Q. I am in very good health except for recurrent sinus infections. Recently, my internist put me on a 12-day tapered course of prednisone.

Within days I thought I was going crazy. I became extremely agitated and irritable and the least little thing set me off. I didn’t sleep for three days, even with sleeping pills. I couldn’t concentrate. My blood pressure soared and I became very fearful.
My doctor never warned me about any of this. Are these normal side effects of prednisone and what will I do if I have to take this drug again?

A. Prednisone and other corticosteroids (Medrol and Deltasone Dosepaks) relieve symptoms from a variety of conditions. Arthritis, asthma and severe skin reactions to poison ivy or sunburn are just some of the disorders these drugs treat.

Many people experience severe psychological reactions to high doses of such drugs. Steroid psychosis can cause anxiety, agitation, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes and even serious depression. Some may experience memory problems or hallucinations.
Let your doctor know you are susceptible to this kind of reaction. If you ever have to take more than 40 mg of prednisone at a time, you may need medication to counteract the psychiatric side effects.

If sinusitis is caused by an infection, an antibiotic may be appropriate. Researchers are discovering that an old-fashioned, inexpensive drug such as amoxicillin may be a good choice. Here is an article for more details. If you really want to learn more about sinusitis, our one-hour radio interview with Harold C. Pillsbury, MD, FACS and Ronald Gerbe, MD, may be of great interest.

Read more information & testimonials on Prednisone side effects.

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  1. Trish

    This is my 5th day on prednisone 20 mg. I am freezing and very cold to the touch. The left side of my face feels like ice and pins and needles. My gums feel strange, and I have a numbness in my tongue. I have had dry mouth the whole time as well. All of this for a never-ending sinus infections. It is not worth it.

  2. Julane
    North Carolina

    I have been on prednisone off and on for four years for asthma issues, however I have terrible side effects from them — the longest span on them has been 3 months of 20 mg… I currently a week into 60mg weaning down to 40 this week . This round of prednisone has been so much worse for side effects !!! Do you think that each round of dosing that you take increasing the intensity of the side effects ? I do not remember it being this bad last year — depression /anxiety / mood swings / mania/ insomnia / hyperglycemia /sweating / horrible stomach aches with diarrhea / dizziness/ hand tremors ….

    • Jan

      I am down to 3.50 mg a day, side effects were, breathlessness, rapid heart rate, sweating, extremely cold, sleepless, nasty to best friend, for no reason, shakes inside body, teeth /jaw ache, blurred eyesight. Blue purple bruising on hands. Now I get joint ache, feeling strange in myself is how I describe it, but not as bad as in the past. Still feel chills, sometimes hot, wish I could come off it but not yet! Jan

  3. Lynne Henry
    New Jersey

    I had to take Prednisone years ago for acute asthma and went totally out of my mind!!! I was SO HYPER. My heart felt like it was racing out of my chest. The whole core of body felt like was going to explode. I was shaking all over and felt like my head would also explode. I felt like I was out of my mind (couldn’t think clearly, execute things properly, could not go to work,etc.). I wanted to scream endlessly and didn’t know what to do with myself. I truly thought I might die (and if this were the only alternative, then that sounded not so bad).

    I felt so “crazy”, so out of control. I have often explained it as “felt like I could rip the heads off of little animals!” Never did, but this is how EXTREMELY Prednisone affects me!!

    • Degsy

      Hi, what dose were you on?

      I just finished 6 months on 10mg. Had all the problems you have mentioned. In deep trouble at work now too!

    • Mary
      United States

      I completely get this, too! I envisioned twisting my beloved kitties’ necks for a day or so..definitely not like me…Just had to take a 150 mg dose in prep for a medical procedure..I can predict what the next few days will be like. I am just thankful knowing that this won’t last forever.

  4. Amber

    Hello, I took prednisone for a severe asthma attack in a hospital and now I see my life completely different. I was really depressed and now I see life completley different. Like theree is sooo much I can accomplish as much as I focus. Like in a smart sense. I feel better in a smart sense. Everything makes sense and now I can pinpoint things, things as in concepts and speak to people properly. Before I was always concerned with how people think of me, but now I could care less because people are people They are like you and me. I am really excited because I am also more interested in my work and artwork and feel a drive to complete things. The level of photography I make has intensely increased in like 2 days. I’m afraid I will scare my friends off. Just don’t care about things except the 1 mind track of whats going on at the time. I mean I care about what they say, but I feel very present unlike before. Still a lil scared of things. Just glad I’m not as worried as I have been.

    • Dylan
      Hollywood, FL

      It’s been a while so I don’t know how you’ve changed in that time, but I would be careful if I were you. I’m not a doctor but it sounds like you’re going through something called hypomania (I understand it based on wikipedia only) and while hypomania isn’t necessarily a bad thing it can end up turning into depression and it’s also common to have bouts of irritability. Just try to stay “present” as you say. Maybe take up meditation. I’m starting prednisone now and I’m worried about going through a sort of bipolar reaction. Good luck to you.

    • Mary

      Wowser-I felt like this during my February burst..I love the ‘I don’t care” and c’est la vie feeling, but I was afraid to scare my friends off, too. So I stayed home with my needles and spinning wheel. The bonus was that all of my body aches disappeared. It was heavenly, though I knew the feeling wouldn’t last, I was determined to enjoy my burst of energy and focus for those weeks. And I did..my March burst did not feel positive at all. Grumpy, irritable, judgmental. I couldn’t stand my own company. I’m hoping that my 1X 150 mg dose I just took is kind to me..short and sweet.

