Fatique, listlessness, depression - are these a common side-effect of Avorvastatin and/or Ezetimebe?

Have been taking these for about six weeks now, and noticed gradual decline into, well, as above, really....fatigue, loss of energy, listlessness, depression. Was on statins before, but have now been diagnosed with familial cholesterolaemia (or consultant's 80% sure that's what it is, as my cholesterol is 9.1 and has remained so even after 4 years of statins and my mother takes statins - I'm not overweight, don't smoke, and it started before menopause, so I guess it's likely).

Am trying co enzyme Q10, as I've read somewhere that this helps, but don't know if it does, or how long it will take to have any effect. Am also on three types of anti-seizure medication as am epileptic. And menopausal. Sigh. Doesn't life really do its best to get you down sometimes?!

Would love to hear from anyone who has any advice, tips, comments, or who can just sympathise, really. I have a big pile of ironing that just keeps growing, and a dog to walk so I could do with getting my mojo back....

22 Replies

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  • There are no common side-effects of atorvastatin. I've never taken ezetimibe so I don't know about that. That said, I've seen some people claiming fatigue as a side-effect of atorvastatin and I've had my own brush with rare side-effects, so I've got to say that it is possible.

    Personally, I suspect depression is a fairly common side-effect of being diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolaemia, especially if you've not had to face your own mortality before. You mention "consultant" above, so I hope that's a lipid clinic, so please ask them for further help. They'll know your case better and might like to try other statins (9.1 mmol/L might suggest that you're not responding well to atorvastatin, although I don't know what you started at - my doctors have always wanted to change to a stronger treatment when it went above 8), run further tests or at least refer you to someone who can suggest ways to tackle depression.

    Good luck!

  • Clarifying myself: I'm not saying that the depression isn't a drug side-effect, but it might not be. It might be a consequence of other side-effects like fatigue (that might depress me!), unrelated or a direct side-effect. It's still not brilliantly understood. In any case, I'd ask the clinic for help. I'd probably still clutch at straws like the Q-10 too, though.

  • Another response much appreciated! I think, on reflection, that you have a point - the depression might be a result of the general lack of energy, lethargy, etc. It's early days for the Atorvastatin so hopefully it will have an effect by the time I have another blood test.

  • Don't know if this helps, but my daughter takes carbamazapine and levetiracetam for her epilepsy and has raised cholesterol (though not as high as mine). Consultant told me that carbamazapine is "not cholesterol friendly" and could be the reason why her levels are raised.

    Personally, I think it's dreadful that so many people on this site don't have a definite diagnosis of FH when DNA testing is available.

    I am feeling a bit jaundiced about statins at the moment and no side effect would surprise me.

  • Thanks for this - I did ask about the carbamazapine (I'm also on carbamazapine, plus levertiracetam and lamotragine) and no one - not consultant or GP - has ever mentioned the raised cholesterol levels! Honestly. Why is it you can only find out decent information on websites like this?

    I was told re DNA testing (well, he was a bit vague actually) that 'there isn't much point in this because it doesn't give you a definitive answer'.

    I do appreciate you coming back to me.

  • It might be that the hospital can't offer DNA testing. I actually had the opposite reason for no DNA testing: after watching me for decades, they consider I've definitely got FH and so they'll only test if they want to know more about exactly which genetic type it is!

  • That's OK.... I had to fight for DNA testing which told me that it had eliminated 95% of the genes that cause FH (there are 3 main ones in UK) so how definite does he/she want!!

    My main purpose was to get answers for my daughters, as there is a 50/50 chance of passing it on and of course, risk is greater in FH as you have it from birth.

    So all in all, I would rate definite diagnosis as important (bit jaundiced about doctors as well at the moment..had to wait a month to get my ears syringed as they were on strike last Thursday!)

  • Actually it's wrong to say there are no side effects with Atorvasatin! I was on them some twelve months ago 85mg and had most of the symptoms you mention. Ask your GP to carry out a blood test because in my case it had affected my liver function and reduced my iron levels. I was taken off Atorvastatin and put on Rusavastatin initially 5mg ever other day, then up to 5mg every day and recently 5mg on one day and 10mg on alternate days. Too early to say if there any side affects, but I'll be having a blood test in a month. My GP is very good and is monitoring the situation carefully.

  • Who are you arguing against? Yes, it's wrong to say there are no side effects with Atorvastatin but there are no COMMON side-effects. There are side-effects, which are listed on the product information leaflet and of which I'm well aware (see my profile: and I was even worse on Rosuvastatin, so good luck with that!), but they are not currently considered to be common.

