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Which is more difficult to withdraw - ssri vs. benzo?


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I was recently referred to benzo buddies http://www.benzobuddies.org/forum/index.php?board=89.0for more success stories. I found tons success stories just for the year of 2017, and most are from much shorter tapering (less than a year).

 

Wow, so we who are on ssri are in the worst hit of all, in the order of street drugs, benzo, SSirs with increasing difficulty in withdrawal???!!!

 

This new awareness is very heart hardening.

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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Anyone know the difference in how the two works/interfaces/damage the brain?

And why ssri the most difficult to stop?

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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  • Moderator

Good question.  I would love to know this myself.

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg.


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

Whichever one you are currently trying to get off!

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 6 Feb 2021:  Pristiq 0.365 mg

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 Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

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

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SSRI and benzo withdrawal are eerily similar. In this article in "The Guardian," Dr. Peter Gøtzsche writes:

 

I began to realise the scale of the problem when I was persuaded seven years ago to become a tutor for a PhD thesis on whether history was repeating itself, by comparing benzodiazepines ("mother's little helper") with SSRIs. This research has established that people get as hooked on SSRIs as they did on benzodiazepines, and 37 of 42 withdrawal symptoms were the same for SSRIs as for benzodiazepines.

 

The full article is here:  Psychiatric drugs are doing us more harm than good

 

And here is the study in the PubMed database:

 

What is the difference between dependence and withdrawal reactions? A comparison of benzodiazepines and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

 

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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One thing about benzo withdrawal, and maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that if you taper benzos slowly as professor Ashton directs, or slower, and get to the lowest doses, and don't feel a lot of symptoms along the way, then you jump off, if you don't feel withdrawal symptoms right off, you won't feel some out of the blue 3-5 months later. With SSRI stories, it seems people get off, feel okay for a few months, then get hit with symptoms, often quite bad, several months later.  Have others noticed this? If this is indeed the case, why is that? 

Dec 1, 2016. 10 mg zyprexa for 1.5 month. Started taper mid-Jan. 2017. Cut 1.25 mg every 2 weeks; smaller cuts 2.5 mg down. Stopped at .6 mg. May 7, 2017: zyprexa free. 
Zoloft: Dec1, 2016, 200 mg. Started taper: Jun12, 2017: 197.5 mg; Jun19,:195 mg; July 2:185mg; July 9,:180 mg; July16,: 175; July 23: 170; July 30: 165; Aug6: 160; Aug13: 155; Aug. 20: 150; Aug.27: 146 mg; Sept3: 145 mg; Sept10:143 mg; Sept17:140 mg....Nov5: 122 mg...Dec3:112.5 mg; Jan14, 2018: 95 mg...Jan28: 90 mg; Feb21:80 mg; Mar11: 75 mg; May2:70 mg; May15: 68 mg; May28: 65 mg; Jun9: 62 mg;Jun25: 60 mg:July22: 55 mg; Aug25: 45 mg. Aug28: 50 mg...Oct 28: 38 mg; Dec.4: 30 mg; Jan8,2019: 25mg; Feb6: 23.5 mg; Apr1:17.5mg; May1:1 mg; May 5: 18;  May 18:15mg; June 16:12.5mg; Sept 10:11 mg; Sept.16:10 mg; Oct. 1: 9mg; Nov. 27: 8mg; Dec.5: 7mg; Jan.1,2020, 6 mg; Feb1: 5 mg; May 1: 2.5 mg; Jn 1: 2 mg; Jy 1: 1.5 mg
Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pw4tjImAJ92OIVyRvZoZYjqxiKMk7wvp-ljiIi1olRo/edit#gid=0

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Great info, sheep! Thanks very for for sharing!

 

Somehow I'm still very interested in why there are more success stories fro benzo withdrawal than ssri withdrawal. And on average much shorter timeline for benzo withdrawal.

 

another question, I read some ppl use benzo to help with ssri withdrawal. Dose it really help and why? I used benzo for sleep before ssri time for many years on and Off and never had problem to stop or any side effects. If benzo indeed can help with ssri withdrawal, would it be a good idea to take benzo for those who don't have benzo withdrawal?

 

I will look into more mechanism how benzo works, at the meantime, would appreciate any thoughts and input.

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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anongrl5590

Great info, sheep! Thanks very for for sharing!

 

Somehow I'm still very interested in why there are more success stories fro benzo withdrawal than ssri withdrawal. And on average much shorter timeline for benzo withdrawal.

 

another question, I read some ppl use benzo to help with ssri withdrawal. Dose it really help and why? I used benzo for sleep before ssri time for many years on and Off and never had problem to stop or any side effects. If benzo indeed can help with ssri withdrawal, would it be a good idea to take benzo for those who don't have benzo withdrawal?

 

I will look into more mechanism how benzo works, at the meantime, would appreciate any thoughts and input.

 

 

From reading the Benzo Buddies forum, it seems like people there find SSRIs to be easier to wean off from more than benzos. A lot of them also take SSRIs to help with their benzo withdrawals, especially for insomnia. But for us here at the SA forum, we find the opposite to be true - that SSRIs seems harder to get off than benzos. 

 

I dunno if adding a benzo to the mix would help with withdrawals from an SSRI. It might but I would be very hesitant on adding anymore psychoactive drugs into our systems. I just know that benzos work on the GABA receptors while SSRIs work on the serotonin receptors. And damaging both of those receptors causes VERY similar effects in withdrawal. I can definitely relate a lot more to the people on benzo buddies because their symptoms match mine a lot. 

 

It does seem like people do tend to recover faster from benzos but there are many factors to take into account like the person's taper schedule, their genetics, if they CT'd multiple times, etc. A lot of people there are also in protracted WD too - some still suffering 5-6 years later. Some people are just luckier than others. 

My medication -- Prozac
August 2015: Started on 10mg/day
September 2015 to May 2016: Increased to 20mg/day
May 2016: Abruptly stopped 20mg for 2 weeks (withdrawal symtoms arose but assumed it was worsened depression)
June 2016 to August 2016: increased to 40mg (my body reacted very badly to this dose)
August 2016: decreased back to 20mg
September 2016: tapered off 10mg this month alone
September 30, 2016: last day of Prozac
October 2016: month long window
November 2016-Present: WD symptoms (too many physical sxs and some mental sxs)
February 5-20, 2017: Reinstated at 1-2mg // February 21, 2017: Back to no meds

 

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Great info, sheep! Thanks very for for sharing!

 

Somehow I'm still very interested in why there are more success stories fro benzo withdrawal than ssri withdrawal. And on average much shorter timeline for benzo withdrawal.

 

another question, I read some ppl use benzo to help with ssri withdrawal. Dose it really help and why? I used benzo for sleep before ssri time for many years on and Off and never had problem to stop or any side effects. If benzo indeed can help with ssri withdrawal, would it be a good idea to take benzo for those who don't have benzo withdrawal?

 

I will look into more mechanism how benzo works, at the meantime, would appreciate any thoughts and input.

 

I think we are all very different - there is absolutely no rule to rely on. 

