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Old 10-06-2006, 09:32 PM   #1
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AKBSRTEKT3 HB User
Weaning Off Of Xanax

Hi everyone,

I have never been a prescription medicine taker except for antibiotics when sick. For 3 years I have taken Levothroid for low thryroid levels, but that was it. I am a single mother of two and was recently let go from my mortgage related job because of the declining house market in Michigan. I began to have mild panic attacks, but had no idea what they were.
I went to my doctor and she freely prescribed me two medications- Lexapro and Xanax. She gave me no warning or no details regarding what would happen when I stopped taking either one. I chose to take only the Xanax because the other was for depression also. I did not want to be taking 2 prescribed drugs.
Taking the Xanax the first week felt like magic. I was calm and had no panick attacks or anxiety. It seemed like a "miracle cure." That was until about 4 months later when I decided I was better and would just STOP taking them. The literature from the pharmacy did say to contact your doctor of course, but I thought since I am a healthy 30 yr old it would be no problem.
OMG! I went "cold turkey" for a week. I literally felt like I was dying. I couldn't sleep at all for 48 hours at a time, had muscle twitches, double vision, profuse sweating while freezing cold and terrible panick attacks right in my own house. I did not leave my home the entire week. I barely could make it to the mailbox.
During the week I kept thinking that the next day would be better. That never happened. It only seemed to get worse. So I went in for a visit to my doctor. She calmly told mt that this was typical of withdrawal and that I would have to "wean" myself down. I was so angry! I told her of my misery and asked why she hadn't told me this BEFORE I started taking them. Even the pharmacy's attched info did NOT tell how horrible it would be to stop taking them.
I am doing better now, but it's been 2 months and I still am not completely off them. I just wondered if anyone had the same experience??? And how you handled it or are handling it?? I still wonder when I will be able to stop them 100%??
AND I also wanted to get my experience out there so that no one else takes being given Xanax lightly. I thought it would be like taking an antibiotic or Motrin. I HAD NO IDEA OF THE COMPLICATIONS. I'm afraid the prescriptions sometimes are handed put to freely. PLEASE just be aware and do your research. Xanax can be a life saver, but it also can literally be life threatening (most common-seizure and/or stroke I now know) when stopped.

Thanks to anyone who responds,

Alicia

 
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Old 10-06-2006, 09:57 PM   #2
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

For how long have you taken it? was it regular (daily) and what was your daily dose?




Rami

 
Old 10-06-2006, 10:17 PM   #3
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

My dosage ended up at 4mgs daily. My panic attacks ended up being severe after I started having them more regularly. I am down to 2mgs daily finally, but often feel the need that it isn't enough. I don't the relief I did with the higher dose obviously. Maybe I shouldn't stop taking them altogether?
But that week of withdrawal is the worst thing I have ever experienced. Worse than a c-section...at least that "pain" got better every day. The withdrawl was so scary that I told myself that I had to get this stuff out of my system.
Not sure what to do now.

 
Old 10-06-2006, 10:33 PM   #4
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

I really would love to know if anyone has had a similar experience? Also which is worse? Getting off the Xanax completely? Or living with high anxiety and/or panic attacks?
After reading some of Jacckey97's posts everyone seems very pleased with Xanax (except that it's short acting). Has anyone tried to go off of it and then decided it was better to go back on Xanax and stay on them?
My doctor said that most people eventually build up a tolerance and have to take higher doses to get the same calming effect.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 
Old 10-07-2006, 12:10 AM   #5
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

Hello,
I think Xanax has very positive place in treatment for those with higher levels of anxiety. I was disabled and did not work for years suffering from major panic attacks that would lead to agoraphobia. I tried almost every type of anti-depressant that came out in the past 15 years. I was never able to tolerate the major side effects that went along with those medications. I was told by my last P-doctor that I probably lack an enzyme that breaks them down so it was high doses of these medications staying in my body causing these horrific side effects. (Anyone ever hear of that?) When I first took Xanax like with you it was very effective. I had very few side effects and I became employed after not working for over four years. I stayed employed for over five years while on Xanax. I have had some very stressful things happen and thought I was having some breakthrough anxiety but think there may be more to it. I see my doctor next week and will see if a medication adjustment or change will improve things.

You said you had “mild panic attacks” One may question prescribing Xanax for mild panic but it seems it did help you and you make no mention of a current panic disorder so maybe it was a good idea. Your doctor should have told you the need of weaning off the drug. Did you have a follow up appointment when you got the prescriptions? I’m surprised your doctor gave you a four month supply without seeing you or giving you better directions.

I went off my prescription cold turkey a couple times so can understand and am compassionate to your discomfort.

