Atorvastatin and anxiety update - Cholesterol Support

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Atorvastatin and anxiety update


Hi, I posted three months ago about having symptoms of anxiety and depression (excessive sweating, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, weight loss, bad dreams, restlessness at night) that I thought might be linked to Atorvastatin. I had been switched from Simvastatin (which I don't think caused any side effects) to Atorvastatin at the end of 2017. When the symptoms started a couple of months later, I thought I was overmedicated with Levothyroxine and tinkered about with that for about a year to no avail (private blood checks showed a variation in my thyroid hormone levels [depending on my dose which I was tinkering with also] with no variation in my symptoms), so I turned my attention to the Atorvastatin. I've been off it now for around three months, and the symptoms have more-or-less completely resolved, although only within the past two weeks. My GP wants me to go back on Simvastatin, which I was on before Atorvastatin, but my cholesterol wasn't fully controlled, hence the move to Atorvastatin.

The symptoms on Atorvastatin were so ghastly that I'm worried that I don't tolerate the Simvastatin if I go back on it. I was OK on it before, but I'm worried that my body will recognise another statin and go back into panic mode.

Has anyone else had any similar experience? I gather that psychiatric symptoms are rare as a side effect to statins, although not unheard of according to my GP.

Would be interested to hear from anyone who has any thoughts on the matter.


27 Replies

My father was offered Atorvastatin and never got on with he so moved back to simvastatin. If I remember correctly, Atorvastatin affects the muscles

I definitely wouldn’t go back on ANY other statin if I were you! They all affect the muscles, and I’ve read many reports from people who, after having issues caused by a certain statin, were persuaded to go back on a different one. What happened every time was that their issues came back but much worse and more quickly. A statin is a statin, they all work the same way.

I had really bad anxiety / panic on atorvastatin to the point of not wanting to move or get out of bed for fear of dieing, it was horrible !! , doctor's tried to tell me that statins' don't do that' stopped them had a break / counseling and started back on rosuvastatin with a lot of trepidation but was absolutely fine. So your not alone and not crazy to think that the statins' could do this to you I think they can. I have FH so would not be taking statins' at all if I didn't really need them .

Good luck

Hi Judthepud,

Not fun, I know. My thoughts; the Atrouvastatin could easily causing havoc in your system.

My endocrinologist insisted that I take a statin due to my Hashimotos hypo thyroid and now protein spilling from a kidney disorder.

I was initially given a low dose of Crestor which initiated back pain. Due to the fact that promotes proteinuria, he reluctantly changed me

to Atrouvastatin. The back at my right rear rib became violent and I was often sick to my stomach.

Simultaneously, my Synthroid controlled thyroid went out of control; which my endocrinologist insisted was due to a calcium interaction; despite the fact that I had been taking the calcium at the same time for 5 years with no issue. He also insisted that my back ache was rubbish..

After 8 months, he took me off that statin and the discomfort began to subside.

I looked both statins up on and printed out the side effects..also checked with my pharmacist. There it was!

Saw my GP a month after removal of the statin. She thoroughly examined me and

discovered pronounced skeletal muscular swelling in the area. The sad thing was that the statin did not significantly lower the cholesterol despite my now being vegetarian.

The Synthroid was tweaked a few months later as my low TSH was not going down rapidly enough.

My GP feels that I am allergic to something in the statin.

I have been off statins for over a year. My thyroid has returned to normal and my endocrinologist of 14 years and I have parted company.

We are all different..but look Atrouvastatin up on which is an excellent site. You will be amazed.

I now use Piper Plant Sterols in addition to diet and my GP just added Lecithin to see if we can get the LDL into the mid normal range.

Agree with both Mistydawn, Londinium and Mascha. And no need of you suffering.

Hope this was of some help!



Judthepud in reply to Bet117

Thanks you so much for your reply. I will look up

Bet117 in reply to Judthepud

No thanks ever needed!

I care! Let me know how you are.


I had high LDL-C, I had triple bypass surgery 3 years ago, and I took statins and a fistful of other pharmaceuticals for about 18 months following my surgery. Nine months after my surgery due to the pain caused by statins, I completely transformed my diet and lifestyle and after 9 months I lost 40 lbs and stopped taking ALL medications. My biomarkers with some tweeking of my diet and vitamin supplements are now all optimal. The following is what I have learned after exhaustive research:

The standard lipid panel provides the following bio-markers:

Total Cholesterol, HDL-C, LDL-C, non-HDL, and triglycerides; The LDL-C value is the one most physicians focus on in determining their treatment protocol. This process is 20 years behind the science of lipidology. The most important metric in the standard Lipid Panel is the triglyceride value - which identifies fat in the blood from the ingestion of sugar and other simple carbohydrates.

