Monday, May 2, 2011

Coming Off Ativan

On Friday, my son had to do more blood work to make sure his current medication wasn’t damaging his body. Because he tends to react violently to needles, we’ve had to use a lot of calming tools to get through the test safely. You can read about how we did it in my previous post, Surviving Blood and Needles.

One of the tools we used is Ativan (Lorazepam), this medication does a fantastic job in relaxing his anxieties, helping us avoid a violent rage. This day in particular, my son really noticed how good he felt, at one point he asked me why he didn’t take this medication everyday. I have to admit, he appeared to be really happy and completely stress free, his blood test went by quickly without any problems.

But hours later, we all paid the price for the Ativan. As it started to wear off, my son became very irritable and explosive. He started pacing the house, like a lion ready to pounce on someone. He had no control on his emotions and was very intense and impulsive, he even complained about feeling too much energy inside. As the day passed, we started to see rapid cycling, he would start to sob for no reason, then a second later look up with tears in his eyes and begin to laugh uncontrollably, before returning to his crying a moment later. No matter how many times I’ve witnessed this behavior, I still find it so bazaar, it just seems so unnatural to have your mood change so quickly and be felt so deeply. I could tell it’s just as startling to him too.

We found that during these mood changes it’s best to keep him away from others. He was ultra sensitive to his brothers and could be easily agitated by their smallest movements or sounds. By the end of the night, he was worn down from it all and cuddled with me as he drifted off to sleep. I couldn’t help but reflect on how tough things are for my little guy and how it seems nothing ever goes easily for him.

Two days later, we’re finally starting to see some stability again, it was a tough journey to here. Unfortunately, our psychiatrist couldn’t give us any insight other than, “It was most likely the Ativan that caused the mood swings,” followed by, “we just don’t know for certain.” I’m beginning to learn that our psychiatrist follows with that, at the end of every call I make.

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So, have any of you seen this kind of reaction when coming off Ativan or any other type of medication in your children?

18 comments:

  1. We had the same experience with Klonopin except it made my son really mad while on it and also as it wore off. It was bad all the way around.

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  2. Oh my gosh! We gave my daughter Ativan this weekend as a "dry run" for upcoming blood work. I noticed the same reactions. Very unstable for several hours. Pacing, irritable, crying, yelling, you name it, we saw it. I have noticed this before as well when she was given Ativan at the phospital before blood work. It was the only time she raged while at the hospital. I had wondered if there was a connection and now I know that we are not alone in this reaction to it.

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  3. Kelly- Did you notice this change in your daughter when she was first on the medication, or only as it was wearing off?

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  4. We have been trying it in different doses to find one that will sedate her enough to do blood work, but not so much as it would cause problems. This weekend we gave her 2mg. which is the highest dose we have given her. I have been timing it to see how long it takes to kick in and then how long it lasts. It takes about an hour for her to feel any effect from it. 2mg. made her a little bit loopy and silly, but still not enough to have blood drawn. Every time she has taken it, as it is wearing off, she gets agitated, irritable, and very emotional. She kept telling me that she doesn't know what is wrong as she is sobbing and hiding under a blanket. It is almost like she is right on the verge of raging.

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  5. My son had a similar reaction when we did a trial with Ritalin a while back. He was great on it, but when he came down, it was really ugly.

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  6. Kelly-Your experience sounds just like ours.

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  7. My 15 year old daughter had the same reaction with all of the benzo's- she tried 3- mild sedation but then hated coming off it- agitated and paranoid.

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  8. I was SO thankful to see your responses. My 8 yr old son was just diagnosed with Anxiety, ADHD, and a mild form of Autism. His doctor wants him to have blood work but knows he won't handle that very well. So, she perscribed Ativan. I too wanted to see if it would work. Last night I gave him 0.5mg and he FLIPPED OUT. Crying, laughing, hallucinating, terrified of what was wrong with him. He kept saying, "Why do I feel this way? What is wrong with me? When is this going to stop." He finally fell asleep at 4:45am.I tried several times but I couldn't get a hold of his doctor. I think even my son would just rather deal with the anxiety of the blood work than have to take Ativan again.

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  9. Wow Kelly, I’m sorry to hear about your son. I’m glad you tested it out prior. Do you think you could get the blood work using the ELMA cream, and distractions like headphones with rewards for after the shot?

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  10. Be careful when using ativan. Do not take doses more than 1 or 2 mg. It is easy to get carried away and addicted to Ativan. I find that it is a very effective treatment for anxiety when the RECOMMENDED DOSES are used though though.

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  11. Thanks for the warning Steve, I know that’s a concern and I would want everyone to be aware of that. Thankfully we only used 1 pill for the blood work only which happened only a handful of times, it wasn't a regular form of treatment. Thankfully with the last blood test we were able to stop using the Ativan all together. After seeing how good the medication made my son, I can see how this stuff could make you addicted. Very scary!

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  12. I have over the past few years been suffering with a lot of differant things in my life that has and is still causing me anxiety. one day i was in the middle of a panic attack went to my doctors he put me right on .5 mgs of ativan 3 x’s a day it was helping then my mom passted away they up my meds to 1 mg. 3 x’s a day it was working but like every drug my body got use to it. so i express to my doctor what is the next step low a behold he up’s my ativan to 1.5 mg 3 x’s a day ok ok working now other stress pops up… marriage falling apart (not that it was ever solid) but hubby going crazy started hitting me life sucked at home go back to my doctors he says i’m in a deep depression up’s my to 2mg. 3 x’s a day i started drinking (fyi that’s not a good combo) i was so depressed i didn’t want to get out of bed was drinking everyday my kids suffering my family didn’t have the go to person anymore work was suffering (almost lost my company) …..depression got worse or so i thought (i’m not the doctor) what do they do up me to my now dose 2mg. 4x’s a day…. i was tired of depending on pills so when my pills ran out it was a friday i could of call my doctor to get a refill he never turned me down before!! but said to myself lisa it is time….day 1 ok little anxiety but i breathed in and out calmed down after a good 15 minutes sleepless night got up went to work next night anxiety set in again got me through it (again drinking through all this) sleepless night again day 3 i got the shakes chest pains tinggles can hear my heartbeat in my ear go to the er they treated me like i was a junkie until the doctor came in the room and i told him my story he’s first words to me were didnt the doctor ever tell u how bad these drugs are for you and cold turkeying them can kill you I said no what do you mean he said ativan is the one drug there is no help to get off of …..so i have to pick between going to a rehab with dope users or weine off 8mg.s a day i think i’ll do that i have stopped the drinking (yeah me) now i am going to weine myself off this monster of a pill because the withdraw is worse then ur first systems were to begin with….

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  13. LIsa- I’m sorry to hear about your experience with Ativan, in my son alone I can see how powerful these drugs are, I can imagine that after long term use they are painful to get off of. I’m glad you found a doctor to guide you and help you get off them correctly, I hope that soon you’ll feel better and be able to avoid this medication in the future.

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  14. thank you i hope i can get off them soon i cant deal with being depended on them......

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  15. Hi Lisa, I can relate to everything you have said so much! How are you doing now? I take 2mg/day to prevent mood cycling/agitation and want to taper off of it, but know from past experience that you can't stop abruptly. Did you end up tapering on your own or are things the same? Take Care

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  16. Has anyone had any experience with Zoloft of depakote?

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    Replies
    1. My son tried Depakote, but had an allergic reaction so he had to quit it after only one dose. I know others that have had a good experience with it.

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    2. But please give him the required dose as suggested by your registered physician. An overdose of Ativan can cause serious side effects as this powerful medication is used to treat anxiety disorders and depression.

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