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Nightowl: Will Insomnia ever resolve after weaning off Lexapro and Xanax?


Nightowl

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Hi Everyone,

This is my first post, so I hope I am doing it correctly!  

I was prescribed Lexapro during a very stressful time after losing a job in my late 50's.  After the first week on Lexapro, I told the therapist I didn't think I could use this drug as I had insomnia from the very start.  She suggested that I take it in the am, and use Xanax as needed for sleep.

This gave me satisfaction........for a couple of years.  But then, I developed GI issues and lost between 30 and 40 lbs.  After I was diagnosed with Lymphocytic colitis, I discovered that this issue can be associated with AD use, so my concern about Lexapro began.

 

As time went on,  I had to take Xanax on a more regular basis (and multiple times each night) to get sleep and stay asleep.  After I retired at 71 years, I decided I needed to wean off these drugs as I was concerned about the dependence on Xanax.

 

With my therapist's approval I weaned off Lexapro over several months, with the last tiny dose (liquid) being May 2015.  I experienced most of the usual withdrawal symptoms, but by far the worst was the insomnia, which started February 8, 2015 when I reduced the Lexapro to 2.5mg.  Since then (nearly 15months ago), I have not been able to  sleep through the night.  A year ago I had a sleep study and it indicated that I was getting 0.0% deep sleep.  Usually I am able to fall asleep on my own, but I am always awake one hour or one and a half hours later.  Then I am awake for most of the rest of the night.  Since February I have not even been able to get sleepy - day or night.  I seem to be wired to only stay awake.  As a result, I am miserably exhausted, with tremors, dizziness and vertigo.  I am frustrated that I have no strength to do the gardening I love;  my energy is depleted in no time, and I am spending more and more time in bed during the day just to recover sufficiently to take on the next task.

 

Over the past 15 months, I have tried Trazadone, Doxepin, and now Sonata to help me get more sleep.  Trazadone was never really helpful. Doxepin was beneficial for a time, but that seemed to wear off.  This week I was given Sonata to try.  Has anyone had a similar experience, and how did it get resolved?

10 - 20 mg Lexapro for 12 + years

up to 3 mg Xanax nightly for insomnia precipitated by Lexapro

Fall 2014 started taper for Lexapro - completed taper May 2015

July 2015 started weaning off Xanax 

Currently taking liquid xanax 2x/day - each dose is less than 1/4 of .25 tablet.  (Due to Xanax short half life, I find it better to divide the dose so I can spread it out over the 24 hour period)

Taking only melatonin in addition to the xanax.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Nightowl,

 

A very suitable name for you.  I can point you in the direction of our sleep threads, in case you didn't see them yet:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/555-tips-to-help-sleep-so-many-of-us-have-withdrawal-insomnia/

 

This may also be of interest:  Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilisation

 

Many people have sleep issues here, in fact I just gave that link to another new member not 5 minutes ago.  Aside from doing the things in the link above, time seems to be the main factor in sleep getting back to normal. 

 

I wonder if the different sleep meds you've tried have actually caused your brain and Central Nervous System to take longer to regain their natural patterns?  (And that is just me wondering; I'm no expert on this).  Another mod may weigh in with something further to add.

 

Welcome to s/a,

Karen

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • Administrator

Hi, Nightowl. Welcome to the forum from me, too.

 

As you can see from my signature, my last drug cocktail consisted of two benzos (Konopin and Halcion), as well as the z-drug Sonata. So I've been exactly where you are. 

 

I also still struggle with insomnia, but it slowly is getting better. If you can, try to avoid prescription and OTC sleep aids. They can turn paradoxical and cause even worse sleep problems in the long run. Please be especially careful about Sonata, as it acts on GABA receptors in a very similar manner as a benzodiazepine. 

 

Karen gave you the link to the sleep thread which has links to many non-drug ways of getting sleep.

 

Some people find that fish oil and magnesium help, but please research these first:

 

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

 

 

I found that getting magnesium through epsom salt baths to be helpful in the evening prior to going to bed. You're less likely to have stomach issues by absorbing magnesium this way, as opposed to taking it by pill form. 

