Benzo & Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

Here we have an A to Z of symptoms commonly experienced by those in benzodiazepine and antidepressant withdrawal. If you are checking on a symptom that has surfaced, please do not panic when you read this list. Also, it would be best to not visit this page often and to not go through the whole list.  Just go directly to the first letter of your symptom and check to see if yours is listed. Much time can be spent agonizing, analysing and sending oneself near insane, trying to make sense of your withdrawal reactions. This does not help with coping. It will only heighten anxiety and cause unnecessary worry.

This page will be useful for anyone discontinuing antidepressants and benzodiazepines since they can result in very similar symptoms.  So although it was initially compiled with benzodiazepine users in mind, it is applicable to both.

Again, as you read, please remember that the recovery process is unique and you are not likely to have many of these symptoms. If you do, they may appear in ‘clusters’ and last for very short periods. This list is anecdotal and has been compiled from reports taken from 1996 to 2013.

A

Abdominal cramps: cramping and pain in the abdomen, sometimes moving to different areas

Achiness: dull aches and pains all over the body

Agitation: restless, feeling a need to move around, ‘antsy’ feeling

Agoraphobia: fear of going out, fear of open spaces, fear of having panic attacks in unfamiliar places, often confined to home

Anger/Rage: often unexplained, tantrums, loss of temper with no apparent cause

Anxiety: adrenaline rushes, panic attacks, overbreathing, palpitations often including agoraphobia

Apathy: lack of motivation, lack of interest in self or others,

emotionally flat, socially withdrawn, flatness

Appetite changes: loss, gain leading to increase or decrease in weight

B

Back pain: lower, mid, upper, coccyx

Balance problems/Dizziness: feeling unsteady on feet, room ‘spinning’ even when sitting or lying, feeling drunk

Benzo belly: distension, bloat, pot belly, abnormally large, looking ‘pregnant’

Bloating/Water retention: oedema, swollen feet, swollen, hands, eyelids, looking puffy

Blurred vision: everything appears blurred, problems reading and seeing generally

Body temperature: fluctuations

Brain fog: feeling as if observing through a cloud, reduced clarity

Brain motion: feeling of the brain moving inside head

Bruxism/Teeth grinding: occurs during sleep (often associated with tolerance or as a side effect while still on drug)

Burning pain/Sensations: on any part of body, often the shoulders, back, hands and feet

C

Concentration loss: inability to focus attention and/or acquire new information

Confusion: simple tasks are difficult, unable to decipher directions or follow simple instructions

Creaking joints: creaking with movement, ‘cracking’ sound in neck, arms, back, hips

Crawling sensation on skin: distorted perception – feeling as if insects are crawling all over (usually during acute withdrawal)

Crying spells: feeling weepy at times without being able to identify a specific trigger, inability to stop crying

D

Depersonalisation: altered perception, dissociated feelings, detached from self, feeling like alien in own body, disconnected

Depressive mood: low, heavy mood, flat affect, unmotivated, feeling of hopelessness

Derealisation: altered perception, dissociated feelings, feeling of being distant, cut off, being in a dream-like state, surreal

Dizziness/Balance problems: unsteady on feet, feeling as if drunk, room ‘spinning’ even when sitting or lying

Dreams: vivid, recurring, themed, nightmares with disturbing images

Dry mouth: mouth dry and feeling as if no saliva

E

Electric shock sensations/Zaps: feeling as if shocked, shocks running through body (any part including ears)

Emotional blunting or anaesthesia: inability to feel emotions whether positive or negative, not connected to authentic feelings

Exhaustion: extreme weakness, feeling totally without energy as if just completed a marathon, ‘bone tired’

Extreme thirst: insatiable urge to keep drinking

Eyes: sore, dry, red, tired, blurred vision, double vision, floaters, glazed, glassy appearance

F

Face pain: face hurts all the time

Facial numbness: face numb/tingling, forehead numb, no feeling in one side of face, no feeling in both sides of face