I was told by my doctor it takes about a year to wean off Xanax (3mg/day) without uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Hope you feel better soon.
Dave

 
Old 10-07-2006, 06:51 AM   #6
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

Thank you very mcuh for that information Dave. My panic attacks started out as mild, but became worse. Although I was never to the point of not leaving the house which is why I can't state my attacks were ever severe. I realize people have had much worse experiences with anxiety than I have. Although my experiences have been bad enough to change my life and outlook on life.
Yes my doctor who I have been seeing for the past 11 years did just write me a script (with 2 refills) and then called in a script for the 4th. Like I stated earlier she made it seem like "no big deal."
An entire year to stop taking them? She told me to cut down .5mg every week. I didn't manage that, but did pretty well.
I still have anxiety and have milder panic attacks even though I still take 2 mgs daily. That's why I would like to know if others have chose to stay on Xanax knowing the withdrawal or think they are worth it because they do change your quality of life I believe.


Thanks,
Alicia

 
Old 10-07-2006, 10:14 AM   #7
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Thumbs up Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

I do take xanax, and have been on it for years (over 5), on an as needed basis. Sometimes it was only once or twice a week (I don't always cope real well when things go wrong because I ddon't get a lot of support from DH when emotional things occur. After an episode of vertigo which lasted four weeks, I found myself on it daily, but using only 2 0.25 mg. each time. When I do stop, there are no symptoms, but as you can see my dosage is lower. My doctor tells me not to go through the panic, but to take the xanax, and it certainly does even things out, so you can get through your day normally. I believe I will continue to take it until I feel I don't, then wean off, one-half at a time. Life deals out some strange problems when we get older (I am 76), and you don't have the inner strength you had when younger. I know this doesn't apply to you (the age thing), but I don't want to become agoraphobic (and vertigo can do this to you because you get scared it will happen outside.)

So stick with it, taper down as you have better days if you feel up to it, because life is meant to be lived, and it's so hard to do all the things we need to do when you are plagued with anxiety.

Hugs and best of luck to you.

Arline

 
Old 10-07-2006, 10:23 AM   #8
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

This is a P.S. to my message above. I do take 400 mg. of SAM-e, which is natural and over-the-counter and prescribed by many psychiatrists/psychologists, and that is probably why I only need the lower dosage of xanax. It is prescribed for well-being and peace of mind, and they have found now it helps with aches and pains and physical problems with joints. I should have told you this in the beginning of mymessage, as I do think the SAM-e helps a lot also.

Arline

 
Old 10-07-2006, 12:55 PM   #9
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

Thank you Arline. Yes it should be much easier at that low of a dosage to wean off if needed. I am so glad to hear that it has helped you and the vertigo. You sound very strong and determined to live a happy, normal life at 76.
Thanks for the advice even though our dosages are so different. I think taking the Xanax makes me a better single Mom also. I'm not afraid of having a panic attack in the middle of my daughter's dance recital etc. I seem to have the attacks much more when in a large group like that etc.
But as I have said earlier those withdrawal symptoms are always in the back of my mind. So I guess it comes down to quality of life versus taking medication. It's a choice I guess I can only make for myself.
I DO KNOW that I never want to get up to 4 mgs again though and then have to stop. I am much more aware now and informed. I am learning a great deal through these boards.

Thank you so much,
Alicia


 
Old 10-07-2006, 05:13 PM   #10
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

A,

When I first started taking Xanax about a month and a half ago I started to immediately feel the effects. I felt better almost immediately. Instead of hurting all the time from anxiety and panic I was able to live normally. Not "free" of anxiety, but at a level that was manageable. After only two weeks of taking it at .25mg 3x daily I quit cold turkey because I flet better. It was a huge mistake even at this really low dose. The first day was fine, but within 24 hours I was climbing the walls with panic and it was different that the panic I had before. I believe it was withdrawl. I was cold sweating and confused, and the whole nine yards. After another day of suffering I sat down with my wife and asked her hwo she felt about me on meds versus off and whe said I seemed much happier on them, so I am resigned to take them for the rest of my life. I started taking the Xanax again, and as before felt immediate relief. Anxiety and panic can be a life long disabling disease for which there is no miracle cure, but Xanax takes the edge off for me, so I am going to take it as long as I can.

I do beilieve that your doctor giving you 4 mg/day was a mistake. A much smaller dose probably would have been sufficient. If the 2 mg per day makes the anxiety manageable then continue. If you can wean yourself off it more without a return of panic then do it, but if you have a choice between panic and none. None is probably the best option.

Just a rant from a guy who has been suffering with panic dissorder for almost 2o years now. Good luck to youwhatever you decide. I will agree though that the withdrawl is pretty bad especially when you mix in the reoccurance of your panic dissorder.

Take care.