 

I also find guided meditations helpful:

 

 
 
 

I'm glad you're here for support and encouragement. You'll find a lot of other night owls are here keeping you company. And in time, your natural sleep will return. 

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome from me too Nightowl,

I'm sorry you're having these awful sleep problems, unfortunately, they are one of the most common withdrawal symptoms when stopping both antidepressants and benzos. I came off lexapro too fast and disrupted sleep was one of the first symptoms I noticed. I have also used xanax, mostly trying to manage lexapro withdrawal symptoms, none of it went well and it took quite a long time before I was able to sleep through the night again.

 

Are you still taking any xanax? It sounds like you were taking it quite regularly. How did you stop taking it? You might possibly be suffering from both lexapro and benzo withdrawal and that would account for your sleep problems and other symptoms.

 

As Karen and Shep have suggested, its best if you can avoid using drugs as a sleep aid because tolerance usually develops over time and they no longer work as well, causing a need for more and more drugs to get the same effect. The drugs eventually cause side effects and damage to our brain and nervous system leading to more illness, a shortened life expectancy and a lower quality of life.

 

We also don't recommend using drugs to manage withdrawal symptoms and I'm assuming that what you have is protracted withdrawal from lexapro and possibly xanax also. Even though you tapered off lexapro over several months, that was probably still too fast. When you started getting symptoms at 2.5mg, that was a sign that you needed to slow down. We recommend tapering no more than 10% of the current dose every 4 weeks. A safe taper often last longer than 6 months, and sometimes people take a year or more if they are on a high dose or have been taking the drug for several years. I tapered over 2 months but now realize I should have taken more like 2 years.

 

It would be great if you would put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature. Doing this helps people understand your context, it appears below each of your posts. Here are instructions for how to do it:

 

http://survivinganti...your-signature/

 

Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

 

Petunia.

I'm not a doctor.  My comments are not medical advise. These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I've learned. Please discuss your situation with a medical practitioner who has knowledge of tapering and withdrawal...if you are lucky enough to find one.

My Introduction Thread

Full Drug and Withdrawal History

Brief Summary

Several SSRIs for 13 years starting 1997 (for mild to moderate partly situational anxiety) Xanax PRN ~ Various other drugs over the years for side effects

2 month 'taper' off Lexapro 2010

Short acute withdrawal, followed by 2 -3 months of improvement then delayed protracted withdrawal

DX ADHD followed by several years of stimulants and other drugs trying to manage increasing symptoms

Failed reinstatement of Lexapro and trial of Prozac (became suicidal)

May 2013 Found SA, learned about withdrawal, stopped taking drugs...healing begins.

Protracted withdrawal, with a very sensitized nervous system, slowly recovering as time passes

Supplements which have helped: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Taurine

Bad reactions: Many supplements but mostly fish oil and Vitamin D

June 2016 - Started daily juicing, mostly vegetables and lots of greens.

Aug 2016 - Oct 2016 Best window ever, felt almost completely recovered

Oct 2016 -Symptoms returned - bad days and less bad days.

April 2018 - No windows, but significant improvement, it feels like permanent full recovery is close.

VIDEO: Where did the chemical imbalance theory come from?



VIDEO: How are psychiatric diagnoses made?



VIDEO: Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?



VIDEO: Can psychiatric drugs cause long-lasting negative effects?

VIDEO: Dr. Claire Weekes

 

 

 

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Thanks to the moderators, I hope I am using this resource correctly now.  However, in the past couple of weeks, my life has become drastically worse.  I am having panic attacks (new to me) and so exhausted and weak I can only stand for a short time--most of the day I am laying down.  I cannot function mentally except to do very simple tasks, and am afraid to drive.  Other than sleep deprivation (and the resulting exhaustion, etc) for the last 15 months, I have no major stress in my life.

 

I have resorted to using Xanax so I can stop rocking myself.  I am using the meditations online to try to calm myself --sometimes they are helpful, and other times my anxiety is so overwhelming nothing works.  I know my doctor would have me go the the emergency room if I contacted her, and I don't want to be pumped full of drugs.  I am very scared.