 

Personally, I am having an easier time getting off SSRIs (at least Escitalopram) than Benzos.

 

I also think Benzobuddies is a much larger community than SA, hence the number of people reporting to write their success story. It is about numbers really, neither SA nor Benzobuddies are a true representation of the population - members have been drawn to such websites mostly because of their trouble coming off respective types of drugs. 

 

Professor Heather Ashton pioneered researched into benzodiazepine withdrawal and did indeed suggest taking antidepressants to counteract the chemically induced depression from withdrawal but A/Ds were fairly new at the time and thought to be "less addictive"...

 

I understand you took benzos on occasion, before the A/Ds. I'm glad you never suffered side effects or withdrawal but I (personally) don't think benzos are "safe" even if taken occasionally and no more than 2 to 4 weeks... I am not sure adding another drug for your CNS to cope with would be such a good idea.. but you know my angle lol, I am very much "anti-benzo"...   

 

Why are you considering benzos anyway? Anxiety? Insomnia?... 

 

Best wishes  :)

Julz 

2004: Anorexia & Depression -> polydrugged as a result  :wacko:

- Venlafaxine(MR): 75mg

- Escitalopram: 60mg ...
- Diazepam: 10mg bedtime prescribed, no c/o
- Clonazepam: 4mg
2010: New Life in the UK - psychologically much better
GP wants to lower Escitalopram (side effects on heart) -> 2011 to 2014: come down from 60 to 15mg in 5mg steps (I had no idea) - January 2014: after dropping from 20mg to 15mg Esc. plagued with debilitating exhaustion... December 2014: I decide to taper off Benzos... and everything else.
29 May 2017: Drug Free after 13 years!! 
Varied balanced diet, no processed/refined foods. Plenty water. Yoga & Mindfulness.
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  • Moderator Emeritus

"I think we are all very different - there is absolutely no rule to rely on."

 

I think this is it in a nutshell.  And as Alto says, we are each an experiment where N=1.

 

Also, it may be that people forget the intensity of their previous experience.  As an example, when we aren't feeling well with a certain issue we sometimes think this is the worst and think that we would be better able to deal with a different symptom, however when the symptom changes, then it becomes the worst.

 

This is why I made my comment above "Whichever one you are currently trying to get off!"

 

I don't really think it matters which one is easier or worst or whatever.  The only thing that I think matters is the current situation and getting through it.

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 6 Feb 2021:  Pristiq 0.365 mg

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 Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

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

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Thanks all for chiming in and the great info and input!! Seriously I learned a lot!

 

My thinking is based on the assumption ( or fact?), 1), that special genes each individual has determines if one is in the group of problematic withdrawal either from ssri or benzo or both, and 2) one drugs can help with the withdrawl from other.

 

If both hold true, then it can be an option or even solution for those who are in difficult withdrawal from one but potential not from the other. For example, I took benzo not just occasionally, my mom, sisters, myself have been taking it years for sleeping problems and now one ever had problems except for dependency on it for sleep, which is fine.

 

After all, after learning more about how benzo works ( On GABA receptors), and the effect they have ( sedation), I know now that even the assumptions are true, I won't be a solution for my case. My Lexapro withdrawal is everything else but not anxiety or insomnia which are what benzo can help.

 

Thanks everyone for the good learning!!

 

Lex

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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I would like to add something to this conversation.  I was pulled off 3 AD's CT starting October 2015, and then in April 2016, my doc advised, me it was okay to switch from one benzo to another in one day.  If you follow the Ashton Manual, you will know switching Benzo's takes weeks and weeks to do a proper crosstaper.

 

Now to get on my soapbox.  I did a lot of reading and research on the below info, plus info from those who have even been mods for BB- feel free to correct anything, this is my opinion only re BB...

I ended up going to BB and being a member starting about 10 months ago now.  Things seem to have changed a little bit in that time.  BB used to be all about speed of taper, a "symptoms based taper" was pretty much unheard of.  So many people went fro the tapering thread to the protracted withdrawal thread, it was just how things went.  No one understood how, when they followed what the mods said, why they ended up with protracted WD. Their mantra was "you do not begin to heal until the drug is out of your system" (something Heather Ashton apparently said/wrote) one time, and they would argue with you and put you down if you tried to state a different opinion.  We have some members here that feel like they were literally run away from BB for having different beliefs.  A taper was to go like this, you would get a mod to get you started, and then they would tell you to push through the symptoms (not caring if your life was ruined in the process, as I understood things, and I verified this through past members.  The success stories used to all last 2-4 years when I joined.  That scared the hell out of me to be frank.  To read the real stories, please read the protracted withdrawal thread.  It is truly horrific.  It gave me nightmares.  Then I read the micro taper thread and the woman who ran that thread did not allow for symptom breaks longer than a few days.  She threatened you with tolerance if you held for any longer than that, and would say not noce things about wanting to get off of the drugs, and remind the that again, "they did not heal until the drug was out of their system" (NOTE: THIS IS NOT TRUE!), so they were only prolonging their agony.  Many were too weak to stand up for themselves in the shape they were in to do what they needed for themselves and understandably could not hand how she treated them, so they forced themselves to taper how she said.  it was heartbreaking to read those peoples threads, and see them go from functional people to bedridden, unable to work or even care for themselves in some cases.  Only in the last few months did I finally  PERSONALLY start seeing new threads about tapering about people talking about holding as long as they needed, and not being bullied  for speaking out about doing things differently.  The reason I suspect they were so against updosing (but not holds, that does not make sense), was because they treated the Ashton Manual like their bible.  Less was known about neuroplasticity then, and Dr. Ashton came from an addiction medicine background, so she was fully against ANY updosing, however, she did allow holds, something BB was oddly stern against, depending where on the site you went. We obviously have found through so many people that holds do work for some people.  Now other areas of the site spoke ill about the micro taper woman.  I never dealt with her, only read the thread.  Ashton was also for putting prole on AD's to help with the Benzo WD, something we now know does not help, and just gives you something else to WD off later.  I feel the same about adding benzo's to an AD WD, Benzo's are just as hard if not harder depending on your specific makeup and drug/medication past, so think about adding a Benzo like adding a second substance that will suck at least as much as your AD WD did, and many people are affected for upwards of 7 years after coming off of Benzo's+ of not being able to have novocaine, steroids, plus some antibiotics, even ibuprofen and acetaminophen, ANY medications, even narcotics can set you off, and the end time for this happening, no one knows.  It also usually makes people super sensitive to meds that put you out for surgery (like propofol), and in pre-surgery they generally use benzo's, and many people who stop benzo's have them turn paradoxical on them if they try them, even years later, which means instead of calming you down it will rev up your CNS, and it is like the worst hell on earth!  Your CNS revs up, and no one knows when it will stop- there is NO drug to calm this down!  See why I say do not add a benzo to AD WD?  Benzo's only help with sleep for a short time, and you can be physically addicted in just a couple of weeks of regular use.  Guidelines from the manufacturers say that use should be under a few weeks total, if that tells you anything. The manufacturers seem to under report everything (Big Pharma, anyway), so this is truly scary.

