a bottle of PredniSONE 1mg

Prednisone (and similar corticosteroids) can be a life saving drug. It saved my sanity when I developed sudden hearing loss in one ear. That was a really scary experience for someone who depends on hearing to be able to do live radio.

The ear, nose and throat specialist diagnosed my deafness as “idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss.” In other words, he didn’t have a clue what caused it. He did prescribe high doses of prednisone and within a few days my hearing returned.

Similar corticosteroids like Prednisone include

  • Cortisone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Prednisolone

There are many conditions for which such drugs can be extremely valuable, even life saving. Here are just a few:

When Prednisone is Helpful

  • Very serious allergic reactions (bad poison ivy for example)
  • Anaphylactic shock (life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Brain tumors
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease)
  • Severe asthma (usually to help control acute flare-ups)
  • Severe nausea of chemotherapy
  • High altitude sickness (when there is brain swelling)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Addison’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Giant cell arteritis

As useful as corticosteroids can be for a wide range of conditions, the drugs can also cause an extraordinary number of serious side effects. Some people have likened this to a deal with the devil. Even short-term use can cause problems.

My personal experience with Prednisone

The week or two that I took prednisone for my hearing loss I couldn’t sleep, became incredibly irritable and hard to live with, and felt as if I had turned into someone I didn’t know or like. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of European patients over an 18 year period.

They discovered that people taking corticosteroids were more likely to experience neuropsychiatric symptoms including depression, suicidal thoughts (and actions), delirium, disorientation, confusion, panic and manic episodes.

The authors conclude that: “Glucocorticoids [another term for corticosteroids] increase the risk of suicidal behavior and neuropsychiatric disorders. Educating patients and their families about these adverse events and increasing primary care physicians’ awareness about their occurrence should facilitate early monitoring.”

I can relate. I certainly felt disoriented and out of control on the relatively high dose I was taking. The trouble is that patients and their families are not always warned about such side effects.

Scary Prednisone side effects that have been reported to us

“Years ago I was given prednisone in the emergency room for a severe anaphylactic reaction that affected my ability to breathe and caused massive hives. Although the treatment may have been necessary, I too had a severe psychotic reaction and when I finally went to my own doctor and had blood tests, my blood chemistry was all over the map. I had to continue the tapered dose till I was done but I wish someone had warned me of possible side effects so at least I wouldn’t think I was totally crazy.

“I questioned my ability to drive, slept constantly, and was quite volatile. I had to take a day off from work. Knowledge is power! People should be warned about possible side effects so they have the information should side effects occur.”


“I was on 20mg twice a day of prednisone for a sinus infection. Had I known anything about this horrible drug I would have never taken the meds and let my sinus infection clear up on its own. That would have been better than these side effects.

I was not told to taper the dose, so I took as prescribed 20mg twice daily for 7 days. The day after stopping my whole body hurt to the touch, as if I was black and blue all over. I was swollen, red and had a lump on my neck, not to mention being very disoriented. I went back to the doctor and he insisted this had nothing to do with the drug.

I checked myself into the ER where they put an IV drip with benadryl and the like. I was discharged that day. No change. Next day, didn’t hurt to the touch anymore. New side effect – rash from head to toe and severe indigestion. Following day, rash subsiding, indigestion getting better. Still feeling a bit loopy, but I am told by next week I should be back to myself again.

I am warning everyone i know not to ever take a steroid unless your life is in danger. It is a very scary feeling – all for a sinus infection.


I’m having Prednisone side effects. My doctor prescribed this drug last Thursday. She prescribed 20mg twice daily for five days. I was sleepless for three days in row. On day 4 after a short nap I awake feeling so nervous. I am crying, my hands are shaking, and my heart is beating so hard. These are awful feelings.

My doctor told me I will feel that way for about nine days. She didn’t show any care about me. She also said I can go back to work (and drive a long way) the next day. But the way I was and am feeling I’m not daring to drive even one block.

