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Avatar universal

Klonapin (and also Ambien) Withdrawal: Need Help!! Fighting Depression......

New to MedHelp and not sure yet how this site works. I'm hoping to find others in a similar mess to talk with. I feel so, so alone. I took both Klonapin and Ambien for about 10 years. Also was on anti-depressants all those years too. I WAS depressed then but am now questioning if I really need anti-depressants now. I think I have been in a mental fog from all this junk....BUT the real current problem is I was forced to stop taking Klonapin and Ambien quite abruptly. (Long story- wont go on about it now!) Last Klonapin July 30 2012 and Ambien about a month later. The first 2 weeks were unbelievably awful, hallucinations of all sorts and physical symptoms. Only suymptom I missed was a seizure! I assumed these things would get better gradually but they havent. In fact, some have gotten worse....I have tried to be brave and have educated myself on Benzo withdrawel but at this point I am getting desperate. Fighting depression (probably partly from extreme sleep deficit-) and am very scared this WONT end. Which I  would not be able to handle. I really need to hear from people out there who have been through this or are currently going through it..........I am praying someone hears me..........Not sure how to join in live discussions, so am trying posting this to catch someone's attention. Please reach out to this woman....
20 Responses
4204073 tn?1361835076
Hi and Welcome!    I'm glad you found us.  This forum has been amazing for so many of us.   I have no experience with benzo w/d's, but I'm sure someone will be along soon that can help you.    

A couple quick questions that might help us answer you better.   Were you being prescribed these and did your Dr help you taper off?   They have a responsibility to help you get off them if you have been on them long term so you don't have seizures.     Or were you getting them elsewhere?  If so, can you go to your Dr for help?   Sounds to me like you might need some professional help since all I have read on here about benzos is that they are not something to mess around with when it comes to w/d from them.   If you are afraid to talk to your Dr, the hardest part for most is the being honest part for fear of their Dr's reaction, but your health is far more important.  Plus your Dr has heard and seen it all.   I'm sure they would rather have you come for help than tough it out and have some health issues.   Please consider this as an option and keep reading and posting.  It makes a huge difference.  I have spent hundreds of hours on here.   :)  
480448 tn?1426952138
I agree, if you can give us a little bit of the background, that would be helpful.  Klonopin should NEVER have been stopped abruptly.  You're very  lucky you didn't have a seizure!

Were you abusing the meds?  Or just taking them as directed?  Unfortunately, some people who have been down a similar road reported that it took a good bit of time to readjust and "level out".

You really need to seek out the help of a GOOD psychiatrist, who has a lot of knowledge about these kinds of meds, and have experience in treating patients who have gone through similar situations.

Most likely, a good bit of what you're going through is the initial depression and/or anxiety rearing its ugly head, and it's not uncommon after coming off these meds for the depression and anxiety to actually be worse.  Have you ever tried therapy?  That would be a top priority, if I were you....again, a good psychiatrist can help you with all of that.  You have to start somewhere...that's the most logical place, IMO.

I'm sorry you've had such a rough time.  We have a great depression and anxiety community (which I happen to be a community leader of both) , please check them out...you will receive support and guidance no matter what forum you're on.

