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Benzo OK, Antidepressant No Way?


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Ok, I have recently decided that I do not want to take an antidepressant for my GAD/OCPD. I was prescribed Lexapro & I took it for about 11 days, but quickly decided that I do not want to go down that road. So, I am wondering if it would be wise to get some kind of benzo - only to take every once in a while when the anxiety gets bad.... (You know, like once or twice a week....) I just don't like the idea of taking the Lexapro everyday & I really don't like the side effects. But, I'm thinking I can deal with my level of anxiety on most days w/out any meds.... However, it would be nice to have "something" around when the going gets tough.

I wonder if my psychiatrist would go for it? I'm hoping she won't be mad at me for quitting the Lexapro.

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I am hoping that because she knows how paranoid I am about meds, she'll realize that I will be very unlikely to abuse the benzo.... If she prescribes one to me, I will most likely chop it up into tiny pieces anyway & only take a few slivers... That is how paranoid I am about taking meds. But, if a few slivers of a benzo helps me relax, won't that just be heaven to me?

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Yeah, I get your point.... But, I think I'm gonna ask her for a benzo prescription anyway. I think I'd like to at least give it a try.... Is it so bad to take every once in a while? If I don't take it daily & only "as needed" - is abuse, addiction, etc... a huge concern?

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I agree with VE, pdocs are unlikely to prescribe benzo's so loosely, due to their potential for abuse as well as addiction.

You seem to me quite confused. Earlier on you said you'd much rather try a natural remedy. Benzo's are kind of on the other extreme of the spectrum, a sort of very last resort, I always thought.

In one of your other topics you said:

SillyMe said:

"You know, every time I think that I can "just live" with my anxiety, my therapist - once again! - convinces me that I'm miserable..... and maybe I am. I'm just so damn irritable all the time. That's really the worst part about it. The irritability that never goes away... It's like PMS - 24 - 7....! It's OK when I'm alone & I don't have other human beings getting on my nerves. But, when I have to pick up my daughter from school, I swear my skin crawls with anxiety and irritability everytime I hear the word, "Mommy!" I just have NO patience with my daughter, and that is a big problem for me. I would just prefer to be alone all the time - alone with my obsessive thoughts.... no one around to interupt them. I just want to escape all day in front of the TV or the computer.... That's really what I'm dealing with.

If I could just figure out some way to stop yelling at my daughter all the time..... God, that would be like heaven - for both of us. I am just one irritable bitch! "

If you are irritable 24/7, how do you think a few slivers of benzo once or twice a week is going to help you?? This is a recipe for disaster, since benzo's can be very addictive.

You also say:

"I'm just scared that if I really don't want to take this medication, I should stop right now or I'm gonna get hooked on it & my brain is going to be scarred for life & then it's going to be hell to quit it....."

This is MUCH more likely to happen with benzo's than with Lexapro.

You definitely need something in you long term like Lexapro, that can build up to a steady state in the body and work for you 24/7.

I'm not a doctor, but any pdoc would be mad to give you benzo's under these circumstances.

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i'm with VE and AJ on this one. benzos aren't candy, they're addictive, and you need to take them AS DIRECTED to get any benefit out of them. lex, on the other hand, stays in your system constantly and is not addictive.

that being said, since you were quoted above by AJ as saying you lack patience and have a worse anxiety problem than a few benzos are going to handle, you'll need to come to grips with needing a medication, or no medication at all. i highly doubt a doctor will RX you medications when you haven't shown a willingness to try other options. that also being said, if s/he does, s/he probably isn't the best pdoc.

i just called my pharmacy and spoke with my pharmacist for you, and he said that 2.5 is the lowest dose he's ever heard of, and that if you are indeed experiencing any side effects, they would be "quite minimal". he basically said that because of very low dose, about 1/4 of what even low-dose people take, it isn't likely at all that you're actually having side effects from lex.

so rest assured, you are fine on your lex, and can take that dose until you want to move up to 5. around there you should start to get a true feeling for what it does. in the meantime, 2.5 isn't going to do anything except get your body used to the drug, and find out if you're allergic to it (if it give you a skin reaction) before going higher.

as i've mentioned, i've known people who take high doses of lex who are around to tell the tale. i personally used to take 20mg and had only sexual side effects.

i hope you stay well-

loon

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That's cool.... I did feel a little bit attacked, but I'm just sensitive that way. Hey, we all have our issues, right? I guess I see your point.... I didn't realize benzos were "that" hard-core. Oh well... Maybe I should just ask for some sleeping pills so I can chill out in the evenings? Would that be so bad? I really appreciate the insights, by the way.... I don't know why I'm so freaked out by the Lexapro, but I am. I know that 2.5 is a really low dose, but I was feeling a little apathetic even with that small amount. I guess it was just the intense tiredness that I was feeling, but I didn't want to do anything during that short period of time that I was taking the meds. This weekend, I actually had the motivation to clean the house. It was nice.

