Vyvanse screwed me up?
November 27, 2012 10:58 PM   Subscribe

Amphetamine filter: I’ve taken Vyvanse four times. But the last time I took it, it did something to me. I suddenly developed some weird heart behavior and some other symptoms. I haven’t touched the stuff for three weeks now, but I still don’t feel like myself from three weeks ago. Help me. I don’t know what’s going on.

I came to college, and came across a friend that had 70mg Vyvanse pills at hand. I’ve always been curious about the stuff, so I tried it out. The first time was probably the scariest. I stupidly took it on an empty stomach and my heart soared to something like 160-170bpm within 40 minutes of digesting it. I tweaked all day. Going through the “serious side effects” of Vyvanse, rapid heartbeat? Check. My heart calmed down after a few minutes, but it was definitely elevated all day. Tics? Check. My head kept twitching to the left all day anytime I moved it in that direction. It was a crazy feeling. What it also gave me was a very clear headed feeling, and my eyes seem to be taking in more detail. Things seemed more colorful. The other three times I took it I ate breakfast beforehand. The effect was much more controlled. Had a very productive day, but it had a very strong effect on my appetite; didn’t eat anything other than breakfast. I took it three times and didn’t have any problems. The last time though, it must have done something.

The day before I took another pill,I had a long day and was going off of 4 hours of sleep. To prevent myself from falling over I popped a caffeine pill in the morning, mostly because I was in the mood for hot chocolate instead of my usual coffee. At about 3pm that day I popped another one because I could tell I was starting to crash. I was finally out of my night class at 8pm and ran over to a store and bought an iced coffee because I had a paper to write for the next day. I drank that coffee, but for whatever reason, I simply crashed. Could not write that paper to save my life. I’m usually the kind of person that would have stayed up and finished that paper, but I was so depleted I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But I went to bed knowing that I was going to wake up an hour early, pop a magic pill and crank it out.

Waking up, something was different. My heart was beating unusually fast, even before taking the pill. It had to be from all the caffeine that I took the previous day. I was worried about taking the pill, because I know mixing caffeine and amps is really bad, but I thought that it all had to of left my system by now. I was still in no mood to write that paper in the morning so I took it. I typed the whole thing up in four hours, turning it in still warm off the printer. Later that day, I remember at some point in the early afternoon, my heart sporadically started racing as I was working on some homework. It was diffidently over 120bpm. My heart wasn’t doing anything weird all day, and then all of a sudden, after the initial edge wore off, it acted up. It was weird and a little frightening, because I thought about that morning how my heart was acting strange. I remember feeling slightly off the rest of my day. I trudged through my homework but I could tell I didn't feel quite right.

That feeling continued for the next three days, but got worse. I was horribly tired, my heart would randomly start to pound, I had virtually no appetite. I was scared. I usually felt sort of blah for a day or so, but this time, it was totally different. I was just hoping it would clear up on its own, but it continued for days. What I also realized was caffeine would make me feel even worse. It would give me head rushes when I ingested it, which really freaked me out. I stayed away from it all together for the next week. The tiredness could have been the withdrawal. I usually have a cup of coffee in the morning then soda with every meal. I felt like garbage all weekend. I slept like 9 hours both Friday night and Saturday night, but still took naps. Five days after taking that pill I decided I needed to tell someone about what was going on. I called one of my closest friends, who is currently a student in med school, and explained everything that was going on; the racing heart, no appetite, and tiredness. I got through the rest of my day, but ended up feeling even worse and lied down at about 8pm that day. I didn’t have any other symptoms outside of feeling like total crap. No coughing, sore stomach, vomiting, nothing. When I called him before he suggested that I would stay at his place that night just to be safe, I called him back and told him that it was probably a good idea. My heart just felt so weird, it was better to be with someone that had a car that could take me to an emergency room if that became necessary. What was really weird was when I got there I generally felt better. I sat at his desk and worked on some of my homework that was due tomorrow, but I could still tell that I wasn’t completely cured of what was going on. I skipped all my morning classes, and only attended my later ones that day. I slept for about 12 hours. I returned to my school a few hours before my later classes to go to the campus health center.

