Dangerous Drugs: A Warning about Zoloft and Klonopin

In 2006 I got on the antidepressant (SSRI) called zoloft after being off of it for almost two years.  I was stressed out and feeling some slight depression.  In retrospect it was nothing I couldn’t handle but I reached for what I thought was the quick fix.   It was a huge mistake.  After withdrawing from drugs like these after long-term use many people become sensitive to them.  I had a very bad reaction to the drug when I got back on it with some dramatic physical symptoms for 3 months.  I was woozy, had strange vision and terrible pressure and pain in my head.  I never made the connection between the zoloft and the symptoms because my doctor didn’t.  I stayed on zoloft until 2010.

In early 2010, the long-term use of the drug was doing strange things to me.  My mind was slow.  I wasn’t reacting well to stress, and I had anxiety.  My doctor’s solution: increase your dose of zoloft.  I had another bad reaction like I had in 2006 and it lasted another three months.  My doctors were dismissive of the terrible pain I was in so it was left to me to figure out what was wrong with me.  I erroneously came to the conclusion that I had an inner-ear infection.  The tests, however, proved I didn’t.

In the mean time the doctors gave me the benzodiazepine called klonopin to suppress my nervous system.  I didn’t know anything about benzos but it helped with the symptoms until they went away.  I took .25 mg of klonopin every night to stabilize my vision and ease the pressure.  After three months my bad reaction symptoms were gone and I decided to get off zoloft.  I stayed on the klonopin while I tapered the zoloft for two months.  I was irritable and had some anxiety but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Two months after I was off the zoloft I actually read about how dangerous these medications were and how so many people had the same problems I did while on antidepressants.  I finally realized it was the zoloft all along.  I also read about what long-term benzo use can do to you and decided I couldn’t put any more of that drug into my body.  I cold-turkeyed the klonopin and went full force into the most unfathomable, agonizing pain and suffering I’ve ever experienced and never thought possible.

I had just received my master’s degree when this happened and was ready to launch into a career.  Suddenly I found myself unable to work and at the mercy of my loved ones for support.  It has been sixth months since I put any of those medications into my body and though I am much better, I still haven’t crossed any significant line where I can resume a normal life.  I have disabling brain fog and inability to handle stress.  I’m physically miserable with vibrations throughout my nerves, a general wooziness, head pressure, and loud tinnitus.  My vision is so bad I am unable to read comfortably.  I think my nervous system was already fragile and sensitive from coming off the zoloft which I think may have made the klonopin withdrawal even worse—a kindling effect.  But I have no scientific basis for that whatsoever.  It’s possible that this would have happened even without my zoloft use.

Here is a list of my symptoms:

Inability to concentrate

Confusion/Spaced Out

No short-term Memory

Short Attention Span

Speech Problems (Dysarthia)

Social Anxiety/Agoraphobia

Can’t Handle Stress, and Emotionally Sensitive

Fear, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Paranoia

Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

Crying Fits

Emotional Bluntness (Anhedonia)

Irritability/Anger

Obsessive Thoughts/Songs Looping in Mind

Derealization/Depersonalization

Tight Pressure in Head

Cold, Clammy Forehead

Pressure, Pain, Burning and Popping in Ears

Restlessness/Pacing (Akathisia)

Nervousness/Jumpy Nerves

Tremors

Vibration, Buzzing, and Tingling in Nerves and Muscles

Wooziness

Muscle Tension and Soreness

Dehydration

Grainy Vision and Flickering Lights (Visual Snow)

Vitreous Floaters

Pain behind Eyes

Visual Focusing Problems

Grinding/Clenching Teeth (Bruxism)

Pressured Breathing

Bad Skin and Acne

Burning Sensation on Skin

Digestive Issues

Light, Sound, and Scent Sensitive

Weakness and Fatigue

Rapid Heart Rate

Clumsy and Incoordinated

Hair Thinning and Hair Loss

Easily Awoken

Some of these are gone.  Some are better. And some are just as bad as their peak.  I am still in hell albeit a slightly more manageable hell.  My only advice for someone else facing this is to stay away from all medications that interact with the nervous system.  That means supplements too.  Eat every 2-3 hours.  Stay hydrated.  Stay away from stress and people who are not understanding of your condition.  The only food which seems to cause a problem for me is white flour.  Stay away from caffeine and alcohol.  And don’t spend too much time in the withdrawal forums.

The serotonin receptors in Zoloft’s case, and the GABA receptors in Klonopin’s case, in the nervous system, become down-regulated by long-term use of the medication.  It takes a very long time for the nervous system to repair this damage.  These drugs violate and do harm to the body’s most delicate inner-workings and it strives for homeostasis.  It created a new homeostasis around the drugs’ presence which thus required the drugs to maintain.  It will take some time for it all to be corrected, but I’ve read many success stories about people who completely recovered so I am hopeful.