I've just got to find a way to deal with my GAD.... I'm going to give some natural supplements a try. I can't take St. John's Wart 'cuz I'm on birth control (and they interact). But, I've heard that SAMe and 5htp are OK with birth control. I don't even know if I'd be that comfortable with a sleeping pill.... And, of course I'd only take a 1/4 or 1/8 of the thing the first few times so that I can convince myself that it's not going to kill me. (Yeah, that's part of my anxiety problem. I am really freaked out by taking medications. I don't like anything that makes me feel "weird.")

Oh, what the hell. I have an Ambien in the cupboard that a friend gave me. Maybe I'll cut it up & take an 8th of it just to see what happens.

Yeah, I'm a freak.

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I've just got to find a way to deal with my GAD.... I'm going to give some natural supplements a try. I can't take St. John's Wart 'cuz I'm on birth control (and they interact). But, I've heard that SAMe and 5htp are OK with birth control. I don't even know if I'd be that comfortable with a sleeping pill.... And, of course I'd only take a 1/4 or 1/8 of the thing the first few times so that I can convince myself that it's not going to kill me. (Yeah, that's part of my anxiety problem. I am really freaked out by taking medications. I don't like anything that makes me feel "weird.")

I really don't want you to feel more attacked, but what most people don't realize is that natural supplements can be just as mind-altering as prescription drugs, with their own side effects. They're not harmless or fun just because they are natural. That being said, I believe they can be helpful. Isn't PennyCentury really into those? Maybe PM her.

But I can understand you being freaked out by medication. I'm not gonna try to convince you to take anything. It's up to you. But IF you want to try Lexapro, then give it a fair chance; at least a month on a therapeutic dose.

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Hi!

Im sorry that you are feeling attacked. I dont know anything about lexapro....but i do know some about benzos and sleeping pills.

neither one are something that you should take "slivers" of unless your pdoc tells you to.

as for sleeping pills - do you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep? If so, i would suggest trying something OTC first. your doctor may ask you to take that route first as well. and if you dont have sleep problems - your pdoc will not prescribe them.

and dont lie to your pdoc just so you can get what you want, because it will not help in the end.

benzos are highly addictive. and if you were to be rx'd a benzo, your pdoc would keep count in order to prevent abuse.

as for me - i take 1mg of xanax xr at bedtime. my rx is for 2mg a day, so i can take the other 1mg pill as needed. but, for me, it is rare....maybe once a week. and ive been on this rx for awhile and doing fairly decent with it.

good luck!!!

december

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That's cool.... I did feel a little bit attacked, but I'm just sensitive that way. Hey, we all have our issues, right? I guess I see your point.... I didn't realize benzos were "that" hard-core. Oh well... Maybe I should just ask for some sleeping pills so I can chill out in the evenings? Would that be so bad? I really appreciate the insights, by the way.... I don't know why I'm so freaked out by the Lexapro, but I am. I know that 2.5 is a really low dose, but I was feeling a little apathetic even with that small amount. I guess it was just the intense tiredness that I was feeling, but I didn't want to do anything during that short period of time that I was taking the meds. This weekend, I actually had the motivation to clean the house. It was nice.

I've just got to find a way to deal with my GAD.... I'm going to give some natural supplements a try. I can't take St. John's Wart 'cuz I'm on birth control (and they interact). But, I've heard that SAMe and 5htp are OK with birth control. I don't even know if I'd be that comfortable with a sleeping pill.... And, of course I'd only take a 1/4 or 1/8 of the thing the first few times so that I can convince myself that it's not going to kill me. (Yeah, that's part of my anxiety problem. I am really freaked out by taking medications. I don't like anything that makes me feel "weird.")

Oh, what the hell. I have an Ambien in the cupboard that a friend gave me. Maybe I'll cut it up & take an 8th of it just to see what happens.

Yeah, I'm a freak.

