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Recently got a script from my doctor. He said daily use was okay, but he also knows I use it sparingly. In the past I've had this med for GAD and panic attacks, and used it with no problems but I only used sparingly. One script lasting 3 years.


Now things are different and I struggle to make it through each day and have terrible insomnia. I wake up at 2AM and the intrusive thoughts and worry take over. I HATE that I need meds to cope with this, but feeling like I'm losing it on a daily basis can't be good for me either.


I guess I fear physical dependency, which is bound to happen with daily use. I know my doctor would help me taper when the time comes, but it just sucks that I have been reduced to needing this. But I won't lie. It definitely helps to take the edge off. Not in a recreational high type of way, but in a "I can finally breathe" kind of way.


Any experience out there with this type of thing?

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It’s important to do what you need to do to stay healthy. I am not surprised that your already existing GAD has exacerbated, esp. if your circumstances have changed. Think of it like having any physical ailment; you would get it treated and not feel less than. Mental health issues are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw; this is chemical. Just work with your doctor and don’t self medicate in other ways. Therapy may be a great outlet, as is coming to a website like this with other people who need an outlet.
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Thanks. I am going to work with my doctor. I have an another appointment to see him a few days after my mom's neurology appointment. Not for meds but to discuss how I'm doing and how she's doing. I feel lucky that I have a psychiatrist who also does talking sessions and treats dementia patients. He's been helpful in my current situation.

Exercise helps. I'm about to head out for a walk in the fog. I was going to ditch it because of the fog, then I thought nope, I need this.

Thanks for your response. This website is a great place to get info and vent.
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Sorry you're struggling with all the emotions and stresses with caring for your mom! I can understand your concerns about taking Xanax. You may want to consider talking to your doctor about trying one of several antidepressants with anti-anxiety effects. I'm thinking of Lexapro, but there are others. One drawback is they tend to take awhile to become fully effective, sometimes a month or so.

Just a thought.
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My luck with anti-depressants has not been good. I had terrible side effects that made me stop. Interesting you mention Lexapro though. I went through menopause at 47 and had lots of anxiety then, so I tried various anti-depressants and it was the most tolerable. I stayed on it for 18 months, and it helped with the anxiety. That was all I took.

However, getting off it was NOT easy, at all. I worked with my doctor and tapered the dose, but I had terrible withdrawal. There were weird brain zaps for months. It took me at least 5-6 months to feel 100% normal. I did not expect this as I thought SSRI's weren't "addictive".

I'm not trying to scare you, a simple google search will show you this is a very real thing and very common. Had I known that I would have opted to go on and wean off Xanax instead. I would have had less side effects and ultimately have to face an uncomfortable weaning no matter what.

I have to do something. I have no idea how long this care with my mom will last, but I need to function better while doing it. For myself, for her, for my husband and family.

For now I am using it sparingly. But down the road.... who knows. :(
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I totally get your fear of addiction. From what I know it is a short term drug and you are using it correctly by using it sparingly.

I personally know of someone with a Xanax addiction, she took it after a terrible accident, had to go on disability, had a very successful career and suffered horrible anxiety. She did not use it sparingly. She abused it. Anyway, she is still addicted and it’s not pretty. Let’s just say, I will never get in a car with her ever again. She refuses to do rehab. So sad.

Anxiety is hell. I hope you find peace.
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lablover64 Feb 2019
You are spot on with your description of a Xanax addict. My mother was on it for 15 years. A doctor put her on it when my stepfather passed to help her deal with her anxiety and depression. She quickly became addicted and cajoled her doctors into keeping her on it despite warnings from my sister and me that she shouldn't keep taking it. One doctor thought it contributed to her dementia and told her to stop taking it. Unfortunately, she thought he meant to stop it cold turkey. She did that when she was living with me. I never saw anyone go through withdrawal before and I hope I never do again. She had horrible hallucinations of worms and bugs crawling on her, hearing voices and music, having visitors that weren't there, etc. She has been off of it for a few years now and takes Seroquel for the anxiety.
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If the care of Mom is causing you to medicate more than usual, maybe its time to fins alternatives for Mom. I realize that money could be a problem. Does she have enough to place her in an AL for two years? In my state, you can apply for Medicaid if you have paid 2 yrs or more. Then there is LTC under Medicaid. Her house won't count as an asset. Any assets she has will need to be spent down. If her SS and pension are under the Medicaid cap, she should have no problem being placed. If SS and pension are higher, there are ways around that like a Miller trust or something similar.

Is caring for Mom worth your health? I have never dealt with a narcissist but many on this forum are. Seems you will never win with Mom. As other people have posted, they have learned to set boundries or just walked away. Believe me, you are not the only person dealing with this.
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Marylin Feb 2019
JoAnn, please tell me more about your research on placing a parent on Medicaid. I live in TN and wondering where I can research all the info needed. My mom has been in AL for 2 years and has enough money to stay another 2 years. I'm panic-stricken when I think of what we do next! You seem to have the knowledge I need. Please share
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https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

Why do people reach out to these chemical compositions when study after study shows meditation is good for some of these issues. There are several studies out there but here is one from Harvard.
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Kittybee Feb 2019
There are times when one's anxiety, panic, depression, etc are severe enough that meditation would be like trying to fight off an angry lion with a fly swatter. When we're talking anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation, paralyzing depression, and so on, meds can save you. Then once you get functional again, start the meditation, exercise, diet, and other more holistic approaches to continue to support your stability.

