I feel good, na na na na na na.
December 15, 2005 6:34 PM   Subscribe

MedicFilter: I'm on Prednisone for 5 days for the second time of my life, and just like the first time, it's working as intended to clear up my severe congestion, but it's also making me king of the freaking world. Why is this?

Sure, I feel better because I can actually breathe normally after only being on this stuff for 8 hours, but there's more going on here: There's something in my mind saying "Stay on task, you feel great, stay on task, perhaps it's time to do something creative, focus in, get the work done, maybe I should clean that mess over there."

When I was last on this stuff, I started a blog based from the point of view of my character in World of Warcraft. I couldn't stop writing, and for the past few months I've looked back repeatedly on that time in complete amazement. Now, I've just had a very full day of working, shovelling the driveway (for the 3rd day in a row -- lotsa snow here), taking my son to Kung Fu class, picking up dinner, and playing with my kids -- and I've still got enough energy to sit down and ask this question.

The best part about this? When I need to sleep, I sleep the sleep of the gods. I can wake up without drowsiness, and I have no difficulty making the transition from wakefulness back to slumber.

I'd be worried if I weren't so completely fired up about this. Can someone tell me what else is going on in my system to cause this? It's making me feel good even when I don't want to.
posted by thanotopsis to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Prednisone is just a steroid. Are you sure your medication doesn't also have a Ephidrene based bonchialdialator paired with it?
posted by sourwookie at 6:43 PM on December 15, 2005

Side effects include: Acne. And increased appetite and fat deposits.

It appears to be a steroid of a common hormone. Since it (apparently) crosses the blood brain barrier its going to have neurological effects similar to the neurological effects of the hormone itself.
posted by delmoi at 6:46 PM on December 15, 2005

sourwookie 'steroid' simply means "a molecule that 'looks' like another molecule, and has the same effect." (from my understanding). When people normally talk about "steroids" they mean steroids of testosterone.
posted by delmoi at 6:49 PM on December 15, 2005

I was on prednisone for about a month two summers ago for a nasal tumor surgery, and I felt very on task and productive as well.
posted by adamwolf at 6:59 PM on December 15, 2005

delmoi dictionary.com (i know, shoot me) says

ster·oid Pronunciation Key (stîroid, str-)
Any of numerous naturally occurring or synthetic fat-soluble organic compounds having as a basis 17 carbon atoms arranged in four rings and including the sterols and bile acids, adrenal and sex hormones, certain natural drugs such as digitalis compounds, and the precursors of certain vitamins.

is there someplace I should go (chemistry text book?) for the definition you mention?

From my short stint working reception in a MD office, steroids are not to be taken long term. Enjoy the productivity while it lasts.
posted by bilabial at 7:01 PM on December 15, 2005

Prednisone will fuck you up. Don't use it for longer than you have to. And never stop cold turkey, taper down according to your doctor's instructions.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:01 PM on December 15, 2005

Prednisone will fuck you up.

Prednisone will fuck you up.

Prednisone will fuck you up.

Just felt the need to repeat that a few times. Prednisone has some serious kick-your-ass side effects.
posted by frogan at 7:10 PM on December 15, 2005

i took prednisone once and it made me feel euphoric plus i had a ravenous appetite. i guess the real question is how is your severe congestion? has it cleared up any? while steroids can fuck you up, sometimes they are essential. and, as mentioned previously, be sure to taper.
posted by brandz at 7:17 PM on December 15, 2005

I have no real answer to your question, but I was on prednisone a few months ago for an eczema flare up and had the same side effects and felt just really. fucking. awesome. I wish I could take it all the time minus the horrid side effects.
posted by chiababe at 7:25 PM on December 15, 2005

Prednisone is what made Jerry Lewis look like this.
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:26 PM on December 15, 2005

Yes, I've been on prednisone once or twice. It does get you buzzed, but leaves you feeling very ragged when you come down from it. So enjoy it while you can, but don't get too psyched.
posted by alms at 7:27 PM on December 15, 2005