 

Now to AD vs Benzo WD's

 

My doc agreed to help take me off of my 3 AD's, and then put me on a different one, as everything had pooped out on me.  I was on one of the 3 for 7 years, and the other 2 for about 4 or 5 years.  He agreed to help me come off of the AD's and place me on another one.  He did a virtual CT (with less than 3 weeks for each drug, on SA, this is CT.  I was on a high dose Wellbutrin, and SNRI, and 2 SSRI's, Trazodone, and Pristiq.  So I came off all of them, and my doc suddenly has a change of heart, will not prescribe a single SSRI, but has NO ISSUES prescribing what I think is the MOST addictive Benzo out there, XANAX!!! I had started this whole thing in October, and my anxiety was so bad by the beginning of December, he put me on Xanax.  The symptoms that came on after that were worsening over time were the expected, worsening depression, fatigue, anorexia, loss of interest in anything, agoraphobia, and severe SI.  My doc's reasoning was that I needed a psychiatrist to prescribe a single AD.  I was in no state to find a P-doc, as every time I tried to talk to one, I would cry too hard, and the receptionist could not understand me.  Luckily I had the idea to see my GP, so the psychiatry dept in my local hospital totally stopped taking new patients because they lost one doc, so my GP saw me, and prescribed Lexapro.  This suffering was over regarding the depression.  Note:  My doc did give me the name on ONE psychiatrist, but hen he was not accepting patients, he refused to help me. Hw was going through sever personal crises at home, but I was left in the cold. Now, I am just so happy that I never saw a psychiatrist, as I know my diagnoses would have changed who I am, and my true problem was withdrawal.  I am so thankful that I never was able to see one, and get caught with diagnoses that I would have taken to heart, and would have changed how I see myself.  I am in constant pain, depression is to be expected in this state of mind.

 

Now for the Benzo.  I was on PRN Valium for a permanent condition which gives me muscle spasms in my arms, and shooting pains.  My doc put me on 3mg of Xanax/day for my severe anxiety.  I was on it a total of 4 months.  By the 2nd month, I had interdose WD, starting 3.5 hours after each dose, and was dosing 8 hours, so it was insane.  It took me a month, but the last 4 weeks I was on Xanax, I went to 4 or 6 hour dosing, and also dropped 1 milligram in the process, it was not too bad, because the more frequent dosing helped, but I still had ID WD ever several hours.  I hardly ever slept.  My GP said she did not prescribe Xanax, so she would give me a 12 week taper cycle to get to zero, that was all she would do for me.  My other doc, said he would let me switch me from 2mg of Xanax to 20mg/day of Valium in one day.  According to the Ashton Manual, 2mg of Xanax is equal to 40mg of Valium!!!!  He gave me no other option, because of other meds I must take for my medical condition.  So in April 2016, I stopped Xanax, which has a half life of about 4 hours (just an average), so by 4 hours, 50% of the medicine was gone out of my system, and I was in full WD.  Over the next 4 months, I had over 50 signs and symptoms, which are spelled out symptom by symptom on my thread, if you have interest: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12819-skeeters-journey/  Now I did not have all of them at once they all came and went, but they put my normal pain condition to shame, and I have one of the most painful conditions know to exist.   WD is truly the worst thing I have ever gone through to date.  I went back and started reading my notes form each time a couple of weeks ago, and just remembering those times is so very painful!  I also ended up with GI problems that are maybe not on the list, but now nearly a year after the benzo switch, are finally clearing up.  I became lactose intolerant, and also was severely sensitive to artificial sugars.  If I had any artificial sugar, I spent the next 8 hours in agony.  I had to avoid everything that said sugarless, diet, light, "lite", low calorie or calorie free.  After learning more about artificial sweeteners, I have no interest in them now.  I do know I am not seriously sensitive anymore, though.  Now anyone knows the Ashton Manual, knows that a cross taper takes months to successfully do, but that option was not allowed for me.  So I did a crossover.  it was brutal. I was bedridden with AD WD, but was ABLE to get up when needed to.  I could NOT with Xanax WD.  Now when I dropped 5mg at one time off of the Valium, that was difficult, but nothing compared to the Xanax WD, IMO.  This does not mean my Valium WD will be easier, just easier than Xanax for me personally.  I will do it slowly and carefully.

 

So, which WD was worse?  The AD's or the Benzo?

I am sure from the writing, anyone would guess that I would say Benzo.  If you ask me which was more BRUTAL, it was the Benzo.  I was not totally bedridden with the AD, but I was so very physically ill with the Benzo that I could not walk unassisted (so yes, totally bedridden).  All I could register every moment was PAIN.  Everything was too bright, sounds too loud, I was miserable every single second, but 90% of the symptoms were physical.  With the AD, 90% of the symptoms were mental.  It was grueling, I could not escape my mind, my rumination, the thoughts of suicide, it was unrelenting.  I had no windows with either, until the end of the 4th month after the Xanax to Valium switch, then they finally started.  I am still healing now.  Neuroemotions are a problem for me, which is not easy, but easier than full WD.  I  had so many people send me PM's (when I was a member of BB, a place I cannot go now, as the stories there are so frightening for me) from those coming off of AD's. NL/AP's, and say, "Wow- my symptoms are so similar to what you went though with your Benzo WD."  I have read it in their threads.  It really does depend on the person.  it also depends on the person's outlook.  I had no hope during my AD issues, but I did, despite the physical pain for the Benzo (but I am also used to physical pain, so maybe that is why- I have copng mechanisms for physical pain, not so much for mental pain.  I learned what to do to self soothe for short periods of time, so I had short breaks from the Benzo WD, but with he AD, I had no breaks.  I also still deal with increased pain. so I do struggle with that, as my normal pain is indescribable, so adding more to it is exhausting still now. 

And off my soapbox.

 

I am sorry this was so long, but I wanted to get this out there in case anyone had interest, since I had the misfortune of doing one right after the other.  it still annoys me off to no end that my doc would not give me a simple SSRI, but without a thought, gave me the MOST addictive benzo (IMHO) out there without the blink of an eye.  I was not well enough to do the research I always do for every med I take, so I do know I have some culpability there.  Please ask any questions you may have.

 

Be careful when taking any benzo. Please do not take it to "get through" AD WD My blood runs cold at the thought of ever having to get off Xanax again.  I will never, ever take that again.  The WD was too brutal for far too long, and started before the switch, as I was dealing with interdose WD already. I am understandably nervous of coming off of the Valium, but I will deal with it when I cross that bridge.

 

Skeeter

 

Current meds: Lexapro 20mg, Valium 6.25mg
Current status: September 2018 forced to go down to 10mg of Valium/Diazepam from around 15mg, with the plan to have me totally of in 2 more months. I was not given a chance to give input at tapering at this speed, please go much, much slower. Luckily I found a new doctor, but was thrown off course by my rapid taper, as of 2/19 am down to 6.25mg, and am stable. Will update with dates of taper ASAP.
Read my history here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12819-skeeters-journey/

   
I am NOT a doctor. My opinions are just that- MY opinions, based on my personal experiences and research, but your experience and reactions may differ greatly, we are all different! I maintain that a doctor educated in withdrawal is the best place to get info or to get the "go ahead" before changing your medications in any way!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think that the advice in this thread is immensely valuable. 