I told the Physician assistant everything that I’m writing, except everything to do with Vyvanse. I was considering telling him, but judging by how angry he got when I told him about taking two caffeine pills in the same day, it probably wouldn’t have gone over well. His general diagnosis was that I was sleeping too little and taking in too much caffeine, and after weeks of this, my body just gave out. I had an ECG and some blood work done. When I came in for the visit, my heart was acting fine, and the ECG said my heart was perfectly healthy. The blood work also showed that I was fine. My mono test was negative, but the PA told me that my white blood cell count was a little low, and said that I might have some kind of virus, but he also said that it was probably fine as well, so I don’t know. I went to my night classes and my general wellness just went downhill. It was the worst I felt out of this whole thing. I somehow manage to finish my labs. I ended up staying at my friend’s place that night as well. I felt better the second day, and I started to feel better every consecutive day.

I was slowly getting better. By the time I went home for thanksgiving break, I felt quite alright. But then, I got up at 4:30am for some Black Friday shopping, and that seemed to trigger my symptoms to come back. The scariest was as I was driving, I had one of those head rushes, even though I had zero caffeine that morning. My heart was also racing, and it was also racing when I was waiting in line in the shivering cold. It was something like 90-100bpm. I tried to keep up with my friends as best as I could, but by 11am, I told them I had to go home. I ended up going back to sleep for another four hours.
One thing to note, my field of vison during Black Friday shopping and the previous day’s definitely didn’t feel normal to me. It felt like I had some sort of cloudy headed tunnel vision, it was really weird. I just didn’t feel well again. Four days passed since the symptoms came back and I’ve been getting better each day. Today, I felt fine, except one little episode when I was at the library, and my heart started to beat very strong. I had a cup of Pepsi with dinner. It must have been that, but the thing is, caffeine never did that to me before this whole thing.

God this is such a long question, but I feel like I had to get all of it out there. My med school friend thinks that the stress diagnosis that the PA gave me is accurate, and that the Vyvanse is just a coincidence, but I honestly don’t feel stressed out. College is college, but I’m definitely not freaking out about it. Whenever I look around for an answer to what is going on, it is always about people that are taking it on a daily basis, not people that are experiencing problems after weeks. I’m done with it at this point. I’m convinced Vyvanse had something to do with what I went through, and for that reason, I’ve sworn to never take this shit again. It is not worth blowing an artery somewhere over a couple tests.

What do you think is going on? I honestly don’t know. After it came back for another round I knew I had to ask about it. Do you think the Vyvanse has anything to do with it? Thank you so much mefi. <3
posted by NotSoSiniSter to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is not the right place to be asking. Go to the doctor.
posted by Dansaman at 11:05 PM on November 27, 2012 [11 favorites]

Sounds like you need to talk to a psychiatrist and be honest.

If I had to guess it would be benign palpitations mixed with anxiety while you were taking it, and an ongoing panic/anxiety issue.

I take stimulants often for ADHD, and stimulants plus caffeine is really uncomfortable. 70mgs plus caffeine would have me bugging out. Add that to stress and your anxiety about your health and it's no wonder you're fucked up.

See a psychiatrist asap.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:10 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

And when you go to that doctor, tell him or her everything. Do not leave out details, whether or not they reflect well on you.
posted by incessant at 11:11 PM on November 27, 2012 [11 favorites]

You've had bloodwork and and ECG, which shows you to be basically fine. You've taken a lot of drugs and have put yourself through the wringer. You're run down.

You ought give a full story to a doctor. You also maybe ought to consider addictions counselling. You have gone beyond the experimental phase, and it seems likely you will use these drugs again.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

It is possible to become sensitized to medication, which is the opposite of tolerance. It may not happen the first time. This happens to some people with cold medicine, which often contain some kind of amphetamine.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:21 PM on November 27, 2012

You have been using powerful chhemicals to force your body and brain to do things that they were not built to be able to do. You could hurt yourself doing this, and if you continue doing as you have been doing then eventually you will hurt yourself. You need to stop abusing stimulants immediately and restructure your life such that you can handle your workload without having to abuse stimulants in the future.

