Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
There have been many people who successfully cut back and stop taking Xanax XR with no problems at all. And many report feeling much better after the medication was stopped. As long as you do not go cold turkey, you will be fine. You are doing this under Dr. Hernz's care which means he is keeping a close eye on you and any symptoms you do have from withdrawal. You are doing this the safest way possible. I've never heard of anyone having problems when they withdrew like you are doing. Only when they stopped taking the medication on their own were there any issues that I have heard of.
A good therapist can help you cope with how you are feeling. A psychiatrist could help with the medication, but you also need to talk to someone about how you are feeling regarding your anxiety around taking the medication. Therefore, a therapist is probably a better bet.
Here is a guide for you on how to find a good therapist:
I never have heard your whole story but from what you did tell me, you are really a survivor. I am amazed at your strength and resilience.
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Kate, I have some news that will probably surprise you but I don't know if it's good or bad news.
Dr.Hernz and I had a phone consultation yesterday and he asked me if I thought the Xanax wasn't working anymore? I told him absolutely not...that's why I was still getting not only anxiety attacks but panic attacks, especially the last week. What he called anxiety I believe were actually panic attacks and even my last therapist said the same thing. He said the only difference between anxiety and panic attacks was the severity of them. I said they were getting more and more severe.
So he agreed and said he had another patient who had the same problem I have and he switched her to Valium and she's doing great. She also had been on Xanax for as long as me. He called in a script for 5mg, Valium and told me to cut it in half and take the 12mg. this morning along with my Xanax and cymbalta and call him this afternoon to let him know how sedating it was for me.
I was a little sedated but different than with the Xanax alone. I also felt calmer and quieter inside. So now he wants me to drop the Xanax completely and the times I usually take the Xanax, take 12mg of Valium instead (which is 4 times daily) and call him Friday. When I asked what about not weaning off the Xanax he said he didn't think I'd have any problem because the Valium is different than the Xanax, has a longer half life, and therefore will do something (I can't remember what he said) and I shouldn't have any withdrawal symptoms as long as I take the Valium.
I have to trust what he says because he's done this before and is a very respected pharmalogical psychiatrist. But I'm flabbergasted. Getting off Xanax is what I prayed for ...also that the Lord would give him spiritual Wisdom to know what todo. So I have no choice but to do what he said and trust God with the outcome.
I am interested in hearing what you think of all this. Of course he said to call him before Friday if I have any problem. I just took the Valium instead of the Xanax for my six o'clock dose and will do the same at bedtime.
He also said he thinks it may be too much for me ( 4 x daily ) but he wants to see what happens first and then he'll probably cut the Valium back to 3 x daily.
If all this is true, then it's a miracle and an answer from God.
Waiting impatiently to hear what you think.....
I think this is good news! Getting off the Xanax is a very good idea. It can be very useful for the short term, but long term usually causes issues like addiction.
Since you have been on the Xanax long term, it is not as effective as it used to be. Your brain adjusts to it and you end up not only physically addicted, but psychologically addicted as well. That is because Xanax responds quickly in the body and therefore provides almost immediate relief for anxiety. But Xanax also has a short half life, which means that it enters the body quickly and leaves quickly. That can mean increased anxiety between doses because of the low levels of the medication in your system. And that can cause an increased need for the medication psychologically as well. You feel anxious so you feel the need for more medication through either higher doses or more frequent doses.
Valium is a benzodiazepine derivative which means it is similar to Xanax and in the same class. It is used to treat anxiety just as Xanax does. But it is going to make you feel better because it is different than Xanax in some ways chemically. So to your body, it is a new medication and therefore more effective. Starting you off on a high dose then lowering it will help you with any withdrawal.
This is an answer to your prayers, Rita! It will not only help you manage your anxiety better but it will get the Xanax out of your system with few symptoms and while keeping your anxiety at bay. I am so glad that you have such a good doctor in your corner.
Keep me up to date on how you are feeling. I am very happy for you that you got the answer you needed. God does watch over you!
