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Withdrawal from Ativan
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Withdrawal from Ativan

I have been taking Ativan .5 mg for 2 months now once daily for anxiety. My doctor recommended just to go cold turkey since it is such low dose. I talked to the pharmacist and he recommended to take it every other day. I did try taking .25 mg for a couple of days and I feel better without being tired though still feeling anxious.  Yesterday, I did not take any and was anxious but manageable . This morning I took .25 mg and felt wide awake and jittery.


I have been taking GABA as recommended by a naturopathic doctor. It seems to help with the anxiety without side effects. My question is what is the best way to taper off Ativan? I am so confused if I should follow my doctor or the pharmacist. I greatly appreciate any advice for those who has taken Ativan in past.  I really wanted to take a more natural approach in controlling my anxiety.
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Avatar_m_tn
I don't want to mess with your head, but I'm going to have to in order to give my opinion here.  GABA taken internally doesn't get past the blood/brain barrier, so it's not very effective in treating anything.  Sometimes it also causes a bit of anxiety.  If it's helping you, great, but that's most likely a placebo effect, which is the best medicine of all -- no side effects!  Generally to target GABA in natural medicine you have to get at it indirectly, either by taking relaxants such as passionflower, kava, valerian, etc., or by taking taurine and B6 (assuming you don't have sufficient B6 in your body already), which together make GABA.  As to the ativan, each person is different, and the taper depends on the individual.  Some do it easily, most do it with some difficulty depending on the dose and frequency of taking it, and some have tremendous difficulty.  You're actually not doing badly.  Another thing -- someone on a benzo shouldn't be taking GABA or anything that affects GABA, since the benzo is also targeting GABA.  Exactly what natural doctor are you seeing?
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Avatar_m_tn
I don't want to mess with your head, but I'm going to have to in order to give my opinion here.  GABA taken internally doesn't get past the blood/brain barrier, so it's not very effective in treating anything.  Sometimes it also causes a bit of anxiety.  If it's helping you, great, but that's most likely a placebo effect, which is the best medicine of all -- no side effects!  Generally to target GABA in natural medicine you have to get at it indirectly, either by taking relaxants such as passionflower, kava, valerian, etc., or by taking taurine and B6 (assuming you don't have sufficient B6 in your body already), which together make GABA.  As to the ativan, each person is different, and the taper depends on the individual.  Some do it easily, most do it with some difficulty depending on the dose and frequency of taking it, and some have tremendous difficulty.  You're actually not doing badly.  Another thing -- someone on a benzo shouldn't be taking GABA or anything that affects GABA, since the benzo is also targeting GABA.  Exactly what natural doctor are you seeing?
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much for answering my post. I have seen your posts several times and you seem to be very knowledgeable on such topics. I did see a naturopathic doctor a week ago locally which specializes in holistic/natural medicine. That because of my frustration with my doctor. I was prescribed Ativan and Lexapro. After having a bad reaction, I stopped taking Lexapro. My doctor got really frustrated and basically told me to seek out another doctor. As a professional myself, I was completely disgusted by her reaction.  I continued to take Ativan while figuring out which natural medicine to take. However, I don't like the side effects that goes with it.  The naturopathic doctor prescribed GABA and 5htp for me to take.  However, the 5htp seems to aggravate my anxiety if taken at full dose at 100 mg. GABA seems to help but I can't take it at a full dose. I take a third of the capsule and mix it with water. It is not as potent as Ativan but It takes away some of that uneasiness.  Based on your experience what is the best natural supplement to take? Do I take each of kava, valerian etc. separately? Or is there a supplement out there that contains all that.  By the way, I did order Seredyn but have not tried it yet. Again, I greatly appreciate your feedback.                                                                    
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Avatar_m_tn
I don't know the product, but generally I recommend against direct marketed supplements.  I'm sure some of them are fine, but most are just marketing schemes designed to avoid the scrutiny that comes with being on the shelves of a good health food store and having to answer the questions of naturopaths and experienced supplement buyers.  Some are pyramid schemes.  Some are run by known scam artists.  You just never know when you don't have that protection of somebody like me (I managed small health food stores for 18 years) to get past to get on the shelf.  The ingredients might be helpful, but everyone is different.  Passionflower is known as a very good all around mood relaxant, but it won't work as quickly as valerian, which acts more like a benzo but not as potent.  But as long as you're taking Ativan, you shouldn't take either of these as you're affecting GABA in multiple ways.  