Nonlinear Recovery of Benzo Withdrawal

The Nonlinear Nature of Recovery from Benzodiazepines

In the process of BWS, whether you’re tapering, post acute, protracted, or on your way to making a full recovery, it’s safe to say that there are (relatively) good days and bad days. In my experience of recovery, I’ve had symptoms go to be replaced by new ones. I’ve had the pendulum swing from physical exhaustion and crushing fatigue to revved up tweaked out adrenaline mode and I’ve had waves creep up on me after I thought the waters were still.  And, I’m not the only one. This is a common complaint of just about everyone who is an active member of benzodiazepine support groups, forums, and on Facebook that I have seen. The reasons are unclear, but the road to recovery can be a very bendy, twisty, windy one.

1. Not in a straight line.

Though, there are those people who feel better as they progress; and then there are some unfortunate souls who just feel crappier. Either way, the goal is the same: to recover. Know you are blessed with any day of relief, even if relative – but don’t even get me started on the really bad days. Those “waves” of symptoms that just seem to hit out of nowhere, or are sometimes provoked by stress, hormonal fluctuations, maybe eating something that disagreed with me or was stimulating, etc.

Stimulation is Stimulation -
Sometimes, there is no explicable  reason for this. (Yet? Research? Where art thou?!)  Other times, it can be brought on by any sort of stimulation. There are two types of stress that can be put on the body; Distress, which is bad stress. Stress of losing a loved one, losing a job, being stressed at a job, problems in a relationship, maybe your body is adjusting to a new diet,  maybe you overdid it on the treadmill, or your hormones are changing, menopause, pregnancy, the list goes on and on. With a hypersensitive CNS, this bodily stress can be harder to cope with; the nervous system is adjusting to cope with just the state of living in the moment – pushing that limit can be like irritating  healing wound. It’s even harder to try and control this kind of stress. But even too much “good stress” or “Eustress”– getting a new job, getting married, having a baby, and other happy things, can be stimulating to the recovering down-regulated CNS too. I’ve had  symptom surges just from laughing too hard!  In both Eustress and Distress, stress is stress, and the CNS can remain susceptible to  shocks of either kind of stresses for a while.

When I’m waving out like a tsunami, I often feel really discouraged, no matter the reason. Sometimes there is NO reason. At all. Feelings of hopelessness creep in. It’s easy to let your mind run away with your thoughts– the plethora of symptoms associated with the benzo withdrawal syndrome can mimic many other health problems. Hypochondriasis – thinking you have every disease in the book and Dr. Google is certain the prognosis is poor — is actually a common symptom of benzo withdrawal. But try not to let this happen or obsess needlessly. It’s a pretty maniacal syndrome, and obsessing about a symptom in the absence of another health condition as the cause is counter-productive.

On “better days,” we tend to not fixate on all of the suffering we’ve endured; we usually do not think about the plethora of symptoms we’ve gotten hit with all at once. We are collectively a resilient group of people who have gained varying degrees of wisdom and strength from going through benzodiazepine withdrawal. On those good days, perhaps it is an innate protective coping mechanism to not dwell on the negative or bad waves. The brain might just be programmed to forget pain. However, it’s important to not over-do it or push ourselves; rather, not take these days for granted and just take it easy. To appreciate a bird singing or the sun shining– if we can tolerate it, we appreciate it. And, this is part of the philosophy that I try to live by.

310136_455632067812829_1018115481_nUnfortunately, life does not slow down just because you’re going through benzodiazepine withdrawal or tapering your benzo. And this is often how we learn to cope without benzos

Functional brain changes after benzodiazepines adjust and recover in what seems to be a different way than say, scraping your finger where you clean out the wound, bandage it and wait for it to heal “in a straight line”–getting better and better everyday.

Some injuries, such as a traumatic injury to a limb, or the extraction of a tooth, etc. may hurt a lot at first. The swelling may come to a climax a few days after the initial injury and then heal in a linear fashion thereafter.

But this is often not the course of recovery from benzodiazepine withdrawal; from my experience and research, it’s often not the course of recovery from withdrawal of many other types of medication withdrawal syndromes, either. These drugs and substances change the brain’s functional mechanisms and recovery from them waxes and wanes as the overall healing process takes place. It’s important, at this time, to always remember that benzo withdrawal recovery is not always linear, and that sometimes it feels like we take two steps back whenever we take a stride forward.

