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AwareButStruggling: tapering off of psych meds

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AwareButStruggling

Moderator's note:  Link to AwareButStruggling's benzo forum thread

 

Hello,

 

I have been going through a very symptomatic taper off of benzodiazepines, and my goal is to keep gradually tapering the Ativan-first, as it is a very potent, short-acting benzodiazepine. I am very familiar with Ashton manual and have found a lot of information on benzodiazepine tapering, but am finding it hard to communicate the bizarreness of symptoms to those who have not been afflicted.

 

I am also wondering if my fairly abrupt discontinuation of Prozac after 16 years of use has worsened the benzodiazepine withdrawal. For roughly around 13 years, 20mg of Prozac was my one and only psychiatric drug. I had some side-effects on it, but my experience with it was not as bad. At times, I could go down to 10mg but could never quite go off of it. Still,  I worked, functioned, and my emotions were very much there. I do speculate, that, after a while, Prozac wasn't really as effective. However, at the same time, I'm pretty sure it was masking the depressive effects of sporadic Ativan use. After a while, the ativan has really sensitized my CNS, all the while I thought it was Prozac doing that, so I tapered the Prozac off in a month, and also stopped taking ativan for a month minus a couple of doses.

 

But looking back, I am not sure if that was the best decision, because I found myself really depressed and disoriented and kept myself on a maintenance dose of ativan just to keep functioning. However, I kept getting worse and worse, not realizing that the prolonged use of ativan along with high stress was worsening the anxiety I was feeling. 

 

I kept going to my doctor and he kept giving me Prozac again, which, once a gentle AD for me, turned into a harsh stimulant. I was also given lexapro, and I tried a few doses, and cut the 10mg tablet in half, but 5mg was too much. Then I tried Lexapro 2.5 (5mg tablet cut in two) and that was too much, as well. I didn't dare try Wellbutrin. I tried 5mg Prozac through this dismal period and even that was stimulating.

 

So, I've arrived to the conclusion that antidepressants will never be an option for me again, and that a slow gradual taper off of ativan, and then valium and then Gabapentin may be the only way to go. I tried a full crossover to valium, but due to such differences in potency and all the crashes and burns due to to all medication starts and stops and changes, I am petrified of trying anything new and just want to reduce the chemical dependency on these psych meds as much as I can and in a safe manner. Currently tapering abut 0,02mg ativan per week or so. Planning a hold once I reach 0.5mg. 

 

I come from a background where anxiolytics and anti-depressants were considered to be very effective tools, and, needless to say, due to my experiences, my relationships to these medications have drastically changed. 

Edited by Shep
added link to Benzo Forum thread

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nz11

Welcome ABS

Thanks for sharing your story.

Peter Breggin wrote a book 'Your drug may be your problem ' and i think that applies to you.

I am a bit confused as to what you are or arent taking at the moment. Are you able to put up a drug sig with the start dates and doses.

After 16 years use a one month taper off prozac is pretty much a cold turkey. Are you able to advise when you got off the prozac.

Wdl symptoms can be delayed for weeks or months.

So glad you found sa. Dont worry you will have no problem communicating wdl symptoms to people here. We get it!

 

I come from a background where anxiolytics and anti-depressants were considered to be very effective tools, and, needless to say, due to my experiences, my relationships to these medications have drastically changed.

I used to be a member of another site that mysteriously closed down a few years back. In the two months or so before that happened a new member came in also on prozac and other stuff and in a bad way. He had some harsh words to say about the medical profession. He was also trying to get off with no help from his doctor and others.

I often wonder what happened to him and how he is.

He was an anesthitist.

One thing we know for sure around here is that doctors are in shameful denial and dismissive of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome.

Are you also one on the inside of the system?

 

I come from a background where anxiolytics and anti-depressants were considered to be very effective tools

Have you come across the book by Robert Whitaker 'Anatomy of an epidemic' in here he has shown that these kinds of drugs are very effective at putting people onto a disability allowance, that they do more harm than good and that benefits have been overstated and risks understated. This award winning book is well worth getting.

He provides overwhelming evidence that the massive skyrocketing of prescribing of these drugs over the last 20 yrs and the huge increase in those with mental and cognitive impairment is not just a correlation its a causation.

 

nz11

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AwareButStruggling

No, I was never in a medical field, but, as a techie, I did briefly work in some Government agencies where benzodiazepines were talked about in very hushed tones, and people would make jokes about them. The street drugs and alcohol were being taken extremely seriously, but benzos would get a brief mention, and the subject would be quickly changed. I wasn't on them at the time, but was curious about their helpfulness/harmfulness. There seemed to be so much stigma about these meds, but it was kind of presented as people taking handfuls of those pills a day and mixing them with God-knows-what-else. The problems with the long term "therapeutic dose" dependence were never discussed. Everything was always framed as use vs abuse, basically.