10 - 20 mg Lexapro for 12 + years

up to 3 mg Xanax nightly for insomnia precipitated by Lexapro

Fall 2014 started taper for Lexapro - completed taper May 2015

July 2015 started weaning off Xanax 

Currently taking liquid xanax 2x/day - each dose is less than 1/4 of .25 tablet.  (Due to Xanax short half life, I find it better to divide the dose so I can spread it out over the 24 hour period)

Taking only melatonin in addition to the xanax.

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  • Administrator

Hi, Nightowl.

 

How are you taking the Xanax now? You have .25 mg Xanax listed in your signature for "panic attacks" but you just stated that you are using it now for "rocking". Are you just taking .25 mg a day or are you taking them as needed throughout the day? 

 

You sound like you may be developing a side effect called "akathisia", which is a state of inner restlessness that can get quite severe. 

 

I suspect your Xanax (and possibly the doxepin) use may be turning paradoxical, which is causing even more agitation.

 

There's a benzo forum on this site that I would recommend. Wellness is the moderator and knows a lot about benzos, so you may want to post there to get some guidance:

 

Members only benzo forum

 

I hope your sleep issues resolve soon, but do get some feedback on your Xanax use. I've had benzos turn paradoxical and it's a very uncomfortable and restless feeling. But this all will resolve in time. 

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

 

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  • 2 months later...

Night owl,

I'm having similar experience with sleep and wanted to check in with you and see how you are doing?

Lexapro: started in 2002 at 10 mgs.

Ambien: started as a as needed sleep aid in 2010.

Quit Lexapro cold turkey in June 20015 due to contributing to low sodium issues.

Restarted Lexapro in late November for a week (only 5 mgs) but quit due to dizziness side effects. Side effects worsened for 3 weeks until

12/24/15: Protracted WD hit, experienced extreme anxiety, insomnia lack of full concentration and social challenges.

Reinstated Lexapro on 1/1/16 at 5 mgs. Increased per Dr to 7.5 MG. Tapered off Lexapro in March 2016.

Started 50MG of Seroquel in late January 2016 for bedtime to help in eliminate Ambien. Tapered off both Seroquel and Ambien in March 2016.

2/14/16: Prescribed both Remeron (15 MG) and Temazapam (15 MG) for sleep. Also use Klonopin and Ambien again in place of Temazapam to avoid addiction. However I did take Temazapam 60 straight days

6/15/16: Stopped use of all benzo's and now use Belsomra 1-2 times a week. Still on 15 MG of Remeron

10/11/16: Off all psych medications

 

After kindling, trying to regain my strength suffering from severe mental and physical fatigue.

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Christian:  I survived the experiences I related in my May post by increasing my Xanax (1/4th of .25 mg once a day) to twice a day.  I was able to remain stable on this dose for 7 weeks.  I then had a compounding pharmacy provide me with a liquid form so I could start tapering again.

During the whole time I continued to have insomnia, with a few nights of 7 or 8 hours (fragmented, of course).  However I go several nights in a row with only 0 - 3 hours sleep.  I continue to take .5 mg of melatonin, and nothing else for sleep.

Currently, the vertigo has gone, however, anxiety has become a nearly constant companion, and many nights I become so agitated I get up and scream.

 

I wish I knew if I the worsening agitation/ anxiety was due to tapering, or if the Xanax has turned paradoxical on me.  Guess I need to do more research.

Footnote: I noticed you had low sodium issues while on Lexapro.  I had similar issues, but my PCP said it was due to my work stress at the time.

10 - 20 mg Lexapro for 12 + years

up to 3 mg Xanax nightly for insomnia precipitated by Lexapro

Fall 2014 started taper for Lexapro - completed taper May 2015

July 2015 started weaning off Xanax 

Currently taking liquid xanax 2x/day - each dose is less than 1/4 of .25 tablet.  (Due to Xanax short half life, I find it better to divide the dose so I can spread it out over the 24 hour period)

Taking only melatonin in addition to the xanax.

