Jump to content
Nightnurse

Nightnurse: Benzo and/or Lexapro withdrawal ?

Recommended Posts

Nightnurse

Hi all!  I have been reading these forums for months and finally decided to share my story in the hope that perhaps it will help others and also that some may have some good advice.  I was prescribed Xanax 0.5 mg about 4 years ago after experiencing severe insomnia due to stress of starting a new job (new grad critical care nurse working night and day shift).  I took it roughly 2-3 times per week for approximately 3.5 years.  I occasionally took it a little more and slightly higher doses (up to 0.75 mg) if I felt like I needed to be knocked out to sleep.  I never took it during the day.  I got a new doc, who switched me to Lorazepam 0.5 mg last year after stating Xanax was too addictive.  I found that I needed to take two pills and sometimes add a glass of wine in order to achieve the same sleep-inducing effect.  A few times I experienced "brain zaps" or high levels of anxiety when the drugs wore off, but I never quite attributed this to interdose withdrawal. 

 

I went on vacation, May 2015, and I took both Xanax and Lorazepam at the same time due to being low on Xanax for about 4 days straight.  I experienced terrible rebound insomnia and did not sleep for about 3 days straight.  I did not associated this with the benzos and had a friend prescribe Lunesta 3 mg to help me sleep.  I began taking this on top of Lorazepam 1 mg for about 2 weeks.  After my first few days mixing these drugs, I began to feel very strange.  Things did not look quite right (I now realize I was having depersonalization) and I began to get severe head pressure in the evening (very tight band around the head) and almost blacking out in the shower.  I began to feel a sense of impending doom and constantly felt anxious.  Caffeine and alcohol made things ten times worse.  My GP had me wean off Lorazepam over 2 weeks and then stop altogether.

 

My DP/DR became very severe and lasted approximately 3 months, slowly improving over that time.  However, my original insomnia + withdrawal insomnia came back full force and I would be working 12 hour night shifts after days of no sleep.  It was not safe for me or my patients, obviously.  I had to work a reduced schedule for over a month.  I felt depressed and highly anxious and could not function.  Desperate, I found a psychiatrist and she suggested trying Lexapro and Trazodone for the anxiety/depression.  After a few weeks of benzo withdrawal, I broke down and started Lexapro 5 mg/day and Trazodone 50-75 mg per night.  Within a week I felt a little calmer and started sleeping better. I felt confused and spacey on the Lexapro but was willing to put up with it since I was sleeping better.

 

Within weeks, my doc increased my dose to 10 mg Lexapro.  I started feeling like I couldn't sit still and was constantly "buzzing" and felt restless just sitting down.  I had increased hand tremors (these started after quitting benzos) and felt very out of it.  I started having trouble with my eyesight and had to start wearing my glasses at all times.  My most concerning symptom, though, was development of constant, dull head pressure and a clicking/grating/popping noise in my ears/forehead about 50-100 times per day.  I felt like I could not think straight, as if there was literally something "blocking" me from focusing and concentrating.  I was a straight A college student and graduated top of my class and was on the road to pursuing my graduate degree, so having difficulty with my speech and concentration was very concerning. 

 

I stayed at 10 mg for two weeks, waiting for the "side effects" to subside, as everyone assured me they would.  They did not, and I went back down to 5 mg.  However, decreasing the dose did not diminish any of the side effects I had been experiencing and I felt worse than ever.  Every day I felt like I was living in a dream and it took all my energy to understand complex patients concepts at worse that previously were never a problem. After three months, I decided to start weaning off 5 mg with liquid Lexapro.  I weaned off very slowly, over 3 more months. As I weaned, occasionally I started to feel a little more "normal" and less "numb."  It has been 3 months since getting off Lexapro and Trazodone and my main issue/symptom is that I am having head pressure similar (but more intense) than what I had on Lexapro to some degree every single day.  The clicking/popping/grinding noise is also still there and seems to occur any time the pressure changes in my head.  The popping doesn't hurt, it's just annoying.  The head pressure feels like someone has my head in a vice at all times, but occasionally cranks on it and increases the squeezing sensation.  It is unlike anything I have ever felt in my life, and certainly not a normal headache by any means.  Whenever I have intense head pressure, I have extreme trouble concentrating, thinking, and focusing similar to what I had while on Lexapro.  My other symptom is shakiness and restlessness (trouble sitting still, body feels like it's vibrating).  This comes and goes.

 

So, I'm asking you guys....Could I still be in benzo withdrawal or is this probably more related to the Lexapro?  I have seen reports of head pressure and weird head sensations from both benzo and AD forums.  For those with severe head pressure, when did you start feeling better?  Did anyone experience popping or clicking noises in their head?  I am concerned because I would like to start graduate school this fall to become a nurse practitioner and I need to be able to think clearly.  I feel devastated that I have gone from a highly capable and intelligent person to a depressed insomniac with cognitive impairment.  Looking for a silver lining and some encouragement.  I've been taking Melatonin and Lemon Balm to help combat the insomnia. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Fresh

Hi Nightnurse ,  welcome to the site.

