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Post benzo blues or return of pre benzo blues?


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Hi.  I first started taking valium 3 years ago due to moderate anxiety and some blues that I was experiencing after several years of taking care of a family member with cancer and an ongoing difficult family situation.  After a 10 month taper, anxiety and the blues came back intermittently last year. I've heard that valium can lead to depression so I figured it was part of the healing process.  It's not a dark gloom, but more of a kind of lethargy or low level apathy at times.  This fatigue feels like not having enough motivation, something which was not uncommon for me before benzos on occasion.  Meanwhile, the anxiety has waned a little, but low level agitation still comes up in the mornings, even at 18 months after the taper has ended.   I tried engaging in regular exercise last Fall and this helped some, but there were still some blue days sometimes.  I wonder if this is just a return to the pre benzo state for which I first took valium?  Or is it possible at 18 months to still be fall out from the taper and post taper healing process?.   I've read where Prof Ashton has indicated neurotransmitters can be off balance during and after taper and that some folks might benefit from some type of a/d.  I have waited it out 18 months, tried exercise, eating more healthy, take some vitamins... and avoided other medications.  I can say I'm about where I was pre benzos (even a little better in some respects), but it's a little discouraging to have only so so days much of the time.  I wonder if my "pre benzo" state may have been in need of some type of boost for lack of a better term.  The valium, was not the answer and this makes me wonder if any other pill can be a proper solution.  It is true that many if not all primary withdrawal s/x are gone and the main reason or problem as to why I took the valium (insomnia) is  resolved.  


Yet,   I wonder if anyone feels like although most or all of benzo withdrawal is over,  that being "back to normal" may still carry pieces of a puzzle to solve?  In my case, it seems to be a low level of intermittent blues and anxiety.  Some of this I believe is a result of having a parent who has a terminal illness.  Although it is accurate to say I'm over the benzo part of "withdrawal",  I don't really feel completely healed so long as I feel "just ok" on quite a few days.  And there have been a fair amount of blue days since the new year began.  My father has another chemotherapy in the coming months and a difficult family situation is ongoing.  I am very glad to have made it off benzos, yet hoping that this is not all there is to it, if that makes sense.   Ultimately, one must deal with illness or death in life at some point.  My father is nearly 90 years old so he's had a good life.  Perhaps I "should not" be so impacted by the emotional side of having an aging parent who although is in a remission, is likely to die within a few years.  The anticipation of dealing with a sibling who has been quite unreasonable for many years, does not make it easy to relax.  Yet at least it no longer keeps me up at night.  I wish things were not so wrought with conflict.  And it would be nice if things could find some sort of peaceful resolution.  Yet, things seem unlikely to resolve smoothly.   Perhaps I can post better news in a few months.



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Hi V!

Got your PM so I thought I'd weigh in!

As you know from following my blog (plus some PMs we exchanged) I had a great start post taper but later on as the year closed, I ran into an increasing anxiety/depression due to some health issues plus dealing with some difficult people. Last Jan, I had a huge crash in that I suffered from some awful ongoing insomnia that lasted about 2 months.

Since that time (the last 3 months) I have rebounded and feel nearly as well as the first few months post taper. What made a difference for me was going back on a low doasge of the A/D I had been taking (remeron). I still have a lot of reservations about meds (benzos in particular), but in my case, I just didn't feel I had the ability to get past that last slump. I decided to talk to some family members who have been on A/Ds and are doing quite well. One of them is my wife's sisters' husband. I asked him some questions (and explained my situation) about the med he takes (effexor) and how he has done through the years being on it. He is actually quite a success story. He did say that he had a 'bad phase' many years ago that sounded much like mine. Fortunatley, he was never on benzos and has never had to experience that kind of a hay ride. He has done very well on the med he takes and talking with him and hearing about all the things he's done in life, one would never know that he's had these kinds of troubles.

I do have some other things to say on this matter based on my experiences. I have some plans to go out somewhere with my wife in about 5 minutes, but I will post later on and finish with my thoughts.

Another great thread, V! I'll post back as soon as I can...

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Hi again!

As promised, I've come back to finish my thoughts...

My feeling about the depression blues that come with benzo w/d is that they are do to a seratonin imbalance. I can recall that when I first went on lorazepam back in June 2006, followed by clonazepam in July, I gradually started having trouble sleeping at night. This insomnia lasted about 1 1/2 months until I was finally able to see the head psych at our medical center and he put me on small doses of the remeron. That A/D was the only one that my CNS could tolerate. Immediately, my sleep came back and I did not develop sleep problems again for awhile.

Earlier this year, I developed another long bout of insomnia that lasted about 2 months. I had tapered slowly from the remron last year after finishing my valium taper. I had more difficulty with the taper from the remeron than I expected and I noted an increasing disability for me to handle life stresses as the year went on. This was followed by a nearly 'black hole' of depression and insomnia that flared up in Jan. It did not really end until I went back to small doses of the remeron in Mar. Since then, I have been doing much better.

My thoughts on this? My brain was no longer able to keep an adequate supply of seratonin due to prolonged life stresses, benzo withdrawal, A/D withdrawal, and a CNS that was being overtaxed and overwhelmed.