Many people don’t go through this.  They have a short withdrawal or none at all despite years of using these medications.  All I can say is it is probably genetic or has something to do with how we metabolize the drug or how adaptive our nervous systems are.  General practitioners and psychiatrists are usually ignorant of this phenomenon which is part of the problem, but many neurologists and other researchers are aware and studying this problem.

I’ll be back to report on my progress from time to time and will give a more detailed analysis of the whole experience when it is finally over.

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16 Responses to Dangerous Drugs: A Warning about Zoloft and Klonopin

  1. tamra says:

    I thought I am dying, I hope this gets better for me.

  2. Beth Sjovall says:

    Me too I was on Xanax for 14 years bridged to the death drug Klonopin in June of 2012 I have the same exact things happening to me!! The head pressure is awful I went from 1.5 mg down to 1.25 mg I am slowly tapering the first big drop left me in a state of emotional confusion and I feel very alone I am staying the course getting of this poison drug. Thank you for the info on the neurological impairments Klonopin leaves you with I always say i was very intelligent until I started Klonopin now I am basically dumb, and it takes me hours to finish a task. I hate the psychiatrist that put me on this. Some day the entire world is oing to know psychiatrists are legal drug dealers. This is a living hell!!

  3. Irene says:

    I have had all the same symptoms plus visual and auditory hallucinations and most recently a seizure (3 days ago). They put me on Prozac and colonzepam in the meantime until I get in to see a neurologist. It’s a combination of all these horrible drugs, which I cannot get off of right now because of school.

  4. Jamie says:

    Im pregnant again so my psychiatrist is tapering Me off my zoloft and klonopin. I was on 150 mg zoloft at bedtime and .25 mg klonopin four times a day. My dr gave me this schedule: 100 mg zoloft for 5 days, 50 mg for 5 days and then stop. Klonopin: .25 three times a day for four days, .25 twice a day for four days, .25 before bed for four days and then stop. Ive came off my klonopin before quick n survived for two weeks but stupid me started taking it again. I took it for my two youngests pregnancy along w zoloft n zoloft during my oldest pregnancy. I have been wanting to quit these meds for a long time cause ive been on zoloft now for 4 years and klonopin for 3-4 years. I am day five but i couldn’t do just two pills. I felt sick to my stomach, anxious, pain, head felt weird, out of it. I hate this it feels miserable and like you are dying. What do.i do?

  5. Zoompad says:

    Thanks for the warning. I am one of the Staffordshire Pindown child abuse victims and my doctor has just prescribed me a months supply of Sertaline, and told me the side effects were minimal, but I thought I would check it out for myself before taking them. I am horrified by the list of side effects and certainly will not be taking any of these drugs, and especially after reading this blog.

  6. NoMeaning25 says:

    Same happened to me. 4 years on Paxil, weaned off in 1.5 months, tried to reinstate, but a diferrent drug, had extreme adverse reaction. Now 8 months since then, in incredible hell. All the symptoms you listed i have. My DR/DP is severe. Do people really recover from this or am i brain damaged for life? No windows yet so im starting to worry. Is this normal?

  7. Therapist says:

    It does get better. I was on celexa 20 mg for menopause for 18 months. Five week taper. Horrible depression and anxiety for a month then ok for two months. End of third month akathesia and severe tremor, head pressure, buzzing, tingling. Thought I would die. That lasted three months almost to the day. At 7 months now. Now three weeks of better but more body aches and vein pain. It does get better. Drink water, take daily walks, reduce stress. Take fish oil and probiotics but NO B vitamins or anything stimulating. Needless to say no alcohol or drugs. Acupuncture helped but only after many months. Stopped talking any supplements except what’s listed above. Eating organic leafy greens and good protein daily. Do not kill yourself. The symptoms can vanish suddenly ( in 5-10 mins) and then stay gone or come back. When they come back its not as hard. From what I read it takes 6-18 months, 1 year is average. No, it will not be as bad during that time. Almost everyone recovers. Spiritual stuff helped, in my case shamanic readings but any spiritual help that you like is good. Do not give up. It feels permanent but it is not. Your mind is strong and you can survive this.

  8. Viagra says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not
    writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!

  9. Nora says:

    You all might look into a doctor of TCM- Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are practitioners are all over the country. Chinese medicine has been around for 3,000 + years. Along with acupuncture they have a huge pharmacy of herbs….not drugs…herbs. And they know how to use them. Combine acupuncture with the proper herbs for a consistent length of time and you will have nice results with no side effects. Anxiety, stress, depression can all be treated this way. In particular, try to find a doctor of TCM that is trained in 5 Elements…..the form of TCM that precedes Mao Tse Tung – who sort of standardized/homogenized TCM training. NOTE; do NOT try to do this yourself by poking around on the internet to find herbs….it is way to complicated a practice and you can do serious harm to yourself.

