Seau had difficulty sleeping, even while taking Ambien

Getty Images

The folks at USA Today have compiled a thorough, fascinating, and ultimately heartbreaking look at the final days of linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide on May 2.

We’ll defer to the full article for all details.  But here’s what jumped off the screen.

Seau has trouble sleeping for years.  He used Ambien, which may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in patients with depression.  Also, the drug information warns against drinking, which per USA Today Seau did, and advises against taking the medication if the patient can’t get a full night’s sleep.

Seau told a friend that he repeatedly woke up at 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, even while taking Ambien.

Only three days before his death, Seau showed up for a memorial service at the gym where he worked out.  Another member had died of cancer, and Seau reportedly “delivered a eulogy with an uplifting message about loving life and making a difference.”

There are many more details, and the full article is worthy of a careful reading, or two.  While speculation persists that Seau’s death can be tied to 20 years of playing linebacker at the NFL level, USA Today reports that his family has still not made any “public decision” about whether Seau’s brain will be donated for research into whether he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

23 responses to “Seau had difficulty sleeping, even while taking Ambien

  1. So the public drumbeat of he killed himself due to playing in the NFL may not be accurate after all?

    This is my problem with the concussion lawsuits-there could be and probably are many factors both personal and physical which could contribute to many of the issues which the former players are trying to pin on the NFL.

    As far as Ambien is concerned-if he was taking it even semi-reguarly then that is the reason he was still waking up early. Like most drugs, you build up a tolerance to the stuff. When I first started taking it I was golden for 8 hours-then 6-then 4 and this was only using it maybe once every month or 3 weeks while on long international flights. Sounds like Mr Seau and his doctors should have looked more at underlying issues more than trying to treat his insomnia the simplest way.

  2. I’ve taken Ambien when I’ve had unusual difficulty sleeping, and it was almost always immediately effective. But the few occasions I took and yet remained awake were absolutely miserable experiences.

  3. Taking too much Ambien caused me severe depression and anxiety. Happened to me last May and til this day I still suffer from it greatly. I can totally understand how that could make him suicidal or have suicidal thoughts because I have them now. Every little fear, worry, skipped heart beat, loud sound from outside or knock on the door makes you feel real paranoid. If he wasn’t taking a anti depression med he must have really felt horrible. It’s extremely hard to deal with and extremely hard to try describe.

    Not saying Ambien is the direct cause of his suicide but I can only figure it did cause him great discomfort. But I can totally understand if it caused him to commit suicide.

  4. Any chance we can just let Seau and his family be in peace? You/we can speculate all we want, it’s not our place…..Let’s love and appreciate all that Seau is, and his family, for who they are and not try to play monday morning neurologist.

    Junior meant more to the NFL and to San Diego than most will ever know……

  5. Big deal, sleep is overrated when you get older.

    The guy checked out leaving his 3 kids screwed up for life.

    No excuses for that, none.

  6. What has been missing in all the assumptions about Seau is input from his physician(s). How can the media assume and preach that Seau’s suicide was caused by depression without any supporting evidence that he was ever treated for depression? There has been no report from friends or relatives that Seau exhibited symptoms of depression or CTE.

  7. I’m betting a fat bowl of an indica strain would have helped him sleep. It’s a shame that our country is ignorant and uncompassionate on some fronts.

  8. Agreed jimbo. We live in a prescription pill first culture… Very sad indeed.

    Eye opening article to be sure. I hope that the Seau family does decide to donate the brain. Hopefully something good can come from this tragedy.

  9. I would like to see studies done for individuals of other sports on the concussion front. I had at least 5 hard core concussions where I was knocked out cold for 10-20 minutes. God only knows how many times I was knocked woozy.

    This was racing motocross.

    At least 15-20 times I’ve crashed and I sure as hell don’t remember it.

    These concussion lawsuits are all about money and nothing else. I’m not saying there aren’t long term effects, but I think all of these lawsuits are old men whose money has dried up and this is nothing but a money grab.

    I remember back in the day when Steve Young retired due to concussions, I remember thinking he was a wuss. Maybe my thinking was off, but maybe it wasn’t, in the end if the worst that is comming out of football is some concussions that is the risk each one of these individuals took when playing football….

    I think one thing we all can agree on is from day one back when football started people were getting concussions. So getting concussions is nothing new, and players knew the risk that playing football caused concussions. I don’t think it is the NFL’s responsibility to have to pay millions of dollars because know one knew the long term effects of concussions. How can you know the effects of something when the only way you can study it is through a dead persons brain. So the studies are quite limited.

