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AlienResources: Side effects or WD from benzos/Z drugs or ADs?

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I'm having a bad problem right now involving Remeron, Ambien, Xanax, Benadryl, Anxiety, Insomnia, GI problems, and fibromyalgia.


I have a history of ambien use. 2 years ago I used 5-10MG of Ambien every night for 9 months. I started gradually having mild anxiety and depression throughout the 9 months so I decided to quit and then I did a 3 months taper. It was probably too fast because I had terrible anxiety throughout the process and it never stopped after I jumped. I was clean for 4 months.


Then 5 months ago I had an incident which has since plunged my life down the toilet bowl and I have been terribly ill ever since, lost 30 pounds, and my anxiety and panic disorder has transformed into full blown agoraphobia. It started when I took an antibiotic for an ear infection. I had an allergic reaction and I had to start taking 50-75 mg of Benadryl every night. The next day I started a 5 day course of a different antibioitic, took corticosteroids, and took 0.25mg xanax to get to sleep.


All was fine until 3 days later when I suddenly got chest/back pain, gastric burning, and a panic attack. This started a 5 month cascade of gradually elevating anxiety and gastric symtoms which was misdiagnosed as GERD. I went on many medications including prilosec, zantac, benadryl, antacids, tylenol, an experiment with librax (about 8 pills), and a few doses of muscle relaxer.


I was on a cycle of using Xanax every 3 days and Benadryl every night. Every 3 days I would have a panic attack and take 0.25mg of Xanax, which has an interaction with Prilosec so it was probably actually more like 0.5mg. The gastric symptoms would strangely improve whenever I took the Xanax and then deteriorate over the next 3 days until it was time for the next Xanax. My nightly dose of 25mg-75mg Beandryl also helped and I would typically be better in the beginning of the day and then deteriorate throughout the night until it was time for the next Benadryl. At the time I thought Benadryl was just an antihistamine and did not know that it was also an anticholinergic and a mild SSRI.


3 months ago the gastric symptoms went into a constant steady state with no remissions and I started having wierd muscle twitching and electric sensations. So I went on a witchhunt to remove all of my medications in suspicion that one of them was causing my GI symptoms, which had eluded my GI doctor and all of his tests. First I got rid of the prilosec, zantac, antiacids. This didnt help. Then I tried to get off the Benadryl and that's when the **** hit the fan. 


Muscle stiffness and Insomnia from trying to quit Benadryl drew me back to Ambien. It started with 1mg doses and then quickly went to 2 and then 5 in a matter of days. The first day off Benadryl I had terrible anxiety and I was immediately in a state of having extreme insomnia and after a couple nights of taking Ambien or missing sleep I also had fibromyalgia, which further prevented me from sleeping as I could not find a comfortable position to sleep in. I've never had fibromyalgia in my life. For the next 2 weeks I would flop between different combinations of Benadryl and Ambien as my condition continued to deteriorate. I was averaging 2 or 3 hours of sleep per night.


2 weeks ago I saw a psychiatrist sleep doctor who Prescribed Remeron 7.5mg. I started by cutting it to 3.75mg which worked wonderfully for the first 5 days. I didnt need any Ambien and was getting 9 hours of sleep. However, I had side effects like dry mouth, dehydration, weakness, exercise intolernce, anxiety, suicidal ideation, memory issues, binge eating on junk, and daytime tiredness. Then on the 6th day I was having muscle stiffness, muscle spasms/twitches, and insomnia. I could not sleep on 3.75mg. After a drink (i dont normally drink), a hit of weed (i dont normally smoke), and then another 3.75mg to bring it up to 7.5mg, I STILL could not sleep. I could not sleep until I added 2.5mg of Ambien, and then I slept for 3 hours. This situation might have been amplified by having a steroid trigger point shot and a sedated procedure 2 days prior.


Nevertheless, it scared me away from Remeron. I was scared of the side effects, the dose escalation, and possibly Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. I also quit Claratin 10mg, which I'd be taking for years while going on an antihistamine witchhunt and suspected I had 'Histaminosis'. For the next 4 days I would use Ambien 2mg and then 5mg and then two nights at 10mg, and I was still only getting 3-5 hours of sleep. I was hoping my GI symptoms would go away, if I was on just Ambien for a while. They didnt. Soem of the twitching was still there too. My psychiatrist told me to go up to 12.5mg of Ambien CR. Hell no. I was already possibly getting addicted to Ambien and didnt want to cement that with a long course of high doses and cement this addiction after everything I went through over the past 2 years.