I do not understand why she prescribed that medicine, without any warning, for a small allergy I had. I mean the medicine was worse than my illness.


My wife had sleepless nights when on prednisone and the doctor said that she might do some odd things that she normally wouldn’t do. He was right. One night she got up and tore down the wall paper in our bathroom :-) We still get a laugh over this one. -Bob K.

I am experiencing high blood pressure, agoraphobia, panic attacks, light headedness, confusion, weakness, intolerance to heat, IBS, shaking, etc. These side effects all started the day I stopped the drug. It has been 7 days with not much improvement. I was hospitalized for 3 days. I pray I do not EVER have to take prednisone again… EVER.

I am hoping I get past this. My quality of life stinks. I took 30mg 1 day 20mg 2 days and 1 mg 2 days. Absolutely HATE this.


These are just some of the messages that have been posted to our website. Feel free to add your story or comment below. We find it astonishing that some prescribers do not warn patients about the possibility of psychological side effects brought on by prednisone and friends. Even a short-course of high-dose steroid can precipitate symptoms. And not warning about gradual tapering borders on bad medicine. To protect yourself and your loved ones from such medical mistakes we suggest our latest book, Top Screw-ups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.

We want to emphasize that corticosteroids can be very valuable. Some people must take them for the rest of their lives because of a very serious or life-threatening condition. And NO ONE should ever stop taking a drug like prednisone suddenly. It must be phased off gradually under medical supervision.

Other side effects associated with corticosteroids like Prednisone

  • Fluid retention, edema
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability, nervousness, mood swings, mania, depression, psychosis
  • Disorientation, confusion
  • Hypertension
  • Loss of potassium
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Muscle weakness
  • Blood sugar elevation (diabetes)
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Swollen face
  • Hair growth (including on the face)
  • Itching, rash, hives
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Weakened bones (osteopenia, osteoporosis)
  • Tendon rupture
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Ulcers

The higher the dose and the longer someone takes a drug like prednisone the more likely there will be side effects. Make sure your physician is monitoring things like potassium, blood sugar, bone density and psychological well being. And never stop a corticosteroid suddenly!

Join Over 120,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. David

    I am on this drug for suspected GCA I have anger spells with with my wife and vertigo, headache numbness in hands and feet. I was on 40 mg for 2weeks and now on 30mg.

    I am experiencing headaches, mood swings, severe hunger. My wife is threatening to leave me. I feel like I am in a fog all the time, my vision has deteriorated and I feel like it is the end coming soon. I asked the doctor if it is normal to feel spaced out taking this drug and he said it is normal reaction.

    I am now having it reduced to come off it slowly.

  2. Cheryl
    Milton, TN

    Hello, I am here for help for the pain of withdrawals from Prednisone, 1/2 of 5mg, but still too much.

    After 5 years on it, they told me it made my Osteo was worse, so I stopped.
    The withdrawals are more than horrible.I got off, did physical therapy, hurt my arms, could not lift them for a month.

    Now, I went back on the Prednisone, trying to taper off, trying to fool this little pill, but I can hardly walk.

    They will not give me pain pills and I cannot take medications that may help with the Osteoarthritis. I am trying acupuncture, but I feel hopeless, helpless to live like this 10 or 20 more years without relief.
    I am hoping they will allow Medicinal Marijuana where I live so I can see if that will allow me to function with daily chores.

  3. Sherri

    I’ve been on Prednisone several times over the last 20yrs. This last time was literally a nightmare. I started having crippling anxiety, didn’t want to eat & the weirdest symptom – I was obsessing over sharp objects (scissors, knives, box cutters, etc.) I’m usually a pretty happy, optomistic person. For me to obsess over marking my arms with sharp objects is way out character for me. I’ve never done that before and don’t know why I was obsessing over it this time. The only thing different was the Prednisone. I’m terrified to do normal tasks for fear I’ll have some crazy thought. My Dr. did call in Klonopin hoping I would sleep off the effects of the remaining Prednisone….no such luck thus far.