I'm not a doctor, but i work in a pharmacy and therefore interrupt them when they're watching tv.
kick-your-ass-side effects include (but are not limited to) developing a moonface or a hunchback. Productive but revolting.
posted by ktrey at 7:30 PM on December 15, 2005

Cushing's syndrome can be caused by, among other things, prolonged use of prednisone. The "moonface" in Dr. Wu's picture of Jerry Lewis is one of the many manifestations.
posted by TimeFactor at 7:31 PM on December 15, 2005

Interesting... I (allegedly) had a much different reaction to prednisone. My mother loves to tell me about when I was on prednisone as a child and turned into a raging bitch. She told doctors I was allergic to it after that so they wouldn't put me on it again.
posted by christie at 7:37 PM on December 15, 2005

It's often prescribed to suppress allergic reactions and immune system problems. I'm not a doctor, of course, but this is what my doctor told me when I was on it a few years ago from some stomach problems (which involved unpleasant things that were inflamed, hence the prednisone).

Sadly, I noticed none of the euphoric side effects you describe. I was just ravenously hungry all the time and harvested a nice crop of zits on my forehead.

In any case, don't get too excited about it. It's not something you want to mess with if you don't absolutely need it.
posted by aladfar at 7:44 PM on December 15, 2005

Steroids can affect neurotransmitter activity, so it's not uncommon for them to have psychological side effects, including euphoria. Identifying the particular neurotransmitter(s) involved is beyond me, however... IAABiochemistryGradStudent, but IANANeurologist.

Incidentally, delmoi's definition of steroid is incorrect; bilabial has it. Testosterone (like many hormones) is an example of a steroid, from whence the confusion may be arising.
posted by purplemonkie at 7:45 PM on December 15, 2005

My bulldog has bad allergies, and when it gets really bad I have to give him prednisone.

It causes him to bark, and run around, and be rambunctious.

This is a bulldog. This behavior is completely wrong.

Prednisone is bad, bad, bad stuff.
posted by hummus at 7:46 PM on December 15, 2005

I was put on prednisone for a cough that wouldn't go away. I wasn't sick anymore, but I hacked like a tuberculosis victim. Anyway I had the exact opposite side-effect -- I didn't feel awesome, I felt like a 99 year old woman. My joints hurt like a bitch the whole time I was on the stuff but it did fix the chronic cough.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:51 PM on December 15, 2005

Prednisone is just a steroid.

The phrase 'just a steroid' is highly problematic. This is one of the most broad-acting and powerful families of hormone in animals.

I remember hearing a show, I think on NPR, a few years back about a male who was receiving one of the "female" steroids (estrogen maybe?) for whatever reason and the effects on this person's psychological perspective of the world were profound.
posted by shoos at 7:54 PM on December 15, 2005

The last time I took Prednisone, my olfactory system went from its usual utterly non-functional state to hyperactive in about 24 hours. It was a very strange experience. I could smell flowers and food with a really surprising intensity. On the downside, I learned that those ever-so-quiet lift-one-cheek farts don't really fool anyone.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:59 PM on December 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

You may look into chinese medicine, for herbs that can bring your natural level up a bit.My acupuncturist gave me a tonic that strengthened my breathing and improved my energy .
posted by hortense at 8:21 PM on December 15, 2005

What you describe is at the very least hypomania. Discuss this with your doc as there is such a thing as medication-induced bipolar disorder.

From what I have read bipolar people should stay the heck away from steroids, btw.