You also need to have a very frank, candid discussion with a psychiatrist (not because you are crazy, but because the drugs you have been abusing are psychiatric drugs) so that you can hopefully find out whether you have already damaged yourself or not (probably not, but it would be good to know) and come up with a plan for avoiding the sort of stimulant abuse you have been engaging in, perhaps by getting an ADHD assessment that might lead to eventually getting your own legitimate, controlled supply of the appropriate medication.
posted by Scientist at 11:24 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Having grown up in the 70's, I respect a man who has a negative scary first experience then does it again a few days later and is still considering doing more. Sounds like my first Grateful Dead road trip.

But, having grown up in the 70's, I am older and wiser now. I think you should stop with the drugs and start with the sleep and vitamins. Caffeine should be fine in low doses, but stop playing games with your body and get sleep and exercise.

Fwiw, I had an ekg/ecg that came back 100% fine. Two days later I had two stents put in to open a 90+% blockage of the main heart artery. If you had had a normal reaction, I would ignore all this, but then you would not be writing and well, consider your body is telling you something.

I personally might not go to the doctor to 'fess up and get a lecture, but I certainly would stop taking shit that fucked me up in ways I did not want to be fucked up.

Godspeed my fellow traveler.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:35 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Like I said, I'm done with the stuff. Definitely not addicted either.
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 11:38 PM on November 27, 2012

My heart rate is often elevated after a night with low sleep. Sounds like maybe the caffeine plus lack of sleep threw things off, then maybe virus and probably anxiety is continuing to make your heart race and feel strange. I had anxiety about my heart for years, and finally saw a cardiologist who told me that I'm basically fine. Knowing that I don't have to worry about it any more has made the symptoms way better. If your tests came back negative then you probably don't need to stress about it.

I like JohnnyGunn's advice - lay off the amphetamines and give your body a rest. If you can, lay off the caffeine for a while. It will make your heart be less likely to do funny things, and you'll have less cause to worry.
posted by feidr2 at 11:41 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anecdata follows

IANAD, IANYD. When I was in college, a p-doc put me on a form of speed to boost my antidepressants. (Not the smartest doc.). What you describe sounds a lot like what happened to me after I'd been on the stuff for a while. And it took years to sort out. See if you can see a cardiologist and get monitored for episodes when your heart races for no good reason. Some types of tachycardia are benign but some are bad and mine was brought on by taking the stim just a few weeks.
posted by tigerjade at 12:58 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What was really weird was when I got there I generally felt better

I think this is because your symptoms don't sound like they have a lot to do with the drugs you took (which you shouldn't have taken and should not take in the future).

To be honest you sound extremely run-down - how regularly and how much are you sleeping? What's your diet like? Are you getting enough vegetables, proteins etc? Cut out the soda with every meal dude, that's not healthy, especially if it's caffeinated.

Everything else you describe could be explained by simply being extremely tired, somewhat malnutritioned, and being kinda anxious. A non-resting heartrate of 90-100 is not especially alarming at all.

This is not to say you shouldn't see a doctor or a psychiatrist - you totally should if it will make you feel better. But, I think you should also consider acting on what your doctor has already told you.

Get some sleep, regularly; stop eating and drinking shit; don't rely on any kind of chemicals to substitute for good health; do your essays and study before the last night; and don't ask substitute web forums for the advice of a medical professional. ;)
posted by smoke at 2:24 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are really only two choices:

1. Go to a doctor. A real one, not a PA, not someone in med school. Tell the doctor everything, and then let them figure out what's wrong.
- If there's nothing really wrong (but seriously, something is wrong), you are out a few dollars and maybe got a lecture.
- If there is something wrong -- a heart condition, anxiety, whatever -- you get it fixed!