Best of luck!
Avatar universal
Good morning! I am so relieved to hear some voices in the dark.
YES, all meds were prescribed by my then psychiatrist. I did NOT abuse them in any way. Its a confusing and long story. Back in June the Klonapin and Ambien stopped working. I couldnt sleep well, and felt anxious. I did know I needed to get off this stuff, it had been too many years. I had an appointment with the shrink coming up soon so decided to tell him then.I had NO refills after July 15 To my utter horror, in early July I found out he was closing his practice to take a new job in West Palm, over an hour away. Somehow the office forgot to notify me. I had an appointment with my PMD. This was strange. He came in the door, looked at me without his usual smile (we've known each other for years and even worked together at several facilities). He said "LOOK what we doctors have done to you!" and walked out. I am still not sure what he saw, tho I am beginning to "see" now. Little history: I have had some major health problems the past 5 years, most of it related to a gastric bypass I had in 2003 (292 lbs then). Surgery was successful but problems arose, including a stomach that never stretched out from its original 1 ounce. Developed severe osteoporosis (and other things) and ended up breaking my right hip, and also a extreme, splintered fractured of the right femur and the knee prosthesis there. They said I would probably lose the leg, but a fairly decent ortho surgeon put in a "trauma knee" prosthesis and after monthes of therapy, my leg was intact tho very painful from then on. (have been on pain management since then and currently only have an implanted pain pump which delievers a tiny dose of Dilaudid). These injruies were because I had started falling a LOT during that past year or so. A LOT. Now I believe this was because of the mass of medications I was taking. All my doses were at the high edge of the accepted doses. (Was also on Zoloft and Serzone, anti-depressants).I am certainly no longer obese. Currently I weigh 94 lbs. I am 5'4". Got as low as 89 lbs at one point. NOT anorexic. Food didnt taste good and had no appetite. And because the stomach was only one ounce, I would fill up very quickly, and often ate too much (causing me to throw it back up and feel awful). I currently have a better appetite, tho of course, will never be able to eat a normal serving in one sitting. And because sensory things are extremely heightened in withdrawal, some foods taste weird and even the texture bothers me. But I AM eating a lot better.
    Sorry. This is a confusing tale. My shrink did not call in prescriptions and an appointment with a new shrink wasnt until July 30. When I called, I was told I should "talk to my PMD about the Klonapin and Ambien." HUH? Now I know my PMD had called the shrink and told him how bad I looked and he did not want me on those meds.
     So, I ran out of these meds on July 15. I knew withdrawal was dangerous (but NOT as horrible as it has been!), and found a sympathetic doc at a local urgent care who gave me a prescription to last exactly until July 30 when I saw the new shrink.
     Ok. Went to my appointment with the new shrink and before I could say a thing, was told I had to go sign into a local psych hospital for detox- OR - she would use legal means to force me. Since I wanted to get off the meds, I readily agreed, and just went home to pack a small bag. Now: heres the rub. I am an RN (tho disabled and not currently working) and I had worked at this facility in the past. Which would've been ok but when I got there, I KNEW most of the staff and it was humiliating. This place only offers an 8 day detox and the taper, on Ativan was only 3 days. This is totally unacceptable for Klonapin withdrawal but I did not know that then. Within a day I was hallucinating and was having severe and miserable physical symptoms. Staff never once asked me how I was doing,and when I tried to talk to them,it became obvious they were totally clueless, and whats worse, they werent even very interested in listening. My main question then, and even now, is: Is what I am experiencing "normal" for Klonapin withdrawal?" I must have asked 8-10 staff including the medical and psychiatric docs and not a one was able to answer. (I now know that yes, all of it is "normal" tho that knowledge hasnt exactly helped me!) My BP was very high for me but the detox rules prevented them from giving me very much of the BP med they used for detox. "Why, 146/96 isnt that high!" I was told. For me, it WAS.
     On the 6th day I was told my HMO wasnt going to pay for the stay and was promptly discharged home without any instructions, follow up or meds.
     I had another week of hallucinations, and then "woke up" on August 14, trying to piece it all together, and slowly realizing how messed up my memory, my thinking and my emotions had become over the many years I used all these meds. And having constant nearly unbearable withdrawal symptoms (but no more hallucinations and I never had a seizure). Over the 3 monthes, there has been a teeny bit of improvement but not much and at this point I am feeling quite discouraged. Early on I tried the internet for support but for whatever reason, did not find a "live" group until now. I did become quite educated on benzodiazipine withdrawal, though. I am greatly relieved to have found this group and thats why I've written you all nearly an autobiography (And this is the pared down story!!).
    BTW, during all this I decided to get off ALL the psych meds, so I could "meet the real me" without chemicals.Yes. I know now this wasnt the best choice but its done, and I do not regret doing it. I tapered off the anti-depressants (I did have refills for them!) gradually and havent taken them for maybe a month now. I am NOT back in the "black hole" but AM fighting a depression brought on by lack of sleep and anger at all that has happened.
    Thank you, thank you for being here, and I hope some of you actually read my story. Sorry it was so long. Many many hugs!!!
3688816 tn?1358478897
Annie... wow what a wild ride u have been on and im so so sorry u have been treated this way esp by ppl u knew! !! Tho i am not familiar with benzo wd i just wanted to show u my support by just saying i have read ur story amd im sorry. Many others will cone along and have different things to say. Most of which u will find very helpful!  Have u thought about finding
another dr to help u? I really hope u get all the answers u need to meet the real u as u have said above!!!! Good luck and keep posting :) we r all here for u!!!!
Avatar universal
Good morning.......and thank you so much for reading my "book." I'm a bit embarassed its so long but its what I needed to say. Benzodiazipines: maybe you have heard of Xanax, or Ativan?? They are also benzos.
     I did sleep a bit better last night, probably from sheer exhaustion. But the itching is driving me crazy. Thats one symptom I am ready to have disappear. It was so bad last night, I actually pray to God to stop it (I think God has better things to do!) It will end when my brain adjusts to being without chemicals, I guess.
Hugs and thanks!!!
480448 tn?1426952138
WOW.  I'm so sorry you went through such hell.  Unbelievable.  WHY was your doc threatening to 302 you?  That doesn't even make sense!!  You were asking for help to properly taper off these meds and she basically foreced you into an inpatient detox?  Just wow.