Long story short ,  you could be experiencing either benzo or lexapro withdrawal , or both.

 

Please could you fill in your signature with months , years and dosages so people can see your history at a glance

each time you post.  See  Please put your withdrawal history in your signature

 

At 3 months off lexapro and trazodone , it's going to take some months before your system stabilizes.  

Although you feel you tapered slowly over 3 months , this is pretty quick for your brain to adjust to.  

We recommend decreases of no more than 10% , and holding for 4-6 weeks after each cut to recover.

Your cns has been additionally confused by bits and bobs of xanax , lorazepam and  lunesta over the past 4 years.

 

Please see our thread on magnesium and consider adding it to assist your recovery.

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

 

Also , take a look through the Symptoms and Self Care section , and you'll find that many of the physical sensations

you're having are common during withdrawal.

 

Best wishes ,  Fresh

Share this post


Link to post
Ali4

I have all the head sensations you speak of, everyday they come and go, some days I want to rip my head off, other days I can deal with it, I'm a few weeks in after reinstating a small dose to take away further withdrawal symptoms, just taking it day by day and hoping to feel normal again very soon. Welcome too the forum, lots of great people and help here. Ali.

Share this post


Link to post
Nightnurse

Hi Fresh,

Thanks for the reply. I realize that I may have decreased the Lexapro too quickly, but it was making me feel so terrible I wanted to get off it as quickly as possible. I tried to add a "signature" with my med hx, but couldn't figure out how to do it! :-/

Share this post


Link to post
Nightnurse

Hi Ali,

I'm sorry to hear you're suffering from head symptoms as well. What is your med history and how long have you been in withdrawal? Did you have the head pressure while taking the antidepressant as well?

Share this post


Link to post
Fresh

No worries , see http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

Have you seen the thread on "Reinstating and Stabilizing to Reduce withdrawal Symptoms"

here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/

Something to consider if it gets unmanageable.

Share this post


Link to post
Nightnurse

I'm not sure reinstatement is something I would consider. After all, the head pressure I'm experiencing started when I started the Lexapro and the tremors/restlessness were actually worse on the drug. My mental clarity is also quite a bit better than it was on the drugs and my eyes aren't bothering me so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Fresh

Very good , it's just my personal belief that you should be aware of your options.

 

There are lots of non-drug strategies that members have found successful for managing

insomnia and other symptoms.

Mindfulness , relaxation , Tai Chi , magnesium , meditataion , visualization.

See "Tips to Help Sleep" here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/555-tips-to-help-sleep-so-many-of-us-have-withdrawal-insomnia/

 

We recommend magnesium and omega 3's (fish oil) to assist healing during withdrawal.

 

Please see:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1300-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/

Share this post


Link to post
Nightnurse

Thanks! I am doing yoga 2-3 times per week. I was an avid runner before all of this and am still able to run 3-4 miles a few days per week as well. I'm taking melatonin, lemon balm, omega 3 (sometimes),propranolol 5-10 mg as needed when my heart is beating out of my chest or for inner restlessness, and chelated magnesium a few times per week. I also occasionally take Belsomra 15mg, which is a new sleep med that specifically targets orexin receptors, which are associated with wakefulness. Sometimes it seems to help me sleep a bit. I feel very positive that I'm still able to work out because it's important to me and makes me feel like my old self. Thank you for all the suggestions!

Share this post


Link to post
Ali4

Hi nightnurse

 

I got all the head symptoms less then two weeks of being off the AD, since reinstating a small dose it has got way better, I can deal with it, I'm only a couple weeks in of reinstating, I know I got a bit to go before I stabilize, once that happens I will do a very slow taper, I'm in no rush to endure the WD symptoms, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, very dark place too be. I've been on celexa for 10years, doctor tapered me down over 4 weeks telling me I would be fine, less then 2 weeks later I thought I was dying, I'm glad I decided on reinstating with the help from the wonderful people on here, I cannot " tough it out" it only gets worse, and can last a very long time in WD, I want to avoid it at all costs, slow and steady is how I'm going to go from here on in. Ali.

Share this post


Link to post
Fresh

We each have to make decisions that are right for us.

Reinstating when you've been on ad's for 10 years is sensible (imo). After only 3 months on

and 3 months tapering , probably best to stay off them for good.

 

Nightnurse , with these sort of reactions , there are other meds. metabolized by the same

pathways as ad's (CYP4502d6) that may set off reactions in you. Cold meds , pain meds ,

antibiotics , antihistamines. You'll need to be careful in the future.

 

The good news is that you will recover , the symptoms will pass , and your intellect will be

intact. You'll come out of this with a new range of skills and strengths that will stand you

in good stead the rest of your life.

 

:)

Share this post


Link to post

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy