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ssri's and benzos


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How many of you were given benzos as a result of SSRI side effects?  This is the case for me, but I didn't fully realize it until I got down to about 3 mg. Valium.  The haze is lifting.

 

I feel like my life ended back in 1999 when I was given Paxil.  I was grieving several losses at the time and would have preferred therapy, but my lousy health insurance didn't pay for it.  So I went the route of drugs--bad move.  After about a year on Paxil I was starting to feel worse plus my sex drive was totally gone, so I just stopped taking it--REALLY bad move.  I knew nothing of Paxil w/d--electric zaps, messed-up vision, GI upset, anxiety/panic through the roof, and constant suicidal ideation.  Horrific.  Even my GP, who knew I'd stopped taking Paxil, didn't understand what was happening.  I couldn't talk to my psychiatrist because he was on vacation for like 3 weeks, but when I finally did his cool response was "Yes, Paxil can have some 'rather unpleasant side effects' when stopped abruptly."  Then he said I may as well stay off it since it wasn't working that well anyway.  I was so disgusted I stopped seeing him.

 

I continued to feel so bad that my job was in jeopardy--I could hardly function but somehow I made it to work each day.  Finally I went to another psychiatrist who tried Effexor claiming it was a different kind of A/D from Paxil.  I used to know the difference, but can't remember it now.  Anyway, it helped for several months and then it gradually turned on me.  By that I mean that I slowly became someone else--agitated, nasty, suspicious, raging, not to mention I was sleeping 2-3 hours a night.  And again, all I thought about was killing myself.  Things got so bad that I had to quit my job altogether.  I tried cutting my hours from 40 down to 30 and that didn't even help.  I was in a state of mind that was so nightmarish that I can't believe I'm still here.

 

In 2004, after leaving my job I consulted another psychiatrist who prescribed Lamictal and Klonopin.  This was the beginning of the end.  While I felt somewhat better for a while, after about 8 mos. to a year the insomnia was back and my anxiety/depression grew worse.  So my psych. added Seroquel to the mix.  I was so drugged up that I fell down a flight of stairs one night and badly sprained my ankle.  I'm thankful that's all that happened.  To make an already long story shorter, I weaned off the Lamictal and Seroquel about 4 years ago with little effect.  But I continued down that benzo road which is familiar to all of you--increased fears, anxiety, depression, apathy, fatigue, suicidal ideation...  I also had major surgery because of a polycystic ovary, which I understand could have been caused by Klonopin.  For a while I thought I had chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia, thyroid or cortisol problems.  I was so exhausted all the time; I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.  It wasn't until I came across Dr. Ashton that it all came together. 

 

Seeing my psychiatrist is becoming increasingly difficult.  All I want to do is strangle him.  I've been on disability for 7 years now because of these lousy drugs.  I also had to declare bankruptcy and my work record is ruined.  My reputation has been wrecked; I don't know what I'm going to do for work.  I can't stand being on disability any longer.  I used to be a creative writer, an intelligent, functioning person with a life.  Not being able to write is the worst; it was my outlet.  I fear I'll never be able to do it again.  I'm 52 years old, in the midst of the worst economic recession in my lifetime, and I don't know what is to become of me.  Tomorrow I have to see my psychiatrist and I'm struggling so much right now with this taper, but I get no validation or support because he claims it was my choice to go off the benzos.  Which it was, but a couple years ago I asked him to increase my dose and he refused, saying I need to "work out my anxieties in therapy."  So what does he expect?  Of course I didn't want to increase my dose, but didn't know what else to do at the time.  I think he's reluctant to admit anything for fear I'll sue him, which I've no intention of doing.  I have enough stress and problems. 

 

I'm sorry, I could go on and on.  I didn't mean for this post to be so long or to turn into a rant, but I'm at my wit's end.  I guess the worst part is that I still don't know how long after I take that last quarter tablet (which will be about a month from now), when/if things will get better.  And how much better will they get?  It seems the closer I get to the end of this taper, the angrier I get because the fog is lifting.  I feel like I'm waking from a long sleep and left standing in the midst of the wreckage that is my life.

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Hi there...

 

Similar situation here.  After several family members died within a short period of time I was put on valium for the 'grief'.  When that only made it worse, Lexapro was added to the mix.  I was manic on Lexapro...spent money, gambled, chain smoked and spent the 18 months I was on that poison figuring out how fast I could bankrupt us.  And didn't care.  My husband begged me to get off before we ended up living in a card board box over a sewer grate.  I c/t'd Lexapro out of ignorance and thought I had a brain tumor.  I sat in a chair for weeks unable to blink my eyes or turn my head without getting electrocuted.  Thankfully I was told about PaxilProgress and was relieved my symptoms were from w/d.  I then started to wean off Valium...a measly 5mgs a day that I took about three times a week.  I was in tolerance by the time I started to taper and have not had a day of normalcy since.  Worse than Lexapro...at least for me.

