carol H Says:

    Help is at hand if you are having problems with taking or being addicted to benzodiazepines or tranquillisers etc.

    There is a charity called Battle Against Tranquillisers (BAT for short) webpage http://www.bataid.org. We help anyone who finds themselves having problems with addiction to these drugs, whether prescribed legally by a doctor or obtain illicitly.

    Have a look at our web page and please contact us if you need help or support. That’s what we are there for!

  14. Yeah thats life Says:

    Heath Ledger intended to kill himself or he wouldnt have taken many kinds of diffrent pills at once.

    • dianne Says:

      I agree….but in the same sense….who would put those amts and kinds of pills inthe hands of a person explaining that they are out of control. Hmmmmmm…….knowing you’ve lost it and have no way to get back…….what do you thik he’s going to do?
      dID YOU KNOW THAT THE PHSYC ALWAYS STATES TO THE PATIENT : If you feel suicidal take youself to the hospital and book yourself into a phsyc ward Yeah, Right !!!

      • Mal Says:

        Hi, Not all antidepressants are bad. Many people benefit from antidepressants and mood stabilizers and live productive lives. Their are risks even taking aspirin or Panadol and side affects come will all medications. The problem is not the medication but the misuse and abuse of it and mixing medications that should not be mixed. Also don’t be fooled by thinking that you need a Doctor or Psychiatrist to get prescription drugs, come on! Celebrities can just about get anything they want. many people know exactly what they are doing when they take drugs whether illicit drugs or prescribed and many people mix them because they want to kill themselves and as much as that may hurt, it is a fact! I’m am sure there are certain people who have unfortunately died after taking prescribed medicines but you will find that it was either related to some other hidden ailment as well.

  15. Fiona Says:

    Heath didn’t suicide.

    I have been off Apopax/paxil for over two years and have short term memory loss on a daily basis. It is very fustrating and has caused me relationship difficulties and a loss in self confidence. I was on that drug for 6 years. I really hated being on it and took 6 months to get off it against doctors orders. So glad i did but i wish I had my memory back fully. How much longer will I have this side effect? I am trying to improve my memory everyday. Withdrawl was hell but worth it in the long run. I did benefit from joining a 12 step program for depression and the like. Good luck to everyone who is trying to get off anti-depressants ect…

  16. penny Says:

    All my life I’ve been an intense and “kooky” individual. Full of energy, ideas, curiosity, hysteria, deep sadness, melancholy, plans gone awry, more plans, erratic behaviour, risk taking, long term weed and alcohol over indulgence, rash decisions, periods of clarity, immense productivity, hyper emotional reactions, moodiness.
    As a child, my GP father wanted me to see a child psychiatrist, even at nine, I raged against this and refused. I was sent to boarding school, where I immediately made myself detested by the staff as I refused to toe the line.
    I am now forty and my life has been one of many exciting adventures, some good achievements, following my dreams to an extent, but always, not quite feeling like I fit in anywhere.
    A few years ago, i was lucky enough to find a nice little farmhouse, that I could afford to get a mortgage on. I have been the most stable and secure ever in my life. Then two years ago, I was forced from a good job (although quite stressful) by a manipulative bullying sociopath whom I had employed in good faith. My manager left me to the wolves so to speak, and the bully got my job… (local government bureacracy at it’s zenith), i was in community development and I was great at my job from many other people’s opinions.
    Well, I have had a pretty stressful time, everything seems to have gone wrong, Mum had breast cancer, dog died suddenly, unbelievable difficulties with utility companies (daylight robbery), no luck getting enough work, single and very lonely, “friends’ abandoning me, it seems worse when you are financially insecure and worrying about your future…
    It came to a head a few months ago, I stuffed up on a new job as a series of things went wrong in my first week, and I could not do anything about them (all relatively minor) but my defences have been knocked around. I got home, called my employment/ rehabilitation counsellor (lovely guy who has been helping me through this) and I blew my stack. I was swearing and blowing up (not at him), but he listened and didn’t tell me to calm down.
    It seems to have initiated a kind of full breakdown/ breakthrough.
    I have been trying to see a psychiatrist on the suggestion of another counsellor, as I think I am cyclothymic, if not fully bipolar. getting into public psych services here in Australia is pretty hard. But you know what? I am glad. Because, an old friend got in touch with me, and I felt like someone whom I really love (real old soul mate friend) could undersatnd, and cared. It wasn’t much, but something switched on inside me. Plus, I have started taking 1000mg Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules. I’ve cut down caffeine. I stopped smoking weed. Taking some time off booze. Just watching myself, taking care of myself. Monitoring my moods, seeing what sets me off. Avoiding trigger points, or doing something else rather than cry and get all het up about little things.
    Moral of story…
    I am not going to see a psychiatrist. I will not take Psych drugs. I am going to work this out, because I am strong. I am intelligent. I am lovable. I do not believe the propaganda and marketing. I am not crazy. I am not normal. Thank God.!
    I am unique, kind, funny, full of life, love, potential, energy, dreams, compassion, strength, imagination, special gifts and talents…
    I will survive this and I will not contribute my life to the profits of the drug industry.
    Just because those drugs are “legal”, does that make them right and appropriate?People are being used as guinea pigs. Often times, they market one drug under several names for different maladies… We are being duped by massive criminal cartels.
    Trust in yourself. Improve your health naturally by remembering that inside you is a beautiful soul, with a strong, healthy heart. Treat your body, mind and soul with love.
    The fish oil is helping I really do think. My moods are more mellow, less edgy. I am still as energetic and sharp minded. I feel better than I have done in months, and I can face my future with more positive dreams and ideas.
    Be kind to yourself and have faith that you are not alone. Love….

  17. Kate Says:

    That was beautiful and very inspirational. Thank you Penny.

  18. dianne Says:

    i feel exactly as you do….loosng grip …feeling like if I just lay in bed i will be seen as crazy,,,see myself retracting from everyday life i do beleive i’ve implodod looking for a way out


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