So what you're saying is taking valiium at dinner and another at bedtime is allowing the valium to build up in my body enough to over shadow any reactions to stopping Xanax? You know my fear is getting side effects. But you know, Kate, I just decided to put it all out of my mind and trust Dr, Hernz's knowledge. I'm getting a little bit of anxiety feelings but I will be taking another dose in a couple of hours. It's just so strange of a change so fast and Dr, Hernz doesn't explain things at all unless you ask a specific question. I just hope the one I take before bed knocks me out,
I would trust Dr. Hernz. He knows your medical history, your reactions to medications and given the long term medical relationship you have had with him, his advice is going to be the best for you. I understand your fear of the side effects. But if you would by chance start to react in any way, let Dr. Hernz know. He will be able to increase your medications or try something else.
Be aware that you may have some slight anxiety just because of the change. But that is most likely just temporary. And you and I can talk through this and work on ways to help you stay calm until the medications are switched completely and you feel better.
Yes, yes, yes, to everything you said. I am anxious about the change, didn't take my morning pill until too late and got a huge panic attack. Called Hernz and he asked if the change was making me anxious. Had to say yes. I asked if it was too fast a change but he said no, it would have worked if I hadn't waited as long as I did. He also said I probably need 5-6 days of one whole 5mg at bedtime so it could build up in my system but still take 1/2 during the day 3x daily, at least until Monday. He felt by then he should be able to lower the Valium to only twice daily.
Do I trust this? No, I don't. I wrote you a long vent but somehow it got away from me on this site. Did you get it? That happens a lot. Anyway, he never told me anything about need for build up or anything else but that's my fault, not his. I have been up and down, weaned off and weaned on so many meds this past year and all of them were supposedly the right answer this time and none of them were. How many disappointments do I need before I lose faith and trust in anything new he comes up with? But instead of telling him of my concerns, no, I wait until I get home, thinks some more about it and then get upset and anxious. And who's fault is that but mine? Not this time....I reserve the right to put my hopes on the back burner and instead tell myself that we'll see what happens. If it's good, great! If not, then he'll have to come up with something new.
One good thing about me is when I become aware of something about me that needs to change, I never can go back to the old way of thinking or doing things. It may take some time for me to figure out how to implement the change but I do it. And I've already done it with him. Last week when we had our consultation I mentioned to him that I didn't think the cymbalta was working too good for me. I told him why I thought that and also the only time I really felt good and like my old self was when I was on 75mg of EffexorXr and 10mg Cymbalta. I also told him that was the only really good week I had this whole past year. I never told him that before so he said that told him he might have to tweak the serotonin a bit and then he went on talking about the Valium. But you can be sure I'm not going to sit by and wait until he remembers it. I'm going to bring it to his attention again and not too far in the future if this change works. My biggest mistake is that I don't trust myself enough so I sit back and wait until the other person brings the subject up. NO MORE!!!!
I'm proud of myself for starting to trust my instincts because I've sure allowed them to take a beating this past year. I sat in his office or talked to him on the phone and kept my thoughts to myself, putting too much trust in him when he has over a 100 patients and can't remember every little detail of what was said months ago.
If this doesn't work, I've already made up my mind to talk to him about rehab or other options. Yep, it's me talking....Good???
Good for you, Rita! It's always a positive step to take charge of your health and come to the doctor's office with suggestions already in mind. Doctors are supposed to partner with you in your care, not dominate it. You know yourself best and only you can tell Dr. Hernz what has worked for you.
Rehab is a consideration, if you feel that you want a way to wean off all the drugs and start over. You are right, at this point you really do not know if your original symptoms still exist. You have been up and down, on and off these medications. It would be good to know how you feel now, without the medications interfering. That way, you can be sure whatever medications you are on really are addressing your symptoms and not those caused by other medications.
You also may want to consider staying in the hospital for a brief stay. It would accomplish what rehab would and you would have a lot of medical professionals around to assess how you are doing and help you if you do feel too anxious or upset.
Either way, getting you off all these medications and back to a base would be very helpful. You would probably feel a whole lot better.
