Hi Jon and everyone,
Having taken numerous SSRIs, benzodiazepines, etc., over the years, having compared notes with fellow sufferers of anxiety/panic, and having discussed this with my MD, it seems to boil down to the fact that people are very different in the ways they react to any given medication. Each one of us has a unique biochemistry and psychology,
which unfortunately makes finding just the right "corrective" drug(s) for each person very complicated.
For example, I was prescribed zoloft for G.A.D. and depression many years ago, but I had my first "out of nowhere" panic attack a couple of hours after taking the first pill - "A paradoxical reaction, severe akathisia," the doctor said, "happens to only a very small number of people" - like me! But other people successfully take zoloft and lessen
their panic attacks!
After trying a few more SSRIs, even though I had no more instant panic attacks with any others, I realized that they just weren't the solution to my particular biochemical problems--which really, really disappointed me, knowing others had had great success with SSRIs. They always made me feel unreal, a strange "depersonalization", like I was running myself by remote control.
I've tried almost every benzo there is (valium, ativan, klonopin, etc.), and each one eventually lessened the anxiety but left me with a sort of unpleasant "deadened" feeling--and I didn't seem to sleep well. But by chance, finally, after being prescribed xanax while I was in extreme anxiety over a trauma in my family, I knew that it was the one that clicked with my own particular chemistry. It halted my anxiety attacks fast, it allowed me to sleep deeply, and it actually lasted longer than the usual 4 hours in my system.
Personally, the fact that xanax IS
shorter-acting than other benzos is a great plus for my own psychology, because that gives me a greater sense of control over the drug
. I tried extended-release xanax and actually hated the feeling that I was "down for the count" for the next 12 hours whether I liked it or not. When I wanted to wake up and be alert, I couldn't with the E-R xanax still slowly releasing into my body.
So I'm back to regular xanax as needed. I don't follow a strict, scheduled daily dosage--I take it in small increments whenever undue anxiety or panic rears its ugly head. I have set a maximum in my pill tray of 2 mg a day, which I can almost always stay within.
It seems that when I have a run of good days and take much less xanax, my tolerance for it "resets". I feel very lucky about that, as I've been taking it for 6 years. I was up to 3 mg per day in January this year when a family member was dying, but I'm back down to about 1.5 mg a day on average now.
I might venture to say that at this point, my body seems to be dependent on varying amounts of xanax for biochemical "correction" (it also lowers my occasional high blood pressure in minutes), but that it is not an escalating addiction for me (thank heavens).
That said, I have a friend who said she once became seriously addicted to xanax, but has taken klonopin daily for years without problem.
We're all different!