 
Old 10-07-2006, 07:31 PM   #11
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AKBSRTEKT3 HB User
Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

OCENGINEER,

You are the first person who has related at all with a withdrawl experience. Thank you. It's a scary thought that even on a dose that low (compared to mine) that you seem to have experienced what I did for that entire week. I thought possibly it was just me and I had a low tolerance or something. I need to get to a lower dose especially after reading you had withdrawl symptoms from a low dose. I am angry with my doctor for prescribing so freely with a high dosage. And angry with myself for not researching more before taking the first dose. That's one reason these boards are so important. You can learn from anothers experience.
Thanks for the positive feedback if I do need to stay on the Xanax. I'm sorry you suffered with anxiety for 20 years and I'm glad you found relief.

 
Old 10-07-2006, 08:41 PM   #12
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

No worries. I wouldn't have had it any other way. And be careful not to beat yourself up either. You had no idea what the doctor was prescribing and shame on he/she for not telling you to be careful when stopping. My doctor neglected to tell me the withdrawl symptoms as well.

I also meditate in the mornings as well. I have found it is a great way to practice controling thoughts and anxiety. I have also noticed that it helps me relax in the morning. Elimination of caffeine is also huge. Caffeine is really dangerous to the panic suffer since it has some of the same effects as anxiety. Good luck to you "A". Keep up us all up to date and let us know how you are doing. Other peoples success stories are incredibly valuable to people who are just starting the whole panic dissorder journey.

Later

 
Old 10-07-2006, 08:57 PM   #13
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AKBSRTEKT3 HB User
Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

I do try to meditate, but my mind always seems to have "a million worries" that will not allow it. I stated earlier that my anxiety started when I lost my job. But when I read others "symptoms" and I now believe that I have been having it plus attacks since my son was born 5 years ago~marriage soured~divorce followed.
So I now believe that I was experiencing it and just didn't realize it. I thought it was "normal."
An earlier person posted that his/her doctor said that it would take a YEAR to wean off of 3 daily mgs. I'm amazed at the HUGE differences in advice given by doctors on how to wean off of it~ or wean "down" as I have decided may be a better option.
IF ANYONE ELSE HAS OR EVEN TRIED TO WEAN OFF OR DOWN PLEASE let me know how and what your experience was. I am new to dealing with this anxiety and Xanax itself.

ALL info helps! Thank you so much.

 
Old 10-08-2006, 10:45 AM   #14
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Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

I have heard that at different dosages the tapering should be done differently. Since you were on 4 mg and are now on 2 mg, you should probably consider talking to another doctor and getting another opinion. Doctors are just like mechanics. If you don't go to the right one, you could get a bad diagnosis and spend lots of money and still have a problem, but once you find a good one, you will always go back to them.

Meditation is hard, I don't disagree, but if you can find the time to try, just the act of sitting in one place for 15 minutes or a half hour can be therapeutic. Anyway, I have been meditating on and off for years and I still can not claim to be great at it. Some days are easier than others and the hardest days are the best times to practice.

Good luck tapering off the Xanax. Let us all know how it works out because there isn't a lot of info on the effects. I have read that xanax has no long term effect though, so you may end up with your original panic again. In my experience it is difficult to seperate the two.

Take care

 
Old 10-14-2006, 09:58 AM   #15
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Unhappy Re: Weaning Off Of Xanax

Hi-I have also been on xanax for 3 years; started after a major panic attack on .5 mg/day. I am now up to 3mg or 4mg if needed. I went to my last appointment with a new doctor recently; he gave me enough to last until I can find another doctor. He called me a drug addict and told me there is NO such thing as "panic attacks". I forgot a dose (1mg) and had a major panic attack at work. I also have SVT, a heart condition, and if I have panic it leads to SVT or PVC's which are very scary. I do not drink ANY caffeine at all; I take co-Q10 for my heart, and fish oil and also Wellbutrin SR mg/day since 2001. I tried paxil and I gained weight and it did not help. I stopped it cold turkey and 4 at least 4 day I thought I was going to die. That was in April. At this point, I want to come off xanax and I have heard it will take up to a year. I'm trying to find a new doctor who is supportive of this and will help. I don't mind taking it when I have a panic attack, but I take 3 mg/tid and I'm tired of feeling like I depend on this. I'm also on 3mg of lunesta to help with sleep. I've been on it for a year and if I miss a dose of it, I don't sleep longer than 4 hours. If I miss a dose of xanax I start to feel "fuzzy" in my head and VERY anxious as a pending panic attack is on. I would like for additional information on how to do this. Feel lucky you are down to 2mg/day; I feel trapped and like I'll never get off of this drug. I have a VERY sensitive nervous system and have a lot of stress in my life and worry a lot so I don't know if I can ever get off of it. Suggestions?

 
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