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Help! Cold Turkey SSRI now Ativan Dependency


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Hey guys! Really hoping for help and advice. I’m a 28 year old female with a 4 1/2 month old baby in a terrible, terrible position. 3 months ago I was enjoying life with my baby, my husband, my career, my family and now I am very sick.


My background:

Diagnosed with GAD and panic disorder when I was 13 in 2005.

Zoloft 50mg (2005-2007) - tapered no problem

Panic attacks came back 2012

Celexa 10mg - 2012-2014

Panic attacks came back

Paxil 20mg - 2014-2016 - gained weight so switched to Lexapro no problem

Lexapro 20mg - 2016-May 2020

Delivered baby May 10, 2020 and had postpartum anxiety - doc switched to Celexa

May 20, 2020 - Celexa 10mg, then increased to 20mg and was doing great.

August 1, 2020 - Doc then increased to 30mg and I crashed - adverse reactions and akathesia - told to stop cold turkey

Developed bad SSRI withdrawal symptoms so doc prescribed Ativan as needed. Started having interdose withdrawals from inconsistency so changed it to a schedule beginning of September 2020

September 13, 2020-Now - .125mg Ativan 3 x’s a day


I feel terrible. I can’t tell if it’s SSRI withdrawals or the Ativan but I know Ativan is not making it any better. Staying on it longer will just develop more dependency but I am also very much unstable (house bound, unable to work due to not being able to handle ANY stress, flu like symptoms, bad anxiety, air hunger, internal uneasiness and despair, achey/restless legs, INSOMNIA, twitches in legs, heart races for 30minutes after taking morning ativan, weak, agitated/irritable, can’t handle a lot of stimulation, lower back of brain burns, fatigued through the day but very restless, lack of pleasure, can’t focus, obsessing over how bad I feel, catastrophizing thoughts)


My question is, should I go ahead and start the Ashton Taper Method for the Ativan even though I feel so terrible? Not sure if I will ever “stabilize” at this point. Or should I try a more rapid taper?


FYI - I found out I developed a dependency by not taking my middle dose one day. When I did this, I had severe leg muscle pain and aches, restless legs/almost akathisia and didn’t sleep at all that night compared to the 4 hours I usually get.


I am so scared and begging for any help you can give. As a first time mom, this is an absolute nightmare. Please help me.

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Hello HopeForTomorrow,


Welcome to Benzo Buddies and congratulations on the birth of your baby. Being a new mom brings such joy, but it can be tiring and stressful as well.


It's a little hard to determine the reason for all the symptoms but I would suggest that the cold turkey from 30mg celexa is a part of the equation. You have not been off the drug very long, additionally there have been a lot of medication changes which can really upset a fragile nervous system.


The ativan can contribute to how you feel as well. I was prescribed ativan for a supposed inner ear issue. Occasionally I would also skip a dose to see how my ears were doing. I got very very sick but then felt better when I took the ativan. That was a clear indication that the drug was a problem, sadly neither me or my doctor knew this.


I would not suggest a rapid taper since you are very symptomatic at this point.  I think if it were me I would try to wait and see if I could stabilize and recover some from the cold turkey of celexa.  I hope others who have experience with this drug will offer their experience. I'll give you a link to the Other Medications Board where you can post questions about this drug.


You have not taken ativan for a long time, but it doesn't take long to develop a dependence. Since you are symptomatic, a slow taper would be the suggested way to taper off.  Generally, a reduction of no more than 5-10 % every 10-14 days is suggested.  I'll give you a link to the Planning Your Withdrawal Board for more information.


I know things are rough now but they can improve once your nervous system settled down and starts to recover.  I'm glad you are here, you'll get a lot of support through this challenging time.  We understand what you are going through so let us know how we can help.


Other Medications


Planning Your Withdrawal (Taper Plans)


pianogirl  :)



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Thank you so much! I felt like I was doing much better with the Celexa withdrawals prior to this week when I did the mid day drop of ativan. Once I did that, I have gotten substantially worse. It makes me feel like a lot of my issues are made worse by ativan. Should I try and get to where I was feeling prior to the day of the drop in ativan and then do this schedule?


Week 1 - Ativan .125mg 3 x’s day (currently)

Week 2 - Ativan .125mg, Ativan .125mg, Valium 1.25mg

Week 3 - Ativan .125mg, Valium 1.25mg, Valium 1.25mg

Week 4 - Valium 1mg (morning), Valium 2.5mg (night) - this is first reduce by .25mg Valium

(Hold 1-2 weeks depending on symptoms)

Next - .5mg Valium (morning), 2.5mg Valium (night)

(Hold 1-2 weeks depending on symptoms)

Next - .5mg Valium (morning), 2mg Valium (night)

(Hold 1-2 weeks depending on symptoms)

Next - (no more morning dose), 2mg Valium (night)

Next - 1.5mg Valium

Next - 1mg Valium

Next - .5mg Valium

Drop off

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