This phenomenon of the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is well documented:

The Ashton Manual describes the nature of this “nonlinear” recovery process; offers encouraging words of clinical experiences with a good prognosis

“During benzodiazepine withdrawal, symptoms characteristically wax and wane, varying in severity and type from day to day, week to week, and even during the course of a day. Some symptoms come and go; others may take their place. There is no need to be discouraged by these wave-like recurrences; the waves become less severe and less frequent as time passes. Typically “Windows” of normality, when you feel positively well for a few hours or days, appear after some weeks; gradually the “Windows” become more frequent and last longer, while any intervening discomfort ebbs away.

It is impossible to give an exact time for the duration of withdrawal symptoms. It depends on where you start from, how much support you need and receive, how you manage your taper and many other factors. With slow tapering, some long-term users have virtually lost all their symptoms by the time they take their last tablet, and in the majority symptoms disappear within a few months. Vulnerability to extra stress may last somewhat longer and a severe stress may – temporarily – bring back some symptoms. Whatever your symptoms, it is best not to dwell on them. Symptoms are just symptoms after all and most of them in withdrawal are not signs of illness but signals of recovery. Furthermore, as your mind clears, you can work out more and more effective ways to deal with them so that they become less significant.

One reassuring finding from many clinical studies is that eventual success in withdrawal is not affected by duration of use, dosage or type of benzodiazepine, rate of withdrawal, severity of symptoms, psychiatric diagnosis, or previous attempts at withdrawal. Thus from almost any starting point, the motivated long-term user can proceed in good heart.”

Chapter III of Benzodiazepines: How they Work and How to Withdraw by Professor C. Heather Ashton, DM, FRCP (U.K.)

Never forget that there is support.

Benzodiazepine Support Groups

BenzoBuddies Support Group for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Conducts a Survey by a St. Mary’s College Professor to aid in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome Research

Data Survey launched to research the Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome in an effort to help educate Healthcare Providers in treating their patients on Benzodiazepines

The largest and most established online support group forum for those suffering from the Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome has made an announcement indicating that Dr. Catherine Pittman, an Associate Professor of Psychology of St. Mary’s College located in Notre Dame, Indiana, is conducting a survey for people experiencing this syndrome in hopes to bring the gathered statistical data to physicians and therapists who treat anxiety disorders. The data will be presented at a California national conference on mental health care in hopes to bring awareness of this syndrome to the mental healthcare community; as most of us are already aware, it is now time for our health care providers to be aware as well. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome awareness in the healthcare profession may help our professional practitioners be more able to help us.

Awareness of the Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome in the professional healthcare community has the potential to:

  • Help our doctors recognize and diagnose the syndrome before jumping to the conclusion that the syndrome is caused by a worsening of the original health condition;
  • Influence a positive change in the currently lacking protocol for discontinuation of benzodiazepines either on an outpatient or inpatient setting;
  • Allow for a possible official diagnosis code for the syndrome in the future;
  • Explore new and acceptable treatment plans;
  • Refer patients to appropriate psychological support;
  • Provoke research into why this syndrome does not affect everyone in the same plane of intensity;
  • Provoke more research into understanding more about why the syndrome occurs in the first place;
  • Take a closer look at Ashton’s research, importantly the genetic expression changes of the receptor sites affected by benzodiazepines;
  • Provoke pharmaceutical companies and the FDA to improve prescribing guidelines and prescribing information of these drugs
  • Help distinguish and establish a difference between people with an addiction to the drug and a physical dependency;
  • Improve the statute of the controlled substance class of the drug;
  • Address cold turkey withdrawal experiences in detoxes, rehabs and even correctional facilities;
  • Bring awareness to the Benzodiazepine Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome and perhaps research into why it occurs and for how long it may last;
  • Address possible damage to the brain and CNS caused by benzodiazepine use in the long term;
  • Enable healthcare professionals to be aware of the risks associated with long term benzodiazepine use;
  • and more.

If you want to participate in the survey, you may need a account. You may register at – additionally, if you are concerned about your privacy, this is addressed in the Terms and Conditions of the survey prior to taking it. There is much text regarding the survey’s Terms and Conditions, but the following addresses confidentiality: 

Your responses will be reviewed by clinical psychologist Catherine Pittman, Ph.D. from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, who will remove any specific information that could allow you to be identified. The anonymous data will be seen by William Youngs, Ph.D. a clinical psychologist also from Saint Mary’s College, as well as by researcher Elizabeth Karle and Carla Leal, a student assistant, who are assisting with the survey. In any written reports or presentations, no one who participated in the survey will be identifiable, and the primary focus will be on group results. Any comments from participants that are shared in publications or presentations will be anonymous. If you have questions, you can email Dr. Catherine Pittman at

The following is a copy of the email that I have received from BenzoBuddies support forums. Please share this post with any and every benzodiazepine research and/or  support organization you’re aware of, so that they, too, may have access to the statistical data results.

