Ambien psychosis?

Nurses Medications


Specializes in Med/Surg, Geriatric, Hospice.

This past month I have had two patients with serious adverse effects of taking zolpidem (Ambien). Both A/O normally who became apparently psychotic, one violent and completely out of control (requiring sheriffs and the Baker act), and another, an end of life pt who became convinced that she had killed someone years ago and was repeatedly calling 911 because she wanted to turn herself in because of 'immense guilt'. She was awake and seemingly totally lucid, called 911 3x, called her daughter begging her to get the police for her because she needed to confess to this murder... I was sure the police were going to come and that she would tell them what she "did" and they'd arrest her. Both patients 'woke up' from these events hours later, not remembering why any of it happened or what made them do it. Ambien was attributed to be the causing factor in each incident.

I've searched this site for Ambien related topics but couldn't find any regarding these nightmares and psychotic behaviors people report. Maybe it is just coincidence that in the past month I've had two really bad cases with Ambien in patients who are alert and oriented? Does anyone else have any experiences with this?

Oh my goodness, yes!!! You are not alone, my friend. I have had a horrible track record with Ambien...and not only two times, but at least 5 or 10 times! I even had one patient (in the ICU, mind you) who took ambien and kept getting out of bed to take a shower. He was attached to the telemetry monitor, but figured out that he could detach his BP cuff and the EKG leads and pulse ox would reach to the bathroom so if I was at the front doing vital signs, he was NOT off the monitor.

I know the drug companies say that there are some "possible side effects" with Ambien like impulsiveness with amnesia for the event, but isn't that DANGEROUS? If this is happening to patients who are under the care of competent nurses, what about people at home??

Specializes in Peri-Op.

This OS a pretty common side effect. I have heard of it hundreds of times and seem it a bunch of times. It is in the fine print of its literature. I think it should be taken off the market because of it. There are severe after effects.

Specializes in Med/Surg, Geriatric, Hospice.

I too think it's very dangerous! I mean, a drug that makes someone confess to a murder they didn't commit? Or makes another punch a cop right in the face? There are so many stories re: Ambien that I don't know HOW the FDA still approves it..

I agree it probably should be off the market. When my mom had heart surgery 5 years ago Central Baptist in Lexington, KY wouldn't pass that med and had another sleeping aide prescribed. They won't use it on ANYONE or at least at that time they didn't. I wonder if the CR version is better. I know I sleep eat on it and a lot and I had gastric bypass surgery so that is really messed up, so I no longer take it.

Specializes in LTC.

I've frequently seen bad side effects of Ambien, not as bad as you're describing, but lots of confusion in people who are A&O. Confusion is a very very common side effect in those over 60 taking Ambien for the first and hopefully last time.

Some of our doctors are getting smart and aren't prescribing it to anyone over 60 anymore.

Specializes in Cardiac step down unit.

I can attest to the Ambien psychosis. I took it and several times I would get up in the morning and find my kitchen TRASHED from all the food I apparrently made for myself. NO recollection of these events.

I am now on the Ambien CR and have not had these episodes since.


Specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Prof Practice.

A friend of our family took 10mg of Ambien for a trans-Atlantic flight and apparently walked up and down the isles the whole time "picking fruit" and never remembered it.

I had a patient walk around naked all night on it.

My sister in law states she sees hallucinations and my brother in law says "Ambien lovin' is the wildest" however she never remembers it in the morning!

When I get a patient on 10mg of Ambien I always try to find out if they have had it before. If they haven't I give them 5 and tell them to call me in an hour if they still can't sleep.

There was a rumored story back in Wisconsin of a college student who took Ambien and wound up having sex with a homeless person in a parking lot, with no memory of the event. The police were trying to determine if it could be considered rape or not.

Ambien is scary. I refuse to take it myself, and try to get orders for Benadryl or Restoril when I can. (Though Restoril can make people batty as well.)


Specializes in Medical Surgical Orthopedic.
A friend of our family took 10mg of Ambien for a trans-Atlantic flight and apparently walked up and down the isles the whole time "picking fruit" and never remembered it.


I've taken Ambien with no problem. I use it very rarely, usually the night before a big test or when switching from night shift back to days during the week.

I have heard of the issues though. And last week, a neighbor took his dose and wasn't asleep and he thinks maybe he took another dose. He found out the next morning when the cops showed up at his door, that he'd driven his car somewhere. And in the process driven THROUGH the gate to the neighborhood and backed almost through the cinder block wall in his yard. He didn't know anything about it until the cops showed up at his door, having followed the trail of destruction to his house.

YES YES YES!!!! I rarely give it to older folks anymore. I've had a few older patients go absolutely crazy on the ambien. Our docs still use it a lot, but now only prescribe 5mg instead of 10.

Specializes in Oncology.

I've never seen anyone get psychotic from Ambien, but I've heard of it. I would suspect it's not common enough to pull it off the market, but not extremely rare either.

I've taken ambien a few times. If I'm already laying in bed, I take it and fall asleep and wake up 7 hours later feeling great. If I'm up when I take it and try and stay awake for a bit, I start hallucinating and seeing things, but oddly enough know I'm hallucinating and why. I don't get scared or psychotic or anything, just know it's time for bed.

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