  5. Michael
    San Francisco, CA

    My partner too has been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, he was put on a very high dose of prednisone 3 pills twice per day and he is euphoric, grandiose, expanding his house, demolishing things, resistant to helping me help him, says he does not have the time to see his doctor because of the renovations, shows no concern of love for me, will not call back or read texts, sleeps odd times, I can never talk to him face to face without him doing other things and there is no reasoning with him. He says am snooping on him but if I dont check on him something bad could happen as we dont live together but have been together 12 yrs and domestic partners in CA. He needs this medication or he will lose his liver but he will not agree to see his doc with me nor add a sedative to his daily regime in order too balance out the side effects. Jane Pauly went through this and felt like she was on top of the world until she figured it out because the worst thing about this Prednisone is that no one realizes they are changed people. I have called a Hills Case worker to open the communications between the doctors and hopefully him.

  6. Shauna

    I have been on predisolone for about 3 months now for a serious flare up of psoriasis it cleared them up within a few days but my god am I struggling to come off them I got myself off them 4 weeks ago but a week in I felt like I was going to die.

    I usually go to the gym most days, I got to the gym one morning and had a full on panic attack. I just couldn’t bring myself to go …..I then found myself in bed for at least 15 hours a day and then still feeling exhausted ….I couldn’t think straight I was moody to the point I was gagging for more pills to make me feel better I felt like a complete and total smack head ….I went back to my doctors and he done a few tests on me and said I was having withdrawals my blood pressure was dangerously low so he gave me more steroids ??? TBH I was over the moon I couldn’t take them quick enough but I’m back to being of them 2 days in and I’m petrified I will become I’ll again I just hope this time I’ve tapered for long enough and my body has started producing on its own.

  7. Joan
    Trenton, New Jersey

    I was recently diagnose with a rare form auto-immune kidney disease. Was prescribed 80mg. prednisone the end of January. Over the last few months. I am now down to 25mg. I have always been an upbeat, positive healthy person. I am 56 yrs old and no diabetes, up to now (prednisone induced), no cholesterol or blood pressure problems. Since taking the prednisone I am a mental and physical mess. Can’t think straight or even keep a positive thought. Feeling like I am just here taking up space with no feelings. I’m finding it impossible to feel love of myself or others, and that is not like me at all. I AM SO SCARED I WILL NEVER FEEL THE SAME OR BE LIKE I WAS. Can someone please help as I am scared I will die.

  8. jj

    My wife has been on prednisone for many years because of kidney a transplant. She experiences insomnia, agitation, and ungodly, unbelieveable mood swings. Her mood swings are to the point where she will say things like I wish you were dead, move out, I will call the police and have you arrested. I have been taking care of her for over 20 years, and I am at the point where I just wish I would die because she has totally worn me out physically, mentally, and emotionally. I feel sorry for anyone that has to deal with their loved ones that are on this medication. I know they can’t help it, but doctors must know something that could help! I am at he point where I want to move out, but I know I would feel so guilty knowing she would have to fend for herself. At what point does someone with a huge heart that enough is a enough!!!

  9. Suzanne M
    warren, MI

    I was given Prednisone (dose pack) for a sinus infection. I am so agitated and shaky. I feel a wreck like I am having a nervous breakdown. I can’t sleep and I feel like I am speeding, yet exhausted. I hate these pills but the antibiotics did not work. now I feel like I have to quit the prednisone and I’m afraid that I will get sick all over again. I do have some anti-anxiety medication which helps a little with the anxiety but I can’t take the nervousness I feel. I also feel like I see things that aren’t there.

    • sandy

      That makes two of us. I moved home to care for my parents. Mom passed 2 years ago and dad has pemphigus vulgaris and has been on 10mg of predisone for 18 months. Recently the Dr put him on cellcept and for the last week he has been so nasty he told me to get out and that he is feeling better now so he is standing up for himself. He almost died a year ago and I am the only one who will care for him. I am so spiritually broken by him . I feel worse about how he makes me feel than other things. HELP

      • Valerie
        fort myers

        Hi Sandy,
        Maybe you should find a source of support in the community for care gives, a small group of folks you can meet and talk with, what you and your father are going thru is what many others face , its challenging to say the least.

        Sometimes with our parents they do not want to lose their independence and what they relay to us is not directly associated with their true feelings. I do believe a support system for you would be helpful. I will pray for you. Valerie

  10. Eve
    New York

    I was prescribed cortisone for poison ivy. I had a severe reaction to it. I had a full on panic attack with hyperventilation, shaking, heart racing, and crazy thoughts. I almost went to emergency room cause I thought I was having a heart attack. I did not realize it was caused by the cortisone until now. I’ve been worried that another would happen for a year since it happened. Thank you for posting this!

  11. Nancy C

    I emailed my doctor and she had me increase my prednisone from 10 mg to 25, and the headaches are gone!

  12. Nancy C

    I’d been on 60 mg of Prednisone and am now down to 10 mg. Sadly, my headaches, jaw pain, on and on, have returned. I have temporal arteritis. Maybe when I next see my rheumatologist, she’ll up my dose. The Prednisone has caused hair loss, thin bleeding skin, leg cramps, insomnia – but I didn’t go blind. So you puts your money down and you takes your choice.

    • Shirley
      United States

      I have temporal arteritis and am on 80 mg of prednisone. I’m miserable the side effects sweats so heavy that I need to change my clothes 2 to 3 times a day I rarely urinate I guess because of the sweats. I don’t sleep and my eyes are always grainy,dry and blurry. Will any of the side effects go away I’m on month 4 and the doctor says it can take up to 3 years to get rid of this disease.

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