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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I have been on 20 Prozac for two months (since the beginning

Resolved Question:

I have been on 20 Prozac for two months (since the beginning of the year) and .5 Xanax 2x a day for three weeks now. I stopped the xanax three days ago after I lost my job on Monday, because the anxiety was mostly induced by the environment at work. I have been having horrible headaches and haven't been able to leave my apartment or think straight in two days. I haven't felt well. I took two tylenol. Is there anything else I can do?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 5 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

You are certainly wise enough to pause, look at your situation---the 'big picture' and see that you are primarily seeking anti-anxiety drugs because of your terrible work environment. Once that stress or was 'gone', you no longer needed the medication. So you are having withdrawal symptoms of course, from the Xanax. No one would suggest that a patient go off Xanax "cold turkey" but to taper down, using a pill cutter, across several weeks. Yes, you do become physiologically dependent or addicted to Xanax and unlike heroin or opiates in which one can detox cold turkey quite easily and safely, it can actually be more dangerous to drop a number of drugs cold i.e., stimulants, Xanax.

I would perhaps discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist, but the idea would be to go back on tiny amounts of Xanax until the WORST symptoms soften and you figure you can tolerate suffering and not feeling too well for the next few weeks. You WILL get better after a few weeks but even when the drug is no longer in your system, your brain chemical balance and number of receptor sites will take further time to readjust.. And when the day comes to leave the Prozac behind in your life, you do the same thing---taper it slowly over the course of a month or even two, if necessary. You'd taper it much more slowly than most physicians recommend because they typically don't understand how difficult and stressful it is to withdraw from these meds.

Now, of course, I cannot help you more generally here, but I can tell you that if you were my client, I'd be looking at your entire life, helping you learn new emotion regulation skills and stress/coping skills along the way, to help you get medication-free, through what is called cognitive-behavioral therapy, which I'm quite good at. We'd step back and look at your social relationships and the quality of your social support network because this is always extremely critical for people who may be anxiety and depression-prone. We'd take a careful look at your current education and job skills and maybe get you hooked up with some career exploration counselors at a local college or have you begin looking up local or online degree programs or vocational training programs you might use to upgrade your job and career skills IF NECESSARY (don't know if you need this part) But I think you see that the real answer here is to take a full 'life inventory' of what is happening with you and begin chipping away at each problem and issue, one at a time, from your emotion regulation skills, to your job skills, to your relationship-world. What do you think?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 5 years ago.
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