 

I too am wondering what is going to happen when I take my last cut.  I have been in tolerance for so long....I'm hoping nothing worse than this Hell.

 

I also am a writer and this is the first time in 35 years I have not gotten up and hit the computer.  A half finished manuscript is sitting on my desk collecting dust...publisher gave up on me a year ago.  I can't complete a lucid sentence and my eyes are so blurry the words all run together.  And forget the spelling.

 

I can only commiserate...hope there are better days ahead for you.  I am 65 years old and don't know where I will be when and if this nightmare is ever over.  The encouragement from this forum is the only hope I have at this point.

 

We are all with you on this long ride on the wrong train...

 

Donna

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damaged,

 

You may not think you can write but you sound pretty lucid to me.  "Long ride on the wrong train"--couldn't have said it better.  I know what you mean though about the writing.  I've been trying for weeks to put an essay together and I've given up because it's too frustrating.  What's worse is that the ideas are coming but when I sit down and try to write--nothing.  I feel like I'm thinking through peanut butter if that makes any sense--like I'm slogging through the muck in my brain and it takes all I have to crank out one decent sentence.  I can't believe that 13 years ago, before all the drugs, I put myself through journalism school and graduated magna cum laude.  I wonder where that person went and will she ever return.

 

I think Paxil really got the ball rolling, if you know what I mean, as far as the psychotropic nightmare hamster wheel.  I beat myself up constantly for just stopping that drug, but who could imagine the repercussions?  And why don't psychs tell their patients these things?  I know it's the same ol' song and dance, but it's unbelievable.  It makes me sick how I spent money in those days.  I wish I could stop torturing myself with regret.  Maybe it's part of benzo w/d; I don't know.  Do you find you do this?

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Yes, I torture myself with regret.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't scold myself for taking that first pill.  The sad thing is, my therapist begged me to stay away from drugs...I was suffering from grief that is temporary and evaporates with time.  It was my rheumy who prescribed the drugs as all of the physical work it took to settle my parents estate threw me into a fibromyalgia flare.  (had fibro long before drugs...at least 20 years).  He told me valium would help with muscle spasms and Lexapro would relieve the pain.  Yeah, it relieved the pain all right.  I fell on the garage floor and chipped several bones in my arm and didn't even feel it...my husband made me go to the doctor weeks later when my wrist turned black.  The doctor didn't know how I could stand it for all those weeks, without treatment.

 

I miss writing also.  This is like being abruptly fired from a job you had for 35 years...nothing to do...just the stark, dull canvas of the same ole, same ole every single day.  I hope the passion returns for both of us.

 

Hang in there!

 

Donna

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Prozac started this mess for me....and I took it for a year, along with Librax.  CT'd them both at the same time....because I didn't know any better.  I never felt depressed before taking Prozac...but I felt it after taking it for 6 months.  I hate AD's, and I think they really screw around with your mind.  Thank God....I was never able to take any others.  Honestly, I know that Prozac was the start for this nightmare.  It has been a long struggle to undo the damage that doctors did to me, by prescribing drug after drug to correct their mistakes.  I trusted them, and boy was that a mistake.

 

My life was turned upside down....along with my brain.  It is like putting a puzzle together, and the pieces won't fit.  I feel humiliated when the words don't come out properly, or I make mistakes with things that should be easy to understand.  One thing that I suffer with, is the ability to plan and organize....and this drives me crazy.  Intrusive memories, ridiculous thoughts that interfere with reality....topped off with emotional crazies like jealousy, and anger....are so disturbing.  

 

I feel like a mentally handicapped person....do you ?  It is not as bad as it was, though.

 

Both of you write very well....so I would not worry about it.  When the brain heals, your passion will return.

 

Sunny girl

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Sunny,

 

Congratulations on becoming benzo free.  You said it's not as bad as it was.  When did you start to notice improvement?

 

I hear you when you say you feel humiliated when you can't talk right.  I go through that myself.  I feel like a blubbering idiot; I'm so sick of it.  And of course people don't know what's going on, so...  It's especially hard when I'm meeting someone for the first time.  My boyfriend and I are going out to a movie tonight with someone we just met and seems interesting.  I'm an absolute nervous wreck.  It's like this big deal whenever I have to socialize the least bit.  All I'm doing is going to a movie and then out for a snack afterwards and I'm beside myself.  I'll probably just get a cup of tea because I have trouble eating in front of people I'm not comfortable with--how silly is that?!