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So your sleep is OK now? Yeah, the SSRIs cause the low sodium. It's the reason I was abruptly taken off Lexapro and the rest is history.

Lexapro: started in 2002 at 10 mgs.

Ambien: started as a as needed sleep aid in 2010.

Quit Lexapro cold turkey in June 20015 due to contributing to low sodium issues.

Restarted Lexapro in late November for a week (only 5 mgs) but quit due to dizziness side effects. Side effects worsened for 3 weeks until

12/24/15: Protracted WD hit, experienced extreme anxiety, insomnia lack of full concentration and social challenges.

Reinstated Lexapro on 1/1/16 at 5 mgs. Increased per Dr to 7.5 MG. Tapered off Lexapro in March 2016.

Started 50MG of Seroquel in late January 2016 for bedtime to help in eliminate Ambien. Tapered off both Seroquel and Ambien in March 2016.

2/14/16: Prescribed both Remeron (15 MG) and Temazapam (15 MG) for sleep. Also use Klonopin and Ambien again in place of Temazapam to avoid addiction. However I did take Temazapam 60 straight days

6/15/16: Stopped use of all benzo's and now use Belsomra 1-2 times a week. Still on 15 MG of Remeron

10/11/16: Off all psych medications

 

After kindling, trying to regain my strength suffering from severe mental and physical fatigue.

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Christian,

I guess my post was a bit ambiguous.........Unfortunately, I am still having major insomnia issues.  It has been 19 months since the insomnia started with the Lexapro taper, and one year since I started withdrawing from Xanax.   May of 2015 was the last time I took any Lexapro, and I am still tapering the Xanax.  I guess I was trying to put a positive spin on the situation by mentioning the symptoms that are not currently an issue.

10 - 20 mg Lexapro for 12 + years

up to 3 mg Xanax nightly for insomnia precipitated by Lexapro

Fall 2014 started taper for Lexapro - completed taper May 2015

July 2015 started weaning off Xanax 

Currently taking liquid xanax 2x/day - each dose is less than 1/4 of .25 tablet.  (Due to Xanax short half life, I find it better to divide the dose so I can spread it out over the 24 hour period)

Taking only melatonin in addition to the xanax.

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  • Administrator

Christian:  I survived the experiences I related in my May post by increasing my Xanax (1/4th of .25 mg once a day) to twice a day.  I was able to remain stable on this dose for 7 weeks.  I then had a compounding pharmacy provide me with a liquid form so I could start tapering again.

During the whole time I continued to have insomnia, with a few nights of 7 or 8 hours (fragmented, of course).  However I go several nights in a row with only 0 - 3 hours sleep.  I continue to take .5 mg of melatonin, and nothing else for sleep.

Currently, the vertigo has gone, however, anxiety has become a nearly constant companion, and many nights I become so agitated I get up and scream.

 

I wish I knew if I the worsening agitation/ anxiety was due to tapering, or if the Xanax has turned paradoxical on me.  Guess I need to do more research.

Footnote: I noticed you had low sodium issues while on Lexapro.  I had similar issues, but my PCP said it was due to my work stress at the time.

 

 

Hi, Nightowl.

 

It's possible you are having problems due to the Xanax taper.

 

If you haven't already done so, please start a new thread on the members-only benzo forum. We have an excellent moderator named Wellness who may be able to give you some guidance.

 

Members only benzo forum

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

 

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Thank you Shep, I will take your suggestion today.

10 - 20 mg Lexapro for 12 + years

up to 3 mg Xanax nightly for insomnia precipitated by Lexapro

Fall 2014 started taper for Lexapro - completed taper May 2015

July 2015 started weaning off Xanax 

Currently taking liquid xanax 2x/day - each dose is less than 1/4 of .25 tablet.  (Due to Xanax short half life, I find it better to divide the dose so I can spread it out over the 24 hour period)

Taking only melatonin in addition to the xanax.

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Christian,

I guess my post was a bit ambiguous.........Unfortunately, I am still having major insomnia issues. It has been 19 months since the insomnia started with the Lexapro taper, and one year since I started withdrawing from Xanax. May of 2015 was the last time I took any Lexapro, and I am still tapering the Xanax. I guess I was trying to put a positive spin on the situation by mentioning the symptoms that are not currently an issue.

