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Lyrica (Pregabalin) Side Effects Include Confusion and Brain Fog

Lyrica (pregabalin) side effects can be daunting. They include confusion, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, weight gain and depression.

Lyrica used to be widely advertised on television to treat fibromyalgia or diabetic nerve pain. A few years ago there was this ad featuring Terry, a retired police officer. Terry describes his diabetic nerve pain: “like thousands of needles sticking in your foot.” Then Terry is shown watering his plants and seemingly doing very well. But as with so many prescription drug commercials on television, we get to the Lyrica (Pregabalin) Side Effects. Here is the nasty part:

“Lyrica is not for everyone. It may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. Tell your doctor right away if you have these: new or worsening depression or unusual changes in mood or behavior, or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, changes in eye sight including blurry vision, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or skin sores from diabetes. Common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain, and swelling of hands, legs and feet. Don’t drink alcohol while taking Lyrica. Don’t drive or use machinery until you know how Lyrica affects you.”

We suspect that a lot of people tune out when the horrible side effects start unfolding. That’s why sales of Lyrica were robust. What are those Lyrica (pregabalin) side effects really like?

A Reader Reports Lyrica (Pregabalin) Side Effects:

Q. I have had terrible burning pains in my left foot and leg for many years. They were undiagnosed until a few years ago, when a new doctor diagnosed peripheral neuropathy. He prescribed Lyrica daily.

I do not take Lyrica every day, as it is too expensive. I take it only when I have an attack. The next day I am totally disorganized. I can’t remember things and have twitches all over my body. Could this be a side effect of the drug?

A. Yes. Side effects of pregabalin (Lyrica) include confusion, dizziness, sleepiness, difficulty walking, edema, blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, twitching and tremor.

Other Lyrica (Pregabalin) Side Effects:

  • Vertigo, unsteadiness, coordination problems
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal thinking, Difficulty with attention or concentration
  • Edema (fluid retention in hands or feet)
  • Weight gain
  • Digestive upset (constipation, gas)
  • Skin reactions (rash or dermatitis=immediate medical attention)
  • Depression, suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Tremor
  • Blood disorders
  • Withdrawal symptoms (aka 'discontinuation syndrome'), seizures

Lyrica (Pregabalin) Side Effects Include Brain Fog:

It is hard to describe this adverse reaction. Here is an account from nurse Beverly in upstate, New York:

“I was on Lyrica for over a year. I have Pelvic Neuropathy, Sacralilitis, Chronic Pain Syndrome, and Psoriatic Arthritis.

“I was at a point that I would have words in my head I would want to say. But they just wouldn’t come out of my mouth! It was horrible!

“I still had pain. Lyrica brought my pain from #10 down to around #6-8 on good days. I’m also on antidepressant medication and have been for years.

“But being a Nurse and being taken out of work because I couldn’t walk anymore without limping in pain made me more and more depressed. I’m only 55 year’s young.

My PCP slowly tapered me off the Lyrica AND WITHIN 2-3 WEEKS MY MIND FOG WAS CLEARING UP! Now around 8 month’s later, I feel I’m back in control of my LIFE!

Since going off of the Lyrica I have TERRIBLE HAND & LEG TREMORS, HEADACHES, & MY YEAR OLD BIFOCALS…forget it, I need new Glasses! My vision is SO BLURRED!

“Living with the severe pain & my Injections are a better choice for me! What a NIGHTMARE.”

Another reader complains about her memory:

Q. Since I started taking pregabalin, my memory has disappeared. Is this a side effect? I used to remember everything, and this is disconcerting.

A. When we checked the official prescribing information for pregabalin (Lyrica), we found that the most common side effects are dizziness and drowsiness. Other adverse reactions that have been reported in clinical trials include “thinking abnormal,” amnesia, confusion and memory impairment.

Other readers have also complained about memory loss while taking pregabalin. You should discuss this problem with your prescriber. If you ever consider stopping this drug, be sure to have your doctor provide a plan for gradual tapering. Stopping suddenly can lead to unpleasant adverse reactions.

One research report notes that although drugs such as pregabalin and gabapentin (Neurontin) are widely used (Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, June 2017):

“Despite their wise spread use, few data are available on the effects of these drugs on cognitive functions, such as learning memory.”

“An increase of the incidence of memory disorders was also associated with pregabalin use. This drug is mentioned in particular in a publication reporting cases of treated patients, which manifested partial significant impairments in episodic memory of verbal and visual information.”

Lizzie in the UK also has cognitive problems:

“I have been on Lyrica/Pregabalin for 6 years since breaking my back and suffering a spinal cord injury and permanent paralysis from the waist down. I am in constant neuropathic pain in the form of burning and stabbing. The Pregabalin dulls the pain but it is never gone completely. To have no pain I would have to be on such a high dose that I would be like a zombie.

“I definitely have problems cognitively and with my memory to the point where I can’t remember the names of people I have known for years. I don’t recognize faces of people I’ve only met a couple of times. I have made some embarrassing social blunders due to this.

“I have reduced my dose and have more mental acuity than on higher doses, but more pain, unfortunately. The withdrawal each time (only 25mg at a time) has been pure hell that has gone on for weeks. I am unsure how I will ever break free of it. I would like to see a future where I don’t take any medication but I need to find a better way of coping. I use mindfulness and sport to cope at the moment, but it is not enough.”

Never Stop Lyrica Suddenly!

Health professionals have a sanitized name for withdrawal symptoms. They call this “discontinuation syndrome.” Here are some stories from visitors to our website:

Mike in Wisconsin shares this:

“I was on Lyrica for about a year for nerve pain, but wanted to get off of the drug because of the constant dizziness, vertigo, and weight gain it was causing me. The side effects were only making my nerve pain worse. I talked to my doc about any withdrawal side effects and he said your head might feel “off” for awhile. OFF!??!

“Well … that was just the beginning, as I had no idea the withdrawal symptoms were SO BAD. Within a week of reducing the Lyrica dose 25mg’s I went into a DEEP DEPRESSION and I had no idea why I was feeling so terrible because nothing in my life was going downhill. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to do anything … it was awful!

“I had already been taking cymbalta at the time, so my doc bumped my dose up 30mgs and after a couple of weeks things seemed to even out. Within a few weeks of being off of it, I dropped about 15lbs. I’ve never felt such vivid depression like that…it was so bad…! Please be careful if you take Lyrica!”

Amy runs a Facebook group:

“I run a group on Facebook called Lyrica Survivors (Official) and we have thousands of people suffering from side effects and withdrawal from Lyrica. Many doctors are unaware of the withdrawal and refuse to believe patients, but it is all too real.”

Share your own story about Lyrica (Pregabalin) side effects below in the comment section. If you want to read more stories, here is a link:

Lyrica Side Effects & Withdrawal are Worrisome

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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