Elevated levels of triglycerides usually leads to elevated levels of LDL-C. Furthermore, a hypothyroid condition can, and is often (but not always), caused by elevated triglycerides.

General guidelines for optimal triglyceride values are below 1.5 mmol/l.

My personal experience in conquering my cholesterol and cardiovascular issues, along with extensive research suggests that the optimal triglyceride values are 'the lower the better' with a value of below 0.75 mmol/l as providing favourable outcomes as far as LDL-C.

That said, LDL-C is an outdated treatment target and does not indicate a person's true risk of heart attack or stroke. Half of all heart-attacks and strokes occur to people with normal levels of LDL-C. Furthermore, the 'total cholesterol' value can be completely ignored as those who have higher HDL-C which initiates reverse cholesterol transport (eliminates LDL-C from the body) can have high 'total cholesterol' but normal values for LDL-C and triglycerides.

The most important metric is known as LDL-P (LDL particle number). Studies show that when LDL-P and LDL-C are discordant (one is high and one is low) the more important value is the LDL-P. Do get an LDL-P value, you must get an NMR Lipoprofile blood test.

Aside from measuring your LDL-P, it also measures the size of the LDL particles as well as their density and provides a determination if you have a condition known as 'insulin resistance' (bad) or 'insulin sensitivity' (good).

Although genetics CAN play a role in hypothyroidism, the vast majority of people tend to experience this condition due to excessive consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates, combined with a lack of exercise. Processed foods lack fiber which is critical to the body's ability to clear cholesterol.

I would strongly urge you, if you haven't already done so, to begin following the Mediterranean Diet. This involves cooking with 'whole food' and avoiding all processed foods (anything that comes in a box or bag at the supermarket).

This is NOT a weight loss diet (although weight loss is likely in the early stages), but a lifestyle diet.

This diet focuses on consumption of vegetables, fruits, and legumes (green peas, beans, lentils, and chick peas), with modest and infrequent consumption of animal proteins - ideally restricted to cold water fish species such as wild caught salmon, trout and arctic char. If you choose to eat chicken or beef, ensure you are buying only grass-fed varieties of beef and only organic, free-run chicken.

Your body only requires 3 oz. of animal protein per day (not per meal). I personally only have animal protein (usually fish, sometimes lean chicken breast) every other day and am vegetarian the other days.

I suggest that you eliminate sugar and all other simple-carbohydrates such as:

- sugar, agave, very limited honey (less than half a teaspoon per day), and all other sweeteners and sugar substitutes (chemical poison).

Eliminate these simple carbohydrates;

- white flour products like white bread, white pizza dough, baked goods and white pasta;

- white potatoes and white rice;

- fruit juices, soft drinks, diet soft drinks and limit alcohol to 3-4 small glasses per week, ideally red wine only;

- eat lots of legumes as the core of your diet, along with a daily amount of:

- greens - one of these daily - broccoli, kale, spinach, arugula, dandelion greens;

- eat berries daily - ideally blueberries or blackberries,

- one-quarter cup of nuts blended among: walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews;

- dried roasted chick peas (1 tablespoon); same for pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds;

- eggs - 2 eggs once per week - boiled

- avoid all fried foods including potato chips, crackers, pretzels and other such snacks;

- popcorn (air popped) with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt is fine - corn is a complex carbohydrate.

- an apple and an orange every day.

If you follow this diet along with daily exercise, both your thyroid and cholesterol issues are likely to resolve.

Good luck.

JAS9 in reply to sos007

A very good post, sos007, thank you.

I would just gently suggest that absolutely no animal proteins are "required" by your body. Also, modern dairy products, especially cheese, are loaded with too many hormones, growth factors, saturated fat, and contaminants to be healthy. But otherwise, good advice.

sos007Ambassador in reply to JAS9

Yes, you're right however, there's a method to my madness. We don't want to scare people who are early in their journey from not even trying. Going from the standard 'global industrial diet' to no animal protein is a big ask.

Reducing animal protein to the levels I suggested, is a good first transition. Most people once they start reading will eventually learn what they need and don't need. For some, complete abstinence will not be possible, so reducing to very low levels is the next best thing. You'll also note I suggested grass-fed beef and organic free-run chicken as a source of animal protein which lowers the risk of exposure to hormones and growth factors.

sandybrown in reply to sos007

Would it be possible to explain how these values "Total Cholesterol, HDL-C, LDL-C, non-HDL, and triglycerides" are measured or calculated from blood test?