 

I now know believe using Benzo's for less than a month (or once or twice a week) could be helpful, but after that all one is doing is getting themselves addicted to something that they will need to to withdraw from and it's not going to be pleasant.  

 

I initially thought Benzo wd would be nothing compared to the Cymbalta CT wd sx's. 

 

In Nov 2015, I CT'd 20mg of Cymbalta.  Then reinstated 5 weeks later and started using Valium to controll the wd sx's.

 

I decided to remain on the 20mg of Cymbalta.  I feel pretty stable from the Cymbalta no anxiety

 

I am now in the process of tapering from the Valium and the depression and anhedonia are not good.  So if I had it to do over again, I would have stopped the Valium after a month or two.

 

Woof

If on a Benzo for a relatively short period of time, such as less than 6-12 months, one may want to consider tapering off their Benzo first (please see Will Hall's book on Harm Reduction)

 

Prior to commencing with an AD taper please consider what problems the AD is causing, as tapering is an extremely serious endeavor.   

If one has been on an AD for more than 10 yrs. please consider the potential long term negative consequences of AD withdrawal prior to tapering. (please see Drs. Healy, Glenmullen and Shipko) 

Prior to re-starting an AD taper, please do not resume tapering until all w/d sx's from any prior taper, especially CT, have resolved. 

 

2004 - Dec. 2015,  Cymbalta 20mg/d  for neck pain - Never had problems with Cymbalta.   Dec 2015, CT 20mg/d Cymbalta.  5 weeks later reinstated 20mg/d Cymbalta - without increase in CT sx's.   

Feb 2016 STARTED VALIUM 25mg/d for CT Cymbalta wd sxs.    Jan-April 2016 Held Cymbalta 20mg/d - doing pretty well (AM 3/10 anxiety and 3/10 tinnitus)

April 2016, CT Cymbalta sx's had not yet resolved and I prematurely tapered 10% q 4 wks x 3 mos.  After 3rd cut developed 10/10 wd sx's of Anxiety, Anhedonia, Anorexia, Panic attacks, dark, incresaed Valium to 28mg/d. 

November 2016, after 3 cuts, UP-DOSED all (41 beads) back up to 20mg (193 beads total) Cymbalta - from , dark to light.

VALIUM TAPER: Jan 2017 28mg to March 2019 Zero   Cymbalta has partially stabilized and helped with the Valium taper.  The only sx I have now is 3/10 Tinnitus, which I only notice when it is quiet.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/11900-woof-cymbalta-re-stabilization-after-cold-turkey-withdrawal/  Benzo Posts http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/11951-woof-valium-scheduling-and-dosage-with-cymbalta-wd-symptoms/

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  • Mentor

Hi Woof:

 

I tapered off of Valium with no WD symptoms. I was on it quite a long time. (I can't remember, you'll have to read my signature).

 

I'm currently tapering off Lexapro. Just when I think I'm going to make the next taper, BAM! Nausea sets in. And I'm updosing. So Lexapro is kicking my b***. I don't have any other symptoms, I'm lucky. I keep telling myself that.

 

I also take Xanax. I don't think I could get through the WD with Lexapro. When I'm done with Lexapro, I'm giving my body 6 months before trying to taper from Xanax.

 

Good luck on your WD. :)

 

Take care,

Frogie xx

PREVIOUS medications and discontinuations: Have been on medications since 1996. 

 Valium, Gabapentin, Lamictal and Prilosec from 2000 to 2015 with a fast taper by a psychiatrist.

 Liquid Lexapro Nov, 2016 to 31-March, 2019 Lexapro free!!! (total Lexapro taper was 4 years-started with pill form)

---CURRENT MEDICATIONS:Supplements:Milk Thistle, Metamucil, Magnesium Citrate, Vitamin D3, Levothyroxine

 Xanax 1mg three times a day June, 2000 to 19-September, 2020 Went from .150 grams (average weight of 1 Xanax) three times a day to .003 grams three times a day.

19-September, 2020 Xanax free!!! (total Xanax taper was 15-1/2 months-1-June, 2019-19-September, 2020)

 

 

I am not a medical professional. The suggestions I make are based on personal experience.

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Thanks all for sharing your thoughts and experience!

 

Frogie, how did Xanax help with your Lexapro WD? Can you share more details?

 

Thanks!

Lex

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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  • Mentor

Thanks all for sharing your thoughts and experience!

Frogie, how did Xanax help with your Lexapro WD? Can you share more details?

Thanks!

Lex

I'm still tapering Lexapro. In fact in the last 10 days, I think, I've gone up .6 in my dosage of Lexapro. I just keep getting really sick to my stomach if I get in the 7's.

 

I just think Xanax has kept me calm through the nausea and updosing. As calm as calm can be through this horrible ordeal!

 

Thanks!

Frogie xx

PREVIOUS medications and discontinuations: Have been on medications since 1996. 

 Valium, Gabapentin, Lamictal and Prilosec from 2000 to 2015 with a fast taper by a psychiatrist.

 Liquid Lexapro Nov, 2016 to 31-March, 2019 Lexapro free!!! (total Lexapro taper was 4 years-started with pill form)

---CURRENT MEDICATIONS:Supplements:Milk Thistle, Metamucil, Magnesium Citrate, Vitamin D3, Levothyroxine

 Xanax 1mg three times a day June, 2000 to 19-September, 2020 Went from .150 grams (average weight of 1 Xanax) three times a day to .003 grams three times a day.

19-September, 2020 Xanax free!!! (total Xanax taper was 15-1/2 months-1-June, 2019-19-September, 2020)

 

 

I am not a medical professional. The suggestions I make are based on personal experience.

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  • Moderator

We don't know much about all of the neurotransmitters in the brain.

 

Whether you are withdrawing from a drug which affects dopamine, GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine - 

 

I believe it is changes to the neurotransmitters that make withdrawal hard.  My withdrawals are now around 20 years ago - as my recent tapers were slow (I highly recommend that wherever possible). I thought I might need valium to "knock me down," if I went manic - but doc wouldn't go there.  Turns out she was right.  I never needed PRN anything, and I've now come to believe that would only make it worse.

 

Using benzos to help with SSRIs, and using SSRI's to help with benzos - well - do you see the trap?  It's like using barbed wire to remove splinters - making the journey longer (and possibly harder).

 

Skeeter, thank you for bravely sharing your story here.  It may be that a gentle taper from benzos is more successful than SSRI's.  There really are very few cases of anyone who has "done it right" the whole way - like BrassMonkey.  Most of us are tales of cold-switches, failed bridges, too-fast tapers and cold turkeys.  Even my own slow taper had some major errors on it (I was lucky).