  4. Demitri

    I was on 50 mg of prednisone for 5 days after the 4th or 5th day it was hell. I feel like I was having anxiety attacks and my throat was closing up.

    I’ve been done with it for about 4 days an I still can’t sleep or function HELP ME! what should I do ? I have a feeling my doctor isn’t gonna do anything contact me at dontuclimbxtrees@mail.com

  5. Melissa
    Spencer tn

    My sighted is 10 and they gave her this medicine to counteract another medicine that her dr gave her, as she had hives from taking Claritin.

    Now on day 5 of this med, she still has hives and is constantly itching and now she can’t move her right hand she says that she can’t close it. I need to know if anyone else has experienced these symptoms.

  6. Tiffany

    I was prescribed Prednisone 40mg once a day for 5 days. I am on day 2 and a nervous wreck! Brain fog, anxiety, confusion and lack of sleep. I feel terrible.

  7. Kat

    I’m on 40 mg of Prednisone for 6 months for Sarcoidosis. I feel terrible and hopeless. I feel so alone and no one can help me. I have developed ulcer sores and I’m just scared. The Doctors don’t seem to care.

  8. Rita

    I was prescribed prednisone 20mg 2x daily for 3 days for a sinus infection and asthma. I took the first one and I was fine…or so I thought. Later in the night, I began sweating profusely! My temperature dropped to 95.5 and I had crazy chills because I was soaked in sweat. Also might I add, I did not sleep that night at all.

  9. Jill

    My husband was on prednisone for COPD for two years. He had every side effect imaginable. Every time he tried to get off of them he would have another flare up and the doctors would slam him with another boost and then he would have to slowly taper down again. This went on until his death last month. His body couldn’t handle the steroids any longer and his liver and kidneys shut down. He became diabetic also from the steroid. My suggestion is to avoid this drug at all costs. I don’t understand why they keep prescribing it.

  10. Hans
    Vleuten, Netherlands

    Most of people here have side effects that are not wanted. I wish that I could stay on Prednisone. Because of youth trauma’s I have, generally, not much energy, must sleep very long, and several other symptoms that are quite disturbing. Prednisone that I use now to get rid of nasal polyps help me a lot. I am trying to find out what the point of action is here, and whether there are other medicines that do about the same.
    Thank you for listening …..

  11. Tk
    Sac ca

    I was on prednisone for 7 days 50 mg one per day couldn’t not sleep for two days my whole body was itching I stop taking it on the 6 days the next day I feel like dying my left side stomache was hurting so bad almost end up to the ER.

  12. dj
    KC mo

    My mom on Feb 24 went to er for shortness of breath. She was given 50 mg of predisone. Next thing I know my mom went into the scariest psychosis I’ve ever seen. Babies i in bed pictures moving . This lasted day and night.

    This lowered her immune system ( diabetes. 3 stage kidney congestive heart failure) all these conditions became worse. My mom spent 8 mths in hospital from the time she was given the predisone. She died 10/24/2016 minus a leg amputation. She never was rid of the psychosis.

  13. Michelle
    Omaha, NE

    I have Crohn’s Disease so this round with Prednisone is by far not my first. It is the worst time I have had on it.

    I was diagnosed at 16, and immediately started on it. I ended up being on it for 6 months. And at 16 that couldn’t have been worse. I gained over 50 pounds (I have always been around 100), cried or screamed or would act completely irrationally, my hair started to fall out, sprained a wrist, and both ankles.

    And 25 years later on this round with it, I can’t even come up with anything to describe that could be worse. Oct 5, 2016 I was admitted for bowel obstruction. Of course they immediately started me on 60mg. I have severe anxiety disorder and extremely bad depression. They couldn’t understand why my anxiety was so bad even though they had given me none my usual meds.