Lexapro: started in 2002 at 10 mgs.

Ambien: started as a as needed sleep aid in 2010.

Quit Lexapro cold turkey in June 20015 due to contributing to low sodium issues.

Restarted Lexapro in late November for a week (only 5 mgs) but quit due to dizziness side effects. Side effects worsened for 3 weeks until

12/24/15: Protracted WD hit, experienced extreme anxiety, insomnia lack of full concentration and social challenges.

Reinstated Lexapro on 1/1/16 at 5 mgs. Increased per Dr to 7.5 MG. Tapered off Lexapro in March 2016.

Started 50MG of Seroquel in late January 2016 for bedtime to help in eliminate Ambien. Tapered off both Seroquel and Ambien in March 2016.

2/14/16: Prescribed both Remeron (15 MG) and Temazapam (15 MG) for sleep. Also use Klonopin and Ambien again in place of Temazapam to avoid addiction. However I did take Temazapam 60 straight days

6/15/16: Stopped use of all benzo's and now use Belsomra 1-2 times a week. Still on 15 MG of Remeron

10/11/16: Off all psych medications

 

After kindling, trying to regain my strength suffering from severe mental and physical fatigue.

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I am sorry you still struggle with sleep. I see you had a sleep study where it showed you have zero slow wave sleep. From what I read that's serious. Do you dream? What did the study say about REM sleep? I dream frequently and am up every 90 minutes during my sleep. I read that people in WD from meds, booze or street drugs can remain in REM sleep for awhile (which is the stage of dreaming). From what I read people feel unrefreshed and sometimes hallucinate. Thats how I feel. I guess people often relapse because of that. I had a sleep study last night and am looking forward to the results. I guess the best case scenario would be I have sleep apnea, which in most cases would stink but it beats being stuck in REM. Btw, SSRIs and booze suppress REM sleep. So when the person quits, the brain often will want to repay the debt so that's why there might be a long period suffering with just REM sleep. Lastly, depressed people often have non stop REM non restorative sleep. That's why they SSRIs are often prescribed and help. So the SSRIs can destroy sleep and also help it for some I guess.

Lexapro: started in 2002 at 10 mgs.

Ambien: started as a as needed sleep aid in 2010.

Quit Lexapro cold turkey in June 20015 due to contributing to low sodium issues.

Restarted Lexapro in late November for a week (only 5 mgs) but quit due to dizziness side effects. Side effects worsened for 3 weeks until

12/24/15: Protracted WD hit, experienced extreme anxiety, insomnia lack of full concentration and social challenges.

Reinstated Lexapro on 1/1/16 at 5 mgs. Increased per Dr to 7.5 MG. Tapered off Lexapro in March 2016.

Started 50MG of Seroquel in late January 2016 for bedtime to help in eliminate Ambien. Tapered off both Seroquel and Ambien in March 2016.

2/14/16: Prescribed both Remeron (15 MG) and Temazapam (15 MG) for sleep. Also use Klonopin and Ambien again in place of Temazapam to avoid addiction. However I did take Temazapam 60 straight days

6/15/16: Stopped use of all benzo's and now use Belsomra 1-2 times a week. Still on 15 MG of Remeron

10/11/16: Off all psych medications

 

After kindling, trying to regain my strength suffering from severe mental and physical fatigue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone have any experience with using valerian root for insomnia?

10 - 20 mg Lexapro for 12 + years

up to 3 mg Xanax nightly for insomnia precipitated by Lexapro

Fall 2014 started taper for Lexapro - completed taper May 2015

July 2015 started weaning off Xanax 

Currently taking liquid xanax 2x/day - each dose is less than 1/4 of .25 tablet.  (Due to Xanax short half life, I find it better to divide the dose so I can spread it out over the 24 hour period)

Taking only melatonin in addition to the xanax.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Nightowl,

 

To search for existing topics on this site I use Google and type in survivingantidepressants.org + topic (in this instance valerian)

 

This is what I found:  Valerian Root

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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