My understanding is blood test gives total cholesterol! therefore how can we ignore this test value?

How id LDL-P tested?

sos007Ambassador in reply to sandybrown

Blood samples are collected in tubes. The lab places the tubes in a centrifuge that separates the components of the blood. Assays are then taken to determine triglycerides, and total cholesterol separated in two components: HDL and Non-HDL. Non-HDL is then broken down further to determine its composition of LDL-C, VLDL, chylomicrons, and remnants. All Non-HDL is considered atherogenic.

However research over the last couple decades shows the LDL cholesterol volume is not as relevant as the LDL particle number.

The NMR Lipoprofile test measures LDL Particle number among other things:

read this -

Read this:

Read this:

sandybrown in reply to sos007

Thank you, the third link has a lot of information which I can understand.

Judthepud in reply to sos007

Thanks for taking the time to pass on all this information. I really appreciate it.

sos007Ambassador in reply to Judthepud


Bet117 in reply to sos007

Excellent post!

I eat similarly. 2tbsp. Greek Yogurt with Chia Seeds in the am. Toast is wheat with Benechol lite and plain hummus, or an apple with hummus. Occasionally I will eat a bagel ( we have a bakery which makes low carb, low fat oatmeal and spinach near by)

Recently I added in gluten free oatmeal and Cream of Wheat- yellow box.

Lunch is a salad with lots of onion, pepper, cucumbers and a balsamic or apple cider vinegar dressing.

Dinner is salads with the same variations of steamed vegetables such as cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, onion, peppers, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli and brusselll sprouts.

I eat alot of black beans, lentils, chickpeas and hummus.

If I eat any potatoes, they are portion controlled and baked.

I also cook wheat pasta and add eggplant, onion, peppers and low sodium prego sauce.

No red meats, cold cuts or fried foods.

My nephrologist recommended that I eat a serving of a white fish such as Cod or Bass once a month and can add in a small amount of smoked salmon, egg whites.

I use Coffeemate original fat free creamer in my iced coffee as opposed to milk. Diet soda? Maybe 8oz a day and 50 to 65 oz of water adding in lemon juice once a day.

I also eat lots of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and occasionally mango.

I can eat 3oz of chicken but have been off the meat for so long that I don't miss it.

The Mediterranean Diet is great. I tend to be much more restrictive due to my kidney issue. The key is the vegetables, plant based protein and avoiding foods which are high in saturated fats.

I don't consider myself on a diet; just lifestyle change.

Both my husband and I have lost weight and feel so much better.

I appreciated the suggestions listed..will re- visit..


sos007Ambassador in reply to Bet117

Good for you! Sounds like you're on track. I have read some things about the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks that not only make them potentially toxic, but also that your body will still respond to the 'sweet' taste and trigger the normal glucose metabolism that you end up with an insulin response anyway.

I haven't done any research on coffeemate, but if it is artificial, I'd avoid it.

Baked potatoes are very high in carbs, but if you only eat them once a month, you should be fine.

Keep up the good diet.

Bet117 in reply to sos007

Nice to hear from you, SOS,

Thanks for all of your good words.

I laugh as my big treat is vegetable sag or Thai salad. I miss pizza every so often, but can do with out it.

Interesting about the diet soda; I haven't had any reactions to it as cravings, etc. Perhaps because I consume so little of it. ( Maybe 8oz if that)

Due to the kidney issue, I don't drink, so socially I will order a Saratoga, Pelligrino or Perrier or a Diet Coke as opposed to more water. This way I don't feel awkward or deprived.

The Coffeemate that I use is low carb and has no artificial sweeteners or sugar; unflavored.

I chose it as it has almost no phosphorus, carbs, less calories

and lightened my coffee to taste; where skim milk didn't do a thing for me. Take a look.

My secret to the potatoes is a bite here and there of my husband's. He is great that way!

My potassium is normal, but I am still attentive.

I can't remember the last time that I ate a whole or even a cookie and don't miss it.

I have grown to love vegetables more and more, so they are now a snack if I am hungry. Infrequently I add a tsp of guacamole if I am in the mood for something with a kick to it.

I eat no soy, tofu or any other such things.

Love to hear if you have any further suggestions or vegetables that I have missed.

Again thanks!


I used to take Pravastatin which caused me no trouble at all. After having been diagnosed with some cardiac problems I was prescribed 80mg of Atorvastatin daily. I've been on it for some time but have recently experienced quite bad muscle pain in all my limbs. I gave it up for a fortnight and felt much better. My GP suggested halving the dose . I tried this for a week and the pain returned. I hope to go back to Pravastatin, though I know it's less effective than Atorvastatin.