    A week later I go home with a prescription to take 40mg for 5 days. By day 3 was at my Dr with such high anxiety, hadn’t slept, and started to have irrational thoughts. He just upped my Xanax to 1mg. 4 days later I went back in and was on 30mg a day. Only 1 night sleep in a week and anxiety was worse. I begged him to admit me that day so they could get my colonoscopy done sooner so I could get off the med. Nope, he just upped my Xanax to 2mg. I told him there was no way I’d make it the 6 weeks til the colonoscopy on prednisone. He sent me home. 2 hours later I was calling him saying that I was having suicidal thoughts and driving all over trying to figure out what to do. He said to take 5mg of Xanax and just relax. Well, that didn’t work. I ended up in protective custody in ER.

    When they ran my blood work and all testing, the amount of steroids in my system and my blood pressure, they said I was being way over prescribed. I left hosptial next day. Called my Dr. Asked if he could move up my colonoscopy now. He said nothing he could do. So I called the Mayo Clinic. They are able to get me in beginning November. I try so hard to explain to those in my life what it feels like and can never explain good enough what it feels like to have the devil control my body and mind.

  14. My Heart

    Okay, so I just came back from the Drs. I had to see someone, a very young someone that I’d never seen before. I have bronchitis, was given two breathing treatments, and 3 20mg, of prednisone. All she asked me was if I’d ever taken this med. before. I answered yes, because I have been on a med dose pack for poison ivy in the past. Without thinking, (I have a traumatic brain injury), I took the three tablets, without question. Then I got the prescription filled, and upon looking at it, I started freaking out. She didn’t put me on a dose pack, but rather a prescription of 10 days, starting off with 50mg a day for two days, 40 for two days, etc until I get down to 10mg for two days, then I’m supposed to be off of the stuff!! I know from taking the dose pac, which starts off at 10mg, and ends at 5mg has side effects. That the heck??? I am going back to that clinic tomorrow, for the third time this week, to get this resolved. I do not want to have all the complications y’all are talking about, and with my having a TBI, I can only imagine how this drug could affect my brain injury. I am furious, to say the least. I will keep you updated, if I can find this message board again.

  15. Mary

    I was prescribed the methylprednisolone dose pack in the ER for severe headache caused by whiplash. On the fifth day, I went to the ER with a pounding heart and chest pain. My BP was 179/96. It was an anxiety attack, and I stopped early, not taking the last 2 pills. My WORST side effects were high bp, heart Palps, elevated heart rate, insomnia, nausea, lack of appetite. I am now 3 weeks past my last dose, and I have seen my Dr twice, and seen a cardiologist, who has done a slew of tests. (I am still waiting on those results). I am finally getting some sleep, and my bp is normal again. But I still not feeling ‘well’, and my biggest issue right now is my elevated heart rate. This medicine is now listed on my chart to not give. I wish I had read these forums before taking this Devil Drug!!

  16. Mallory

    This medication ruined my life! Was put on it for hurting my shoulder, was put on a low dose and only was able to take it for 3 days before having a bad reaction. New Year’s Day, great way to start a new year, I was doing dishes and it just hit me I felt so weird not like myself and went into the bathroom and threw up, my whole body hurt to touch my skin and everything, I went right to bed thinking I was getting sick. Woke up the next day and not feeling right like I was going crazy and felt like nothing was real like I was in a dream, had racing thoughts, did not want to get up, just could not function. I stayed in bed for several days until I went back to the doctor. He prescribed me Zoloft that I am so terrified to take since I just had the worst reaction of my life. Ever since the reaction I do not feel the same I suffer from constant anxiety about things that I never worried about my whole life. When I had my first panic attack my whole body went numb and I could not speak to tell anyone what was wrong. I went to the ER and told them I just didn’t feel like myself since the reaction and I felt like things weren’t real. Basically got told I crazy and tried putting me on antipsychotic medication. Tried therapy and everyone just sits and asks how have you been doing instead of trying to tell me ways to overcome my anxiety. I just want help!