2. Don't go to a doctor. Try more sleep, more water, maybe some vitamins.
- If there's nothing really wrong, you've saved a few dollars and a lecture. But you'll worry about your heart, and long after this is over you'll wonder if you have some latent problem on your hands.
- If there is something wrong, it won't get better. It'll be increasingly difficult for you to keep up with school or activities. You might black out while driving (like you almost did on Friday). You might have a stroke or heart attack, and maybe die. That's what you're worried about, right?

Given the pros and cons of the two choices, why aren't you going to a doctor, telling them everything so they have some chance of understanding what's going on, and then letting them figure it out and help you?
posted by Houstonian at 3:19 AM on November 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

Do you have a heart rhythm problem? Vyvanse brought out my latent Long QT syndrome, which is borderline when I'm off stimulants, but becomes worrying when I'm on them. I have to take beta blockers along with Vyvanse to manage my heart rhythm.

Caffeine is a nono with this stuff. 70 mg is a pretty big dose; 40 mg makes me feel a bit speedy all day, and make sleep very difficult. I have ADHD, so its effect on me would be much less than on someone who doesn't. Vyvanse is also pretty hard to abuse, so you're not going to go where you want to by taking it.
posted by A Friend of Dug [sock] at 4:31 AM on November 28, 2012

Vyvanse is very long acting, as amphetamines go. And 70mg is a lot. (I got super high off of 50mg of it, *after* being used to 15mg of AdderallXR) In my experience, amphetamines make caffeine far more potent. Especially the metabolites of it, which last a lot longer and cause heart poundy effects.

Further, what probably happened to you was the same thing that happened to me when I was taking Vyvanse for ADHD- I wasn't so much sleeping at night as much as I was passing out from exhaustion. So when I woke up, I wasn't fresh as a morning daisy. I was still speeding from the previous day's Vyvanse and single cup of coffee. Needless to say, I switched back to Adderall.

I can see where it would take a week for everything to go back to normal. Longer than that and I'd say there was something else going on. Probably just stress and anxiety brought on by the scary experience, but yeah, you probably ought to see a doctor and make sure.
posted by gjc at 4:44 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

You know who could give you the best insight as to what is going on? A physician -- one to whom you tell everything rather than just select details.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:48 AM on November 28, 2012

Sorry, I couldn't read past the first paragraph.

70mg of Vyvanse?! That's the highest dosage out there for Vyvanse!

You should NOT be taking prescriptions that aren't meant for you. For example, I take 30 mg. My doctor started me at 40mg, but I my heart was racing and I couldn't sleep, so he titrated me down to 30mg. Unless you have been on some other form of ADD medication before, I highly doubt any doctor would start prescribing you 70mg. 70mg can be VERY unsafe if your body isn't used to it.

Also Vyvanse is supposed to be LONG ACTING, so you take it once in the morning. You do NOT take a second dose in the same day! Yes, Vyvanse will affect you for several days if your dosage is too high. Back when I took 40 mg, I would feel the affects of 1 Vyvanse pill for up to 2 whole days!

Wow, 70mg? Your heart must have gone into overdrive. Vyvanse is a stimulant AND it dyhydtrates you. You are lucky that you didn't suffer any heart-related injuries. Have you even looked up the symptoms and warnings of Vyvanse on their website? You'll notice that a lot of the symtoms you experienced are related to Vyvanse. Have you done any research on Vyvanse? Not even after taking it? A little bit of research is the least you could have done.

I'm very glad you didn't hurt yourself. Please don't be like that stupid teen who died because she took her father's depressents. That Vyvanse prescription isn't made for you. Go see a doctor and get your own. What you did was very risky.

I'm not sure what you want us to tell you. That it's all okay and that it's all stress related? No one can possibly know except mayber a doctor. I think you need to get your priorities straight because right now you are more concerned about embarassing yourself in front of the doctor than about your health. Fess up to the doctor and he can help you. Yes, he will scold you, but what you did was stupid. You need to strong and accept your mistake, learn from it, and move on.
posted by nikkorizz at 4:55 AM on November 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

You've been turbocharging your brain and body with sugar (pop), caffeine (pills, coffee) and drugs (the speed), with inadequate sleep and nutrition. Your brain and body are telling you, "stop doing that".