    And the worst thing you can do to an athlete is force them out of the game. Everytime I got a concussion if I wasn’t completely knocked out, I got back up and rode out the remainder of the race, if I was knocked out cold and it happend in the first Race of the day I was always back out there for the second race of the day. That even included going to the hospital and back for a head scan. The only time I missed a race is if I physically was un able to becuase of a injury that prevented me. If I could walk, no broken bones, and always I was asked, do you feel ok to get back out there. No one pushed me. Maybe on one occasion I was pushed because I had to learn that it was important to get back out there and clear the cobb webbs from a mental perspective.

    Why is this important you might ask? It is about the mental toughness. Maybe more so in motocross than other sports, you have to get back out there so your not thinking all week about the bad crash you had. If you are thinking bad things, bad things will happen. No one expected me to come out and win and race full speed, but get back out there have fun and take it easy.

    Football is a little different because they have play after play where as racing we could go a couple of hours between races, but if you get a concussion in the first quarter you should be ready to go by at least the 3rd quarter….

    I’m of the opinion of weather it is kids or professional athletes if they have a concussion and your intention is to keep doing the sport it is that you have chosen to do, than get back out there as quick and safely as possible and if you can get back out there on the same day the more the better.

    Again it is up to the athlete to enter the game…you can’t force it..if they don’t feel up to it, than don’t put them in dangers way that they don’t feel up to.

    This concussion thing is a media blow up cirucs.

    None of these guys have brain damage. And frankly it is a spit in the face to those that have been seriously damaged by the sport that leaves them in a vegetable state.

  10. JoeToronto obviously you lack the brainpower to process the fact that he may have been driven to suicide by medication. Seeing as I had a friend that was “normal” until she started taking a medicine that caused her severe depression and led to her trying to take her life, I suggest you become un ignorant (my word) and learn something. Fool.

  11. Ambien is horribly addictive and causes severe depression in a lot of patients. People who take it often become so addicted to it that they have to take it and can’t sleep without it. As with many drugs, it losses it’s effectiveness over time and then the addict can’t sleep at all.

  12. Ambien is nasty stuff. Avoid taking it unless you absolutely have to. There are much better alternatives.

    I was saying from the beginning that we shouldn’t be too quick to assume that playing in the NFL and having concussions are the factors leading to Seau’s suicide. It’s still possible that they were factors, but it seems likely that Ambien played a role.

  13. qmizzle says:
    Jun 1, 2012 8:18 AM
    JoeToronto obviously you lack the brainpower to process the fact that he may have been driven to suicide by medication. Seeing as I had a friend that was “normal” until she started taking a medicine that caused her severe depression and led to her trying to take her life, I suggest you become un ignorant (my word) and learn something. Fool.
    I know it must be tough, admitting that your hero was a coward, but it is what it is.


  14. @joetoronto

    You’re what’s wrong with the world today… all ego and no compassion. You shame people with mental illnesses because it makes you feel better about your own problems.

    Seau was a human being like everyone else. Human beings get depressed and make mistakes and sometimes suicide is one of them. This man didn’t have the benefit of being able to think rationally like you or I do right now. I’m certain that in the fog of depression he felt like a burden to his family.

    You’ve obviously never been where Seau was. It’s not a place I ever want to go back to again. Man up and show some compassion.. it takes a lot more effort than shaming someone you clearly don’t understand.

  15. Hey JoeToronto…How old are you? Maybe 18? You think your 30s and 40s are so far away that you cannot even imagine yourself being that “old”. You sound like a whiny 10 year old who has no clue that there is a whole world outside of his own backyard.

    How, exactly, is sleep any less important…no matter what the age? When one is not getting sleep, as it sounds in Seau’s case, they can’t think straight. It distorts your view on things. Getting a decent night’s sleep is all you can think about and when you can’t sleep, it can become all-consuming. When it happens to you, maybe you’ll understand.

    But you know…that’s SO far into the future for you! So instead, let’s just say someday when you finally grow up. What a loser you are! I bet you make your Mommy and Daddy so proud.

  16. Go easy on the miserable canadian. He’s just trying to get under bolt fans’ skins. Give him that single joy in life.

  17. Ambien didn’t work for me either and it messed with my head, but lunesta knocked me out gloriously.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.