I've also noticed some slow weight loss which might be caused by this drug.

Sorry you're having such a tough time with it.

Best wishes,


Thanks for your reply. Certainly muscle pain is the side-effect that everyone expects to get on statins. Hope you get some relief soon.

Hang in there, Anne.

Let the doctor know about the muscle issues. I kept quiet for way too long.

Feel good!


There's no time to speak to GPs properly. At our surgery you have ten minutes and can discuss only one problem. (This teaches you to talk quickly!) Thanks for your encouragement. I'll persevere.

I'm beginning to think that another drug I take, Anagrelide, also causes muscle pain. So there'll be another fast-talking trip to the GP.

Best wishes,


Not easy, Anne.

I had the rush job from both my endocrinologist past and two different nephrologists associated with different and well rated metro hospitals.

I am grateful that I found a great GP who listens and advocates for her patients.

Look Anagrelide up on, print it out and take it to the doctor. Please don't suffer.

Let me know how you are feeling..

I care!


Thank you Bet. is a very useful site which I hadn't come across. I'm very grateful for your kindness.


No thanks needed, Anne.

We support each other. Always open to your thoughts as well.

Take care and please keep in touch.



After a heart attack in Feb. 2011 I was prescribed Simvastatin 40g. After a couple of weeks I was getting deep muscle pain in my arm so did some research. What I found horrified me. I saw the doctor and said no more statins. Oddly enough she didn't try to stop me. I then began to lose weight, slowly and I was delighted assuming it was my new lifestyle. In a year I dropped from 13st. 9lbs to 11st. 7lbs. Great! Then I went to Australia for a month, developed hives, got bitten to death by mozzies and lost half a stone. My doctor said I had IBS! I've continued to lose weight ever since. I was advised to take CQ10 which I did but not sure if it did any good. Now I look like an inmate from Belsen. The irony of all of this was that my cholesterol level was below average. The statins were not necessary!

My advice is simple. Don't touch statins. Find an alternate route to reducing your cholesterol. However do your own research as I did and then decide.

Hi - I am a 56-year old woman. I was prescribed Atorvastatin 12/5/17 due to high cholesterol. For years, I refused to take statins, but finally gave in. In March 2018, I went back for a check-up and my LDL was lower and my doctor was very happy. However, I reported to my doctor at that checkup that I was having terrible anxiety that was worse at night. It was so bad I thought about jumping off the porch (our bedroom connects to the 2nd story porch). I didn't consider myself suicidal, but the thought kept occurring to me and I just told myself, "Just lay here and morning will come." I couldn't sleep and was really restless. I've always suffered from low-grade anxiety, but this was a new intensity for me. But, I chalked it up to work and financial issues. I mentioned this anxiety to my doctor at my March 2018 visit and she prescribed citalopram (20 mg), which I began taking 4/3/18. Since then I've taken one every night, since my anxiety historically worsens in the evening.

I do feel better - anxiety-wise, but about the same time (March 2018), I started feeling muscle pain: my tailbone was strangely really sore (coccydynia), but I attributed that to my chair and sitting a lot. I switched chairs: no impact on pain. My lower back occasionally gets muscle spasms and it can hurt so bad I can't move. My legs were really sore, especially my left leg. It was hard to get out of my car and felt like I was going to collapse. I started developing pain under my left armpit. I used to be a serious runner and while I am overweight now, running (other than my knees) wouldn't hurt. My muscle pain got so bad that it hurt to even go on long walks. All of the above pains I attributed to being overweight and older.

I started doing research on statin side effects and discovered a whole string of research about statins, cholesterol levels, etc. I called my sister who is a registered nurse. She told me to stop taking the statins, tell my doctor when I stopped them, and see my doctor. She said muscle pain is a really common side affect of statins (about 30%). So, I emailed my doctor and told her my symptoms. Her response: it's most likely not related to the statins, but come in and see her. I have a follow-up appointment April 30, 2019.

I've been off statins since 3/23/19 and am already feeling better. The coccydynia is significantly lessened. It is considerably easier for me to get out of the car and walk. My other symptoms have significantly lessened. And I have an appointment with a nutritionist this Friday. All good and I'm now preparing for how to address this with my doctor. I will likely get a second opinion from another doc, perhaps switch.

But now I wonder: is there a connection between my Atorvastatin (beginning 12/17) with my significant increase in anxiety in March 2018? And of course, what is the connection between Atorvastatin and all my other symptoms? I'm reading loads of research studies and am convinced that statins are a scam. I want to be smart about this.

Feeling hoodwinked here in the States...

sandybrown in reply to MKEMom

Please read this post.

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