 

I got a lot of mixed messages about these meds in general, so I was never really sure if I was doing the right thing or not. There was a lot of ambivalence about them. Especially with benzos, I'd meet doctors who either loved to prescribe them or would just be so anti-benzo, that they would literally give me a panic attack with the horror stories and scenarios.....

 

Minimal low-potency benzo use (emergencies, basically) 1990-1997. Probably about 1% of my total benzo intake until now.

Prozac 40mg , late 1997

Prozac 20mg 1998-2002

Xanax 0.25mg 2002 (1 week)

Prozac 2003-2008  (10mg in the Spring/Summer,  20mg in Fall/Winter)

C/T Prozac 20mg in September 2008 

Saw a psychiatrist a month later who told me I'd have to take Prozac for life. Scared me, and I stopped going

However, I reinstated Prozac back to 20mg, thinking I'd quit later

Around 10mg Prozac during 2009-2010 (not quite sure, memory is fuzzy)

Sporadic Ativan use (0.5mg) since Nov/Dec 2010

Very jagged Ativan use throughout 2010-2013, taking a single dose (0.5mg in the AM). Lots of breaks, too

Prozac increased to 20mg in 2012

Lots of stress towards the end of 2013, and the Ativan use escalated to (0.5mg 3-4 times a week) - something felt  "off"

Tapered 20mg Prozac in one month.

Stopped ativan in Jan 2014

Felt very depressed around Feb 2014, lots of crying spells

Resumed taking 0.5mg Ativan out of sheer necessity, as I felt like I had a cold/fatigue all the time, followed with higher anxiety than ever....

Maintained 0.5mg (AM) 3-4 times a week, throughout 2014

Dr changed my script from 0.5mg as needed to 0.5mg up to 4 times per day as needed, and I had no clue why

Another life setback and more stress and I felt like I could not be off ativan for more than 4 days. Panic followed. 

Back to the doctor. Was brushed off as being an anxious person, and the dose was raised to 1-2mg a day

Was all over the place in Jan/Feb 2015, thought I was losing my mind and was going up/down with the dose (1-3mg/day)

Stabilized on 2.5mg/day (0.5mg x 5)

Went to see a psych. She wanted a 3 week switch to 15mg Valium. Couldn't do it. Got to 1.5mg ativan and around 7mg valium, electric shocks started

Found another doctor and started a much slower taper

Added 2.5mg of Valium before starting the ativan taper.

Kept adding valium and reducing ativan (gram scale)

Microtapered ativan down to 1.05mg but added valium slowly to 12.5mg

Kept valium steady at 12.5mg , microtapered ativan to 0.54mg

But due to high anxiety, ended up on Gabapentin and metoprolol (very high BP and elevated heart rate)

 

Basically, the ativan taper literally went like:

 

2.5mg

2mg

1.96mg

1.93mg

1.90mg

1.87mg

1.85mg.

1.82mg

 

I don't remember the exact dates, but I went fairly slow....

 

Once I got to 1.05mg I started getting slower

Getting below 1mg was hell

Had to speed up and got down to 0.75mg as there was a possibility of being C/T'd from everything

 

Found a psychiatrist who saved me (literally)

Continued taper

Going from 0.75mg to 0.60mg was very hard

From 0.60mg to 0.54mg was hellish

Planning to get to 0.5mg ativan and hold for a while - too sick and tired.

 

The valium hasn't changed (12.5mg a day)

Gabapentin went up from taking it 100mg occasionally to 600mg a day, due to a benzo C/T possibilities as my ex-GP

was getting very antagonistic or just scared. Or both .Who knows?

I think he Rx's a lot of SSRI's, benzos, and AP's, but I doubt he has overseen a difficult withdrawal. 

Was forced to work with him as he was one of the rare docs wanting to Rx valium, too....

There was a good psychiatrist I saw for 3 months, but he left practice :(. Back to the ex-GP :(

 

Was offered Klonopin a few times, but was scared I'd have hard time getting off, due to it's potency. 

Liquid titration is something I have very little knowledge and can't wrap my mind around....

 

I used to be a moderate coffee drinker, and stopped C/T in 2014. 

Basically,no cigarette or alcohol use. Never took opiates except for a few days after a surgery and wisdom teeth extraction.

No street drugs ever taken

 

So, I am basically an Rx lab rat.....