SSRIs are usually given out first because they are the mildest meds available in psychiatric phramacopia. Most sleeping pills, including ambian, pose greater threats than the SSRIs do. Most are are either benzodiazapines or anti-psychotics, the same medications used to treat anxiety when SSRIs fail, incidentally.

If the Lex. was a problem, there are other SSRIs you can try that may have better side effects. Because it the fastest SSRI to take effect, it sometimes has worse side effects at first than the ones that are more gradual. This usually pass within a couple months. After a couple months it's side effect profile is one of the best. Others are milder at first but are more likely to stick with you.

On the surface it really looks like you're being an idiot and I don't understand you. You had a possible solution in your hand and threw it away before it had a chance to work. I'm losing all my teeth due to meds and have no intention of going off them. I consider it a worthwhile side effect. Forgive my lack of sympathy.

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SillyMe,

pretty please do not try using ambien for anxiety. ambien is fine if you are in bed and it's night, but during the day it will probably make you hallucinate only you won't remember because it often causes amnesia of the time you were on it.

i take a lot of supplements. some for mental issues and more for my chronic fatigue syndrome. thing is, all of my supplements are prescribed by my doctor. i take tryptophan for sleep (it used to be rx only and i had it compounded, but it's finally available w/o a rx. i prefer tryptophan to 5htp for sleep but that's just me). i also take melatonin for sleep.

SAMe works (if you buy the right brand and it's real and not just stuff, there's very little oversight in supplements)... in fact it works so well i believe it's rx in europe. (i may be wrong on that.) works well enough that it can trigger mania in bipolars.

"natural" just means that your insurance won't pay for it. and it means that you have to be careful about the brand. (like i said, there isn't strict monitoring of supplements. the FDA doesn't test the pills to make sure they contain the amount of substance x that they claim they contain.) it doesn't mean safer and it doesn't even mean no side effects. did you know magnesium can cause diareah for instance? (isn't that weird?) lithium is a natural substance, but you wouldn't want to try to take it without a doctor monitoring you.

i take xanax xr and lyrica for anxiety. (lyrica is an anticonvulsant that is approved for anxiety in europe, and for neuropathic pain and partial seizures in america.) i can't take SSRIs, but i've tried about every one. celexa (the older version of lexapro) was amazing for anxiety. the side effects went away as soon as i stabilized on a dose, and when i decided to stop taking it it was easy.

on the other hand right now i am physically dependent on xanax xr. (i haven't needed to up my dose though, thankfully.) if i miss a day i get horrid rebound anxiety, my palms sweat, i can't concentrate, it's a mess. now, it is totally possible to take benzos and not become dependent. i have been on xanax xr for about 2 years and by doing medication holidays (worked out with my doctor) i was able to avoid dependence. but my life has been very stressful lately and i skipped a few holidays and now, when winter break comes (i'm a grad student) i'm going to have to go through a tapering process so that i can go back to using it with medication holidays. because lemme tell you, it is really unpleasant to feel the way i feel if i've missed a dose. not to mention benzo withdrawal can cause seizures.

i am not saying this to say never take benzos. i think they are great meds , they have saved my life, and they've been around for a long time. but if you are worried about side effects and withdrawl issues, SSRIs are proabably the best way to go. they're safe, they're regulated, your doctor knows how they will affect you, and your insurance will pay for them.

if you want to go with supplements please talk to your doctor about it. ( also, as far as i know, 5htp and SAMe aren't usually used for anxiety.)

the side effects from lexapro, once you reach a steady dose, will be nothing compared to how much anxiety affects you.

have you talked to your doctor yet about your fears about lexapro? it seems like your anxiety is interfering with your treatment and your doctor can help you with this.

if you do want to talk more about supplements, you can always PM me as helena said, or post on the supplement board.

i hope you call your doctor. he/she is there to help.

penny

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SSRIs are usually given out first because they are the mildest meds available in psychiatric phramacopia. Most sleeping pills, including ambian, pose greater threats than the SSRIs do. Most are are either benzodiazapines or anti-psychotics, the same medications used to treat anxiety when SSRIs fail, incidentally.

If the Lex. was a problem, there are other SSRIs you can try that may have better side effects. Because it the fastest SSRI to take effect, it sometimes has worse side effects at first than the ones that are more gradual. This usually pass within a couple months. After a couple months it's side effect profile is one of the best. Others are milder at first but are more likely to stick with you.