  17. Linda

    I am 69 years old and have been on prednisone for 47 years for Addison’s Disease. I will die if I stop taking it. It has kept me alive while killing me. I am tired now and considering stopping my “life support”. Just need to arrange for hospice if my physician will agree.

    People (my precious family) will argue with me but they are not the one who has opened that pill bottle every day, twice a day for almost 50 years knowing what it was doing to my body. No one knows what a fight I have put up, but Jesus and I. No one can say I wasn’t brave.

  18. TA

    I was given prednisone and a z-pak for bronchitis that I couldn’t shake. My xrays showed the bronchitis was turning into pneumonia…small amount in left lung. It was prescribed to me at an urgent care clinic. I was only told about the small chance of not sleeping very well while on it.

    I started out at 60mg per day for three days, 40 mg per day for two days, and finally with one pill left (20mg) for the sixth day. The sixth day fell on Saturday. Yesterday (Sunday) my biggest complaint was that I was very sleepy…but thought it normal since I had been battling pneumonia…then had an pretty active Saturday with my 8 year old granddaughter’s skating birthday party.

    I woke up Sunday afternoon from my nap feeling like my blood sugar was very low…I was really shaky. Today, is worse…I have felt like I’m in a fog all day long…nervousness, jittery, sleepy, shortness of breath with little to no activity, panic feeling comes and goes…nagging headache…no appetite…very woozy…dizzy.

    I reached out to my primary care doc and he pushed Gatorade to flush. He said that this is what the withdrawals feel like….I am livid over the lack of information given. I had no clue that being on this med for only 6 days could make me feel like I’m crazy. I feel so much worse than when I was sick for three weeks with bronchitis. This is a very bad drug…I will never take it again.

    I don’t know what to expect tomorrow or the next day…I only pray this gets better. So far…not so much….

  19. Kayes
    Riverside, California

    Unbelievable medication “Prednisone”, it seems more people experience horrible side effects than those who it helped! I am still battling the anxiety, poor sleeping & fatigue. This has been over a month now, will I ever be the same person I was before this nightmare? I am still having anxiety after over a month of working hard to get back to “Myself”, fatigue and losing sleep makes the anxiety even worse. ER 3 times and no one seems to have an answer, except “It will go away in time”, that’s a horrible answer for someone who was normal behavior before this Prednisone. Some one tell me how long they had to wait to get back to normal(no anxiety,fatigue,lose of sleep and just feeling weird)?? All Dr.’s who prescribe this med, should also tell you of these side effects that you could experience…

  20. lynda

    I must be lucky to suffer no side effects except disturbed sleep, I’ve not slept well for a long time so I expected this side effect. For me the benefits outweigh the negatives of this medication.

  21. Sandy

    I was put on Prednisone for polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis starting out with 40 milligrams a day for 3 weeks then 30 milligram for 3 weeks and 20 milligram for 3 weeks 10 milligram for 2 weeks 5 milligram for two weeks and off of it and I hurt so bad I couldn’t even get out of bed and I called the doctor and he put me back on 10 milligram to take until I come back in a month and I shake all the time my eyes feel like they’re just jibber jabber and moving all the time and I’ve had flu-like symptoms with it it’s definitely not been a good thing but I am tolerating the 10 milligram better than any of the other I had to go on a hundred and 180 milligram of Allegra to cope with it at the start + pain medication to keep the pain down so it’s not been a good thing it all for me

  22. Sharon
    San Diego

    I was prescribed prednisone for a bout with bronchitis at an ER just days before I was scheduled to fly across the country to visit my daughter. I wasn’t informed about side effects other than potential sleeplessness, which I did experience. I finished the meds (40 mg/day) the second day of my visit and the next day was dizzy, disoriented, had blurred vision, broke out in sweats, felt so weak I couldn’t stand, every sound made me irritable ( my ears felt plugged), had shortness of breath and my heart was racing.