 

I get those disturbing jealous feelings too and I don't understand it; I was never a jealous person.  I didn't need to be, I used to have a nice life.  I don't know how much of the jealousy is when I look at other functioning people I am reminded of how much I lost or is it just some weird w/d side effect.  Or maybe a combination of both.

 

Mal

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Hi Mal - Paxil is one of the worst SSRIs to discontinue and its side effects can be very severe.  I couldn't tolerate it after only two doses.  It and Lexapro are considred the best SSRIs for anxiety - neither worked for me because K tolerance was causing mine.  Effexor and Cymbalta are SNRIs which also hit the Norepinephrine receptor along with the Serotonin receptor.  When my doc tried Cymbalta on me (again, for K induced anxiety) for 16 days I thought I was going to die for five weeks after I quit.  It was far worse (so far) than anything I've experienced in benzo w/d.  SSRIs and SNRIs are difficult to get on and off of without benzos and made my w/d much worse.  Hope you feel better soon.  Billwill
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billwill,

 

Thanks, it's good to know I'm not the only one like my psych. would have me believe.  He tells me I had this reaction because I'm bipolar--no comment.  I can't imagine taking either Paxil or Effexor while taking Klonopin.  I would've been a total maniac.  Thanks too for reminding me of the difference between Effexor and Paxil.  I only wish that my psych. would have just given me the Klonopin for a few weeks or so until I was weaned off the Effexor.  He also told me that I HAD to take a certain amount each day.  He never said "as needed," like he should have done.  He actually had me work up to 1 mg. a day.  When I first started taking it, 0.5 mg. knocked me on my butt and he told me to increase the dose gradually.  In retrospect, I just can't believe this nor can I believe that he continued to give it to me for six years--until I realized it was making me sick.  Oh well, enough ranting.

 

Mal

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Ok...see I dont get this.....  I was just talking to my hairdresser friend who has been on Lexapro same dose for 7 yrs now and is fine as  can be...    she had bad anxiety b4,,,she said it saved her life....  she says if she goes like 5 days w/o it she gets irritable.... and a tad down...  but thats it.. she is normal and skinny and functions fine...  same as my friends Mom.....  thats why I am so scared to start an ssri...  I hear both sides and cant decide  :-\    The horror stories freak me out  >:D 
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Is your friend on benzos?

 

I found that people who are on benzos react differently to SSRI's than those who are not, and this could be why your friend is having success with it.

 

You can always give it a shot, and if it makes you feel worse, then you'll know it's not right for you. :)

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Hi Meljo - Lexapro is now considered by many docs the first line drug for anxiety.  It, and other SSRIs, has replaced benzos, partucularly for long term treatment.  I was on it for three years with no problems.  However, since my problems were caused by tolerance withdrawal from Klonopin it did me little good (that I know of).  Many anxiety patients report good results with the SSRIs primarily Lexapro and Paxil but also Zoloft and Prozac.  However, individuals vary in their tolerance.  For me, combining them with benzos was a mistake.  If you go this route, listen to your body - most take up to a month to work except Lexapro which seems to work in about two weeks for most people.  None of them make benzo W/D better.  Best, Billwill
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If I remember correctly it was Lexapro that was by far the best SSRI for me. Manageable side effects and I actually felt like it helped me in a positive way. Of course I was on clonazepam at the same time so who knows what I was feeling from what.
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Thanks everyone for your responses.

 

I guess I just know more people than not who either had a negative experience with SSRI's or that the drug just stopped working altogether.  No one I know has been on Lexapro however.  That drug wasn't around yet when I sought treatment.  Sounds like it might be an improvement over the older SSRI's.  Meljo, I am curious to know if your friend is taking a benzo as well because that could offset the possible side effects of SSRI'S--irritability, anxiety, agitation, etc.  Given my history, I'm still not going to try anything else even though I could use an A/D right now.  Seems like doctors still don't know what the long-term effects are and that scares me.  I often wonder if they're doing any studies at all in this respect. 

 

I just want to push through the anxiety/depression if I possibly can and develop healthier coping skills.  That's the one good thing about all this--my habits have improved considerably.  I've completely given up caffeine and sugar, and I'm learning to pay attention to my body more--when it's tense, what's making me feel that way, etc.  Exercise is invaluable when I can get myself to do it.  It's empowering to plow through the pain without drugs, but sometimes I just want a break from this w/d stuff.

 

Mal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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..   she says if she goes like 5 days w/o it she gets irritable.... and a tad down...  but thats it..

 

are you saying that after 5 days she starts getting withdrawal symptoms and the starts taking the pills again?

