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Amy238: Dealing with gasping/choking Zoloft withdrawal symptoms

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Amy238

Everything was on track until Saturday when I mistakenly took MJ. 11/25 I didn’t sleep the entire night until 8 am, panic attacks through the night, slept for few hours during the day on Sunday.

 

11/26, Sunday night was fine, was exhausted too. Had done a lot of fast paced crazy walking for 3 hours post MJ consumption. Slept for 8 hours, no symptoms. Reported lack of symptoms next morning here on forum.

11/27 - Monday night, paranoia , slept for 2 hours, Definitely the  trigger was MJ episode on Saturday. Some gasping but minimal, I tried to believe it would go away.

11/28 - Tuesday, took the day off. Had panic attacks through the day, again trigger was episode on Saturday. Went for a brisk walk for 3 hours. Walk calmed me down. Tuesday night, slept at 12 am until 2:45 am. Woke up, felt was choking and stayed up for some time. Researched online to find a doctor. Forced myself to go back to sleep again at 4:20 am. Woke up at 6:45 am, gasping and choking,  could remember few gasping episodes that preceded waking up. Didn’t trigger any intense panic attacks as I am used to it. Sat up in the bed, feel the tightness in throat sitting up and shortness of breath. Not sure if this is going to last or is the result of MJ episode, followed by doctors declaration that I was doing everything wrong which definitely again triggered the panic in me. 

 

There has been no change in medicine regime. 1.5 mg Zoloft at noon, 0.125 mg Xanax at night. Wondering if I should take another half of Xanax now to combat the palpitations and tightness in throat. Doctor’s response did cause an added anxiety yesterday :-(. Have zeroed in on couple of doctors, will call today to make an appointment.

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apace41
24 minutes ago, Amy238 said:

There has been no change in medicine regime. 1.5 mg Zoloft at noon, 0.125 mg Xanax at night. Wondering if I should take another half of Xanax now to combat the palpitations and tightness in throat.

 

i would not, Amy, as this becomes a slippery slope.  You had things in a good place and then you made a decision to try something that has apparently thrown your system out of whack again.  This is an unfortunate lesson in how sensitive your CNS is as a result of the changes you have wrought upon it in the recent past.  The single most important aspect of all of recovery during withdrawal, in my view, is consistency.  When we bounce around and change things we open the door to destabilizing the CNS and not knowing what caused the instability (especially when we take a slingshot approach and throw multiple modalities at the problem). 

 

I know you are uncomfortable and that leads to "wanting to do something."  If there were a "silver bullet" this board would not exist and we would all be doing the same thing.  The reality is that it will take a little bit of time for you to "re-stabilize" on the Zoloft/Xanax combo but I would hope you can get back there pretty quickly.  It is hard to know the effect of MJ on the system because, as we know, it stays in the body for an extended period (which may not be "active" for everyone but may affect us, with our compromised CNS, more meaningfully).

 

47 minutes ago, Amy238 said:

Have zeroed in on couple of doctors, will call today to make an appointment.

 

That would be good and would help resolve some of the collateral stress.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Amy238

I will stick to regime, will not take another Xanax. Doing ok, will report back later....

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apace41
10 hours ago, Amy238 said:

I so agree with this part, there doesn’t seem to be any desire to put efforts into researching or reading, and learning. 

 

I know this doctor had prescribed Temazepam to some patients in the past, and so was comfortable with me starting to take Temazepam. (From little I understand Xanax(Alprazolam) and Temazepam are both benzos, Temazepam being more sedative than Alprazolam.) So I am not sure why there was such strong reluctance towards prescribing Xanax.

 

Amy,

 

I wanted to take a minute to respond to this post for context.  Doctors have virtually no incentive (other than being good care providers which, unfortunately, does not suffice for most these days) to find out more about these meds and their effects.  This is particularly true for a general practitioner (who write most of these scripts) who does not view it as his/her specialty.  We on SA are (i) highly aware and (ii) well educated regarding these meds as we have seen and experienced the harm they can cause.  Because the "party line" is that they are not "dangerous", assuming that anyone in conventional medicine will be interested (unless and until it is financially valuable to them to be interested) is somewhat naive to be frank.  That is why SA exists and why we need to take responsibility for our own care.