False sensations of moving (perception distortion): feel as if body is moving or chair or bed

Fatigue/Lethargy: extreme tiredness, listlessness, lacking in energy

Fear (organic)/Impending doom: fear surpassing natural anxiety/concerns re withdrawal, not identifiable with a thought or feeling, feels inauthentic but overwhelming, scared that something ‘terrible’ is about to happen, intense fear of dying

Fits: epileptic like movements (rare, can be caused by cold turkeying)

Flu-like symptoms: feel as if getting flu with aches, joint/muscle pain, feverish, stuffy nose

G

Gastrointestinal disturbances/Stomach problems: Vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, reflux, oesophageal spasms, feeling of choking, distension, stomach cramps

Glassy eyes: eyes look like those of a street drug addict’s, glazed and shiny

H

Hair: change in texture, hair loss, breakage

Hallucinations: hypnagogic hallucinations or brief events when falling asleep, usually visual, tactile, sensual or auditory

Headaches/Tight band around head: feeling as if an imaginary band around head is constantly being tightened, throbbing pain in head, migraine-like headaches, pain in temples

Hearing hypersensitivity/Hyperacusis: exaggerated sound, cutlery, crockery, environmental sounds ‘nerve-shatteringly loud’, people sound as if they are shouting

Heart: palpitations, irregular beats, thumping, beating loudly, feels as if jumping out of chest cavity

Heaviness: part of the body, especially limbs, feel extremely heavy, body feels like ‘lead’

Hormonal imbalances: including non-menopausal hot flashes, severe pre-menstrual tension

I

Inner trembling/Shaking/Vibrating (perception distortion):feeling of body trembling or vibrating ‘on the inside’

Insomnia/Sleep disturbances: nights at a time without sleep, few hours sleep per night, waking up throughout the night, unable to go back to sleep

Intrusive memories: unwanted and persistent memory sometimes of traumatic events

Irritability: very low tolerance levels, easily irritated

J

Jelly legs: legs feel weak and rubbery as if about to give way

Joint/Muscle pain: joints hurt, joints feel arthritic and muscles hurt, muscles feel as if performed rigorous exercise

Jumpiness: on edge, startled by sounds or people, extremely nervous

L

Lethargy/Fatigue: extreme tiredness, listlessness, lacking in energy, unable to even sit up

Libido loss: loss of interest in sexual intercourse, inability to become aroused

Light hypersensitivity: everything seems intensely and unbearably bright, feeling the need to wear sun glasses even inside, unable to look at computer screen

M

Memory impairment: short-term memory loss, ‘gaps in memory’ where unable to recall specific events, memory lapses (side effect of drug as well as symptom)

Menstrual irregularity, PMT and dysmenorrhea: cycle changes and becomes irregular, painful periods, intense prementstrual tension

Metallic tastes: mouth has a metallic taste, gustatory distortion

Mood swings: extreme and rapid changes in moods, one minute feeling optimistic then very low, feeling ‘bipolar’, feeling manic then depressed

Moving sensations: false perceptions of body moving

Muscle twitches/Jerks/Spasms: involuntary movements – myoclonic jerks, tics, twitches and spasms in different areas of body including extremities

Muscle/Joint pain: joints feel arthritic and muscles stiff and hurting, muscles feel as if performed rigorous exercise

Muscular rigidity: muscles all over feel extremely stiff, inability to move agilely

N

Nail discolouration and splitting: nails change colour, nails yellow, look jaundiced, nails grey, weak and splitting

Nausea: feeling of wanting to throw up all the time, feeling of being seasick

Nightmares: vivid, unpleasant sometimes terrifying dreams

Numbness/Tingling: like paraesthesia, fingers, hand, face, sometimes entire body

O

Obsessive thoughts: repetitive, unwanted thoughts

Oedema/Water retention: fluid in body tissues, swollen feet, puffiness

Oesophageal problems: oesophageal spasms, reflux

Overbreathing: breathing faster and deeper than necessary, hyperventilating

P

Pain: different parts or all of body stiff and hurting

Palpitations: heart races, beats wildly, thumps, feels like jumping out of chest

Panic attacks: adrenaline rushes, feel as if dying, feeling unable to breathe, feel as if choking