For more information on Dr. Pittman’s approach to the BenzoBuddies forums site owner (Mr. Colin Moran) in presentation of this survey, please visit the original announcement here: and more information on the survey can be found here:

To contact Dr. Catherine Pittman, you may write her here:

The email sent to me included the following message:

Dr. Catherine Pittman, Associate Professor of Psychology at Saint Mary’s College, has approached BenzoBuddies with a proposal to survey members about our use of benzodiazepines and experience of withdrawal. We expect the survey to be of great interest to very many members, and encourage wide participation. We hope that Dr. Pittman’s research will help generate better understanding of the problems associated with benzodiazepine use and withdrawal.
For your survey submission to count towards the research, you must possess a valid ‘pass code’ and copy the code to the survey form. To obtain your pass code, you must have registered (or register) with the BenzoBuddies Community; there are no further requirements for participation.

You may obtain your unique pass code here:

If you have forgotten your BenzoBuddies membership password or membership name (required to retrieve your code), please visit this webpage:

The survey form can be found here:

For Dr. Pittman’s formal invitation and further information, please visit here:

If you wish to comment about the survey, or have any questions, please visit here:

Thank you,

Colin Moran

60 School Shootings Linked To Psychiatric Drugs Over Past 20 Years | Health

60 School Shootings Linked To Psychiatric Drugs Over Past 20 Years | Health.


This was so well written and thoroughly researched, that I felt it needs to be re-blogged.


“The website SSRI Stories ( tracks violence related to psychiatric drugs.  The site has links to more than 60 school shooting incidents as well as other violent acts over the past 20 years.

This website is a collection of 4,800+ news stories with the full media article available, mainly criminal in nature, that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals)  or that were part of FDA testimony in either 1991, 2004 or 2006, in which antidepressants are mentioned.

This web site focuses on the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac (fluoxetine) was the first.  Other SSRIs are Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine) (known in the UK as Seroxat), Celexa (citalopam),  Lexapro (escitalopram), and Luvox (fluvoxamine).  Other newer antidepressants included in this list are Remeron (mirtazapine), Anafranil (clomipramine) and the SNRIs Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) as well as the dopamine reuptake inhibitor antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion) (also marketed as Zyban).

Although SSRI Stories only features cases which have appeared in the media, starting March 2012 there will be a Website: which will allow personal stories to appear in a different Website from SSRI Stories.  This is the work of Dr. David Healy

By clicking on the links, you will be taken to the story.  Here is a snip from the first link: Hours before he walked into a Northern Illinois University lecture hall and inexplicably started a shooting rampage that ended five lives and his own, Steve Kazmierczak called one of the people he was closest to and said what would be a final goodbye.