Hi Kate, I just wanted to let you know how I'm doing with my withdrawal from Xanax using Valium. It's been two weeks since we started and after I settled myself down it hasn't been bad at all. The worst part is the sedation and looong days. I've only had a couple of panic breakthroughs which Dr. H. allowed me to take a Xanax for. I haven't had need for Xanax in over a week. Last night we cut back my bedtime dose of Valium from 1 1/2 to 1.
I didn't feel much change but when I called him he said because I metabolize so slowly it will take longer than others. Some only take a week or so to get through detox. In the beginning I was sorry I didn't go into a hospital detox because they do the same technique he's doing until I found out they only keep you a week to 10 days and then you're out of there. That would never have worked for me because of how slow I metabolize meds.
I did get a little anxious this morning because of not trusting if the Valium would work. Xanax I know about but I know next to nothing if the Valium will work as well. I had to call in to Dr. today and when I told him my fears he said the fact that the Valium made me so sedated shows it would work whereas the Xanax wasn't working at all. No other explanation. I wish he would have explained how the Valium works and that it can be trusted. It's so hard to get a straight answer from him. Know what I mean? I needed common sense non-doctor reassurance and he gave me doctor speak. Like, he wanted to know if I was sedated or not. He asked me this a couple of times last week. To me being sedated means being knocked out. So I asked him what sedated meant to him. He said like I was drunk and slurring my words and stumbling around. Guess what? I never got to the point of slurring my words. Wasn't too steady on my feet some times and sleepy other times but never to the point I couldn't walk straight, so I never said anything to him. He wondered why I wasn't slurrying my words - I said I don't know but never mentioned being fuzzy headed and not too steady on my feet until last night because I couldn't stand being that way any more. That's when he said it was time to start cutting back. If I had told him the same thing a couple of days ago, we could have cut back sooner.
I've never been drunk and only been sedated when I had a couple of minor procedures done or a tooth pulled. Anyway, Kate, from your vast store of knowledge and from what I've told you, do you have any thoughts on how long all this is going to take?
Rita P.S. I'm going stir crazy!!!!
Thanks so much, Kate. You always make things so simple to understand. I really appreciate your explanation of Valium and how it works. It gave me a great deal of reassurance and let me know the end is not too far off.
I don't know how long he will wait to decrease the dosage again but he told me to call him Saturday or Sunday. Maybe my body will tell me the answer by then.
I'm so sleepy eyed that I'm going to bed and try to read awhile and then go to sleep. The sleep apnea mask lets me get a good night's sleep. I know soon all of this will be over. BTW, Dr. H. said he expects I'll only need two pills a day, morning and bedtime, just like you said.
Thanks so much for all your help....
I'm glad the answer helped you!
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Take care and I hope to talk with you soon,
Yes, I know they've changed the way you are paid but I don't understand it. Do I send in a set amount of money and when it's gone, send in more? Am I paying enough for your services or is there a set amount for each question? It's all very confusing, I'd appreciate your help because you deserve what is due you.
I am reimbursed only when you accept the answer. I know they have changed the accept page and added some smiley faces and changed the accept button (Experts don't get to see what you see). It can get confusing. The moderators can help to explain if you need help.
Sorry about the confusion,
Hi Kate, I have a question for you. A week or so ago you answered "So to answer your question, once you find the therapeutic dose that works best for you, you should be feeling a lot better. Since your metabolism is slow, that may take a bit longer for you. Plus you have only been off the Xanax for a week so that may need a bit more time to get out of your system. Give yourself at least a few days to a week longer. That should put you closer to a more stable level in your system.Kate
My question has to do with you saying because I have a slow metabolism, it might take a bit longer to find my theraputic dose.
It's been three weeks since I've been on the Valium and we are now down to 5mg at 9 am, 5mg at 3 pm, and 1/2 of 5mg at bedtime. I've been off Xanax for over a month, so why do I still feel sedated? Not as much as I was last week but enough that I still don't feel like myself. Dr. H. decided not to lower it anymore until next Tuesday because I'm complaining that I still don't feel like myself.