 

The other thing to consider (sorry to be a downer) in all those success stories is this:  on SA we have criteria for posting a success story.  We want to see that you've been at least a year off the drugs and doing well.  BB may not have that criteria, and people post "ALL BETTER NOW" when maybe they still have more coming.  I know we've had to correct new members who tell us stories like that, and we've moved them to Intro threads, because we knew they weren't "done yet."

 

If there's one thing I've learned from SA - it's - however you feel now - window or wave, just wait.  It will change.  Again.  So people who report "I've been off the drugs 3 months, all better now," I'm afraid I don't believe that's "recovery," or if it is, it's really rare.  (I don't believe in "recovery" - because what are we recovering?  Who we were before the drugs?  Excuse me? But I don't want to be that woman, she was pretty crazy.  I believe in "better.")

 

I know less about benzos, but I know on SSRI's, even a careful taper can still have a stinger in the tail months, even over a year, down the road.  Benzos, it seems to be more that the protracted stuff comes from long use (poop out), interdose withdrawals (kindling), cold switches, cold turkeys, and too-fast tapers (not listening to symptoms, no reinstatement, because benzo users are treated like junkies, even if they take as prescribed).  Once it goes to protracted, all bets are off as to which one heals better or faster.

 

Now, before you think I'm being harsh - consider that my criterion for "protracted" is a lot longer than the medical profession, which says that 6 weeks is a reasonable taper, and withdrawal after that does not exist or is very rare.  In my experience from here at SA and in my personal circles - it's common to get whiplash 6-12 months after quitting a drug.  And because of that delay - people forget.  And because of the delay, they don't blame the drug.  So 6-12 months of withdrawal = still quite normal, in my book.  Common.  

 

If I was Neo, and Morpheus gave me a red pill (an SSRI) or a blue pill (a benzo) and I had to take one or the other, I know how I would choose.  If I couldn't run out of the room and avoid the pills altogether, I'd take the blue one, because I've never been addicted, and I believe, based on my history, that I would metabolise it better.  But my first preference is to avoid them altogether, and that's JUST ONE PILL.  But you see how I decided that?  I've never been on them for longer than a month (history), I've never had tolerance, switches, tachyphylaxis (poop out), kindling, interdose - none of that.  I've had all of those on antidepressants.

 

So - it's who you are, your history, your reactions, and your own choices.  The danger of the benzo is it's seductiveness.  Here, take this, feel something right away.  Until it doesn't work anymore (then your problems really begin).  The SSRI has an "uncomfortable factor" - it feels like taking something awful, you have to adjust to it (that 3 weeks), and you may never be able to come off it.  

 

It's like asking - which is worse - to starve? or to dehydrate?  

 

Better, like Chessie said,  to address where you are now, and try to get better from it.

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna

 

Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.

 

My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.

 

A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.


The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/

 

 

I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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  • 2 weeks later...
AwareButStruggling

IMHO, the most dangerous thing is an SSRI + benzo combination prescribed at the same time. With benzo alone in the lineup, it is easier to notice the depressive, fogging effects, and recognize the tolerance earlier. Without the SSRI to cover up the symptoms, a lot of benzos become self-limiting as their sedating and fogging effects become more easily recognized, causing the person to sometimes intuitively decide not to take them once the crisis is over.

 

With an SSRI alone, it is easier to recognize which one is disagreeing with you, and eliminate the offending anti-depressant quickly. There is no benzo on board to mask the anxiogenic properties of an offending SSRI

 

However, the combination of the two is the most devastating. The SSRI will mask the depressive effects of a benzodiazepine for a while (or a benzo may mask the agitating effects of an SSRI), and some SSRI's may even potentiate the benzodiazepine taken. And then the benzodiazepine taken may slowly start to make the CNS more sensitive to an SSRI/AD, causing a complete confusion in the patient, wondering which psych med is backfiring on them. Then, the "off" feeling arises, and it become unclear which med is causing the problems. If you taper the SSRI first, then you are potentially left with a bad SSRI withdrawal and an unmasked benzo-induced depression and dependence. If you taper the benzo first, then the SSRI keeps getting more and more agitating, which may prompt a doctor to keep switching the anti-depressants, which causes confusion in the patient, as each new SSRI may exhibit a slightly different effect on the serotonin reuptake mechanism, causing the CNS instability, at which point a benzo may be re-introduced.....

Prozac 1997- 2013, stopped after 1 month short-taper. 

Ativan  0.5mg intermittent use, end of 2010 - end of 2014

Ativan  up to 2-3mg/day Dec 2014/Jan 2015

Partial Valium crossover: down to 0.5mg/day Ativan and 10mg/day Valium (2015-2017)

(2/2018 - 10/2018, tapered down Valium from 10mg to 3.75mg Valium per day) (HOLDING at 3.75mg/day)

(10/2018) - Ativan 0.5mg a day (HOLDING @ 0.5mg since mid 2017)

11/2018 - Cut valium to 2.5mg a day

3/23/2019 - Cut Buspar from 20mg to 15mg/day (intense symptoms)

4/4/2019 - Updosed Buspar from 15mg to 17mg

4/13/2019 - Ativan - 0.48mg/day

4/17/2019 - Buspar down to 16mg/day

4/24/2019 - Buspar down to 15mg/day

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I think this is a great thread.

 

Jan Carol's Doc did well by her.

 

I believe my experience is an example of some of the comments above with reference to which is worse - it depends on the situation.

 

I placed myself in the unfortunate position of using Valium to help control my CT Cymbalta wd sx's.

 

This was a huge mistake and part of the reason I did so was, because in the past I had tapered off of Valium with minimal sx's, so I thought I could just do that again.

 

However, when I did my first Valium taper I was on stable on Cymbalta with a stable CNS; as I had not yet CT'd off Cymbalta and thrown my CNS into complete destabilization.

 

So in stark contrast to my previous Valium taper I am now having severe problems tapering off of the Valium - even with 2 month holds of 10% cuts.

 

Because of my mistakes, I am definitely worse off now than I was a year ago, when all my emotions were intact and my gut was great; I just had some AM anxiety and the 2-4 AM wake up.

 

I now have constant 9/10 Anhedonia, 9/10 Panic attacks every morning, 7/10 anxiety from 4AM to 4PM.

 

During the first 4 weeks of my Valium wd sx's are relatively mild, then boom I get hit with a different set of symptoms - I think that may be the Cymbalta being unmasked.

If on a Benzo for a relatively short period of time, such as less than 6-12 months, one may want to consider tapering off their Benzo first (please see Will Hall's book on Harm Reduction)

 

Prior to commencing with an AD taper please consider what problems the AD is causing, as tapering is an extremely serious endeavor.   

If one has been on an AD for more than 10 yrs. please consider the potential long term negative consequences of AD withdrawal prior to tapering. (please see Drs. Healy, Glenmullen and Shipko) 

Prior to re-starting an AD taper, please do not resume tapering until all w/d sx's from any prior taper, especially CT, have resolved. 

