Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Effects

In any case, weight changes are not severe enough to worry about and normal weight is soon regained after withdrawal. A few people have difficulty in swallowing food – the throat seems to tighten up especially benzodiazepine withdrawal if eating in company. Practising relaxation, eating alone, taking small well chewed mouthfuls with sips of liquid and not hurrying make things easier and the symptom settles as anxiety levels decline.

  • The symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s history of benzodiazepine use, the dose and duration of use, and the method of discontinuation.
  • Like other benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, these feelings resolve in time and should not be interpreted as abnormal or crazy.
  • If you have a psychiatric condition that was managed by the benzodiazepines, you will need an alternative plan to manage your condition.
  • Some symptoms may appear without warning and can be a significant source of distress.
  • Patients with chronic alcoholism or intravenous drug use should be evaluated for inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.

These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and can make it difficult for individuals to function in their daily lives. The symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s history of benzodiazepine use, the dose and duration of use, and the method of discontinuation. Some common symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, tremors, sweating, nausea, and seizures.

Sign 4: Cognitive and Emotional Changes

Full recovery may require many months of learning new stress-coping strategies to replace the years when this facility was blanketed by pills. During benzodiazepine withdrawal, symptoms characteristically wax and wane, varying in severity and type from day to day, week to week, and even during the course of a day. There is no need to be discouraged by these wave-like recurrences; the waves become less severe and less frequent as time passes. Typically “Windows” of normality, when you feel positively well for a few hours or days, appear after some weeks; gradually the “Windows” become more frequent and last longer, while any intervening discomfort ebbs away. The need for sleep is so powerful that normal sleep will eventually reassert itself. Meanwhile, attention to sleep hygiene measures including avoiding tea, coffee, other stimulants or alcohol near bedtime, relaxation tapes, anxiety management techniques and physical exercise may be helpful.

What to know before you try to taper off from benzodiazepines – The Washington Post

What to know before you try to taper off from benzodiazepines.

Posted: Sat, 02 Sep 2023 07:00:00 GMT [source]

So, as opposed to misuse or a substance-use disorder, many patients experiencing benzodiazepine tolerance and/or interdose withdrawal who increase their dose a small amount without prescriber direction are more likely experiencing pseudoaddiction. Being aware of what to expect can significantly aid in managing this challenging phase. With appropriate support and strategies, moving through the withdrawal timeline can pave the way for a successful and lasting recovery. In some cases, the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal may last a year or more.

The pseudoaddiction phenomenon described in prescribed opiate dependence:

The symptoms were improved by percent and the greatest response occurred in patients with the lowest anxiety ratings. There have been some reports that gabapentin (Neurontin), tiagabine (Gabitril) and possibly pregabalin (yet to be licensed) help with sleep and anxiety in withdrawal. However, there have been no controlled trials and it is not clear whether these drugs themselves cause withdrawal effects.

There has been increasing interest in the question of diet in benzodiazepine withdrawal, particularly in North America. However, the point about gradual dosage tapering at home is that people should get used to living a normal lifestyle without drugs. Clearly one should not take caffeine late in the evening or drink cups of tea/coffee (unless decaffeinated) in the middle of the night if insomniac, but to prohibit a cup of tea/coffee at breakfast is in general unduly restrictive.

Early or immediate withdrawal

If your reasons for quitting benzodiazepines are that you were abusing them or unable to control your use, then you may require further substance use treatment. This is particularly true if you are also giving up other substances, like alcohol or opioids. Most people do okay with tapering their benzodiazepines at home with the help of their primary care doctor or psychiatrist. You should plan to stay in touch with your doctor regularly during the tapering process, either by phone or during office visits.

  • According to the National Center for PTSD, the most beneficial kind of therapy for benzodiazepine withdrawal is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • If you or someone you know is having difficulties because of misusing benzodiazepines, treatment is available.
  • A characteristic feature of benzodiazepine withdrawal is a heightened sensitivity to all sensations – hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell.
  • The withdrawal response is mild, resembles a sedative withdrawal syndrome with psychotic symptoms.

Furthermore, as your mind clears, you can work out more and more effective ways to deal with them so that they become less significant. This means that the patient, and his/her mentor, must be on the look-out for depression so that treatment, if advised by the doctor, can start early. The second drawback is that anxiety may be temporarily worsened at the start of treatment either with tricyclics or SSRIs. This is a particular risk during benzodiazepine withdrawal when anxiety levels are usually high. To avoid aggravation of anxiety, it is important to start with the lowest possible dose of an antidepressant and then work up slowly, over two or three weeks. Do not be persuaded by your doctor to start immediately on the “therapeutic” dose for depression.

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