Try getting more sleep, more exercise, a proper diet, and especially abstaining from the drugs - caffeine and the speed.

Nthing the suggestion, tell a doctor - truthfully - the whole story. They are there to help you.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 5:13 AM on November 28, 2012

Honestly, a lot of people here are freaking out a lot more than I would be. Generally, docs make you start at a lower dose of Vyvanse so you get used to it, yes. Generally, psychiatrists ask if you have heart problems before prescribing. Okay, well, you have no known heart problems. I have a heart murmur that causes palpitations and I'm under the care of a cardiologist, and they STILL prescribe me Adderall and Vyvanse!

Assuming that you've had medical care your whole life so far, the chances of you now having some sort of new horrid deadly heart problem caused by Vyvanse are very, very low. Your anxiety is making this seem to be the WORST THING EVER and a lot of commentors here aren't helping.

I mean really, half the people I know who have been on a stimulant have switched to one kind of it or another because it makes them anxious/makes their heart race. It's a drug, it has side effects. Even antibiotics have side effects.

And frankly, caffeine is the absolute worst stimulant for me in terms of heart palptations and anxiety.

Definitely see a psychiatrist ASAP. Definitely tell them your concerns about your heart. Definitely AVOID CAFFEINE in the meantime. But try to relax, okay? You are going to be fine, just like the vast majority of the millions of kids and adults who take these medications on a regular basis.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:44 AM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

You need to stop abusing stimulants immediately and restructure your life such that you can handle your workload without having to abuse stimulants in the future.

This is top-shelf wisdom right here. This is why drugs like this require a prescription.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:59 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

You could also get a heart rate monitor to make sure you're actually having tachycardia. Palpitations (being aware of your heart beating) and tachycardia (your heart actually beating too fast) are a different thing. It might be reassuring if you don't feel comfortable talking to a doctor and lessen your health anxiety if your heart rate isn't as high as you think it is. Plus, it's a good tool for working out. If your heart rate is actually high, you may have something substantive to bring into a doctor's appointment. I use a Polar Heart rate monitor, which I find the most comfortable -- there are plenty of good deals on Amazon and you can buy them at REI too.

If you feel like you're blacking out, this is totally ER worthy.
posted by sweltering at 6:31 AM on November 28, 2012

You need to go to a different doctor - not the PA you saw the first time, because you didn't feel like you could tell him the truth.

It's going to be really hard to be honest, but it's really important. Plan a treat for yourself afterwards - my GYN always tells me I deserve an ice cream cone after my visit - and be proud of yourself for being an honest adult and taking charge of a really scary situation by going to the doctor and getting help.

I like the idea of visiting a psychiatrist - that might be easier for you - but a GP would be fine, too. I'd recommend that you go off-campus for this, though, because it might make it easier for you to disclose what you need to disclose if you're not at school.
posted by k8lin at 7:44 AM on November 28, 2012

Stress. You need to get some sleep. And see a doctor so you stop self-medicating.
posted by empath at 7:57 AM on November 28, 2012

You sound really stressed and kinda tweaked. But, it's okay. It's gonna be cool. Go to sleep and take at least a day to totally rest. Definitely no Vyvanse. Limit caffeine to a cup of tea. Take an aspirin if you get a headache, but that's it. Make it a point to do nothing. Ease back into your usual routine.

Go to a doctor if you still feel unwell. Tell him or her the whole truth and it'll be fine.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:08 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

The fact that your EKG is normal is not necessarily reassuring.

As several above have pointed out, you can have episodes of heart arrhythmias that can only be picked up by a monitor that you take home and wear longer term, like a Holter monitor. The EKG only shows you a moment in time.

I don't think seeing a psychiatrist is necessarily a bad idea, but your primary care physician could probably handle this one too. If you can, use a physician and not a PA. Some folks above say that this isn't a big deal, after all, people take stimulants every day. Yeah, they do, but those people are by and large under a prescribing physician's care (and in some cases, I see, a cardiologist's as well). That's very different from taking the medication on your own and hiding the fact that you're taking it. I personally think any problem with your heart is worth taking very, very, seriously.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:59 AM on November 28, 2012

Doubling down: holy hell, you took THREE 70mg Vyvanse pills in a 24 hour period?

