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Dr. Steve
Dr. Steve, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  19 years conducting therapy; book author; newspaper columnist; former co-host of radio show
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My 86 year old mother was just hospitalized with difficulty

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My 86 year old mother was just hospitalized with difficulty breathing. She has COPD now according to her doctors, but just was switched from Lexapro 15mg. daily to Zoloft because her insurance won't pay anymore. Her medical tests come back negative so far and they forgot to include her 2mg of Ativan at HS, so she kept saying that she couldn't breathe in the hospital and a pulmonologist ordered Albuterol breathing treatments which raises her blood pressure, and her cardiologist and warned against her taking that medication. She has had a history of panic attack disorder for the last three years and depression. The lexapro seemed to mitigate both the depression and panic attacks. Could the increase in anxiety be due to being switched from the Zoloft from the Lexapro about 2 weeks ago? Also Taking someone off of Ativan cold turkey who has been taking it for several years successfully at HS could have resulted in worse panic attacks. The family has requested she be put on it right away.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Steve replied 7 years ago.


Well, real simply, removing the Ativan cold turkey is probably what triggered her spikes in anxiety, which in turn kicked off a round of panic. In fact, going cold turkey off of ANY benzodiazepine (the family to which Ativan belongs) is not only only likely to induce anxiety, but can actually be dangerous physically - one needs to wean off of those medicines rather than just quit.

As for the SSRIs (Lexapro, Zoloft), they are really quite similar in their effect, and should not have created too much of an issue to move from one to the other. Of course, we are all different in our chemistry so may be affected differently... but this is less likely than the Ativan.

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Dr. Steve

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