It's not either or. Meds are not evil. They save a lot of people's lives and sanity. I agree with another poster, without SSRIs I would be long gone from this world. Meditating would not have helped such a severe situation.

I also want to say that there's no shame in taking meds when you need them. It's not like meds are evil and meditation is goodness personified. It's not helpful to add value judgments to these things. We all have to find what works for us. Sometimes that takes a while and a lot of experimentation, but eventually the hope is that a combination of things allows you to live without wanting to die or explode.

No shame, all of us who use meds! We all do what we have to to feel okay!
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I get your worry about taking meds, they are a double edged sword. To reduce
your fears about dependency try and get yourself as healthy as possible. Clean
diet (I found mostly paleo works for me, but there are many similar good ones)
exercise, social outlets even if only online, meditation. Once these
are all on board weaning yourself off should not be so difficult.

As for your symptoms dealing with narcissistic mom. Totally get it, I've been dealing with same as well as many physical issues as well. Not to freak you out
but just an fyi, many years of medication for endless bouts of bronchitis, PTSD,
etc have taken a huge toll on my body. So sooner you can get medication free
the better imho
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I also have GAD, which is really PTSD but, hey, anxiety is anxiety. (My root cause was childhood molestation by an older brother, and zero help or support when this came out. I was NOT alone, and so many of us have lifetime scars)

When I finally "accepted" that I was NOT Ok, about 20+ years ago, the first thing they gave me in the hospital was Xanax. OMG! Within 1/2 hour I went from panic and suicidal ideation to simply being me.

I had carried this anxiety for so many years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am on an antidepressant, which I will taper off of this Spring and I take Klonipin (Another benzo, but in my experience, much "gentler" and longer acting. It has literally saved my life.)

I am addicted, sadly, and while I am not proud of it, I also know that my "addiction" is a low dose one and I will probably be on this until I die. My psych doc really wants me to be on half the dose I am, but the inabilty to sleep some nights, along with the general personality "disorder" that I have--I get so anxious worrying about cutting pills into halves, quarters---it honestly is so anxiety producing....

My DH is really the reason I take them. He is hard to live with, a good man, but completely wrapped in his own life. Critical of me to the nth degree--and clueless that he hurts my feelings--I find I medicate much more when he is in town as opposed to traveling.

I cannot be judgmental about anyone's need to medicate to function. W/O my benzos, I KNOW I would have long since taken my own life. I know I am not alone in this.

It almost doesn't MATTER what the reason is for the need for help. I long since swallowed my pride and try to do better as time passes, and I do hope someday to be anxiety free.

And if I am not, that's OK.

You do what you need to do to be well.
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shelola Feb 2019
I don't think it's swallowing your pride, I think it's self care. We all have to make choices that are dependent on our circumstances at the moment. Some of the choices are just to choose the least awful, but I still see it as self care. I'm trying to make the choices that get me through the day with both feet on the ground and that feels ok right now.
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I understand too your concern about dependency, I take a mild "benzo" as needed for GAD and really need it since I started caregiving for my mom. I'm lucky in that there's a daytime caregiver so I can go to work and be away, and I find that that helps a lot. But as the others have said you must tune in to how this is affecting you because like me, if it's suddenly driving you to more needed medication, it's time to say, unselfishly, "what about me."

That whole pouring from an empty cup sentiment has never been more true.
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lindasmom Feb 2019
Several have mentioned GAD - what is that?
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I was given Ativan, and only use it once in awhile, but boy does it help! So if you are on something that helps be glad you found it. You can come off it when the situation changes. And I love to walk in the fog,, makes things seem gentler somehow. Whatever works. and good luck!
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I have to to shut my mind down at night. My mom has been gone for three years but my husband went into a facility due to dementia right after my mom passed. I have started to replace it with CBD gummies, less side effects and they seem to work as well. Take care it is a very hard balancing act.
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KBEllison Feb 2019
CBD ... I live in Massachusetts and we have a medical Marijuana (MJ) program. I am registered with the program, and so I can legally purchase CBD oil (the real thing, not the weak hemp version). Not only does it take care of my chronic back pain, but it has a definite calming effect, all without intoxication. Each year more States are sympathizing with MJ (they salavate at the tax income potential, is more like it) and so getting on your State's medical MJ program can let you access more holistic relief, rather than taking Western meds with increased tolerance/dependency issues. The stuff works.
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There are other meds besides benzodiazepines. Maybe ask your doctor about those? And there could be other options also. Not as immediate relief but meditation, walking, mindfulness,  journaling. So many other coping skills. And I get that may sound kinda hokey and sometimes a short walk is like climbing Mount Everest when you're a caregiver. I found myself doing that at while back. Taking meds to deal with a lifestyle of career, caring for my Mom, etc. Sometimes you can find a way to 'breathe' as you say, without sacrificing yourself or your Mom's care.
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I am dealing with a dementia elderly mother who now has terminal cancer and who I have been taking care of for several years. I’m afraid to take Xanax because it’s very addictive and you can get seizures when you try to stop it. I have a daughter who has had drug problems and she was on Xanax and she had to slowly lower the dose. Get a doctor to help you get on something else that isn’t addictive. I have a nerve disorder and my doctor prescribed gabapentin for it and that calms me down. Praying the rosary every day calms me while I’m doing it. I wish we were friends because I have no one I know who is going thru this. Plus I have heart flutters which I’m terrified of that I’m going to have a stroke any time now. And I have been diagnosed with GAD also. I think I’m going to put my mom into a nursing home any day now because it’s killing me taking care of her.
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Kittybee Feb 2019
I find gabapentin helpful too. Low dose, nonaddictive, helps me sleep through the night but no grogginess. It's an old, well known drug, inexpensive as generic.
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I have GAD & PTSD as well. I was taking Xanax for a 1 1/2 yrs, however, I have replaced it with CBD and I feel much better not taking Xanax.