 

2004 - Dec. 2015,  Cymbalta 20mg/d  for neck pain - Never had problems with Cymbalta.   Dec 2015, CT 20mg/d Cymbalta.  5 weeks later reinstated 20mg/d Cymbalta - without increase in CT sx's.   

Feb 2016 STARTED VALIUM 25mg/d for CT Cymbalta wd sxs.    Jan-April 2016 Held Cymbalta 20mg/d - doing pretty well (AM 3/10 anxiety and 3/10 tinnitus)

April 2016, CT Cymbalta sx's had not yet resolved and I prematurely tapered 10% q 4 wks x 3 mos.  After 3rd cut developed 10/10 wd sx's of Anxiety, Anhedonia, Anorexia, Panic attacks, dark, incresaed Valium to 28mg/d. 

November 2016, after 3 cuts, UP-DOSED all (41 beads) back up to 20mg (193 beads total) Cymbalta - from , dark to light.

VALIUM TAPER: Jan 2017 28mg to March 2019 Zero   Cymbalta has partially stabilized and helped with the Valium taper.  The only sx I have now is 3/10 Tinnitus, which I only notice when it is quiet.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/11900-woof-cymbalta-re-stabilization-after-cold-turkey-withdrawal/  Benzo Posts http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/11951-woof-valium-scheduling-and-dosage-with-cymbalta-wd-symptoms/

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Thanks very much woof! Your experience is valuable and can help many thinking my way.

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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AwareButStruggling

I think it also depends on the circumstances in a person's life. At one point, a strategically used benzo once in a blue moon (i.e. family member in ICU) was a life saver. However, bad life situations arise, and the mind remembers what was helpful at one point, leading a person into a benzo trap many years later in a very slow insidious way.....

 

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Barbara Gordon, but she was Rx'd valium in her mid 20's for muscle spasms, later corrected by a back surgery. She got off of it without problems, and about 10 years passed until she started getting panic attacks at her work, and the new Psychiatrist she saw started Rx'ing valium to her. That time, it caught on in a very bad way. This was the 70's though, so there were no support sites, so she Cold Turkeyed off of 30mg Valium after 9 years of use. She made it through it, but it was beyond ugly for her.

 

http://people.com/archive/tv-producer-barbara-gordon-danced-to-valiums-tune-and-landed-in-a-mental-ward-vol-11-no-24/

 

But then, on the other hand, you have someone like Leah Harris who was Rx'd Prozac as a young teen and greatly harmed by it..... She also recovered

nicely.

 

Prozac 1997- 2013, stopped after 1 month short-taper. 

Ativan  0.5mg intermittent use, end of 2010 - end of 2014

Ativan  up to 2-3mg/day Dec 2014/Jan 2015

Partial Valium crossover: down to 0.5mg/day Ativan and 10mg/day Valium (2015-2017)

(2/2018 - 10/2018, tapered down Valium from 10mg to 3.75mg Valium per day) (HOLDING at 3.75mg/day)

(10/2018) - Ativan 0.5mg a day (HOLDING @ 0.5mg since mid 2017)

11/2018 - Cut valium to 2.5mg a day

3/23/2019 - Cut Buspar from 20mg to 15mg/day (intense symptoms)

4/4/2019 - Updosed Buspar from 15mg to 17mg

4/13/2019 - Ativan - 0.48mg/day

4/17/2019 - Buspar down to 16mg/day

4/24/2019 - Buspar down to 15mg/day

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  • Moderator Emeritus

IMHO, the most dangerous thing is an SSRI + benzo combination prescribed at the same time. With benzo alone in the lineup, it is easier to notice the depressive, fogging effects, and recognize the tolerance earlier. Without the SSRI to cover up the symptoms, a lot of benzos become self-limiting as their sedating and fogging effects become more easily recognized, causing the person to sometimes intuitively decide not to take them once the crisis is over.

 

With an SSRI alone, it is easier to recognize which one is disagreeing with you, and eliminate the offending anti-depressant quickly. There is no benzo on board to mask the anxiogenic properties of an offending SSRI

 

However, the combination of the two is the most devastating. The SSRI will mask the depressive effects of a benzodiazepine for a while (or a benzo may mask the agitating effects of an SSRI), and some SSRI's may even potentiate the benzodiazepine taken. And then the benzodiazepine taken may slowly start to make the CNS more sensitive to an SSRI/AD, causing a complete confusion in the patient, wondering which psych med is backfiring on them. Then, the "off" feeling arises, and it become unclear which med is causing the problems. If you taper the SSRI first, then you are potentially left with a bad SSRI withdrawal and an unmasked benzo-induced depression and dependence. If you taper the benzo first, then the SSRI keeps getting more and more agitating, which may prompt a doctor to keep switching the anti-depressants, which causes confusion in the patient, as each new SSRI may exhibit a slightly different effect on the serotonin reuptake mechanism, causing the CNS instability, at which point a benzo may be re-introduced.....

 

 

Aware-

Great post on how one drug's effects can cover up the other's.  You bring up a great point for another reason not to take a benzo to help with SSRI WD!  Thank you for a wonderful contribution!

 

A quick explanation:  awarebutstrugging mentions above that an SSRI may potentiate the benzo being taken.  When one drug potentiates the effect(s) of another, it means that it may make the "potentiated" drug act more strongly than usual (increases the effects).  You may have issues, in this case, with the Benzo causing  more drowsiness than usual, or even confusion, depending on how you react. I find it smart to check any new OTC or prescription drug or supplement on an interaction checker (drugs.com has a decent one), against all of the pills/meds/drugs/supplements you already take, and do not forget to add any drugs taken as needed (PRN).  

 

Skeeter

Current meds: Lexapro 20mg, Valium 6.25mg
Current status: September 2018 forced to go down to 10mg of Valium/Diazepam from around 15mg, with the plan to have me totally of in 2 more months. I was not given a chance to give input at tapering at this speed, please go much, much slower. Luckily I found a new doctor, but was thrown off course by my rapid taper, as of 2/19 am down to 6.25mg, and am stable. Will update with dates of taper ASAP.
Read my history here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12819-skeeters-journey/

   
I am NOT a doctor. My opinions are just that- MY opinions, based on my personal experiences and research, but your experience and reactions may differ greatly, we are all different! I maintain that a doctor educated in withdrawal is the best place to get info or to get the "go ahead" before changing your medications in any way!

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  • 3 weeks later...

hi,

 

symptoms of ssri or benzo are very similar

 

if someone takes an antidepressant and a benzo, the experience  shows that starting the taper with the antidepressant is better advice

antidepressants seem more nasty than benzos

for anxiety 

12 years paxil - cold turkey 1,5 month - switch celexa 1 year taper; total 13 years on brain meds 

67 years old - 9 years  med free

 

in protracted withdrawal

rigidity standing and walking, dryness gougerot-szoegren, sleep deteriorate,

function as have a lack of nerves, improving have been very little 

 

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  • Moderator

Before encountering SA, I tapered Imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant which, I learned later, acts as a "brake," while leaving in place the more activating Lexapro.  I had tapered from 75mg Imipramine to 25mg when I started experiencing anxiety the Imipramine had been masking for many years.  Now I'm tapering the Lexapro with better results.  I still also have Lorazepam to deal with once I finish tapering the Lexapro.  Don't know which I'll go off next, Imipramine or Lorazepam, but that's a couple of years down the road.