On the surface it really looks like you're being an idiot and I don't understand you. You had a possible solution in your hand and threw it away before it had a chance to work. I'm losing all my teeth due to meds and have no intention of going off them. I consider it a worthwhile side effect. Forgive my lack of sympathy.

and as december said, you have to give the drug a fair chance, at least a month at a real dose, to see if it will work for you.

trust me, and trust VE- we're taking all kinds of weird drugs to face our mental health issues. we believe in psychiatry, not in witch-doctoring. these meds have been proven safe and effective and are regulated by the FDA, whereas "natural" preparations vary in quality and quantity of active ingredient in them, and also carry their own side effects. they are just as potent as psychiatric drugs, and carry more risks as far as i'm concerned.

you weren't even taking nearly a theraputic dose. you should give it a chance. benzos are not to be taken lightly. many pdocs won't RX them at all because they're addictive. believe me they are- i get heart palpations and shakes if i don't take my klonopin on schedule.

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Just my experience here. I was on the med go round attempting to fix my anxiety with SSRI's for about 8 months. Finally my pdoc realized ssri therapy wasn't going to do anything for me so he put me on Klonopin, see my dosage below. Best thing that ever happened to me (as far as meds go). I don't know how I'd function without it. But the people on here are right. Most dr's are reluctant to prescribe them for regular usage.

I hope you get some relief...

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Just my experience here. I was on the med go round attempting to fix my anxiety with SSRI's for about 8 months. Finally my pdoc realized ssri therapy wasn't going to do anything for me so he put me on Klonopin, see my dosage below. Best thing that ever happened to me (as far as meds go). I don't know how I'd function without it. But the people on here are right. Most dr's are reluctant to prescribe them for regular usage.

I hope you get some relief...

like you SSRIs don't help me and i primarily rely on a benzo (plus lyrica) for anxiety.

but we both tried the SSRI route. i am a virulent defender of benzos and hate that there are many people who rule them out because of the addiction issues when those issues can be managed.

however, a lot of people achieve amazing results for anxiety from SSRIs and even if it didn't work out for me, i am glad i gave it a go because if they had worked that would have been really nice.

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Hey Silly...this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I have been off and on benzos for almost half my life. I do not and will not do the ssri (don't wanna debate the pros and cons or why) I take them as needed. I have moved and had doctors move...and have still always had a flow of benzos. If your pdoc won't give them a family doc may. I have been lucky in that mine have all trusted me...and I imagine it helps to see on my file I have been on them when I get a new doc or moved etc....

edited to add...sometimes by asking for just 15 pills......you break the benzo ice with your doc....its worth asking

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Ok, I have recently decided that I do not want to take an antidepressant for my GAD/OCPD. I was prescribed Lexapro & I took it for about 11 days, but quickly decided that I do not want to go down that road. So, I am wondering if it would be wise to get some kind of benzo - only to take every once in a while when the anxiety gets bad.... (You know, like once or twice a week....) I just don't like the idea of taking the Lexapro everyday & I really don't like the side effects. But, I'm thinking I can deal with my level of anxiety on most days w/out any meds.... However, it would be nice to have "something" around when the going gets tough.

I wonder if my psychiatrist would go for it? I'm hoping she won't be mad at me for quitting the Lexapro.

Why don't you call your pdoc and tell her you are having problems with the side effects. Then you can stop taking it and discuss the benzos next time. they are definately indicated for anxiety disorders, and unfortunately are underprescribed by some doctors due to "addiction" issues. my pdoc personally doesnt think thats an issue when the dose is low, as long as you take the medication as prescribed.

but its perfectly acceptable to call and ask (or tell) your pdoc that you would like to (or need to) stop taking lexapro due to side effects. this is not refusing to take medication as prescribed, this is having to stop because of side effects.

EDITED TO ADD: as to having benzos for emergencies, if your doctor says its ok thats fine. they DO work in emergencies. my pdoc used to see my dad and he prescribed ativan for social anxiety to takke one only when difficult social situations arise. same is true for occasionally really bad anxiety.

i hope this makes more sense to you than some of the earlier posts.

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Ok, I have recently decided that I do not want to take an antidepressant for my GAD/OCPD. I was prescribed Lexapro & I took it for about 11 days, but quickly decided that I do not want to go down that road. So, I am wondering if it would be wise to get some kind of benzo - only to take every once in a while when the anxiety gets bad.... (You know, like once or twice a week....) I just don't like the idea of taking the Lexapro everyday & I really don't like the side effects. But, I'm thinking I can deal with my level of anxiety on most days w/out any meds.... However, it would be nice to have "something" around when the going gets tough.