    I feel that unless it's obvious in the blood tests like your liver function and iron levels, the side-effects are dismissed by many GPs, because they think statins are the best drugs since penicillin or something.

  • I was not arguing with anyone merely relating my experiences to the original post, but you clearly think your opinions are not for up for debate! It seems totally arrogant to me that you can categorically say that "there are no side effects" you are clearly blinded by being anti-statins. Rusavastatin was prescribed for me by Dr. Nick Palmer at Liverpool H&C and again I can only relate my experiences to assist those willing to listen. It's easy enough to ask and for a GP to arrange a blood test to monitor reactions.

  • You misquote me and omit the word "COMMON" that was in my replies.

    I know, from personal experience, that there ARE side-effects, but they are not considered COMMON.

    Why not read the stuff you link? On medlineplus, it says "The following symptoms are uncommon" - see? UNCOMMON.

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atorv... - See Adverse reactions people

  • Yes depression and fatigue can be because of other reasons than taking statins, and of course, we often take on the responsibility for this...."I should be able to snap out of this"...and when you can't, you become even more down hearted. Howver - if you are NOW depressed (which can be a result of fatigue and listlessness) and you weren't depressed before you started taking the drugs - I'd say that was a slam dunk.

  • few years back was prescribed Ezemtibe, gp at the then practise said.. no side effects to this. Guess what there sure was, very bad. Had chest pain slowly increasing within days, then one sat morning unable to dress as if bent neck slightest very painful so needed to be dressed. could walk but had to keep 100% upright. This over 2 weeks. as it was week end discontinued tabs. GP not told due to him stressing NO SIDE EFFECTS. Statins discontinued previously

  • I once had a GP tell me statins had no side effects and that he took Zocor himself and he didn't even have high cholesterol. I changed GP... and that was long before I started taking statins. No drugs have no side effects.

  • I took Simvastatin for ^ weeks, & I felt tired, & kept falling asleep whenever I ate anything, so I stopped the tablets a few days ago, & feel a lot better. I`m waiting to see my doctor for some advice on what to do about cholesterol without having to cope with these side-effects.

  • Atorvastatin gave me bad side effects, started off gradually then got very bad - muscle pains in arms, leg, chest pains and a general flu - like feeling. Stopped a few months after coming off. My aunt ended up in a wheelchair unable to walk after statins and had to have physio for six months after coming off them. She is ok now. My father is ok with them but my uncle had severe cramps. Thats 3 out of 4 family members with problems, so think these side effects are a lot more common than drug companies want to admit.

  • hello, I also have familial high cholesterol..and am taking Aterovastatin for the last one year. I started with 9 level and now am on 5-6...

    I feel the same, tired, listless, I used to exercise, jog regularly, now to get up from the sofa is a challenge. I work, but I wish I didnt have to and I used to love my work...so yes, its affecting me adversely as well and I hate it.

    I wonder if I can stop taking the drug or use low mg like 20 mg...but I am told since I produce lot of cholesterol I need to take 40 mg. I think I will complete this month and leave for a month and do the test again and see the difference.

    any advice? many thanks

  • Nadia - see my boost below. Maybe a lower dose of Atorvastatin combined with Ezetemibe might work for you. It has worked for my husband and his cholesterol has actually lowered!

  • Sorry, that should read "See my post above!"

  • My husband was on Simvastatin for a few years (we need to check with the doctor as we can't remember exactly how long) and had a heart attack two years ago. He was then put on Atorvastatin 80 and had serious, debilitating pains in his calf muscles. His cardiologist dismissed this as an effect of the statins, but I found that Atorvastatin was contraindicated with one of his other drugs and the cardiologist suggested he stopped taking the other drug, as he definitely needs to take statins. He did, with no adverse effect, but the calf pain continued. He then spoke to his cardiology nurse and his GP and his dose has now been reduced to Atorvastatin 40 plus Ezetemibe (I have to admit i was worried, as having had a heart attack i wanted him to be on the highest, safest dose possible). He still has calf pain from time to time, but it has reduced, however the most remarkable thing has been the change in his mood - he has reverted to being almost as laid back as he used to be 10 years ago, is much less irritable, has more energy than he's had for a long time and is generally so much nicer to be around! It's amazing, and proof in my eyes that statins a) cause calf pain (his cardiologist was adamant they only affect large muscles such as the quads) and b) cause mood swings and depression. Thank goodness his nurse and GP listened.

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