 

The benzo world is crazy in the US. Because of the history of the Valley of the Dolls and "mother's little helper" of the 1960s and 70s, Valium is viewed as a "bad drug" and doctors in the US are hesitant to prescribe it.  The reality is that it is the tamest of the benzo class.  Temazapam is really a second-generation version of diazepam/valium and is a weaker drug generally but has very strong sedative qualities.  That makes it easy to prescribe for sleep for many doctors.  Xanax has become synonymous with abuse in the US and many doctors are becoming hesitant to prescribe it.  It is far stronger than valium so its equivalence is something to be careful with as .25 of Xanax is equal to 5mg of valium.  When people say they are "only" on 1mg of Xanax it sounds small but when you think of it as 20mg of valium that changes the view.  Ironically, clonazapam/klonopin is very frequently the benzo of choice in the US and is equally strong as Xanax albeit with a longer half life.  My understanding is that outside of the US doctors are far more hesitant to prescribe Klonopin and go with diazepam more frequently.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Amy238

I spent half a day yesterday, calling doctors, left VM with several. Only 2 got back to me, late in the evening. I was still very thankful.

One doesn't accept insurance, and believes that none of my symptoms are with-drawl rather something else, as with-drawl doesn't last for more than a month. Other one accepts insurance but seems to be just starting the practice. Out of options, I will have to make a choice. But I think I have a way forward.

 

I am thinking of finding a copy of "Valley of Dolls" and reading it over the weekend. Am hoping I will get a lesson on history of benzo abuse.

 

On 11/29/2017 at 9:59 AM, apace41 said:

This is particularly true for a general practitioner (who write most of these scripts) who does not view it as his/her specialty.

I think Andy's observation is spot-on. 

 

Last night 11/29, cortisol spikes started at 2:15 am, very usual for me. I forced myself to keep going back to sleep (had a full day conference, took Xanax 0.17 mg, slightly more than 0.125 mg), kept waking up every 45 min, continued through the night until 8 am in the morning.  Rough night :-( ..palpitations continued through the day.

 

11/30 - Have another long day tomorrow, afraid to sleep, palpitations..... Took 0.125mg Xanax. Increasing the dose the night before didn't help except made me sleepier which I never enjoy as it means sharper and more frequent jolts caused by cortisol spikes. Anticipating another rough night. God help me :-(, wish it would subside, I had a 2 day window I was so happy.

 

One symptom which hasn't revisited me in the last few days is "feeling of dry air, dry mouth and shortness of breath". That's a relief.

 

Will follow up with sleep specialist on Sleep study Report tomorrow, just to rule out any sleep apnea related issues. Per my interpretation/understanding of the report, I don't have it but best to discuss it with a specialist.

 

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Amy238

12/1 - Friday morning, 6 days and 6 nights since MJ episode on 11/25. Have had only 1 night of decent sleep.

Focusing more on nights, since day time symptoms are much more manageable.

 

11/23 -  Thanksgiving, No symptoms, slept well for 8 hours.

11/24 -  No symptoms, slept well for 8 hours. Window, felt improvement.

11/25(Sat) -   MJ episode, No sleep at all.

11/26 -   Time in bed - 8 hours..no memory of cortisol spikes or much of anything else at night.

11/27 -   Time in bed - 2 hours, paranoia, some "cortisol spikes/tightness of throat" during night but then the sleep time was very less.

                Rough night.

11/28 -   Time in bed - 5 hours. Increased "heart palpitations/spikes/tightness of throat" throughout the day(took day off) and night.

                Rough night, constantly waking up gasping.

11/29 -   Time in bed - 5 hours. Increased "heart palpitations/spikes/tightness of throat" throughout the day and night.

                Cortisol spikes not concentrated between 2am - 5:30 am as was a pattern before. Frequent spikes continued until 8 am.

                Rough night, constantly waking up gasping. Found myself sweaty middle of the night. It was a cold night otherwise.

11/30 -   Time in bed - 5 hours. Increased "Heart palpitations/spikes/tightness of throat" throughout the day and night.

                Rough night again, mid-night sweat, constant waking up. 

 

 

Wondering if I should up the dose of zoloft from 1.5 mg. I have had persistent heart palpitations since Monday evening.

 

 

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Amy238

It appears to me my main symptom throughout withdrawl has been “heart palpitations”. I think I understand the cause behind and the other symptoms that it has resulted in. 