Somebody experienced in herbs could probably time it well, but if you don't have that experience you could just stimulate the Ativan, and benzos are tough enough to deal with without making them stronger.  They are very hard to quit taking if one takes them on a regular basis as opposed to as-needed.  Even then, they can be a chore to stop.  Theanine, the other ingredient, I never had much success with either in myself or with my customers, but there is research showing it helps some people.  As a quasi-amino acid, it should probably be taken apart from food.  It's found naturally in green tea.  As for taking things separately, generally natural medicine works in combinations, and works on different parts of the body that affect the system under consideration, but every culture's herbal medicine is different.  With anxiety, you'd generally want to work on relaxing the system with something like passionflower, valerian is good in an immediately stressful situation and for sleep, but a combination of different relaxants is often better.  There are many good formulas -- Gaia makes a  couple of good ones that are tinctures in gel caps, which makes them easy to take.  But you'd also work on the adrenals, as it's the overproduction of cortisol that makes us anxious.  Holy basil and ashwagandha are considered the most relaxing of these, and eleuthero is also a good one, but keep in mind that these can make you tired because they also lower blood sugar some.  They also might not.  Some like rhodiola, but for many it can be stimulating and cause anxiety.  It's very trial and error, which is what your natural guy should have talked to you about.  I worry about him, though, because given the meds you're on he shouldn't have given you the GABA and maybe not the 5-HTP either since you were on Lexapro and that can cause an overproduction of serotonin.  I don't know how long you were on Lexapro, but quitting can cause withdrawal, and 5-HTP exaggerates that withdrawal for some.  But it can be very effective for many, as it does what the ssris do but in the natural way the brain uses serotonin.  What ssris do is inhibit the breakdown of serotonin and direct it to specific receptors, while the brain naturally disposes of used serotonin and makes more.  Other receptors than the targeted ones also shut down when on ssris, and when you go off the drug they start to wake up again, causing the withdrawal.  Sometimes, after long use, the brain has a hard time recovering -- mine never did after a quack psychiatrist botched taking me off Paxil, one of the hardest to come off of, so I'm pretty much the walking dead now.  Personally, I'd find a different naturopath, or ask this one why he did what he did given you were already targeting GABA with the Ativan.  Gotta be very careful with these guys, including psychiatrists, and regular docs are not a good choice to do meds with as they're not as used to them and don't understand the side effects and the quitting problems and don't know which ones are easier to start with than others.  They just know what pharmaceutical reps tell them -- Lexapro is a good first choice, as many find it easier to tolerate, but mostly you were put on it because it's still on patent and therefore that's what the reps are selling the doc most -- the others all have cheaper generics.  But it isn't a bad first choice.  You just have to be careful.  What I would do before you go on with any of this is read a book called Natural Highs by Hyla Cass, a psychiatrist at UCLA who uses natural remedies in her practice.  It's a good introduction to how this works and proper dosages and such, though it's getting old.  As for me, I wish I'd known about the natural stuff before I started on meds.  I was going to try doing it that way when I chose to stop the Paxil, but it broke me so badly and my psychiatrist was unaware of the proper protocols to stop the withdrawal, so I'm just screwed.  It made me get paradoxical reactions to whatever I try.  But I'm a rare case -- I hope, since no one's counting!  As for kava, it's the best relaxant, for many as good as a benzo, but the standardized version has possibly caused a small number of liver problems.  So be aware of that if you're on a lot of meds or have a history of liver problems.  You can avoid the problem by not taking the standardized versions, but they do seem to work better.  Good luck, and feel free to contact me again.
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Hi,  I have read your post and all the comments.  I was fortunate that I found a program on the internet called "The Road Back"  Research it and see if you would be interested.  They have someone that will talk to you anytime you need to talk.  They will give you instructions on how to go off of any drug you are taking.  What they do is have you go down 5% every two weeks.  It is slow but very effective.  It took me a year to go off the antidepressant that I was on but I had not trouble whatsoever.  I took their supplements, which for me was fish oil.  I found Sam's clubs' fish oil was about the same and much cheaper.  They also have something called JNP I think, I may have the letters mixed up.  It helped me also but the best thing was the fish oil.  It helped my mind.  I took large doses of it.  Look at the site and see what you think.  I had a hard time coming off the 5HTP also.  I keep crying all the time.  It didn't do well for me.  Will be praying for you to find the right thing.
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