Over the last 2 nights I did an experiment where I 'reinstated' Remeron at 1mg and used 1mg of Ambien. One to initiate sleep and one to maintain sleep, instead of using an unnecessarily large dose of a long acting drug to initiate sleep or an unneccessarily large dose of a short acting drug to maintain sleep. Miraculously it worked. On only 1mg of remeron and 1mg of Ambien I have gotten 9 and 10 hours of sleep during the previous 2 nights. However, today I am again having some issues with minor twitching and electric sensations throughout my body, which I woke up with, and after thinking of it too long I am having bad anxiety. 


I don't know whether I am having a withdrawal from Ambien, a withdrawal from Remeron, side effects of Remeron, a withdrawal from one of the previous drugs (I havent had Xanax in 2 weeks), etc. After having only about 10 or 15 doses of Ambien at an average of 3-4mg per night, am I already addicted? Am I KINDLED? Do I need to taper Ambien in order to avoid seizures or brain damage, regardless of Remeron? For how long - a week, a month, months? Am I having some rare side effect syndrome of Remeron and need to go back on just ambien? Do I need to taper the tiny dose of remeron I took for a week? Do I need to go back on Benadryl or Xanax? Did I get addicted to the Xanax every 3 days?


I feel like I urgently need a professional to work all of this out and tell me which doses of what I need to take over what time frame in order to avoid harm or seizures and assure me that I'm not having Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome or something like that. I want my life back. I know these all look like tiny doses and time frames to you guys but I feel like I'm going insane, or I'm going to die.


What do you guys think?


Edited by scallywag

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Welcome, AlienResources.


It sounds like your nervous system was fragile from your coming off Ambien, and probably was in a hypersensitive state. This was made worse and more complicated by the antibiotics and other drugs you took afterward.


It's quite common that people in this hypersensitive state will react badly to higher doses of drugs but find very low doses to be effective. It's also quite common that antibiotics might overstress a fragile nervous system.


It sounds like you had or might have gut problems. You could be reacting to food. If I were you, I'd go on a low-histamine diet -- it's a non-irritating diet -- and see if that helps. Histamine intolerance (histaminosis) can cause insomnia, anxiety, etc.


You might also embark on a gut-healing regimen, including glutamine.


If you can tolerate them, fish oil and magnesium supplements can be helpful; see the topics in the Symptoms and Self-Care forum.


What are you taking now? Please keep daily notes on paper about your symptoms, your sleep pattern, when you take your drugs, and their dosages.

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I'm currently taking:

1mg Remeron per night

1mg Ambien per night

Multivitamin per morning

1000mg Vitaimin C per morning

CBD Oil 25mg per day

Melatonin 5mg per night

Sometimes Magnesium, Zinc, and Theanine at night


I've found the tiny doses of Remeron and Ambien together give me more sleep than a much larger dose of either one.


Just one month ago I was taking many more supplements and medications, but I went on a witchhunt to get rid of everything because I couldnt tell if anything was helping or hurting.

20-40mg Prilosec - screws my digestion and causes anxiety

150mg Zantac - screws my digestion and is anticholinergic

Various Antacids - most containing a ton of magnesium

Magnesium - Both a cell test and a blood test shows I have high magnesium already

"Innate GI Response" (has L glutamine) - I read something about glutamine exciting and killing brain cells

Plant Digestive Enzymes - spikes my blood sugar

Beano - really screws with blood sugar

Various Probiotics - didnt seem to work. Some caused bad reactions

Vitamin D 2000IU - Already high in blood test

Another B Complex - bad reaction

B12 sublingual

B12 shots

Vitamin A 10,000IU - wasnt sure

Fish Oil - has histamine and contaminants

DGL - possible side effects

Claratin - wanted to quit antihistamines to restore histamine homestasis, anxiety



0.25mg Xanax 1 or 2 times per week

DAO enzymes - Couldnt tell if they were working or causing a reaction

Candidase - horrible reactions


I've been back an forth on so many diets - The FODMAP diet, the gallbladder diet, the Histamine diet, the Candida diet.  If I follow all these diets or even one or two of them then it seems like I cannot eat anything. I can never tell if any of them are working and which is the right one. I have lost 30 pounds in 4 months just by trying to follow diets.

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AlienResources -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)
Would you take a minute or two to create a signature that will appear below all your posts?
In your signature, please summarize your medication and withdrawal history -- drugs (including the CBD oil), doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements-- particularly from the last 12-24 months:

  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.
  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs.
  • You can find instructions in this topic: Please put your withdrawal history in signature
  • If you are using a phone or mobile device, you need to switch to the "full" or desktop version of the site. Instructions are
    in Post 9 and Post 10

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I've been using an average of 1mg of Remeron for 2 months to help with insomnia for benzo withdrawal. When I trialed it at 3.75mg as an AD, I hated it and decided to reduce it to the lowest amount that would just get me sleep. I wanted to even get off of that but am afraid of potential withdrawal. From what I've read, Remeron will first have an affinity for Histamine and then only once histamine is saturated will it move on to serotonin or a2 receptors. Is that true? If so, then I should have no problems getting off the 1mg other than maybe needing another antihistamine for sleep. I tried getting off once and after 2 weeks I had the worst insomnia where I didn't sleep for 4 days. However, maybe that was still due to the benzos or another factor. Should I have anything to worry about the 1mg of Remeron for 2months? Do I need a taper schedule? 

