THE BENZODIAZEPINE WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME
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. For this reason there is a wide variety of symptoms. However the good news is that you will NOT suffer all of these symptoms and hopefully you will not suffer any of them severely or long lasting. The below symptoms have been compiled by BCNC. They include a list made up by Chris my friend who obtained them from various sources including tranquilliser withdrawal organisation, medical papers and from talking with friends who have been through benzodiazepine withdrawal and also some additions by BCNC which had been left out. Please don't feel intimidated by the amount of symptoms as you will almost certainly only suffer a handful of these symptoms. Usually the intensity and severity of symptoms can be reduced by doing a slow taper of drug dosage. The faster the withdrawal usually the more severe and long lasting the symptoms. Some of the symptoms listed below are very common. Some are more rare. Some of them may not have been related to benzodiazepines and may have been mistakenly linked to withdrawal symptoms. It is always best to run your symptoms by a medical doctor just to be sure that there is no other cause for your symptoms. This is especially true for symptoms such as heart problems. Also severe suicidal ideation where you feel you may act on the thoughts or impulses you should see a doctor ASAP.
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 noticible 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, energyless 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)
Forum Disclaimer SiteMap Home Contact us The Ashton Manual