What Drug Date         Where Additional
School Shooting Prozac WITHDRAWAL 2008-02-15 Illinois ** 6 Dead: 15 Wounded: Perpetrator Was in Withdrawal from Med & Acting Erratically
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 2005-03-24 Minnesota **10 Dead: 7 Wounded: Dosage Increased One Week before Rampage
School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2001-03-10 Pennsylvania **14 Year Old GIRL Shoots & Wounds Classmate at Catholic School
School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant & ADHD Med 2011-07-11 Alabama **14 Year Old Kills Fellow Middle School Student
School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant 1995-10-12 South Carolina **15 Year Old Shoots Two Teachers, Killing One: Then Kills Himself
School Shooting Med For Depression 2009-03-13 Germany **16 Dead Including Shooter: Antidepressant Use: Shooter in Treatment For Depression
School Hostage Situation Med For Depression 2010-12-15 France **17 Year Old with Sword Holds 20 Children & Teacher Hostage
School Shooting Plot Med For Depression WITHDRAWAL 2008-08-28 Texas **18 Year Old Plots a Columbine School Attack
School Shooting Anafranil Antidepressant 1988-05-20 Illinois **29 Year Old WOMAN Kills One Child: Wounds Five: Kills Self
School Shooting Luvox/Zoloft Antidepressants 1999-04-20 Colorado **COLUMBINE: 15 Dead: 24 Wounded
School Stabbings Antidepressants 2001-06-09 Japan **Eight Dead: 15 Wounded: Assailant Had Taken 10 Times his Normal Dose of Depression Med
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 1998-05-21 Oregon **Four Dead: Twenty Injured
School Stabbing Med For Depression 2011-10-25 Washington **Girl, 15, Stabs Two Girls in School Restroom: 1 Is In Critical Condition
School Shooting Antidepressant 2006-09-30 Colorado **Man Assaults Girls: Kills One & Self
School Machete Attack Med for Depression 2001-09-26 Pennsylvania **Man Attacks 11 Children & 3 Teachers at Elementary School
School Shooting Related Luvox 1993-07-23 Florida **Man Commits Murder During Clinical Trial for Luvox: Same Drug as in COLUMBINE: Never Reported
School Hostage Situation Cymbalta Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2009-11-09 New York **Man With Gun Inside School Holds Principal Hostage
School Shooting Antidepressants 1992-09-20 Texas **Man, Angry Over Daughter’s Report Card, Shoots 14 Rounds inside Elementary School
School Shooting SSRI 2010-02-19 Finland **On Sept. 23, 2008 a Finnish Student Shot & Killed 9 Students Before Killing Himself
School Shooting Threat Med for Depression* 2004-10-19 New Jersey **Over-Medicated Teen Brings Loaded Handguns to School
School Shooting Antidepressant? 2007-04-18 Virginia **Possible SSRI Use: 33 Dead at Virginia Tech
School Shooting Antidepressant? 2002-01-17 Virginia **Possible SSRI Withdrawal Mania: 3 Dead at Law School
School Incident/Bizarre Zoloft* 2010-08-22 Australia **School Counselor Exhibits Bizarre Behavior: Became Manic On Zoloft
School/Assault Antidepressant 2009-11-04 California **School Custodian Assaults Student & Principal: Had Manic Reaction From Depression Med
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 1992-01-30 Michigan **School Teacher Shoots & Kills His Superintendent at School
School Shooting Threats Celexa Antidepressant 2010-01-25 Virginia **Senior in High School Theatens to Kill 4 Classmates: Facebook Involved: Bail Denied
School Violence/Murder Antidepressants* 1998-05-04 New York **Sheriff’s Deputy Shoots his Wife in an Elementary School
School Knifing/Murder Meds For Depression & ADHD 2010-04-28 Massachusetts **Sixteen Year Old Kills 15 Year Old in High School Bathroom in Sept. 2009
School Stabbing Wellbutrin 2006-12-04 Indiana **Stabbing by 17 Year Old At High School: Charged with Attempted Murder
School Threat Antidepressants 2007-04-23 Mississippi **Student Arrested for Making School Threat Over Internet
School Suspension Lexapro Antidepressant 2007-07-28 Arkansas **Student Has 11 Incidents with Police During his 16 Months on Lexapro
School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2007-11-07 Finland **Student Kills 8: Wounds 10: Kills Self: High School in Finland
School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2004-02-09 New York **Student Shoots Teacher in Leg at School
School Threat Prozac Antidepressant 2008-01-25 Washington **Student Takes Loaded Shotgun & 3 Rifles to School Parking Lot: Plans Suicide
School Shooting Plot Med For Depression 1998-12-01 Wisconsin **Teen Accused of Plotting to Gun Down Students at School
School/Assault Zoloft Antidepressant 2006-02-15 Tennessee **Teen Attacks Teacher at School
School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 1999-04-16 Idaho **Teen Fires Gun in School
School Hostage Situation Paxil & Effexor Antidepressants 2001-04-15 Washington **Teen Holds Classmates Hostage with a Gun
School Hostage Situation Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2006-11-28 North Carolina **Teen Holds Teacher & Student Hostage with Gun
School Knife Attack Med for Depression 2006-12-06 Indiana **Teen Knife Attacks Fellow Student
School Massacre Plot Prozac Withdrawal 2011-02-23 Virginia **Teen Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison For Columbine Style Plot
School Shooting Celexa & Effexor Antidepressants 2001-04-19 California **Teen Shoots at Classmates in School
School Shooting Celexa Antidepressant 2006-08-30 North Carolina **Teen Shoots at Two Students: Kills his Father: Celexa Found Among his Personal Effects
School Shooting Meds For Depression & ADHD 2011-03-18 South Carolina **Teen Shoots School Official: Pipe Bombs Found in Backpack
School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 2003-05-31 Michigan **Teen Threatens School Shooting: Charge is Terrorism
School Stand-Off Zoloft Antidepressant 1998-04-13 Idaho **Teen [14 Years Old] in School Holds Police At Bay: Fires Shots
School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2007-10-12 Ohio **Teen [14 Years Old] School Shooter Possibly on Antidepressants or In Withdrawal
School Threat Antidepressants 2008-03-20 Indiana **Teen [16 Years Old] Brings Gun to School: There Is a Lockdown
School Suicide/Lockdown Med For Depression 2008-02-20 Idaho **Teen [16 Years Old] Kills Self at High School: Lockdown by Police
School Threats Prozac Antidepressant 1999-10-19 Florida **Teen [16 Years Old] Threatens Classmates With Knife & Fake Explosives
School Stabbing Med For Depression 2008-02-29 Texas **Teen [17 Year Old GIRL] Stabs Friend & Principal at High School
School Hostage Situation Prozac/ Paxil Antidepressants 2001-01-18 California **Teen [17 Years Old] Takes Girl Hostage at School: He is Killed by Police
School Knife Attack Treatment For Depression & Strattera 2009-03-10 Belgium **Three Dead in School Day Care: Two Children & a Caregiver: Happened Jan 23, 2009
School Shooting Plot Antidepressants 2009-09-22 England **Two English School Boys Plot to Blow Up High School
School Arson Incidents Paxil 2002-04-12 Michigan **Unusual Personality Change on Paxil Caused 15 Year Old to Set Fires inside High School
School Bomb Threat Med For Depression 2009-06-29 Australia **Vexed Father Makes Bomb Threat Against Elementary School
School Violence Antidepressant 2005-11-19 Arizona **Violent 8 Year Old GIRL Handcuffed by Police at School
School Violence Celexa Antidepressant 2002-01-23 Florida **Violent 8 Year-Old Boy Arrested At School
School Threat/Lockdown Lexapro* 2008-04-18 California **Violent High School Student Shot to Death on Campus by Police
School / Child Endangerment Antidepressants 2008-02-27 Canada **Wacky School Bus Driver Goes Berserk: Also Involved Painkillers
School Violence Paxil 2004-10-23 Washington DC **Young Boy, 10 Year Old, Has Violent Incidents at School
School Threat Wellbutrin Antidepressant 2007-04-24 Tennessee **Young Boy, 12, Threatens to Shoot Others at School
School Hostage Situation Med for Depression 2006-03-09 France **Young Ex-Teacher Holds 21 Students Hostage
School Shooting/Suicide Celexa 2002-10-07 Texas **Young Girl [13 Years Old] Kills Self at School With a Gun
School Hostage Situation Paxil 2001-10-12 North Carolina **Young Man Holds Three People Hostage in Duke University President’s Office
School Murder Attempt Med For Depression 1995-03-04 California **Young Woman Deliberately Hits 3 Kids with Her Car at Elementary School: Laughed During Attack