I wonder if my psychiatrist would go for it? I'm hoping she won't be mad at me for quitting the Lexapro.

Why don't you call your pdoc and tell her you are having problems with the side effects. Then you can stop taking it and discuss the benzos next time. they are definately indicated for anxiety disorders, and unfortunately are underprescribed by some doctors due to "addiction" issues. my pdoc personally doesnt think thats an issue when the dose is low, as long as you take the medication as prescribed.

but its perfectly acceptable to call and ask (or tell) your pdoc that you would like to (or need to) stop taking lexapro due to side effects. this is not refusing to take medication as prescribed, this is having to stop because of side effects.

EDITED TO ADD: as to having benzos for emergencies, if your doctor says its ok thats fine. they DO work in emergencies. my pdoc used to see my dad and he prescribed ativan for social anxiety to takke one only when difficult social situations arise. same is true for occasionally really bad anxiety.

i hope this makes more sense to you than some of the earlier posts.

zsandoz,

The problem was that he/she (sorry, I don't know) wasn't even taking enough Lex (only 2.5mg when 10+ is generally considered therapeutic) or taking it long enough to really know if the side effects were going to be a problem. They were afraid of the POSSIBILITY of side effects, but according to what they posted, had not actually HAD severe side effects.

SillyMe,

I started out on Lexapro pretty slowly since I was paranoid of side effects, I think I took around 3-4 weeks to work up from 2.5mg to 10mg. Then stayed there for over a year before my doc and I agreed that it wasn't quite knocking out enough of my depression symptoms so I have been trying out this 20mg dose since spring. My only side effect has been libido suppression. No crazy weight gain, nausea, or any of the other things I was afraid would happen.

Everyone is different, but at some point we all have to just try taking SOMETHING to get the ball rolling on the way to being stable.

Think of the difference between SSRI's and Benzo's this way: You take the SSRI daily to prevent the episodes from happening whereas you (generally) only take the Benzo when you feel an episode coming on. Wouldn't you rather try to keep the episode from happening in the first place? I feel much more secure knowing that I'm doing something daily to control things rather than wondering when the next episode will hit and then having to scramble madly to take something in time to keep it from escalating.

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The problem was that he/she (sorry, I don't know) wasn't even taking enough Lex (only 2.5mg when 10+ is generally considered therapeutic) or taking it long enough to really know if the side effects were going to be a problem. They were afraid of the POSSIBILITY of side effects, but according to what they posted, had not actually HAD severe side effects.

SillyMe,

I started out on Lexapro pretty slowly since I was paranoid of side effects, I think I took around 3-4 weeks to work up from 2.5mg to 10mg. Then stayed there for over a year before my doc and I agreed that it wasn't quite knocking out enough of my depression symptoms so I have been trying out this 20mg dose since spring. My only side effect has been libido suppression. No crazy weight gain, nausea, or any of the other things I was afraid would happen.

Everyone is different, but at some point we all have to just try taking SOMETHING to get the ball rolling on the way to being stable.

Think of the difference between SSRI's and Benzo's this way: You take the SSRI daily to prevent the episodes from happening whereas you (generally) only take the Benzo when you feel an episode coming on. Wouldn't you rather try to keep the episode from happening in the first place? I feel much more secure knowing that I'm doing something daily to control things rather than wondering when the next episode will hit and then having to scramble madly to take something in time to keep it from escalating.

i agree, but in some cases SSRIs can worsen anxiety in the short term. i think the combination of an SSRI + benzo could be helpful in this case. also, it is possible to have side effects at even 2.5mg. I happen to have had a really bad response to lex, possibly an allergy (feeling really hot and face turning red, w/ some itching). oddly enough, i didnt have this problem on celexa 40mg...

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I thought I would add that having a PRN rx for Xanax made me MORE anxious than w/o medication. My mind would race. "What if I take too many in a day and get addicted, then I'm addicted and I won't have any pills left...the doctor won't give me any more pills! What if I take a pill now, then when I REALLY need one, I don't have one because I took it now?" It was insane.

I like Penny am a defender of benzo's. They definitely have their place in anxiety treatment and shouldn't be disregarded because of risk of dependence. I understand people abuse the drugs. BUT there is a difference between addiction and dependence. I am dependent on my Klonopin. If I was addicted, I would be buying it off the street or seeing several dr's or doing whatever it took to get more and more pills. Does that make sense?

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