Paranoid thoughts: unfounded, suspicious thoughts, feel threatened, feel persecuted

Perception Distortion: Speech is distorted, unable to follow a conversation, time delay or inability to reconcile words being uttered with movement of mouth

False sensations of moving e.g. feeling as though falling through bed, chair or as if part of body is moving away

Visual (seeing ‘things’) e.g. flashing lights, inanimate objects appear to be moving, people appear flat, one-dimensional and paper-like, buildings leaning, undulating floors (wavelike movement)

Gustatory distortion, metallic taste in mouth

Tactile distortion, feeling of insects crawling on skin

Profuse sweating/Perspiring: rivulets of perspiration, bathed in perspiration but not feeling hot, sweating all the time even in air-conditioning, often during acute withdrawal

R

Rage/Anger: feeling violent, surge of anger, argumentative ‘out of the blue’, feeling urge to ‘lash out’

Reading/Comprehension problems: inability to read, focus or understand even simple instruction

Repetitive/Obsessive thoughts: thoughts persist and interrupt cognition, can’t stop unwanted thoughts going over and over in mind; thoughts can also be of an uncharacteristic nature

Restless legs: sensation in legs, overwhelming urge to move legs when lying down, leg jerks while sleeping

S

Sexual dysfunction: loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, loss of interest in sexual intercourse

Shaking/Tremors: uncontrollable shaking and tremors, hands shake, part of body or whole body trembles

Skin problems: rashes, acne, itching, burning, stripping and other problems on different areas of skin

Sleep disturbance/Insomnia: nights at a time without sleep, few hours sleep per night, waking up throughout the night, unable to go back to sleep

Soft tissue pain: thighs and other fleshy areas of body hurt

Stomach problems/Gastrointestinal problems: vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, reflux, oesophageal spasms, feeling of choking, distension, stomach cramps

Sweats/Chills: one minute perspiring profusely then freezing/shaking, hot flashes as if menopausal then shaking, hot then chills as if one has ague

Sweating: profuse sweating regardless of temperature, body washed in perspiration, clothes wet

T

Temperature: fluctuations in body temperature

Throat: sore, tight, choking sensation, spasming

Thoughts: repetitive, unwanted, obsessive, suicidal

Tinnitus: constant or intermittent ringing in the ears, high-pitched noise in ears

Tiredness: exhausted, void of energy

Tooth/Gum/Mouth pain: nerves in teeth hurt, gum hurts, all teeth in mouth hurt

Touch hypersensitivity: extreme sensitivity to touch

Tremors/Shaking: uncontrollable shaking and tremors, hands shake, part of body or whole body trembles

Twitching/Tics: muscles in different areas of body twitch, involuntary movements, vocal tics

U

Uncontrollable crying: unable to stop crying (for no apparent reason)

Urinary problems: frequency, urinary tract infections, partial or complete incontinence, bladder hypersensitivity, dysuria

V

Vision blurred or double: everything appears blurred, problems reading, seeing ‘double’

Visual perception distortion: seeing ‘things’, inanimate objects appear to be moving, people and objects appear flat, one-dimensional and paper-like

W

Water retention/Oedema: fluid in body tissues, swollen feet, puffiness

Weakness: feel drained of energy, almost unable to move or even sit up

Weepiness: spontaneous crying spells without being able to identify a specific trigger, uncontrollable crying

Weight issues: unexplained fluctuations in weight, inability to gain weight, inability to lose weight, benzo belly

Z

Zaps: electric shock sensations, feeling as if shocked, shocks running through body (any part including ears)

 

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