Although SSRI Stories only features cases which have appeared in the media, starting March 2012 there began a Website: which will allow personal stories to appear in a different Website from SSRI Stories.  This is the work of Dr. David Healy

As Dr. David Healy notes in his article “Welcome to Data Based Medicine”,  ‘Third: This site will in due course have a category of posts for people who have been through the system, people who have had partners, parents, children or friends injured by treatments and who have found themselves trapped in a Kafkaesque world when they have sought help from doctors, regulators or others who seem to be there to help us.  These stories are aimed at highlighting the lunacy of the current system but also showing how someone who is determined can change everything. These stories will likely migrate to: when it is up and running.’  Sign up now and be prepared to tell your story.

On December 15, 2010, PLoS Medicine released a study which showed that, in regard to prescription medications and violence, the FDA had received the most reports of violence from the SSRI & SNRI antidepressants (except for Chantix, the smoking cessation drug.)  The study listed Prozac as the number 2 drug for violence, and Paxil as number 3.

Antidepressants have been recognized as potential inducers of mania and psychosis since their introduction in the 1950s.  Klein and Fink1 described psychosis as an adverse effect of the older tricyclic antidepressant imipramine. Since the introduction of Prozac in December, 1987, there has been a massive increase in the number of people taking antidepressants. Preda and Bowers2 reported that over 200,000 people a year in the U.S. enter a hospital with antidepressant-associated mania and/or psychosis. The subsequent harm from this prescribing can be seen in these 4,800+ stories.

Before the introduction of Prozac in Dec. 1987, less than one percent of the population in the U.S. was diagnosed with bipolar disorder – also known as manic depression.  Now, with the widespread prescribing of antidepressants, the percent of the population in the United States that is diagnosed with bipolar disorder (swing from depression to mania or vice versa) has risen to 4.4% .  This is almost one out of every 23 people in the U.S.”