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nz11

wow ABS that is some amazing recall you have regarding your drug history.

 

So in summary is this correct:

prozac 20mg 1997-dec 2013; CT dec 13

Ativan 2010- present, currently on 0.54mg

Valium 12mg

gabapentin 600mg from Jan 15(?)

metropolol  ?mg from Jan 15(?)

 

Maybe you could put this summary into your drug sig. This will help the moderators.

How to add or edit your signature

  1. Click on this link to open the correct page in User Settings.
    Create Your Signature in "My Settings".
  2. Enter your signature in the space provided.
  3. When you are done, Click on the big black Save Changes button at the bottom.

If the link isn't working, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the small downward arrow next to your name in the top right corner of any page.
  2. Select My Settings from the list.
  3. On the left of the My Settings page, click on the Signature tab. You will be able to add or edit your signature.
  4. Click on the big black Save Changes button at the bottom when you are done.

 

Saw a psychiatrist a month later who told me I'd have to take Prozac for life

Many people are told this. Its either because the doctor is unscrupulous or ignorant. Whats really required is a safe taper in order to get off these drugs.

 

There is a members only benzo forum that is worth checking out.

Hopefully a mod with benzo experience will pop in and comment soon.

Do you currently feel stable?

Getting out from under these drugs may well be a rather big project. You may need to put aside several years. But people are getting off these drugs and getting their lives back and im sure you will too.

 

Thanks for taking the time to put up a comprehensive back story.

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AwareButStruggling

Thanks. I will check out the benzo forum, but, ironically, I came here to have a bit of a break from my own psych drug recollections and find people I can share experiences with. It's not so much the taper advice that I need, as it is the emotional support that is very hard to find just about anywhere. My head is bursting with all the psych drug stories, information and experiences and advice, but what I am really trying to do is to regain the strength as a human being at the same time. I've shared and read so many tales of dosages and miligram counts, and while I'll definitely create the history, my goal here is a bit different, :)

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nz11

ok sorry to put through a drug history recount.

All the best.

This is a great place to hang out and there are many here in the same boat as yourself so feel free to drop in any time and let us know how ya doin.

Peace

nz11

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AwareButStruggling

I've been really struggling for the last several days after reducing Buspar from 20mg to 15mg a day. The reason for doing so was that I felt extremely detached, which made me feels horribly hopeless and horrifically depressed. I didn't feel myself. I don't have that problem right now. But the tremoring has gotten worse and I'd had more frequent blood pressure spikes with sustained high blood pressure. My blood pressure is being treated now by three medications (used to be beta-blocker and an ACE inhibitor, but a small dose of a calcium channel blocker was added, too). I've tried all other changes in terms of diet and lifestyle, yet, as the psychiatric drug doses kept going down, the blood pressure kept crawling up. 

 

Does anyone know if buspar can do this sort of thing? I wonder if it was merely masking an underlying benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome or if it has a withdrawal syndrome of its own. 

 

I've been eating healthy soups and making tomato salads with green onions and vinegar and grape seed oil, taking omega 3's, eating fish and taking celery seed extract for blood pressure, as well. I'd also been thinking about taking grape seed extract for blood pressure and have even considered CBD oil at some point, but am greatly reluctant about it and honestly scared.

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Altostrata

@AwareButStruggling here's your Introductions topic.

 

If you got bad symptoms after you reduced Buspar to 15mg, I think you can assume that is an adverse withdrawal effect.

 

You made a reduction of 25%. We recommend 10% reductions. Your nervous system might be even more sensitive because of the benzo taper.

 

If I were you, I'd updose Buspar to 16mg or 17mg, that might be enough to stop the withdrawal symptoms.

 

This explains how to take a partial dose of Buspar Tips for tapering off busipirone (Buspar)

 

Post in this topic to let us know how you're doing.

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AwareButStruggling

Thank you @Altostrata. I've decided to updose Buspar to 17mg and will dig in and hold at that dose and will let you know how it goes and will be working on finding non-drug ways of reducing blood pressure and tremors. 

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Altostrata

Let's also do a little more research -- Please put ALL your drugs in the Drug Interactions Checker https://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.php
and copy and paste the results or a link to them in this topic.

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ChessieCat
On 4/5/2019 at 3:03 PM, AwareButStruggling said:

I have not had brain rattles, but I am no stranger to body rattles and shakes and tremors myself. It's really awful. I am not sure I can offer a whole lot of advice other than to keep hydrated, get sufficient rest and obviously avoid extra stress as much as humanely possible. 

 

Above moved to existing topic.  tremors-shaking-body-vibration-internal-trembling

 

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