(I am not a doctor but I do have bipolar type 2.)
posted by konolia at 8:42 PM on December 15, 2005

Prednisone is a miraculous drug when you need to be taking it. It works quickly and powerfully. But if you stay on it for a while the side effects will start to pile up on you, and there are a lot of them. And you can't just stop taking it unless you've only received a low dose for a very short period. You have to slowly taper off the stuff. Not doing so is dangerous enough that it's often recommended that you wear a medical bracelet or necklace in case of emergency to let people know you need to keep receiving this drug.
posted by Songdog at 8:51 PM on December 15, 2005

Best answer: mania and other mood changes are pretty common with corticosteroids.

you could do a pubmed search for "prednisone" and "mania," and come up with a bazillion abstracts.

a 5-day course ain't gonna screw you up, but many 5-day courses would. take it zactly as yr doc says to take it, don't ask for it every time you're congested, and DO NOT TRY TO SOLO MOLTEN CORE.
posted by herrdoktor at 9:06 PM on December 15, 2005

Prednisone made me feel wonderful for most of the five days I was on it to combat an allergic reaction (massive hives!) to other medicine earlier this fall. My mood just lifted. Food tasted better, the world looked prettier, and everything smelled better, too. It was pretty much the same effect I (female) get when I've got a particularly good burst of hormones going on. (As opposed to the effect when I get a bad burst of hormones.)

Since it has hormonal effects on many people, it has really screwed with friends of mine who had to take it—in particular, one of my flatmates warned me about the stuff prior to my five-day course, as she'd taken it many times for asthma and a number of allergies and had a terrible time with mood swings, depression, and other bad feelings.

But yeah, after my week with prednisone, I found myself wishing there was something that would give me that wonderful feeling all the time without massive long-term side effects.
posted by limeonaire at 10:01 PM on December 15, 2005

I have severe asthma and chronic bronchitis. I have been on Prednisone approximately once a year since I was about seven years old. It is a corticosteroid, a hormone essentially, so it does mess with your brain chemistry. It has different effects on different people. You appear to be one of the lucky ones. For some people (myself included) it makes them extremely irritable and jumpy, while others become horribly depressed, and still others report an almost manic feeling of euphoria and increased activity such as what your experiencing. Yes, it can "fuck you up" as some say, but that's why it's usually only prescribed for a five day course and most doctors have you taper off (start out taking it three times a day, end up only taking it once a day). When taken within these parameters it's perfectly safe and non-habit forming.
posted by katyggls at 11:47 PM on December 15, 2005

The last time I took Prednisone it made me so labile that I cried over "heartwarming" TV ads!
posted by Carol Anne at 4:41 AM on December 16, 2005

Predisone actually clears my acne up; when I take it for a few days, it reduces the inflammation in my pimples and gives me perfectly clear skin. I always wish I could keep taking it for that effect alone, but it also makes my joints hurt and increases my appetite. I've never noticed an effect on my mood or energy level, but I only take it when I'm swollen and itchy, which tends to make me cranky no matter what.
posted by junkbox at 5:50 AM on December 16, 2005

My mom nearly died from taking that crap. Do NOT take it longer than your doc tells you to. And if he puts you on it for more than 5 days... get a second opinion and fast.
posted by nimsey lou at 6:02 AM on December 16, 2005

Near the end of his life, my grandfather got put on Prednisone. Within days, he slipped into total senile dementia. This was during the lead-up to Iraq War II, and the Prednisone had him so confused he thought it was the first Gulf War. A few days after that, he started interrogating everyone over what happened to his money, and within a week he was causing fights with his nurse by refusing to wear clothes. Now, this isn't to say Prednisone caused his problems, but it certainly exacerbated them. So be careful, using it in large doses or long periods of time. Mercurial stuff.
posted by jbrjake at 6:45 AM on December 16, 2005

Nice to see the usual array of histrionic and misinformed opinions riddling the pages of AskMeFi.

Thanatopsis, it's perfectly reasonable to be taking a short course of prednisone. While it should not be viewed as benign, courses shorter than a few weeks are generally safe. On average, a person taking prednisone for 7-14 days for :asthma exacerbation, poison oak, allergic reaction, shingles, Bell's Palsy, etc - will experience no side effects, but if they do, hypomania is common. Moreso is some degree of agitation, insomnia, or other mild mood disruption. This is totally normal. That said, keep it in mind the next time it is prescribed and let your doc know, as it may influence their decision to use it at all or how much they Rx. It does strike me as a little odd that you might be on this for congestion, though I know this is a hold-over from days of yore.

