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Everyone asks me, “Are you sure it’s benzo withdrawal?” Of course, I can’t diagnosis anything as I am not a licensed M.D. But I can say, “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Most people are worried that they’ve gone crazy or have some strange disease. Both are legit worries, I suppose, but if you are on a benzo, tapering a benzo, or off a benzo and having typical benzo withdrawal symptoms, chances that you have suddenly lost your mind or that you’ve developed a bizarre disease out of the blue, are pretty much zilch, I’d say.

Of course, it confuses you when your doctor tells you the typical myths about benzo withdrawal.  “It doesn’t exist.”  “It can’t last more than a few days.”  “It only happens to people who are prone to addiction.” “You weren’t on it long enough to have a problem.” You know, all the misinformation we hear at doctors offices. I’ve had people in florid withdrawal call me from rehabs that “specialize” in benzo withdrawal. They tell me that the staff says “It’s not withdrawal.” They swear they’ve never seen anyone have a problem with their rapid taper protocol. So those people who called me are frantic to know, “IS THIS BENZO WITHDRAWAL??!!” We go down the list of symptoms and check them off one by one. Usually, it doesn’t take long to connect the dots.

When I had the wave from hell at three years off, I was convinced that it was no longer benzo withdrawal. I thought for sure I was doomed to a life of intrusive thoughts, derealization, and a laundry list of other very unpleasant things. Of course, all of the things I was experiencing were benzo withdrawal symptoms, but I couldn’t fathom how it could still be benzo withdrawal three years from my last dose. I mean, come on! That’s ridiculous. But, it wasn’t ridiculous. It was benzo withdrawal. Every. Last. Stinking. Symptom. When the wave finally washed me up on the shore, exhausted and gasping for breath, I got up and walked away. I never looked back. It was finally over. All the weird mental stuff had finally played itself out.

Are you wondering if your symptoms are benzo withdrawal? Here’s the latest list compiled by people in benzo withdrawal:

Abdominal cramps
Abdominal pain
Acid reflux
Acrophobia
Aggression
Agitation
Agoraphobia
Air hunger
Akathisia
Allergies
Amnesia
Anger
Anhedonia
Anthophobia
Anxiety
Apathy
Ataxia
Back pain
Balance issues
Benzo belly
Blepharospasm
Blurry vision
Body aches
Body feels frozen
Bone pain
Brain zaps
Bruxism
Burning sensations
Cardiovascular issues
Catatonic
Changes in personality
Chemical sensitivity
Chest pain (can mimic heart attack)
Choking sensation
Cognitive issues
Cold intolerance
Concentration issues
Confusion
Constipation
Convulsions
Cough
Cranial tightness
Crying spells
Delirium
Depersonalization
Depression
Derealization
Diarrhea
Dilated pupils
Disoriented
Distorted perception
Dizziness
Drugged sensation
Dysphagia
Dysphasia
Dysphoria
Dyspnea
Edema (especially of ankles and face)
Electrical sensations
Encopresis
Excitability
Existential angst
Eye dryness
Fatigue
Fear
Flashbacks
Flu-like symptoms
Food intolerance
Formication
Gait abnormalities
Gastrointestinal issues
Guilt
Hair loss
Hallucinations
Hay-fever
Head pressure
Head sensations (tight band around head)
Heartburn
Heat intolerance
Heightened senses
Homicidal ideation
Hopelessness
Hydrophobia
Hyperactive
Hypersensitive to stimuli
Hypertension
Hyperventilation
Hypnogogia
Hypotension
Hysterical
Impending doom
Impotence
Inability to handle stress
Inappropriate laughter
Incontinence
Inner vibration
Insomnia
Intrusive thoughts
Irrational fears
Irregular breathing
Irregular heartbeat
Irritation
Jumpiness
Lethargic
Leukonychia
Libido impotence
Lightheadedness
Looping thoughts
Low self-esteem
Lucid dreaming
Malabsorption
Mania
Memory impairment
Menstrual irregularities
Metallic taste
Migraines
Monophobia
Mood swings
Morbid thoughts
Muscle pain
Muscle spasms
Myoclonic jerks
Nail Pain
Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Negative thinking
Nerve pain (hitting non-specific areas of the body randomly but for short bursts)
Nerves, All nerves firing off
Nervousness
Neuralgia
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome-like event
Neurological problems (topical nerve anesthesia)
Neuropathy
New allergies
Night apnea
Night sweats, Rashes
Night terrors
Nightmares, vivid dreams
No feelings of fun or laughter
Nosebleeds
Not knowing who you are
Numb area on bottom of left foot
Numb right foot
Numbed emotions
Numbness and tingling in face
Numbness and tingling in feet
Numbness and tingling in hands
Numbness in any part of the body
Numbness in arms
Numbness in face and left side
Numbness in fingers
Numbness in head
Numbness in lip and tongue
Obsessions or obsessional repetitive thinking
Obsessive and compulsive thinking (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obsessive thoughts
Occasional right eye pain
Oesophagitis
Organic brain syndrome
Outbursts of rage or aggression
Overwhelmed feeling
Overwhelming feeling that you are going to die
Pacing
Pain in eyes
Pain in hands and feet
Pain in previous surgical sites
Painful scalp
Pains in neck and shoulders
Panic attacks
Papular and maculopapular rashes
Paraesthesia (Pins and needles)
Paraesthesiae (numbing, burning and tingling; pins and needles)
Paresthesia (numbness, tingling)
Paralexia – the mixing up of words in texts.
Paranoia
Paresthesia – “A thousand needles”
Perceptual disturbances and distortions
Peripheral nervous system issues
Persistent, unpleasant memories
Personality changes
Perspiration
Perspiring, night sweats
Phobias(hydrophobia, agoraphobia, monophobia, acrophobia, anthropophobia and others)
Photophobia
Photosensitivity
Pins and needles
Poor concentration
Poor judgment
Poor memory
Poor muscle control
Poor short-term memory
Poor sleep
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Postural hypertension
Pounding in my head
Premature ventricular contractions (irregular heart beats)
Pressure in head
Pressure in the inner ear and outer ear
Problems with vision
Prostate pain
Pseudo-Multiple sclerosis (Medically documented cases of misdiagnosed MS who have recovered after withdrawal)
Psychomotor impairment
Psychosis
Psychotic symptoms (usually transient and confined to rapid withdrawal)
Pulsating all over my body(also visible)
Pulsating in right temporal area especially upon exertion
Pulse thudding
Racing heart
Racing thoughts
Rage
Rapid changes in body temperature
Rapid mood changes
Rapid mood fluctuations
Rapid weight loss
Rash under brows
Rashes, blotches
Rebound REM sleep
Rectal bleeding/burning
Red burning eyes
Reduced alertness
Reduced blood pressure
Reduced or increased appetite
Reduced stress tolerance
Resignation – “what is the point of quitting?”
Respiratory Breathlessness
Restless legs syndrome
Restless legs, arms
Restlessness
Rigidness and jerks
Room spinning
Scalp burning
Seeing spots before the eyes
Seizures (fits) (Almost unknown if people reduce gradually, more common for people using high doses who stop suddenly)
Sense of instability- the ground seems to move beneath one’s feet, one walks in the air
Sensitive feelings
Sensitive or painful teeth
Sensitive to light and stress
Sensitive to loud noises
Sensitive to music
Sensitivity to smells
Sensory disruption
Severe body pain
Severe fatigue
Severe head pain
Severe headaches
Severe muscle rigidity
Severe pain in stomach
Sexual Impotence
Sexual problems (changes in libido)
Shaking
Shallow breathing
Shivering, feelings of extreme cold or hot
Short-term memory impairment
Shoulder pain
Sinus pain
Sinusitis
Skin burning patches
Skin insensitivity
Skin itching, tingling, burning
Skin problems (dryness, itchiness, rashes, hives, slow healing, burning)
Skin sensitivity
Skipping heart beats
Sleep disorders
Sleep disturbances
Sleep paralysis
Sleep problems
Slow heart rate
Slow thinking processes
Slurred speech
Soapy taste in mouth
Sore eyes
Sore gums
Sore mouth
Sore tongue and throat
Sore tongue and thrush
Sore, itchy eyes
Spaciness
Speech difficulty
Spine (burning sensation)
Stabbing pains in limbs
Stiff arms and legs
Stiff muscles
Stiffness
Stiffness in back
Stinging pain
Stomach and bowel problems
Stomach cramps
Stomach upsets
Sudden sadness
Suicidal feelings (see doctor if you feel you will act on them)
Suicidal ideations
Suicidal thoughts
Suicide attempts
Sweating
Swelling-bloating
Swollen breasts
Swollen eyes
Swollen vulva
Tachycardia
Taste and smell disturbances
Tearing eyes
Teeth chattering
Teeth pain
Tension
Tension Headache
Tension in neck
Terror
Thinking you are mentally ill
Thirst
Throat issues (tightness)
Throbbing legs
Throbbing pains
Thrush-like symptoms
Thyroid disturbances
Thyroid issues, erratic testing results
Tight achy muscles
Tight head
Tight jaw and temple
Tight muscles in left leg
Tight muscles in neck and shoulders
Tightness in the chest
Tightness in the head
Tingling on scalp
Tingling sensations
Tingling skin
Tinnitus (ear buzzing, popping, ringing, hissing)
Tiny pupils
Tiredness
Tolerance
Too much saliva
Toothache
Trembling and shaking
Tremor or feeling of inner vibration
Twilight sleep
Twitching Muscles (nearly everywhere)
Ulcers in mouth
Uncharacteristic behavior such as shoplifting
Uncontrolled eye movement
Unusually sensitive (unable to watch the news on television or read the newspaper)
Unwarranted feelings of guilt
Urges to shout, throw, break things or to harm someone
Urinary problems (bladder either ‘all on’ or ‘all off’)
Urinary problems (continence or incontinence)
Urinary retention
Vaginal discharge
Vasovagal attacks
Vertigo
Very cold especially hands and feet
Very oily skin and hair
Violence
Visual distortions preceding a migraine
Visual Disturbances – blurred vision, vivid 3D vision, floaters, changing focus, double vision
Visual hallucinations
Vivid dreams
Vivid vision
Vocabulary, loss of skills
Voice weak
Void of normal emotions
Vomiting
Vulnerable personality
Waking early
Water retention
Waves of pain
Weakness, “jelly legs”
Weight gain – weight loss (this may be quite rapid)
Weird dreams
Weird thinking
White blood count, elevated
Wired feeling
Worsening of allergies
Xeroderma (dry skin)
Yellow eyes or skin

Anything on the list look familiar?

I hope that this post has given you some reassurance that you haven’t run off to crazytown. Nah. It just feels that way! Your innate health and wisdom have not been compromised. You are still in there, underneath all of the strange happenings in your brain, mind, and body. It’s just benzo withdrawal!

Brighter days are ahead. Much, much, brighter! I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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