  10. Kristine says:

    Hi i have ALL of the above symptons too. I’ve been to the dr about 5 times thinking i have a brain tumour but put it down to starting zoloft a couple of months ago again. How do i taper off it??? I take one tablet once a day. Do i now cut back to 1/2 tablet? how long do i do this for?? I was on it a few years ago and i stopped it abrupty because i was pregnant. So i guess that is whay i’m having all of these killer side effetcs now :-( :-(

  11. leesa gilliland says:

    My goodness…..My story involves my son who is now a healthy 22 year old. He was put on Ciprilex at the age of 16 and by 17 his life was severely affected by a host of unexplainable and life threatening symptoms that required hospitalization each time. I lost count of the hours and days i helped take care of him in ermergency. At 18 he was referred to a psychiatrist who put him on Zoloft….the symptoms got worse and I watched my formerly vibrant, social son turn into a pale socially isolated walking zombie. We saw every specialist available with no answers on the severe vomitting/nausea/ and finally atrial fibrilation of his heart…a stroke was next… …it was so scary as a Mother…THE ONE THING THAT HADN’T BEEN RULED OUT OR EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT WAS THE DAMN SSRI’s!!! All of the professionals except one smart nurse told me it wasn’t the Zoloft….the smart nurse whispered in my ear one traumatic trip and said, “GET HIM OFF THE ZOLOFT” Well, I started to do my research and talk to my son ….about how he used to be and that anxiety had never been part of his make up nor the vomitting stuff…..he agreed…..he weaned himself off the zoloft with a phamacists help. He’s is 100% better…..working full time….gained weight and has loads of social interactions and is quite active again in our community…..GO NATURAL PEOPLE….IT’S NOT WORTH THE RISK….through exercise, good food and lots of support from loved ones…depression can be overcome…..what did our ancestors do hundreds of years ago…? GO NATURAL! ZOLOFT IS DANGEROUS!!!!! I can’t even imagine what would of happened to our son if he hadn’t of gotten of the zoloft..if you have phatom symptoms it’s THE ZOLOFT!!!!

  12. Christina says:

    I have been experiencing problems with ADD, anxiety and PMDD for years now. I recently got help through my counselor and psychiatrist for the ADD, and that hasn’t been an issue since she put me on 20mg of Methylphenidate (Adderall) a day. For years I’ve experienced general anxiety, occasional panic attacks and PMDD. I never sought help for those issues until last week when I had the worst panic attack I’ve ever experienced. It was completely out of the blue. I felt weak, nauseous, clammy, dizzy, had trouble breathing and blurry vision. I then completely lost my vision for about 2 minutes and collapsed. I saw my psychiatrist and she recommended a low dose of Sertraline everyday for both issues. Today was my first dose and I’m already not happy with how I feel. I know I need to wait at least three weeks to fairly judge it, but after reading reviews combined with how I feel right now, I’m thinking about calling my doctor again. Right now I’m currently experiencing a little anxiousness, problems focusing, problems with my eyes focusing and have a horrible headache with deep pain right above my eyes. I have no idea if this is normal, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I tried contacting her earlier to tell her my symptoms but I haven’t received a call back. I’m also very concerned about the weight gain I’ve been reading about. I recently lost 45 pounds and it look almost two years. I would hate to gain all of that back. Certainly wouldn’t help my anxiety or depression! I hope everyone on here receives the help they need and deserve! Good luck everyone.

  13. Helen Smith says:

    I appreciate all of the comments, I have had many decades of trying to get off of Benzo’s and Diazepams, it’s been a painful for me, however I’m not giving up yet. I won’t be satisfied until I’m completely off these dangerous chemicals. I have consulted with many Doctors and Psychiatric’s without any real help. I haven’t found a single Doctor that knows how much pain we that have become addictive to these drugs have when trying to get off them. There’s not enough space here to put all of the negatives these drugs have had on my life. Don’t take these poisons, no matter how bad you think you are, the side effects are much more painful that taking the drug!

  14. Dana says:

    I so feel your pain, have been on Klonopin since 1993 and Zoloft since 1995. I am down to .25 of the Zoloft and 2 .50 at night of Klonopin. My skin or my nervous system goes crazy when I am dosing off to sleep. I have no clue how to wean off this garbage!

  15. Dana says:

    Also if I cut back it feels like I have tremendous pressure in my eyes. I hate this!

  16. bunnycat007 says:

    I took that drug 20 years before it was discovered that an Endocrine Disease turned out to be the REAL cause of my panic problems all along. Many of my symptoms were very similar to what was described. I wonder, did anyone suspect you might have a physiological reason for some symptoms?

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