He also said my brain receptors are "confused" due to the frequent changes in doses and I won't really feel like myself until we find my theraputic dose and stay on it long enough for the receptors to get used to the dose. Can you explain this to me and is he right? And do you have any idea why, after weaning down the Valium doses almost every three days, he suddenly stopped for now?
Thanks so much,
It can be very confusing to figure out because there are so many factors involved.
One is your metabolism and how that works
Another is the medication itself, the side effects and how it interacts with your metabolism
If you have any other underlying issues that affects how your body works, like diabetes for example, that can affect how your medication works.
If you are taking other medications it can affect how the valium works in your body. It can even intensify the effects.
And given that you have been on Xanax for so long and have been adjusting your doses a lot, your body has not had time to settle down and get used to a steady dose.
Dr. H is right, it will take a while once you find a steady dose for your body to get used to the medicine. Once you find a consistent dose, give your body about 6 weeks to get used to the medicine. I know that seems like forever, but it progressively gets better so you will start to improve as you go along. If you find that at the end of the 6 weeks you still are not feeling yourself, then talk with Dr. H about changing the medication dose.
Thanks so much for the info, Kate. This is what drives me crazy about Dr. H. He answers my questions but only gives me half of it. Instead of telling me it would only take 3 weeks to get off the xanax and on the valium, he should have said "about" three weeks but may take longer. So I put my hopes in what he said and now that it's taking longer, I got upset thinking it's not working and got discouraged.
He tells me I'm too impatient but I'm only going on what he told me. He never once said it would take at least six weeks for things to settle down before I really felt like myself again and that would only be after we hit my theraputic dose.
I guess he got so tired of me complaining that he put off lowering the next dose until next week. If he had only been more open with me and explained the process like you did, I would have been fine. I don't know, maybe I need a break but I still feel too sedated and now I have to put up with this for another 5 days before he lowers it again?
What's your opinion about calling him today and telling him I'd rather not wait until Tuesday and get it over with?
You're welcome, Rita!
You could call him to see what he says. If you go to a lower dose, then by the time your body adjusts to it the dose could be too low. I think Dr. H is hoping that your body will settle with this new dose and your side effects will level out. But if you are ok with lowering it now, see if he is willing. It would make you feel better and less anxious, so that may be worth it for you.
Kate, he wanted to lower the dose but I complained I didn't feel well, which I have been saying all along.
I'm the one who asked him if the reason I didn't feel well was because of the sedation and if it affects my body. He said it did so but we could wait for the last reduction.
I called and left a message saying I still felt too sedated and didn't want to wait another five days, that I wanted to get it done and over with.
From what he said in the past he'd like me to get down to 1/2 of 5mg three times daily. So since I'm already down to 5, 5, and 1/2, he only has to lower two. I don't know if he will lower both the 5's at once or do it separately but whichever I'll be that much closer to ending the sedation.
Not feeling any anxiety so far but this sedation is driving me crazy, He says I should get out more. Apparently he has no idea how sedation affects your sight, gives you headaches, and makes you sleepy. I do go to our small Acme or drug store occassionally but other than walking around the yard, that's it. I don't feel like doing much else.
I'll get through this, I know I will but this on top of the past year of anxiety and everything else is getting old and frankly what little patience I have only comes through the grace of God one day at a time.
I'm frustrated and pissed at him and this whole ordeal but I keep reminding myself of my girlfriend who has to wait until the 21st to find out if she has throat cancer or not. I'd rather be in my shoes than hers any day, right? But she says she could never endure what I'm going through. When God says he only gives us what he knows we can handle, He sure is right!
I'll let you know what Dr. H says after I hear from him.
Thanks again, Kate, my dear friend. I couldn't have made it this far without you.
It sounds like you are thinking this through very well and have a good plan. It does take time to adjust to any new medication. And the extra sedation could be from the leftover Xanax in your system. If your metabolism is very slow, that could account for it.
It is hard to wait to feel better. It's good that you are trying to look at the bright side of this situation and using that to hold on. Give it some time and see what happens. If you do not improve within a few weeks, you may need to talk to Dr. H about other options, just in case.