Last year I was on high dose steroids for a week. I wrote a lot of unusally candid emails. I know of what you speak.
posted by docpops at 7:22 AM on December 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've been on Predinsone on two different occasions for my ulcerative colitis, and I've had that exact euphoric/manic feeling that you're talking about. I've never done speed, but the feeling I get for the first few days on Prednisone seems similar to descriptions I've read of what it's like when people first take meth. It's an insane "I can do anything and do it well" feeling. The last time I had to take a short course of Prednisone I walked 5 miles (when before that I had been feeling almost too sick to even leave my apartment), found a new apartment in Manhattan, wrote submissions for a couple of websites that I had been meaning to send stuff to, and just generally felt on top of the world. I've often thought that if they could bottle that effect somehow, but without the wicked bad side effects of Prednisone, no amount would be too much to pay.

But make no mistake, Prednisone does mess you up wicked bad. The euphoric effects wear off after a few days, and then the other side effects set in. By the end of that last course of Prednisone I had gained 20 pounds and had a definite moon face. (The moon face goes away soon after. Those 20 extra pounds, not so much.) So in spite of how good that euphoric feeling felt, I'll do almost anything to keep my colitis under control so that I never have to take Prednisone again. Plus, you have to tell doctors that you took Prednisone for a full year afterwards, because it can have such immunosupressive effects that it can completely fuck your body up for things like surgery.
posted by MsMolly at 9:09 AM on December 16, 2005

You don't mention what dosage you're on. I take prednisone regulary, for the rest of my life, for Addison's Disease. It's a replacement dosage. Overly-simplified, to replace the hormone/s my adrenal glands don't make on their own.

However, when I'm under stress -- mental or physical -- I have to take higher doses. I was once put on a higher dosage when in the hospital for somthing else and I felt like I was going crazy. I just wanted to rip out my I.V. and run out of there. My doctor reminded me that this was similar to the fight-or-flight response of an adrenaline surge. I have no idea if this is medically accurate or not, but it made sense to me.

Anyway, there's no need to be worried about it and it'll go away when you stop the meds.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 9:19 AM on December 16, 2005

I take prednisone whenever my asthma flares up and isn't controllable by inhalers, usually due to a cold. Last year, I was on it for a month and a half.

The first few days are like cake - I get the happiness, the mania, the energy, etc. After that, though, I turn into a paranoid, emotional nutcase. I didn't get invited to a party by an acquaintance? Never mind that I wouldn't have gone normally anyway, she must HATE ME FOR EVER DIE DIE DIE.

However, It's worth it for my asthma, as it just kills whatever lung inflammation there is, and I can breathe again!

(And yes. Don't solo Molton Core.)
posted by spinifex23 at 9:21 AM on December 16, 2005

Steroids are psychoactive, even glucocorticoids like Prednisone. Some people get energized; some get tired out; some get psychotic.

Delmoi's probably thinking of another word, like "isomer" or "allosteric" or something like that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:49 AM on December 16, 2005

Sorry that I'm kind of late to this party, but I had manic symptoms when I was on a course of Prednisone a few years ago (during that time, I wrote an incredibly insightful paper comparing Wittgenstein and Harry Potter - where the hell I got that idea I'll never know). My doctor reduced my dosage nominally (though I don't remember what it was and what it was reduced to) and that seemed to help. I don't know if that's possible in your case.
posted by MeetMegan at 2:19 PM on December 16, 2005

My father, psychiatrist, was not at all surprised. Prednisone with manic symptoms is not that uncommon.
posted by gramcracker at 4:25 PM on December 16, 2005

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