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The nightmare that is Ativan


[Li...]

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Hi, I've been on Ativan since April 2022. Was originally on 1.5mg per day, reduced to 1mg per day since September 2022. I have become increasingly unwell mentally and physically, I'm pretty much completely disabled. My symptoms are: severe anxiety, derealization, depersonalisation, confusion, thoughts not making sense, light and sound sensitivity, distorted vision, vertigo, coordination difficulties, severe depression, awful 'time of the month', feeling faint, pins and needles, numbness, shortness of breath, tight chest, agoraphobia, nausea, weight loss, paranoia, pains in leg bones(especially ankles), exercise intolerance, heart rate fluctuations, memory loss, words looking unfamiliar, cognitive dysfunction, poor sleep, waking up early, strange dreams. 

 

I tried to swap to diazepam but that didn't work, I was too sedated on it and even more depressed. I've been waiting to hear from a private service that was supposed to help me with a plan but they haven't got back to me in months, they were going to try swapping me to Clonazepam. My psychiatrist won't accept that the Ativan has done this but I'm pretty adamant it's causing most of these neurological problems. My GP does believe some of it is due to the drug but she doesn't think I'm 'stable' enough to get off it. I'm too scared to try any new meds as I've become sensitive to everything including vitamins and certain foods. 

I take the Ativan 0.5 twice a day. I sometimes feel better in the evenings (not sure if this is due to higher level of Ativan in blood or because anxiety is lower) but I know what the next day will bring. 

 

Thank you for reading and any advice 

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Hello @[Li...]. Welcome to BenzoBuddies.

Perhaps you could talk with your doctor and discuss gradually reducing your dose to see if you begin to improve. Benzodiazepines quite often induce paradoxical effects, mimicking or making worse the condition for which they were prescribed. Sometimes it comes down to discontinuing (or reducing the dose) of a medicine to determine if it is the cause of a problem. Present it to your doctor as a sensible exploration, and assure him/her that you will do this under their supervision.

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Hi @[Li...], can you describe your attempted crossover to diazepam, did your GP or psychiatrist work with you and did you follow the Ashton manual of slow withdrawal schedules? https://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/bzsched.htm

I’d like to point out that many of our members mention feeling better in the evenings, some believe it has to do with high cortisol levels in the morning that tend to level off as the day goes on. I also wanted to reassure you that you’re not alone in finding yourself sensitive to supplements and medications now, your central nervous system is sensitized so your options become limited when looking for things to help. 

I’m heartened to hear your GP is open to the idea that your issues are being caused by the Ativan, I’m in agreement.  It does sound like you’ve grown tolerant to your dose meaning you need more to achieve the same effect.  Unfortunately, getting stable might involve going up in dose because if you’ve been at this dose since for a year.  Tapering as @[Co...] suggested might be your best course of action. 

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Hi @[Pa...] and @[Co...]. When they swapped me to diazepam it was a very quick swap, no crossover but by day four I was so sedate that they put me back on Ativan  in the morning but even then the afternoon diazepam was still too much so ended up back on Ativan again after another week or so. The psychiatrist wasn't really involved, they were unobtainable when trying to contact them after they swapped the prescription and it was my GP who swapped it back to Ativan as she didn't know what else to do. 

I think you're right @[Pa...]regarding cortisol. I'm in a constant panic and I know full well what the morning will bring, it's absolute hell on earth but to be honest my whole day is hell, I only occasionally get windows in the evenings. The doctors don't believe me when I say I can't even take vitamins/minerals, it really is that bad and I'm concerned as I can't take antibiotics if I get sick. My nervous system feels broken. If I taper like this, I'm afraid I'll end up having a heart attack or something 

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@[Li...], one of the hallmarks of benzodiazepine dependence is catastrophic thinking, we think the worst, we have fears we’ve never even considered before and we feel hopeless along with the extreme physical symptoms.  I know you feel broken and scared but you aren’t broken and your heart and nervous system can survive this.  Recovery is possible but it takes a long time so educating yourself about what has happened and what you need to do will help dispel the fear.

Finding a plan that will work for you will empower you because you’re taking action, you’re taking your life back, we’ll help you do this. Thousands of people have recovered, I’m one of them and you can too. 

Do you experience symptoms before you take your second dose of the day, many of our Ativan users will dose three times a day to prevent interdose withdrawal.  Or are you interested in crossing to Clonazepam as your doctor suggested?