 

I have been journaling a lot here. Thank you to forum members for not kicking me out for constant rambling. Writing it all down helps. Had 3 hours and 25 min of sleep during the night :-(

 

I found this,

http://www.anxietyguru.net/how-to-stop-heart-palpitations/comment-page-18/

 

I have been taking magnesium supplement, fish oil supplement daily. I also take sprinolactone(since feb this year) for Acne, wondering if it might be causing high potassium levels and contributing to the problem.

 

Had checked potassium 3 months ago, it came back within normal range.

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PoetJester

Hey Amy

 

sorry to hear you are still dealing with the choking issue.  i was reading your recent posts and can relate with the MJ story.   i smoked a joint for the first time in 20 years in late 2015 about 1 1/2 years into wd, hoping it might help me sleep like it used to in my college days at University of Wisconsin-Madison back in the early 90's.  Big mistake.   i became totally anxious and depressed after taking a few puffs and as i was viewing youtube music videos the people in the videos became Star Wars type aliens.  not good.  i hardly slept that night.    still desperate for sleep a year later in 2016, i smoked again  at a neighbors apartment after coming home from the bar one night after having 3 pints of beer.  another big mistake.  my racing thoughts were 10 times worse.  i used to enjoy getting high in college, but not anymore.  i went back to my apt and laid down and as soon as i closed my eyes, i was seeing totally graphic visions of hell.  i have hypnagogia (dreaming before sleep) normally in wd due to all the sleep deprivation.  but the visions i had that night were really awful.  It seems that the wd brain is almost a different creature than a non wd brain, because i used to really enjoy getting high back in college, i could stone out and get into things and the sleep was great, but this time around it just made me anxious and increased my inner dialogue and make me wish desperately for the effects to wear off.  i think i slept 5 hours totalr in the 2 days i smoked. anyways.

 

Derek

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PoetJester

oh, i just read your new post.  i think the palpitations are due to sleep deprivation.  i had them all the time earlier on in 2014/15.  i had had them on the meds as well, but nowhere as often or as severe as  in wd.  i ended up taking Taurine and it calmed them down considerably.   coincidentally, this october, i got into eating Black Licorice while watching the World Series.  i was eating a 16 oz bag of the stuff every two days.  after a couple weeks of eating the black llicorice, i noticed my heart was churning and doing all sorts of crazy things again, like it had in 2014/15.  Luckily, someone had posted a repost around Halloween on a facebook page i am part of about the dangers of eating too much black licorice.  the active ingredient, in black licorice can cause heart arthmyias in large quantities.

 

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Amy238

Thank you PoetJester for sharing your experience. It helps. I clocked only 3 hours 45 minutes tonight. I am wide awake now but gasping, feeling like heart would give up and I would suffocate. I have another full day conference to attend. Wish I hadn’t signed up for it, thought it would be a good distraction. 

I am never again having MJ edibles, not in this life time.:-(. But then I wonder that I might have relapsed even if I hadn’t had MJ. Hard to tell.

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apace41
7 hours ago, Amy238 said:

Wondering if I should up the dose of zoloft from 1.5 mg. I have had persistent heart palpitations since Monday evening.

 

My view, Amy, in a word, is "no."

 

I understand you don't like to feel uncomfortable and I understand you value and need your sleep, however, you were (at least it seemed to me) getting pretty stable on the 1.5 and .125 regime until your little MJ episode.  If that is incorrect then adjusting might make sense, but if it's correct then you are best served waiting for your CNS to calm back down and see where you are.  

 

If you react to things on a day-to-day basis you will struggle with this process.  It forces you to learn not to be quite as reactive.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Amy238

Was very exhausted end of day yesterday. Paranoia and palpitations, no doubt made worse by lack of sleep...by 1 am was exhausted..spent 2 hours sewing, find it comforting.

 

Slept for 12 hours straight after that :)......And I thought I would never sleep again.

 

Woke up several times by cortisol spikes, would gasp, check the time but would go right back to sleep.

I also remember feeling calmer and breathing easier for longer stretches of time during sleep than usual.

 

Haven't made any changes to current dosages, will continue with 1.5 zoloft and 0.125 Xanax.

 

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apace41

Sounds like improvement, Amy.

 

Stick with it.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Amy238

Merry Christmas and happy new year in advance to all !! 

I just recovered from a bout of cold/flu, finally had a clear-head to write.

