Benzodiazepine withdrawal


Except in the population of people taking only benzodiazepines and suffering as a result of them, the mental health community seems to have dropped out on commentary and critique on the dangers of benzos. You can say that they are not currently the drug “du jour” for critique. Benzos too deserve much criticism and in the underground of the mental health world there are thousands of us participating on benzo boards and email lists. I have suffered ill effects from all the above mentioned class of drugs; benzos, neuroleptics, and anti-depressants. However because there is such an organized withdrawal community of benzo users on boards and email lists I’ve learned a significant percentage of what I know about psychiatric drug withdrawal in general from the benzo boards. We have yet to have the thousands of people withdrawing from neuroleptics though I certainly hope to see that day too. Benzos have been around a lot longer so there are simply more people who have figured out how damaging they are and have networked to get help from one another. Among neuroleptic users it’s much harder to find support and people who know what they are talking about regarding withdrawal.

Benzodiazepines affect just about every part of the body. Contrary to popular belief there are GABA/BZ receptors throughout the body including the gastrointestinal tract and most if not all other organs in the body system. The symptoms below most commonly occur during withdrawal or increase in severity during withdrawal but it is not uncommon for people to suffer them on a stable dosage due to tolerance or the long term negative effects of drug usage on the CNS (Central Nervous System) and body. Occasionally severe symptoms occur such as psychosis, delirium, severe confusion, status epilepticus occur. These symptoms almost never occur with a slow gradual reduction in dosage. It is difficult to say who will suffer withdrawal symptoms. Some estimates say anything from 15% of people who have taken benzodiazepines for a year will suffer from clinically significant withdrawal symptoms. Other studies have found 100% of people. So there is a large variation of opinion in medical circles as to who will or will not get noticeable symptoms.


Gastrointestinal Abdominal pains, cramps, diarrhea, bloated, diarhea, constipation, cramping, Dry throat, Dyspepsia (indigestion)
jaw/mouth/head Aching or painful jaw, dental/tooth pain, band around head, Bruxism (teeth grinding), Dysphagia (difficulty eating or swallowing), Increased or decreased saliva, Painful or tingling scalp, pains in temple, migraine, severe headaches, twitching of the head
joints/muscles Aching joints, aching muscles, shaking. myoclonic jerks, severe muscle rigidity
Behaviour Aggressive behaviour, Agitation, Hyperactivity, hysterical or inappropiate laughter, Irrational rage, Irritability, obsessive behaviour
Phobia’s Agoraphobia, fear of being alone, fear of insanity, fear of losing control, fear of water, monophobia (fear of being alone)
Allergic reactions hayfever, rash, blotches on skin
Anxiety Anxiety, Dyspnea (breathing difficulty), Fear, feelings of impending doom, Nervousness, Panic attacks, thoughts and feeling that you are dying
emotions Apathy, Hostility, Rapid mood changes, unusually sensitive (unable to watch the news on television or read the newspaper)
Depersonalisation arms and legs feel detached from body, feel like you don’t exist, look strange/unfamiliar in the mirror
Urinary Tract System Bladder incontinence, Bleeding between menstrual cycles, urinary frequency and urgency, (continence or incontinence)
eyes/vision Blepharospasm (eye twitches), Blurred vision, seeing spots/flashes of light, vivid vision, double vision, dilated pupils, rapid eye blinking, waves, sparks and
perceptional disturbances body feels like jelly, objects appear to be leaning, distortions and inanimate objects moving, feeling of the ground moving, hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch and other stimuli, sensation of brain moving within the skull, feelings of extreme cold or hot, itching
Respiratory System Breathing difficulties, breathlessness, hyperventilation (overbreathing)
Sensorary Burning, electrical shocks,
Balance clumsiness, Dizziness, Gait disturbance, Lack of co-ordination, Loss of balance, vertigo
Appetite Increased or decreased appetite, extreme thirst, Rapid weight loss, nausea, vomiting
Mental status changes Delirium, confusion, psychosis, disorientation, hallucinations (auditory, tactile, visual), Dysphoria (inability to feel pleasure or happiness), Excitability, Paranoia
Depression suicidal thoughts, negative thinking, lack of hope for teh future, early morning waking
Derealisation Feelings of unreality
Skin itching, tingling, burning, electrical sensations
Peripheral Nervous System Electric shock feelings, Burning sensations, numbness, altered sense of touch, nerve pain, neuralgia, Paraesthesia, Pins and needles
Energy levels Extreme lethargy, Flu-like symptoms, tiredness, no energy
Hallucinations feelings of worms under scalp, Formication (sensations of bugs crawling on skin), fuzzy feeling in head (tactile hallucinations),
Memory/Cogitive function flashbacks, impaired memory, inability to comprehend the simplest things, inability to cope with a lot of information, Lack of concentration, amnesia, short-term memory impairment, Speech difficulties
Heart Fluctuations in blood pressure, Heart palpitations, Heartburn, heavy pounding heart, Mild hypertension (See doctor about these symptoms to be on safe side)
Nervous system responses Hyperreflexia (Exaggeration of reflexes.)
Sleep disorders Hypnogogic hallucinations (usually auditory of a single loud voice or bang as drifting off to sleep), Insomnia, Nightmares, restless legs in bed
Sexual Impotence, Libido disturbances (usually decreased sex drive rarely increased)
Body neck and shoulder pain, Loss of control of the movement, Muscle spasms, Muscular aches and pains, muscular rigidity, pains in neck and shoulders, perspiring, night sweats, severe sweating, Pseudo-Multiple sclerosis (Medically documented cases of misdiagosed MS who have recovered after withdrawal), Tremor, feeling of inner vibration, shaking (occasionally epileptic seizures from abrupt withdrawal from high doses) Speak to doctor if you suffer seizures these can sometimes endanger life!
Personality Severe changes in personality, loss of interest in people and things, loss of self respect, total loss of confidence, vulnerable personality
Taste and appetite Loss of taste or metallic taste, reduced or increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss or gain
Female problems Menstrual irregularities, Menstrual problems (painful periods, irregular periods, cessation of periods)
Thought problems Morbid thoughts, Obsessions or obsessional repetative thinking, Persistent, unpleasant memories, suicidal feelings (see doctor if you feel you will act on them)
Motor System Restlessness, Shaking
Hearing Altered sense of sound (Louder or distorted), Tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears)


Here are a few links for Benzodiazepine withdrawal support


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