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It is really hard to say. It seems that 1mg of Remeron is apparently doing something. I've never taken Remeron, and I am not sure what its receptor binding profile/affinities are. Those meds that do different thing based on the dose taken can be very tricky....


The binding affinities are basically affinities, and it's sometimes nearly impossible to figure out how it will go for each person. Just because Eli Lilly recommends that a starting dose of Prozac is 20mg, that doesn't mean that should be a starting dose for everyone or that people should take Prozac in the first place.  


But, you probably know all this, and I am most likely preaching to the choir, but It's sort of like: How many molecules are in that 1mg of Remeron? Is each of them going to go to H1? Or are some of them still going to go the adrenogenic receptors or even 5http in your case? And then, if you take an antihistamine instead of Remeron, the antihistamine may block the H1 (or both), but it may not block it the same way the Remeron blocks it, and the alpha adrenogenic recepors may get partially unblocked, as well as the 5http ones, causing a spike in anxiety and an increase in depression that an antihistamine may not be able to cover. Also, it's really hard to say what levels of saturation will happen with what dose in a person. Total inexact science.




Also, there are many other factors at play in your situation: Xanax withdrawal, intermittent Ambien use leading to sleeplesness, as well as a possible mild Benadryl withdrawal, too. 


Have you perhaps thought of stabilizing on a steady dose of ambien and remeron, and then giving it some time to adjust and then perhaps decide what to do from there? Just some ideas....


Also, did you use Xanax for dayime panic, sleep or both?


Sorry about all the questions. There's a very good chance I don't know any more about these meds than you do, so a lot of it is kind of dancing in the dark. I am just concerned that replacing Remeron with an antihistamine may turn out a bit different then you may expect, and the more you know, the better off you'll be.


I mean all these meds and psych meds and their interactions can be so complicated, that I hope that your sources of information are rock solid and very comprehensive. You sound like a pretty smart person, so please think harm reduction first and foremost. 


Personally, I'd avoid Benadryl because it is actually a lot more dangerous antihistamine that most people think. But you probably already know that, too. I've used the 25mg as an occasional sleep aid before the ativan, but when I read what it actually is, it scared me to the point I'd never want to take it again. Anything that can become a deliriant in higher doses is a definitely iffy proposition for someone who is probably experiencing some ugly DP/DR symptoms due to insomnia and benzodiazepine withdrawal. Just my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary.


*** I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice ***

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Sorry my signature wasn't updated. I've been off completely benzos/zdrugs for 3 months minus a couple rescue doses of Ambien and don't really want to reinstate and kindle the benzos, and I'm already on the Remeron. It's not like I can stabilize on Ambien - the half life is only 2 hours and it doesn't get me any sleep or gets me 2 hours of sleep. I seem to be sleeping ok 1-1.5mg of Remeron so tapering from here seems like an easier proposition (That is, until I look at SurvivingAntidepressants). I want to get off quick though because it having lots of other side effects and supressing my immune system while I fight Lyme/Bartonella. I think Benadryl may have done the same thing before I knew what was going on but knew that it supressed my symptoms. Or perhaps I really did just get addicted to Benadryl because my acid blockers were upping the dosage to SRI levels. I never used to have a problem with coming on and off of 25-50mg Benadryl and swigs of Nyqil all night for 5 years.

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Sorry to hear you are suffering that badly. I truly hope that someone with Remeron experience may be able to chime in and help you. Yes,  I understand what you mean about ambien.


I am new here, but I find that people here are very polite, which is so important for psych med survivors.

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Hi, Alien. I moved your new post here to update your topic.


When was the last time you reduced Remeron? Did you have withdrawal symptoms from that reduction?

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Its pretty complicated. I've been all over the place with Remeron going up and down to try to get sleep without really getting established on any dose. I'm being reckless like this because I read that it only acted as an antihistamine at these low doses. Just this past weeks I started back up with a single dose of 4mg and then 2mg and then a fast wean down to 1mg to rediscover the lowest dose that makes me sleep. I've had symptoms the entire week and I never know whether it is due to benzos, remeron, lyme, sleep deprivation, b12, my antibioitic, etc. The only time I've been remotely stabilized is this one-two months around March where I was going between between 0.2mg and 0.6mg and the week after I tried to jump. I regretted Remeron the first week I started it and wish I had just gone with a benzo taper or gabapentin.

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