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg.


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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Madeleine , I've also commented on the few months thing. Seems quite common from my reading.

Bubbles

2005 St John's Wort / 2006-2012 Lexapro 20mg, 2 failed attempts to stop, tapered over 4.5 months in early 2012

January 2013 started Sertraline, over time worked up to 100mg

July 2014 Sertraline dropped from 100mg to 75mg, held for six months, slower tapering until 2019 22 Dec 3.2mg

2020 Sertraline 19 Jan 3.1mg, 26 Jan 3.0mg; 1 Mar 2.9, 7 Mar 2.8, May (some drops here) 24 May 2.5, May 29 2.4, June 21 2.3, June 28 2.2mg,  July 4 2.1mg, July 24 (or maybe a bit before) 2mg, early Nov switched to home made suspension; 29 Nov 1.8mg; approx 25 Dec 1.6mg)

 

My thread here at SA: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/1775-bubbles/page/17/

CurrentSertraline: 24 Dec 2020 1.6 mg / Armour Thyroid / endless allergy meds, erg

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was recently referred to benzo buddies http://www.benzobuddies.org/forum/index.php?board=89.0for more success stories. I found tons success stories just for the year of 2017, and most are from much shorter tapering (less than a year).

 

Wow, so we who are on ssri are in the worst hit of all, in the order of street drugs, benzo, SSirs with increasing difficulty in withdrawal???!!!

 

This new awareness is very heart hardening.

I happened to be in Benzo that you mentioned yesterday and I thought about what you were thinking and then I happened to see your message
I think Benzo is a thousand times stronger than ssri, so something here does not work out for me
My conclusion is that the stories in this forum are frightening and negative and we are attracted to it and produce such stories for ourselves, so it is difficult for us in taper and wd and there (benzo buddie) there are positive and reinforcing stories.

 so weaning is more successful for them

What do you think?

2007-2015- zoloft 100 mg
5-8/2015 taper zoloft 12.5 mg every 2 weeks
3/2016 -11/16 lexapro 20 mg

taper lexapro every month by 30%

11/4/17-lexapro 3.5 mg

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I think Benzo is a thousand times stronger than ssri,

the experience and testimonies show that they are similar in suffering

and the more nasty of the two is not the benzo but the antidepressant

so when someone takes the two, it is recommended to taper the antidepressant first, the more nasty, and finish with the benzo

 

a benzo acts immediately on a brain, the antidepressant can take 2 weeks or more to act on brain, so we could think the badddest is benzo, it is the contrary

for anxiety 

12 years paxil - cold turkey 1,5 month - switch celexa 1 year taper; total 13 years on brain meds 

67 years old - 9 years  med free

 

in protracted withdrawal

rigidity standing and walking, dryness gougerot-szoegren, sleep deteriorate,

function as have a lack of nerves, improving have been very little 

 

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I think Benzo is a thousand times stronger than ssri,

the experience and testimonies show that they are similar in suffering

and the more nasty of the two is not the benzo but the antidepressant

so when someone takes the two, it is recommended to taper the antidepressant first, the more nasty, and finish with the benzo

 

a benzo acts immediately on a brain, the antidepressant can take 2 weeks or more to act on brain, so we could think the badddest is benzo, it is the contrary

 

but benzo is more nasty, because its addective

2007-2015- zoloft 100 mg
5-8/2015 taper zoloft 12.5 mg every 2 weeks
3/2016 -11/16 lexapro 20 mg

taper lexapro every month by 30%

11/4/17-lexapro 3.5 mg

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SSRIs are addictive too -- but maybe in a slightly different way. If they aren't addictive, why else would such a huge percentage of us feel so bad if we miss a dose and have withdrawals when we taper and get off?

Dec 1, 2016. 10 mg zyprexa for 1.5 month. Started taper mid-Jan. 2017. Cut 1.25 mg every 2 weeks; smaller cuts 2.5 mg down. Stopped at .6 mg. May 7, 2017: zyprexa free. 
Zoloft: Dec1, 2016, 200 mg. Started taper: Jun12, 2017: 197.5 mg; Jun19,:195 mg; July 2:185mg; July 9,:180 mg; July16,: 175; July 23: 170; July 30: 165; Aug6: 160; Aug13: 155; Aug. 20: 150; Aug.27: 146 mg; Sept3: 145 mg; Sept10:143 mg; Sept17:140 mg....Nov5: 122 mg...Dec3:112.5 mg; Jan14, 2018: 95 mg...Jan28: 90 mg; Feb21:80 mg; Mar11: 75 mg; May2:70 mg; May15: 68 mg; May28: 65 mg; Jun9: 62 mg;Jun25: 60 mg:July22: 55 mg; Aug25: 45 mg. Aug28: 50 mg...Oct 28: 38 mg; Dec.4: 30 mg; Jan8,2019: 25mg; Feb6: 23.5 mg; Apr1:17.5mg; May1:1 mg; May 5: 18;  May 18:15mg; June 16:12.5mg; Sept 10:11 mg; Sept.16:10 mg; Oct. 1: 9mg; Nov. 27: 8mg; Dec.5: 7mg; Jan.1,2020, 6 mg; Feb1: 5 mg; May 1: 2.5 mg; Jn 1: 2 mg; Jy 1: 1.5 mg
Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pw4tjImAJ92OIVyRvZoZYjqxiKMk7wvp-ljiIi1olRo/edit#gid=0

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The most interesting thing about SSRI for me is that they remove the ability for introspection about their effects on you. They are very insidious and the effect builds over months and years of using it so eventually the person loses more of the ability to see what has changed in a negative way about them from taking them. Other psych drugs can do this but SSRI is very deadly because of the very gradual onset of this degradation of insight makes it hard to detect. From my personal experience it is often only realized through accidental withdrawal, which is not so common with SSRIs. Accidental withdrawal happens super frequently with benzos even taking always at prescribed times making the user aware at semi frequent intervals that their behaviour under the influence of the benzo was very off.

 

The withdrawal from either is obviously bad although I have had partial-seizures from benzo withdrawal as per my neurologist. (From when I originally did it before I found this forum I cold turkeyed 6 mg clonazepam which isn't ideal situation for comparing withdrawals)

 

The withdrawal will usually (not always as we have many reports from long and short time users who have contrary experience) be much worse the longer you have been taking either, so that even as the physical dependency builds you are habituated to the emotionally numbing effects and it is hard to live without them. Almost like the emotional centers of your brain are atrophied (not literally, I don't think anyone really knows whats going on in the brain of chronic SSRI user) from not having emotion while at the same time the drug is suppressing those same areas. It's a double whammy and a very vicious cycle and now the user is unprepared to deal with the emotional aspects of life, then add withdrawal not done in a slow and controlled fashion and without proper supports and you have disaster (common SSRI story). This is just my opinion as a psych polydrug user since a young age and nothing professional.