I am not a huge fan of meds (due to some unfortunate circumstances), but I also feel that if one has tried many different ways of coping with a depression and their quality of life is being severely jeopordized, an A/D medication is surely worth trying. It can be a slippery slope though in that everyone's CNS is different and you may have to deal with side effects, etc, before finding one that works for you. Also, I never go by what doctor's say is a 'theraputic dose'. I think the whole term 'theraputic dose' is untruthful and is only based on drug companies manipulation. The key is to find the dosage that works for you! In my case, 1/4 tablet of a 15mg remeron is what works great for me; whereas my doctor says that 30-45mg is considered 'theraputic'.

Another thing to keep in mind is that neurotransmitter imbalances (brought on by events such as I listed above), are probably only temporary. So, a small dosage of an A/D doesn't have to be for a lifetime. It may only be needed for a short-term basis while negotiating a difficult period of life.

In conclusion, V, I should also note that I have followed your blog pretty well and I am very familiar with similar life circumstances that you have been dealing with. Nobody is able to tolerate well a disagreable family member, especially a brother who has been causing so much trouble. The hurts that you have been dealing with are very real indeed. You have been extremely patient and generous in getting your dad's health and house back to order. I can nearly gaurantee that when the day comes that you are able to put some distance between yourself and these issues, a lot of the short term anxiety will start to fade.

Then again, it may just be that short breaks from extended family matters may be all that you need! Remember that 'balance' is the key. Your mind will let you know if it thinks it is being overtaxed. I know that you still have a lot going on right now, but at least if you can find ways to put some distnace between the dificulties and yourself (for even short periods of time), that may make all the difference.

Either way, I wish you a life with more lasting peace of mind! I think your decision to post this was a good idea! Sometimes, just briging it out and getting feedback can help tremendously!!

Best wishes to you alawys! :thumbsup:


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hey vert,


i will have to respectfully disagree with pang  ;)


i tapered and then quit effexor 17 months ago.  i'm now over 14 months benzo free, as well.  i no longer take any medications and am in about the same place as you recovery-wise...95% healed but there are still some residual symptoms, the main symptom being a chronic, but mild, apathy/lack of motivation/depression.


if your anxiety/depression is mild, i would not begin and a/d.  personally, i suffered some pretty severe withdrawal symptoms for 30 days after tapering off effexor.  and some a/ds can actually make anxiety worse. 


studies have shown that depression will often resolve itself within 6 months without therapy or meds.  i would give it another 6 months. 


like you, i had depression prior to benzos.  in the last 14 months, i've learned that diet/exercise play a huge role in controlling the depression.  i also am very proactive in dealing with stress of any kind. 


hope this helps.  :)

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Hi Leslie! Nice to see you again on the forum! :)

I don't think there's any disagreement here. V's spat of the blues may just be mild and temporary. I did point out other things to him such as taking breaks from a difficult situation and (when the time comes) putting some distance between himself and the matters at hand. You are probably also familiar with his very complicated family situation with his father's ongoing health conditions plus a home that needed some major repair. Not to mention the very unstable brother who seems bent on making things much harder than they have to be. I can recall going through this kind of ordeal for a period of time also and I wouldn't wish it on my biggest enemy!

Depression can indeed be a symptom of benzo recovery. I recall Heather Ashton saying in her manual that if severe enough, it may warrant low doses of an A/D for a short period of time to help negotiate a difficult situation. If used for a short period of time, who knows? Perhaps the withdrawal may not be nearly so hard.

It is true that I had more difficulty getting off the low doses of remeron last year, but I'm not sure if part of that was due to me tapering that medicine right on the heals of ending my valium taper.

Vertigo has done a great job of blogging and taking stock of his conditions at hand. He has also tried many different techniques such as excercise, self-help books, diet, mindfullness, plus offering his support and interaction on the forum. Yet, there are still the issues that remain and it could just be that when life events calm down, the rest of the healing will come about naturally.

I still do think that a med-free life is the ideal objective. In my own case, I had to revaluate some of my feelings about meds in general. The depression I got hit with was just to hard for me to deal with and it was a real tough call to go back tthe A/D. Looking back, I'm not sorry I did yet I still believe that some day, I'll be completely med free once more! It has occured to me (from talking to older members of the family), that the older one gets, the more chances there are that a med of some sort may enter into one's life for one reason or another.

Above all, V, I feel strongly that you will know the right course of action! Perhaps just starting this thread and getting some feelings out did the trick !

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Hi and thanks for the feedback.  Yes, it can help to vent a little and get some of the frustrations out.  I just posted on the "post benzo freedom withdrawal support group" thread  in a little more detail about what is going on.  Thank you L123 and Pange for your feedback.  The bottom line is that there have been stressful family situations going on for a decade, but as the two of you know, an escalation in stress in the last couple of years, which unfortunately coincided with the valium addiction, taper and post recovery.  Things got so over the top that I got Shingles from the extreme stress and conflict last January, 2010.  I can't actually "step away" or distance myself from the situation.  The blues I am experiencing are in anticipation of the upcoming trip out there in a week.  I have come a long way in the last year in terms of healing.  Yet some of the personal reasons I first took that valium are unfortunately still present and in some ways worse than three years ago.  While I am in some ways physically stronger, I am also quite emotionally exhaustede from the ordeal.  That sibling has steadily become more jealous and angry since 2008, something I did not think was possible.  I've thought about whether there will be contact after my father passes away.  It's not looking very good at the moment.  My father is nearly 90 years old and hanging in there so hopefully he's still got a few years before the next phase will be in effect.  Pange, I do expect a pretty long hiatus after my father passes.   Anyway, I have considered your posts and also after doing a little research, I've decided no new supplements for now.  I will re-evaluate after the summer. 





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