I'm SO sorry you went through this.  I hope you get to feeling better soon!  You should have never gone through that.  
Avatar universal
Good morning Annie, I myself am on Celexa, Cymbalta, trazadone, restoril for sleep and recently added suboxin to this regimen for vicodin withdrawl. If I were you and you are still dealing with a sleep disorder, ask you Physician for a prescription of Restoril 15 mg to start. The others you mentioned, has lost it's effect now. Those never worked for me. If you want to stay off them completely, than Melatonin might help you.
3955352 tn?1349100497
I sent you a message to your inbox....
1436598 tn?1332900133
I don't know what anti-depressants you were on, but I came off Celexa last year and that triggered terrible itching, especially the bottoms of my feet at night.  About 6 months earlier I had stopped a low dose of Xanax and Ambien and it was awful for about 4-5 months, but when I fast tapered the Celexa I was not expecting increased itching as a side effect.  Just a thought.  Hang in there, I feel for you!
Avatar universal
Thank you all for writing! What a relief this is. For the last 2 days I was so miserable I "played sick" which is something I've tried not to do. (I keep very busy all day, am totally reorganizing my home, cleaning it --- very OCD but weirdly satisfying.)
Restoril ALSO has a withdrawal and my plan is to be chemical FREE. I may give in on this but I hope not. Have realized, painfully, that I have not slept without chemical help since age 25 or so, and I am 62 now. I am going to give this my best shot. I've also realized that all those meds added up in my brain and fogged my thinking, messed up my memory and clouded my judgement. Time to stop and this current misery is just the price I must pay. I sincerely believe the meds messed me up so bad that I am not sure just who I will be once chemical free!!! But I am curious and hopeful and think all this will give me a new strength and belief in myself. I am tired of "playing the sick role"- poor me, so depressed and pitiful and have so many medical problems - I'm getting old (sigh...) and I'd like to be as strong and tough as I can be. I also believe that the meds played a big role in causing my disability and medical problems and I do NOT want any more of that. Have to live with the results it all caused and thats enough. God bless you ALL, and a big hug to every one of you for being here!!!!!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
How long did the itching last???? Did it go away gradually or just suddenly stop? Lordie I am SO sick of it!! Like some old movie about heroin addicts, I feel like bugs are crawling on me. Even my gums itch.
Avatar universal
Hi Annie!  So sorry that I just saw your message, but I see that you got it all figured out! : )

I can't EVEN BELIEVE this happened to you.  As a nurse, you understand that the doc probably looked at you that day and saw someone who had become dependent or even addicted to her meds and wrote you off in a way??  Drug seekers are sometimes confused with people who take lots of meds but don't abuse them.  

If you haven't slept on your own in that many years, I'd say the sleep thing is gonna take a while to straighten out.  I once detoxed from phenobarb, ambien, benzos and opiates at the same time and literally did not sleep at ALL for weeks and weeks.  Then I'd sleep like two hours.  That lasted a few months.  Then it got slowly better.  SLOOOOOOOOOOWLY better!  

The depression is another deal entirely, in my opinion.  You may need treatment,and there's nothing wrong with that.  There's also nothing wrong with waiting a while to see if it heals itself after a while as long as you're not suicidal.

How much sleep are you averaging per night?
1436598 tn?1332900133
When I stopped xanax and Ambien I had itching too, and pins and needles and crawlies all over that lasted about 3 or 4 months but it did lessen.  I hate to say this but I never really got the severe leg and bottom of the feet itching to stop until I started taking another antidepressant.  I had come off to see how I did with nothing in my system and the answer was: not good! lol

Also I had wanted to see if it was contributing to my sleep problems but it wasn't. I think if i had tapered a lot slower it might have been better.  Also, I have been on varying SSRI's for over 15 years so I think my system really freaked out when I stopped everything.

Hang in there!
3063937 tn?1352426455
I too have the creepy crawly feeling of bugs of my skin! My dr. wrote me a script for Inderall which helped with that. It's a Beta blocker, and helps to also calm you down