April / 2016: Cipralex 10 mg, Mirtazapine 30 mg, Lyrica 600 mg, Diazepam 20 mg, Bystolic 5 mg

2018: Lots of polypharmacy which is undocumented here. Started and stopped several drugs and changed doses of existing ones

August / 2018: Back on track! Cipralex 15 mg, Mirtazapine 7.5 mg, Diazepam 15 mg

September 2018: Cipralex 15 mg -> 12.5 mg

October 2018: Cipralex 12.5 mg -> 10 mg, Mirtazapine 7.5 mg -> 3.75 mg -> Stopped, Diazepam 15 mg

November 2019: Cipralex 5 mg, Diazepam 10 mg

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On ‎5‎/‎30‎/‎2017 at 2:41 AM, Lorin said:
I happened to be in Benzo that you mentioned yesterday and I thought about what you were thinking and then I happened to see your message
I think Benzo is a thousand times stronger than ssri, so something here does not work out for me
My conclusion is that the stories in this forum are frightening and negative and we are attracted to it and produce such stories for ourselves, so it is difficult for us in taper and wd and there (benzo buddie) there are positive and reinforcing stories.

 so weaning is more successful for them

What do you think?

You might want to read the protracted withdrawal thread on benzobuddies, you will see exactly how similar the two types of drugs are for those that are sensitive or and came off too fast.  It is interesting, if you did not know they were benzodiazepines, you would think they had antidepressant protracted withdrawal stories. Almost identical, really.

Current meds: Lexapro 20mg, Valium 6.25mg
Current status: September 2018 forced to go down to 10mg of Valium/Diazepam from around 15mg, with the plan to have me totally of in 2 more months. I was not given a chance to give input at tapering at this speed, please go much, much slower. Luckily I found a new doctor, but was thrown off course by my rapid taper, as of 2/19 am down to 6.25mg, and am stable. Will update with dates of taper ASAP.
Read my history here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12819-skeeters-journey/

   
I am NOT a doctor. My opinions are just that- MY opinions, based on my personal experiences and research, but your experience and reactions may differ greatly, we are all different! I maintain that a doctor educated in withdrawal is the best place to get info or to get the "go ahead" before changing your medications in any way!

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  • 7 months later...

Just my theory on this thread. Isn’t benzo withdrawal more highly recognized? I think more benzo users realize the medication is the problem thus joining BenzoBuddies and working through withdrawal and posting a success story. Antidepressant is the opposite people point the finger at the person not the medication for problems thus not joining Surviving Antidepressants and not posting a success story.

2005-2015 sertaline, 2015 to November 2018 escatalopram. Used liquid titration to drop doses. By 0.5mg at first then drops as small as 0.01mg at end of taper. Jumped of at 0.02mg

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  • 3 weeks later...
Thelongestroadhome

I found this article very interesting. Some of the side effects of Benzodiazepine are said to continue for years after withdrawal. https://benzo.org.uk/pws04.htm

 

 

A variety of perceptual and motor symptoms are characteristic of benzodiazepine withdrawal (Table 1). These usually subside during the acute withdrawal phase, but may sometimes be prolonged.

1. Tinnitus. Tinnitus may initially result from generalised sensory hypersensitivity seen in early withdrawal, but may persist after the symptoms have disappeared. Busto et al.(43) describe two cases of tinnitus persisting for 6 and 12 months after benzodiazepine withdrawal, and they mention a third patient who was unable to withdraw because of severe tinnitus at each attempt. Ashton(1) reported four cases of intractable unilateral or bilateral tinnitus first appearing during benzodiazepine withdrawal and persisting over several years. Three of these patients had symmetrical bilateral hearing defects, which may have been a causative or aggravating factor. Other case reports have appeared sporadically in the literature. Tinnitus, which is often experienced as being precisely localised, can reach almost intolerable levels. One patient described her tinnitus as "a needle of sound" piercing somewhere deep inside her head.

2. Paraesthesiae. Tingling or numbness in the extremities, scalp, or face is common in benzodiazepine withdrawal and in anxiety states and may be associated with hyperventilation. It may persist as continuing "pins and needles"(6) or as severe burning pain without demonstrable neurological cause(5). Two such cases were described by Ashton(1).

Other perceptual disturbances, including sensations of movement, inner vibration, and bizarre skin sensations, may persist in the absence of any detectable psychopathology.

3. Motor Symptoms. Increased muscle tension, hyperreflexia, tremor, fasciculation, and muscle jerking are common in early withdrawal. These signs may represent rebound from the myorelaxant effects of benzodiazepines. However, a range of these symptoms may persist for months or years, including tension, weakness, muscle cramps, tremor, shaking attacks, muscle jerks, and blepharospasm(1,6). As with sensory disturbances, long-lasting motor symptoms are not necessarily associated with high levels of anxiety or other mood disorder.

4. Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Gastrointestinal symptoms are common during chronic benzodiazepine use and in withdrawal and usually fit into such categories as "nervous diarrhoea" or "irritable bowel syndrome", which may be aggravated by hyperventilation(44). Such symptoms may disappear after withdrawal, but are prominent in some patients who develop a post-withdrawal syndrome. Common complaints are of gaseous abdominal distension, lower abdominal pain, and alternating diarrhoea and constipation. Symptoms often appear to be exacerbated by certain foods, and patients may be convinced that they have food allergies or intestinal candidiasis despite negative laboratory findings. However, the incidence of food intolerance and pseudo-allergic reactions is reported to be high in chronic hyperventilators, possibly associated with histamine release(44). The cause of these symptoms in withdrawal is not clear but the effect of benzodiazepine withdrawal on gastrointestinal function and on immune responses merits further attention.

 

 

Current...Drug free since September 2018

December 2007 30mg Lexapro and a benzodiazepine December 2008 25mg, December 2009 20mg, December 2010 15mg Lexapro, December 2011 10mg Lexapro. Long hold as I felt happy with the dose and saw no need at the time to reduce further. September 2015 dropped to 5mg. Terrible anxiety started two months later. June 2016 dropped to 3mg and terrible obsessive thoughts and anxiety so ten days later I reinstated back to 5mg. October 2016 dropped to 4mg. April 2017 dropped to 3mg. September 2017 dropped to 2mg. Terrible obsessive thoughts. Anxiety through the roof. OCD.  September 2018 quit cold turkey 2mg Lexapro. March 2019 feeling better than I have in years. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Just found this tucked away in the Tips for Remeron topic:

 

On 07/07/2012 at 8:29 AM, Altostrata said:

One type of psychiatric drug isn't any easier to go off than another. You might have trouble with one and not trouble with the second, or no trouble with the first and awful withdrawal from the second, or trouble with all of them.

 

Withdrawal symptoms aren't predictable. You just need to go slow, listen to your body, and slow down if you get symptoms.

 

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 

 

Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 6 Feb 2021:  Pristiq 0.365 mg

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 Oct 2015 

My tapering program   My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)  My website

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

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