    I felt like I was going to either implode or explode! My doctor back on the opposite coast told me to push fluids and take an antihistamine. I did, then slept for several hours and woke feeling improved but still not well. Hoping tomorrow will be better with milder side effects. Wish I hadn’t been given this drug.

  23. Tess

    After taking just one dose of prednisone for my severe asthma, I started having hot patches of hives on my body, moving to different parts of the body and got very itchy. Could not sleep for 2 weeks because of the itchiness. The red patches and itchiness lasted 3/4 weeks, horrible. When I told my doctor of the side effects and allergy to the steroids, she said that it cannot be from prednisone because it is used to treat hives! It was caused by prednisone and it happened again when I took it again.

  24. Paige Gant

    I have ulcerative colitis. When I am in a flare and bleeding I am prescribed prednisone. I usually start at 40mg and take that for however many weeks (3-4) it takes to get the bleeding under control, then I start to taper. So when I’m on it, I’m on it for a few months in order to taper down. I don’t experience psychotic behavior or feelings. When I first start I will be testy the first week, but I adjust gradually.

    However, I ended up on this page because I googled body pain and prednisone. Occasionally while on it I will get pain under my skin that feels like a giant bruise. It starts at the base of my skull and extends down my neck. As the hours go on it works its way down my back all the way to the top of my buttocks. Later in the day it will start to hurt in the front, coming down from my neck on my chest. My husband can’t touch me. Lying down on the bed hurts. I’ve always known it had something to do with the prednisone but couldn’t figure out why it would come on sometimes and not others. But after reading some other accounts, I think I know. It seems to happen when I don’t take my dose at the same time each day. I take it in the morning and on days that I have forgotten and don’t take it until later in the day, I get this awful pain. It will be almost gone by tomorrow. I think it must be a withdrawal symptom. I really hate taking this drug, but when your intestines are bleeding, there’re aren’t many options. Hope this description of my pain helps somebody else figure out what’s going on with their symptoms!

  25. Maggie

    I went to my doctor and got Prednisone for wheezing and tightness in the the chest and they didn’t let me know of the side effects of this medicine; about the lack of sleep I would get for taking this medicine. This is sure a trip I dont ever want to go on again. I went to E.R. to get help to see if they could help me to reverse the effect so I could go to sleep and they said don’t stop the medicine and just wait it out and hopefully you can sleep.

  26. DB

    I was only taking 10mg a day and by the 4th day I became psychotic. Severe delusions, paranoia, some auditory hallucinations, etc… That was just the mental side effects. The physical ones were profuse sweating, severe bruising and inability to sleep at all. I was started on this horrible medication for Crohn’s disease. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for treatment. I will never take steroids again, ever!! I think I’d rather die.

  27. Darrell
    Duncan,British Columbia, Canada

    I was given prednisone in the hospital unaware of the outcome.
    I left the hospital approximately three weeks later on home oxygen and what had happened then and since should have you terrified. I had the I.C.U. nurses fearful enough, that if I wasn’t in a straight-jacket they wouldn’t approach me. I then had a 24hr guard for five or six days even though I had a catheter. I was told later that I was suffering withdrawal of alcohol and cigarettes. I was also diabetic now and recieved insulin shots. It was the prednisone.

    The head of the hospital and doctors here absolutely deny the existance of steroid psychosis. It is terrifying enough to have your grip on sanity go off like a nuclear bomb. There are no words that can describe the chaos. Ten years later and Im still messed up. Numerous hospital admittances for respiratory distress and Im still getting prednisone inadvertently and it does it all over again.

    A year ago my family was called because I wasn’t to make it through the night;my son who had flown in asked to see my chart and prednisone was used. From dying in I.C.U. to walking out the following day is a good reason to have no prednisone tattooed on your arm or wherever you get an I.V. plugged into. I believe there are those out there who would let others die than be proven wrong and it could be your butt on the line next time. Stand up and speak up for those who aren’t capable…they’re too messed up now.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.