Best Wishes!
Avatar universal
Thank you all. I sleep amybe an hour, maybe two then wide awake. This has been going on all 3 monthes. Dreams are vivid and sometimes bizarre.
    I currently feel strongly that I WANT to meet the person I am without all the meds. But please know, if the depression becomes more constant or worrisome, I WILL go back on meds but no Klonapin. NOT!!! If I did, I'd be on it for life, because when and if this ends,I sure wouldnt want to do it again.
    Please share with me: how did withdrawal affect your emotions? Did the physical symptomss go away gradually...or more abruptly? I'm worried because there doesnt seem to be any gradual improvement. In fact, some symptoms are worse than they were 3 monthes ago. This truly is unbelievable, why isnt this TOLD to patients???
Avatar universal
Hi Annie, I too came off of klonopin, and to be perfectly honest, it was not easy.  I do not know how long you are into your recovery, but it took me a few weeks, to feel ok again.  The anxiety and the depression are still a problem for me but thats because i am in therapy getting to the "root" of why i abused opiates and benzos in the first place.  And that is not any east task by any means, i was hiding so many childhood memories and kept them suppressed for so many years during  my opiate use and now that i am clean all the memories are coming to the surface.  On a positive note,  now 8 months later at the stage where i am at now is learning  the skills to cope and most importantly learning to forgive!!!!  Now remember forgiveness is for YOU.....
Avatar universal
That's quite a story. You're not alone. I tapered off of 10mg Ambien generic ending 2 years and 3 months ago. I had been on the stuff only for 9 months. The taper went on for 4 months. I made sure each drop down was fully stabilized and my CNS was happy before I took the next drop. I was successful, but I still ended up on Valerian Root, Alterel and Calms Forte to sleep. I'm still on those in various quantities, but now I'm 30 days off of hydrocodone 7.5s also. Hydro also messed with my sleep. I ran into lots of ppl on-line who stopped Ambien CT and had the same experience you describe with the dreams, anxiety and other symptoms. Many Doctors and Pharmacists don't seem to understand what it takes to get off of the stuff. All they know is what the drug company tells them. My Doctor and Pharmacist both said "the drug has a  real short half-life so do a 3 week quick taper". BS!! I thought I was going to explode! I borrowed 9 months of my natural sleep from my future and didn't realize I was doing it. There needs to be broader warnings on what we're getting into with benzos and benzo-like drugs. I wonder if I'll ever sleep completely sleep-aid free again. I plan on trying. I wish you all the strength and willingness to get through this and be re-introduced to your old self again. Keep posting!  
3955352 tn?1349100497
I went to the e.r. after ct from ambien that I was only on 10 mgs. For a few months and I wanted to die .... the doc at the ere said there is no withdrawals from ambien..lol  then he tested for street drugs....I was soon pissed he wouldn't even listened me.. next day I was at my family doc and had to be weaned it only to me a month thank god...so no, doctors  are not fully educated on all meds..do research  so you know what it is you will be up against at least I will from now on....
480448 tn?1426952138
No doubt there will be a lot of emotions coming off Klonopin and Ambien, and definitely some rebound insomnia.  As hard as it is to function on little sleep, that WILL regulate itself after time.  It just may take a while.

I agree completely with your plan...keep an eye on the depressive symptoms.  If it's getting to be too much, go back to your doc, and talk about your options.  

Needing an antidepressant isn't anything to be ashamed of, it isn't any kind of reflection on you as a person, or an indication of weakness.  Some people just need to take a medication, just as some people have to take a medication for their thyroid disorder, or clood pressure.  I always tell people who are making themselves miserable with this internal struggle about meds....that it's better to have to take a pill every day for the rest of your life, and increase the quality of life, rather than suffering, thinking it's some kind of weakness to need help in the form of a medication.

Just keep an open mind, that's all.  If you decide to go back on an antidepressant, don't overthink it, don't worry about coming off.  You may NEVER want to, and if you DO, you are much better educated now, and understand the importance of slowly tapering medications.  I've been on several different meds for anxiety (panic disorder) and depression...and have never had a problem coming off, with a doctor guided taper.  

I didn't read back, so I apologize if you already said this...therapy is a must.  If you're not in therapy...ask your doc for a referral!

Hang in there!!!
Avatar universal
Thank you all for writing back. I slept maybe 4 hours last night. Still itching, creepy-ing and feeling like a used dish rag.
    I was in therapy for many years and it was helpful. Despite being over-medicated so badly, I did make a lot of progress. Was able to begin forgiving my parents, etc. NOW I need to continue working on forgiving ME. But I am truly not ready to see a therapist now. Truthfully I am paranoid that the therapist will Baker Act me for being so "crazy" - can you blame me? Its obvious that the medical/psychiatric folks here in my town are not excatly knowledgable about benzo withdrawal. Because I worked as a Psych RN I already know just about ALL the local shrinks and I cannot trust any of them..........yet.
    If the depression keeps on or gets worse, I WILL be agreeable to going on ADs again but will insist the doses be lower. The Shrink who prescribed all those meds was a nice man and I trusted him, for 12 years, and in the end, he let me drop off the edge into withdrawal without a backwards glance. Early on, I phoned his wife (she ran the office) and told her what I was going thru and did the doc have any suggestions. She didnt call back for several days but when she did, her only suggestion was for me to make an appointment with a new shrink.(which I'd already done). My beloved doc, after knowing me 12 years, could not be bothered to speak with me as a suffering human being.
    Sorry! I am angry about this, and believe I have every right to be. Oh yeah. My former therapist no longer lives in Florida. I would trust her to see, if she was here.
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