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  • 1 month later...

@[[P...] the atIvan dose wears off after about 2/3 hours and it's not really stopping the withdrawal. My sleep is now so bad that although I'm sleeping, I am having strange dreams all night. I feel like I'm losing my sense of reality. I've tried improving my diet and exercising but just feel worse than ever. Especially around my periods which I believe could be due to progesterone dropping which also affects GABA levels. 

I feel so alone with this in the UK 

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@[Li...], you sound so miserable, but you’re not alone, you have us.  Are you still at 1 mg and are you still dosing twice a day?

Many of our female members talk about that time of the month being more difficult, so you’re no alone in feeling this way.  Some members talk about exercise intolerance, they find it ramps up symptoms, so you might want to tone down your routine a bit.  Of course, this process is so unpredictable that other members say exercise is the best thing for them so its difficult to know what to do.

Do you think dosing 3 times a day might help, most of our Ativan users have to do this. 

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Hi @[Pa...]

 

Yes I'm still on 1mg per day split into two doses. The psychiatrist wants me to try switching to diazepam again, he didn't believe any of my symptoms are related to the ativan and as I heard him dictate the letter he said 'physical dependence, if it is even that' completely dismissing everything I told him. Initially he wanted me to switch to promethazine from ativan and I told him that wad ridiculous as that's not used for benzo tapering. 

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@[Li...], I’m sorry to hear your doctor is so dismissive, this happens to many of our members.  

I know you had a bad experience with the Valium but its good your doctor is willing to switch you to it, is there any possibility you would consider it again, if we can find the right dose and timeline for you?

Can you tell us a little more about your attempt?  You mentioned you were switched all at once, but what dose did they decide on, it sounds like it might have been too much. 

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@[Pa...] I was switched to valium 7.5mg per day in march. For some reason I was very sedated on it and couldn't even take the mirtazapine(7.5) I normally take at night because I was already so sedated from the valium.  I tried this for 4 days then spoke to an out of hours gp who recommended I take the ativan in the morning and valium in the afternoon, I tried this but still didn't feel right on the valium at all, I even ended up taking the 1mg ativan and 2mg valium in the same day for a week or so but eventually I realised it was making my memory even worse so stopped the valium and stuck with ativan 1mg per day. The tolerance has become unbearable, its like I've gone cold turkey even though I'm still taking it. 

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@[Li...] I'm just going to chime in here with my experience in the hope that it might help. I was on 1.5 mg of Ativan and crossed over to 15 mgs of valium. I did the cross gradually -- I followed the Ashton protocol whereby you have both drugs in your system at once, with the Ativan gradually diminishing and the valium gradually building up. I think the key to a successful cross is the concept of gradual. If you and your GP wanted to try again, with correct equivalences, I'd be surprised if it didn't work better. In my case, the valium built up so gradually I didn't feel the awful sedation you felt -- yeah, I felt a little sedated, but I could still drive, work, etc. And that sedated feeling ebbed . . . after a week I didn't much feel it. It sounds to me like your "advisers" have not suggested a sensible crossover regimen . . . leaving you to try to fix things on your own. Ativan is a horrible shi**y drug, imo, (taking it 4 x a day didn't even help) and it gave me such awful interdose w/d that I was prepared to suffer bad sx from valium (there weren't many) to get rid of it. Anyhow, hope my experience encourages you to perhaps try again.  Best wishes.

benzo.org.uk : Benzodiazepines: How They Work & How to Withdraw, Prof C H Ashton DM, FRCP, 2002

 

Edited by [or...]
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9 hours ago, [[L...] said:

@[[P...] the atIvan dose wears off after about 2/3 hours and it's not really stopping the withdrawal. My sleep is now so bad that although I'm sleeping, I am having strange dreams all night. I feel like I'm losing my sense of reality. I've tried improving my diet and exercising but just feel worse than ever. Especially around my periods which I believe could be due to progesterone dropping which also affects GABA levels. 

I feel so alone with this in the UK 

Hey just coming to say I also have severe symptoms on period where I am basically dead believe it’s also withdrawal from our own progesterone.. I’m considering going on the pill because the swings are so severe every month I almost end up in the hospital. I’m also tapering Ativan and struggling. I also had a genesight test saying Valium I couldn’t metabolize well and would end up in elevated drug levels. I wonder if that’s what’s happening to you as well

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