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any ever have to taper off benzos?

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Spelljean posted 2/19/2014 19:04 PM

I used them mainly sporadically for one year, maybe a half of a milligram, once or twice a month.

the last month or two, bad anxiety kicked in and my doctor told me to take them as prescribed, which would have been 1.5mg a day. I still didn't take that much, and not every day. I maybe took 1/2 of one of the pills...which would have been just 1/4 of a milligram here and there.

The past few weeks though, even on this miniscule dose, I am suffering from rebound anxiety.

I want to taper off, its extremely hard. My doctor wants me to up it slightly, start an SSRI, and then slowly taper off the benzo. Or switch to a different benzo, longer acting one since they are easier to taper off.

I'm torn between wanting all chemicals out of my body...and trying the SSRI since I have been seriously considering it for the past 6 monthns anyway.

I do NOT like the unpredictable nature of Xanax though. sometimes you rebound after 2 hours, sometimes you are fine for a few days, then get hit hard with withdrawl, pounding heart, etc.

Anyway, had full blood work done, seeing a psychiatrist next week. Not sure what to do.

hurtbs posted 2/19/2014 19:25 PM

Check with the psychiatrist as they are the experts in these types of medication.

I'm sorry you're struggling.

tushnurse posted 2/19/2014 20:13 PM

I hate Xanax and try to steer my patients clear of it for this reason. It is really addictive much more so than Ativan. And it's unpredictable and hard to wean off of.

I would suggest that you ask to switch to a different more predictable benzo and then wean from there. The last thing I would do is go up on doses of Xanax.

So you need to consider is there something feeding the anxiety? If so deal with that. If there isn't and you are still feelin anxious is there a way for you to burn off that nervous energy? Exercise? Meditation ?

If you aren't feeling like you are getting what you want from your Dr/Psych then it may time to consider a change.

Just knowing that the changes you are experiencing are normal should help some.

Hang in there

ProbableIceCream posted 2/19/2014 21:34 PM

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor. Work closely with your doctor on this. If your doctor is not helping you meet your goals, find a better one.

I've done extensive research on this topic and I could write quite a bit (and let me know if you want to know more), but I would take your doctor up on the switch to a longer-acting benzo, preferably Valium. Make sure you're feeling okay on the Valium before you start reducing your dose! Switching takes a little time to even out. And don't ever be afraid to give yourself more time to adjust to a new dose.

purplejacket4 posted 2/19/2014 23:01 PM

Well I am a doctor and I NEVER use Xanax for this reason. You should switch to Valium, Ativan, klonopin or Xanax extended release. Then taper from there after the SSRI has been on two to four weeks. Then don't ever get another script for that again.

Spelljean posted 2/19/2014 23:11 PM

Awesome advice here, thanks everyone.

I never realized that such a tiny, sporadic dose could cause such dependence. The rebound anxiety is 3 times worse than the anxiety that caused me to take it in the first place. Seeing my doctor Tuesday. I do like the idea of the longer acting, more predictable benzo.

Yep, exercising, meditating, eating well.

Just waking up at 1am many nights, heart pounding, sweating. Comes on within 2 days of lowering or skipping doses. And I only take two doses a day! I shaved about 1/3 off one of the pills..did that for a couple of days. My body said "uh way" Crazy med.

ProbableIceCream posted 2/19/2014 23:12 PM

Oh yeah. Benzos (especially Xanax/Ativan) are NASTY.

I started on Klonopin 6 mg/day back in 2003 (well, started on a lower dose, but my psychiatrist ramped me up really fast) because I had a couple panic attacks. I wish I had known how hard it would have been to come off.

However, I'm finally to a point where I have a good system going for getting off it. For me, taking part of it as a liquid and making a very small cut every day seems to work best (with some breaks). It might take a couple years, but I'll be off it eventually (I just hit 2 mg/day).

[This message edited by ProbableIceCream at 11:13 PM, February 19th (Wednesday)]

Spelljean posted 2/25/2014 14:41 PM

Saw psychiatrist today and she was really great. She said get off the Xanax and switched me to Klonopin and Zoloft, and then will eventually taper down the Klonopin when Zoloft is (hopefully) in full effect. Guess with Klonopin there isn't that up and down effect as there is with Xanax. She doesn't feel I am addicted at all to the Xanax, my daily dose was rarely over .5mg, (very small) but she feels I am just in a bad rebound cycle. And if you have panic disorder, you are much more sensitive to those rebounds. Not to mention I am VERY pill sensitive in general. I usually get an effective dose at about half of the usual prescribed doses of anything.

So, will give Zoloft a try. Worried about side effects. Years ago I took Prozac with great results. Just felt like myself again. Hopefully Zoloft is similar.

metamorphisis posted 2/25/2014 15:52 PM

I am so glad to see people talking about this. I had severe anxiety (and was having panic attacks). I did my research and was pretty much horrified that some doctors are handing out a drug that will help in the short term, but cause the problem to be worse in the long run. I mean really.. how is that helpful?
Spelljean I use zoloft now, very low dose, and haven't had a panic attack in almost 3 years. I won't use benzos regularly, and this is why.
I do take lorazepam for plane rides, which is a few times a year, and even then I feel like garbage for a day or two afterwards. Just isn't worth it to me.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 3:53 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)]

Spelljean posted 2/25/2014 18:54 PM

Thanks, Meta. Yes, I can see myself needing a little benzo for getting on a plane myself!

But I told her I want off any sedatives and actually have no problem with taking an SSRI, even long term if it helps me. My feeling is if you need a little pill every day to help balance things out, so what?

metamorphisis posted 2/25/2014 19:14 PM

Honestly, I was really hesitant to try the Zoloft because I didn't want anything that might make it worse. The dose was low enough that side effects were minimal, and I've never needed an increase. I have had zero panic attacks in years, and can easily talk myself down if I feel one starting. Much the same way that every panic attack makes the next one more likely, being able to ward one off, makes the next episode easier to handle. I rarely even think about them anymore.

LosferWords posted 2/25/2014 19:45 PM

My psychiatrist offered me Xanax in addition to my SSRI, and I refused the Xanax, because of my own personal research on it, and I also felt that I could become addicted to it.

So I ended up going on a low dosage of an SSRI (20mg Prozac), and after a settling in period, it helped with both my depression AND my panic attacks! Here I thought it was just going to help with my depression. My panic attacks were horrible and frequent, too (several severe ones a day).

Just wanting to share my own personal experience, with the disclaimer that I have absolutely no medical training.

Best of luck to you!

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