Here is the thing: Vyvanse is a prodrug. After you eat it, it metabolizes into dextroamphetamine, which then gets metabolized normally. However, if memory serves, the Vyvanse itself has a high limit for metabolism. Meaning, your body can only metabolize so much of it in one day. After that, it slowly gets excreted via urine/poop, and just hangs around waiting to be metabolized into amphetamine. So I would guess that you hit that limit and were riding out amphetamine for days and days.

Future advice: speed won't give you motivation. It won't make you smarter. It won't give you energy that you don't already have. Low doses will tweak your natural abilities, but high doses just fry your brain. Kind of literally- it makes your neurotransmitters fire faster, and then in higher doses it actually makes them fire in reverse. (however that works...) One side effect is that your neurons can't recharge because they are being "overclocked". Once that happens, it takes a long time for them to recover.
posted by gjc at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2012

S/He took two caffeine pills and one Vyvanse in a 24 hour period.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2012

S/He took two caffeine pills and one Vyvanse in a 24 hour period.

70mg is still a lot for a newbie and/or someone not prescribed that (or any) amount, especially since stress and lack of sleep also appear to be a factors. I also can't help but notice the relative lack of food intake over those days - you're not supposed to only eat breakfast. Whether the OP meant to or not, s/he had been tweaking for a while.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:59 PM on November 28, 2012

I just want to contribute this conversation in order to drown out a bit of the stressed out talk by people that think this person has really done something terrible and should feel bad about it.

Notsosinster: take a day or two to lay around in bed and catch up on your netflix queue or something like that. Make a doctor's appointment, but don't stress too much. Eat some rich foods, too. Lots of stuff that slows you down.

If you have the opportunity to see a doctor in a hospital that gets a lot of drug cases, go there as opposed to somewhere where they don't. Feel the doctor out a bit. If you don't connect with him or her, you don't have to reveal everything---see another doctor if the vibes are not right.

The first response to you was This is not the right place to be asking. Go to the doctor.
I have a bit of a different opinion that the person who wrote this. It's important to investigate your own health, and if talking about it with people online gives you a better idea of a course of action you will take, then go ahead and talk about it online. From your post, it doesn't seem that you are under the impression that your quest to feel better is going to end with talking to us about it. It seems like you understand that doctors can help people a lot. You just wanted to bounce some ideas of a larger group of people. That's usually a good thing to do.

Ah! Looking back on your post, I just noticed that you went to a campus health center. I don't know about others' opinions of going to campus doctors, but when I was in college, my campus doctor completely screwed up an easy diagnosis. I didn't realize it because I was 19. They don't serve a clientele that is necessarily too critical (this may be different if you go to a better school than I did!).

If a doctor who is working on a college campus is getting angry when you tell him about two caffeine pills in the same day, most likely the guy is a dink. Maybe it's his first day on the job. Maybe he's about to quit. But...jesus. Aren't kids still doing coke?

In short: don't feel bad about what you did, don't feel bad about telling us about it, don't feel bad about talking to a doctor you feel comfortable with.
posted by shushufindi at 7:44 PM on November 28, 2012

I suspect your health will be fine, but I'm concerned about your judgement. Somebody had a Vyvanse so you took it? Not the most mature thing to do, but it's pretty common.
And then your heart tried to jump out of your chest, and it scared you, but you took it a bunch more anyway?
And you're popping caffeine pills multiple times a day? And skipping meals?

If you were my niece, I would suggest you figure out why you decided to do it a bunch more, even though your body rebelled and it scared you. And then I would suggest that you imagine you have a 14 yr old niece of your own, and what would you think or feel if she was relying on caffeine pills and skipping meals all the time? Not that you need to limit yourself to behaviors appropriate for a young teen, but just that you think about taking care of yourself they way you would care for a younger loved one.
posted by MeiraV at 4:47 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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