 

What’s good -

It’s been a week since I haven’t had any panic attacks or cortisol spikes during the night. I have stuck to 1.5 mg Zoloft at noon and 0.125mg Xanax at 10 pm daily. I am glad Andy pressed onto the “need to stay with the same dose long enough”, it only took few days before I stabilized again. I think I can claim to not have any obvious withdrawl symptoms any longer. I feel pretty good. Last I remember having a rough night was on 16th of December, since then things have been steadily improving each day. Amazing that not so long ago I thought they might never get better. 

 

What’s not so good -

Depression is setting back with self-deprecating, self-loathing thoughts. People don’t appear as nice as before :-), their faults which were easily forgiven and forgotten, seem to have magnified themselves. I guess I will learn to overcome it all with time.

 

I will keep the same dose for now (for 2-3 more weeks may be) unless suggested otherwise. I think next steps for me would be to taper off of Zoloft completely before beginning to taper off of Xanax.

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Downbutnotout

I read your story. I am an 67 year old lady who has been taking antidepressants since I was 42. I tried to get off 3 years ago, and messed myself up probably by taking myself off too fast. I  further screwed myself up by going to a vitamin doctor who didn’t know what she was doing and gave me every vitamin in the book. I went  back to the psychiatrist who put me on Zoloft and it gave me terrible anxiety. Then, she put me back on effexor 75 mg and it lasted for about 2 years. At least I thought it did. I had a relapse 6 months ago, and was put on everything in the book  I was interested that following the advice on here helped you. It gives me some hope. I have the same problem of waking up with horrible anxiety.   I am looking for hope. The fact that you’ve shown so much improvement gives me a little hope. The fact that you think you will be able to deal with the depression gives me some hope. 

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RachelSusan

Hi Amy,

I just read your thread.  Wow, what you have been through, it's a lot. I am so happy to hear that you have gotten a lot more stable. I will follow you, and hope for the very best for you.

RS

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apace41

Glad to hear you stabilized nicely, Amy.

 

Hopefully, the depression will lift shortly.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Amy238

@Downbutnotout@RachelSusan@apace41 thank you for your kind words. @Downbutnotout, I definitely improved a great deal, it took a a while but it happened. Here is one of my favorite videos that was shared on this channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQtO6HXJfjw

 

The evening before, I had another flare up, I think slightly overdosed due to higher concentration of liquid med at the bottom of container, though I am not very sure about it.

But something caused the old symptoms to come back. It started with heart palpitations, dry mouth and nose, waking up gasping. I slept through it thinking it will pass. Next day it got worse though, tachycardia(heart rate hasn't come down under 100) and feeling of missed beats, and then panic struck, hyperventilation, shaking and trembling. Now I am sitting up afraid to put my head down, fearing the moment I did, I will choke.

 

For almost a month, I did extremely well. If it was due to overdose, I am hoping it will soon pass. I just can't explain what happened, if it was overdose, how much did I overdose to cause a relapse( hopefully a temporary one). Should I skip it for a day to compensate for overdose. I think I did take a normal dose today but it didn't improve the symptoms, by evening, I felt I was on the verge of heart-attack with crazy palpitations.

 

Doctor suggested that for accuracy, I should switch to custom tablets which some special pharmacy can make for me. It would come with an extra cost but should be affordable. But that would also mean, I will have high dependency on the doctor and will have to abide by his plan of taper.

I have liquid zoloft 20mg/ml too. I am not sure but wondering if it can be diluted in water just like the pill.

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RachelSusan

Hi Amy23,

 

Sorry to hear what is going one with you. Sounds awful.

 

In answer to your question about the liquid zoloft, my doctor currently has me mixing it with water to get to the desired dosage I need.  I am not sure how you are proposing to use it, but he has me mixing 1ml medication with 1 ml of water and then drawing out the amount that I need. I hope this helps.

 

RS

 

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Amy238

Thanks @RachelSusan for confirming, I wasn't sure if I could mix liquid zoloft with water. The one my doctor prescribed me has 20mg per ml. which means if I want to take 1.5 mg, I could dilute 1ml of liquid zoloft with 20 ml of water, and take 1.5ml out of it.

 

I will give myself another week or two to stabilize, and then attempt a switch to liquid.

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RachelSusan

Amy,

 

These symptoms are so unpredictable, it's hard to know what is causing a flare up. It is so darned confusing and disheartening. It looks like you have done a lot of hard work in the last few months.  You should be proud of yourself,  Just remember, always take extra time beyond what you think you need before the next taper.  Quality of life is most important.

 

RS

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