Thank you ahead of time for your accept!
You are in my thoughts and prayers, Rita,
Kate, it seems to me that you must have worked with a number of people who have anxiety/panic disorder and have had to change meds for one reason or another.
I am curious to know if what I'm going through is usual or unusual for the others you have treated? I know everyone is different but am I the only one who is having so much trouble with changing my meds or is this pretty usual for most?
BTW, Dr, H. never called me back yesterday. I never change meds on my own but today I only took 1/2 valium rather than the whole 5mg.for my 3 pm dose.
You said yesterday that I might still have some Xanax in my system but we both forgot that I've also been taking 40mg Cymbalta since January two weeks before he started weaning me off 150mg EffexorXR. Talk about my poor brain going through a lot of changes and all within 3 1/2 months. No wonder I feel like I do.
Rita,You probably feel as you do because in addition to the Valium, you are taking Cymbalta which is called an SNRI, Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor which causes major drops in blood pressure, which can make you feel very fatigued and drowsy. Add to that the Valium, which also causes extreme fatigue and drowsiness and you have the symptoms you are experiencing. Because you are taking the Valium as a new medication, it is probably increasing the effectiveness of the Cymbalta, increasing the side effects a lot. It is no wonder that you are feeling as you do. I have not had any clients that have had the same combination as you have, but the ones that have been on Valium have experienced lethargy and consistant sleepiness. Both of the drugs you are taking are made to calm you down. Combined together, they will make you feel as you do now. Hopefully, you will be able to reduce your dosage soon. Trying to manage on both medications is too difficult. You want to feel calm but not be prevented from living your life!Just to let you know, I will be out of town from this Sunday May 13th to Wednesday May 16th. I will try to check in, but I'm not sure I'll have access to internet as often as usual. I didn't want you to write and not be able to get a quick answer. It's perfectly fine to post. I'm planning on checking in as often as I can. Kate
Kate, I hope you are going someplace to enjoy yourself and have some relaxing time.
My daughter is going to Palm Beach Resort next weekend until Tuesday for a Director's Confrance on Monday. She's going a couple of days early to get away and enjoy some alone time. Now don't we wish we could go with her? The ocean is right outside her condo or room or whatever. That's what you get when you're the one making all the arrangements!! First class all the way!
Having a good afternoon....all will be well .... just enjoy yourself
Wow, your daughter is very blessed! I would love that kind of getaway very much :)
If you have anything you need to talk about while I'm away, I will be checking in, so don't feel you can't talk with me. I just won't be on during my regular times.
Have a Happy Mother's Day!
Kate, I just sent you an email but from another site so I'm not sure you got it. Here's my problem....Hernz lowered my a.m. dose from 5mg Valium to 1/2 Thursday because I felt so sedated. That means I'm now on 1/2 of 5mg three times daily.
Friday I felt wonderful, like my old self. Yesterday the same thing that always happens started again. I started feeling a little dopey and off-balance. Today I can barely keep my eyes open.
Hernz called Friday to see how I was doing. He agreed that I'd probably have a few "bad" days but never explained why and I didn't go into detail. I always think with each lower dose I'm going to feel good with no more tiredness and brain-dead feeling. Isn't this the way you are supposed to feel when you lower a dose of any med? But not me.
Is Valium different because of it's long half-life? Dr. H. gave me the impression, and I may be wrong, that when I still feel sedated after lowering a dose that shows I need to lower the dose even more....that I'm still taking too much. Does this make sense to you?
He told me to call him either tomorrow or Tuesday (it will be tomorrow) to let him know how I feel. Can you explain to me what is going on? If I took extra Xanax for anxiety reasons, the next day I'd feel tired but I"d sleep it off that night and feel back to my old self the next day when I took my regular doses. That is why Valium is driving me crazy.
I hope you have some answers for me, Kate. You know how much I rely on you because you answer my questions in a way I can understand.
I was able to get your other post so I did answer you on that thread. If you have any trouble opening it, let me know.