Ambien psychosis?

Nurses Medications


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?

Specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Prof Practice.
The saddest thing that has happened related to Ambien, is the death of a friend of mine who took it for insomnia. One night after taking it, she got up and went for a drive in her car on the wrong side of the interstate. She did not have on her seatbelt. She had an accident and died. It was very tragic. Keep in mind, this girl was very familiar with the area, and would not have "accidentally" driven on the wrong side of the road. In addition, her toxicology screen showed Ambien as the only drug in her system. I wholly believe she would still be alive had she not been taking this medication.

This almost seems law-suit worthy, and I am not a supporter of unnecessary lawsuits.


Specializes in A myriad of specialties.

[quote=Tait;"... and my brother in law says "Ambien lovin' is the wildest" however she never remembers it in the morning!

Hmmm. maybe my husband should take that! LOL

Walkie-Talkie: So sorry about your friend's death due to this. How terrible!

Tthanks to all who shared their stories. I have never heard of such side effects to it.

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Oh yeah. We had a patient go from normal to nuts an hour or so after taking an ambien. He was trying to get out of bed s/p knee surgery and even threatened one of our pregnant nurses with a cane. He kept calling his wife telling her we were doing "experimental research" on him and it was a huge conspiracy. We literally had to forcibly put him and bed and had him in a posey and 4 point restraints until it wore off and he didn't know why we had him tied up.

They gave it to me once while I was in labor. I remember sitting there as another poster said my mind being awake but being unable to move or really process what is going on. No thanks. I will stick to 25mg of Benadryl.

I have had one sleepwalking episode since taking ambien. I tried switching to ambien CR but I couldn't sleep at all. So I am back on the regular ambien. I rarely take it. I use it for emergencies only when I am losing my mind due to lack of sleep. I take the pill and immediately jump in bed. I do have a good night's sleep when I take it. I do hope that I don't have another sleepwalking episode. That was scary. I use to take benadryl but now I am taking a med that doesn't allow me to take benadryl anymore.:crying2:

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTAC, Critical Care.

I've had plenty of patient's go cuckoo for cocoa puffs on Ambien. Never had a problem with Restoril though.

I have personally only taken Ambien once. Never again...

The strongest med I usually take is Advil. When I was 19, I was studying for some finals and decided I needed some help sleeping. As I was rummaging through the cabinet for the Tylenol PM my momma said "Why don't you take one of these little Ambiens?"

I only took 5mg (I think) and dear Lord! Within 15 minutes I couldn't even stand up straight, I was seeing double, and my mind was wandering on REALLY weird things... I did sleep pretty good though (I think...I really don't remember much after the 1st 15 to 20 minutes).

My experience with patients who "have taken Ambien with no adverse effects" is that they may have had the adverse effects and not remember them. I've spent more than one night cleaning blood off the bed, floor, walls, commode, etc after an ICU pt has gone ape s*it and gotten out of bed and ripped their PIV's and PICC's out. Thank goodness nobody had an ART line! The amazing thing is that these people get out of bed so stinking fast that you just can't get in the room fast enough to stop them. And, they are STRONG! Ambien has got to be my least favorite drug to give. We've complained and the docs just keep giving it.

Bgexotics, have you tried taking half an Ambien? I find that it works just as well, and I remember what I did the night before! :imdbb:

That exactly what I started doing. It still helps me sleep but I don't feel as drugged the next day.

Specializes in ICU.

I take Ambien personally, and have had bizarre conversations with my hubby.... but that's it (as far as I know right? :lol2: ) So I take it IN BED, with my alarm set and everything in the house ok. And only with my hubby home to take care of the kids. I usually take 5 mg if I NEED sleep, and half of that (as best as I can) if I just need to shut my mind off. My MD prescribed trazadone to help me sleep, since it didn't have the dependance issues, but it gave me HORRIBLE HORRIBLE nightmares so no more of that for me.... I also only take ambien a max of 3x a week for my PM shifts, with ear plugs, eye mask and fan... :)

I guess like every medication we give that causes an alteration in consciousness, we need to be more aware for adverse reactions. I haven't had any reactions like those described in my patients (luckily) but will now be on the lookout. :)

I took Ambien once, and didn't sleep. It was as if I were dreaming reality, and I remember the events as if it were a dream as well (i.e. clips and phrases). Never took it again, but if you look at it like that I think these aforementioned behaviors make more sense. A lot of this (semi)literally sounds like a nightmare.


Specializes in L&D; GI; Fam Med; Home H; Case mgmt.

The evil circus performers and huge dragonfly made me LOL but I don't mean to make light of it. Ambien has done some crazy things to me, too, so I know it's not a joke. I've been pretty lucky - mostly I just see things that I know aren't there (and like others have said, it's only if I try to stay awake while it's "hitting"), and also it makes me very interested in performing a certain kind of "service" to my husband. I don't mean to sound classless or inappropriate, but I am interested in knowing if anyone else has had that odd and specific side effect... I'm not a horn-dog at all, in fact I'd guess my husband would say I'm not nearly interested enough, so I find that effect really interesting and strange. I stopped taking Ambien when the side-effects started to ramp up for me. And I was sick of feeling druggy the next day.

March 17 2013 my fiance shot me 5 times and committed suicide. He said my name before the first shot. He was in a Ambien Psychotic state after overdosing on the drug. 4 months prior he also took too much Ambien (to sleep and deal with stress) and he was completely lucid and not aggressive to me. He just went outside in sleep clothes and began falling down over and over. I had to call 911. Little did I know then of the violence and death that would come just a few months later. AMBIEN SHOULD BE TAKEN OFF THE MARKET.

and people should not take more then prescribed.

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