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Amano,

 

Thanks for asking that question, I was kind of wondering that myself.  When I think it through a little bit more, it seems that for an A/D to be considered successful you should be able to gradually come off of it and be feeling okay again, not have to take it forever and/or notice any ill effects when you stop taking it.  Maybe this is asking too much, but that's how I was led to view psychotropic drugs back in the early 90's when the SSRI's became popular.  This was the implication of the psychiatric profession, that they had created some sort of magic bullet or something.  Of course I realize now that this was all smoke and mirrors.

 

Mal

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There are so many people taking AD's.....and I can't believe there are that many people in need of these drugs. 

In my experience, if I mentioned any health complaint to a doctor....there remedy was....anti depressants.  They see it as a cure all.  The manufacturing companies list warnings with these drugs, as well as benzodiazepines.  They should not be taken for very long, and yet doctors don't even seem to monitor their patients.  That was the case for me....and when the drug seems to fail....they prescribe another replacement that creates even more problem.  I think poly drugging is a serious issue, that many of us have faced, also. 

 

Nearly every lady that I know was given AD's to combat menopause symptoms....and I am sure that life was more comfortable for these women.  Yet, the ones that I speak to say that they can't come off the drugs.  That is scary !

 

Sunny girl

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  • 2 weeks later...
I still havent asked my hairdresser friend about benzo use,,,  but I know my friends Mom was using some xanax... and she is on zoloft now for 8 years and is fine... was havinf bad anxiety and panic and some depression....  couldnt drive or walk so dizzy and anxiou...she has been begging me to try the ssri  I just got a Rx  for Paxil....  I admit I am scared :'(
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The doctor put my husband on Paxil - to "prevent" depression, because it was taking him so long to recover from Mono. The Paxil turned him into a 90 year old man....... shuffling along, lost weight, - pathetic! The doctor took him off that and tried another med, I forget the name.... that one made him so tired it felt like his hands were dragging on the ground. Then he was put on Celexa which is the older version of Lexapro.

 

Celexa had the least amount of noticeable side effects - but all the bromide in it messed up his thyroid. 

 

I heard someone say : We are not sick from a lack of drugs - we are sick from a lack of nutrients.

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I feel like my life ended back in 1999 when I was given Paxil.  

 

In 2005 I was given a combination of Paxil and Clonazepam by my doctor. I lost 7 years of my life to those drugs, all my savings, and all my friends and extended family. I used to draw and write...with the dream of being an illustrator or a writer. Those dreams died from the very first day I popped those two supposed meds. I don't know what I became in those days...one day I was Superman and the next Mr. Hyde and sometime later...I was God Himself. I don't know how lost I must have been but my room is full of everything I acquired and when I walk in there...I continue to feel ashamed and have to deal with this unbearable guilt.

 

Who could ever believe that these two pills could cause such a maelstrom in one's life. I am still reeling from all the people who I have alienated. I stare at disbelief at my bank account, barely able to feed myself, and if it were not for my parents...I am sure I would be out on the streets right now.

 

I was prescribed an anti-depressant and a depressant and by they end of it all...instead of healing me...I was far more depressed than ever and I tried to fill this huge empty void in my life, by throwing everyone I loved out of my life, and filling my room with junk...to patch up all those holes left behind. Now I sit around staring at all this junk and I know not what I can do with my life. I have no passion. I have no skills. I have no hope. Why? Because those 2 little pills eradicated me...they killed everything that was good about me, and now people look at me...they hate me. Life has been hell for 7 long years and I wonder if there will be a bright day after this taper is done. Or if this damaged brain will see the full impact of everything that has gone wrong...without the clonazepam to hold everything together.  

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Hi--

 

For 20 yrs, have had some amount of fluoxetine and Klon (from 2 mgs/24 hrs down to 0.357/24 at present) on board. Two nightmarish  C/T experiences have the psychological component of my entirely accidental addiction more active that it might be w/ someone who has never gone through abrupt W/D of benzos.

 

I too beat myself about the head for willfully damaging my brain, once my best asset. No one would guess that now--I am a shambling mess, currently homeless, stayng at a shelter. Don't know how that situation affects my receptor activity--hoping that it could be for the better. Dunno.

 

I've gone on and off SSRIs, w/ the exception of Paxil: tried it for two weeks, found that it made me sleepy, working a night job, and I quit. Would learn later of its tolerance/withdrawal profile. On up to 80 mgs/qd of Prozac/fluox at one time, and about 400 Wellbutrin too. No problems with quitting.

 

Guessing that we all experience being drugged differently, but have come to believe that one's mindset at the time of quitting--knowledge, experiences, etc.--directly affects the difficulties one experiences during withdrawal and or taper. Physiology IS key here, but the psych part can't be shrugged off.

 

Just a note on Seroquel: you want to destroy your creativity, take some of that stuff. Nasty nasty drug.

 

Peace to you

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