I want to start with that I think meds are good for people who need it. Sometimes life throws us just one to many curve balls and those of us with anxiety disorders needs meds to get through it. But please stay away from Xanax and klonipin they are highly addictive more than other drugs in the Benzo family. Taking Xanax on a daily bases can cause memory loss, motor skills problems, muscle loss, cognitive decline, make the anxiety worst, dependence for sleep, and etc. The small dose of Xanax is 2mg and all I took was .50mg to 1mg and can I say that the withdrawals were h3ll! There are better Benzo to take. I am not trying to scare you, but if I feel you might be going down the rabbit hole I feel the need to warn you. I understand that you were taking it here and there, but now you are taking it daily is a whole nother story. This is why I switch to CBD because there are no side effects, in fact, with all the different meds I have been on over 10 yrs I never felt like myself, but now I am getting me back.

People can say you can taper off with Xanax and klonipin but it is not that easy!

If you need medication find something else. There are better Benzo out there.

Sorry that you have found yourself in this mess. My mother is a NPD so I get it. I promise you that once you come up with a care plan for your mom it will get easier even as she gets worse, reason being is because anxiety is based on fear of the unknown. But once you have a plan-the unknown because a clear picture with an action plan!

Stay strong and do what is right for you. I think Joanne has the right idea, "if mom is making you medcate more it is time to find mom a new place to live." We are here for you.

Good luck!
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VeggieG Feb 2019
What brand of CBD oil do you use and where do you get it? There are so many types!
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Hey, oh boy have I been there! Alprazolam is very addictive and withdrawals could last for a long time. My advice and this worked for me, ask your Dr. to write you a script for Clonazepam, those two are benzos but act very differently ,this one wont give you such unpleasant withdrawal, most importantly love and believe in yourself! Good luck, you can do it!
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Midkid58 Feb 2019
Just an FYI--Clonzepam and Klonipin are the same drug.

I have found that the lowest prescribed dose is ALWAYS effective, for me. Xanax is too "harsh" but, to each his/her own.

I am also giving CBD oil a try, on the fence about it.
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I was given a prescription of Xanax during an after hard chemos for cancer. It not only helped the uncontrolled nausea and vomiting... it was a blessing for sleep. I never abused it, as it was only a 5 mg dosage. Although the dr was fine with giving me continued prescription, I weaned myself off over a few weeks, by breaking the tablet in smaller pieces.
I think the biggest Godsend was being able to sleep.
I understand the trepidation around some such meds, but you, exhausted, are not abusing the medication.
when life’s circumstances change, and the stress is not so rampant, you can wean yourself off this.
God bless you, and I pray your anxiety lessens and you rest well.
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Me. The only thing that turns off my mind at night. One medium dose tablet at night about one hour before bed.
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Something I have to say over and over and over and over to myself. Close your eyes and say - IT IS THE DISEASE. I also know that I have to attend group sessions in person. It is part of self care. This is the most difficult time of your life. No one ever prepared you for going through this. There is no book on this. I also know that I can see how people can drink alcohol or take drugs as they walk through this with their parent(s). I think what we go through is PTSD. Many of us are on antidepressants, are on other medications that we normally wouldn't be on. I think we just have to use caution. Personally, Ativan and Klonopin are two that I have during this journey kept and used on days when things were soooo stressful and I needed to sleep or calm down. I feel Xanax is a harsh drug. If I needed to sleep through the night- I would go for low low dose Ambien if I was looking for a prescription . It worked for me. Used it for one year. Didn't have to use it again. Presently I use Ativan when I need it. What concerns me is that insurance companies are cranking down on restrictions and I have seen on television where they have denied individuals coverage on their prescriptions then the people have to pay out of pocket. Try CBD with melatonin added capsules. It works sooo good!
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I appreciate all the responses. I'm also glad that a couple people mentioned Gabapentin. I wasn't familiar with that drug so I looked it up and it seems like it would be a safer alternative to Xanax. I see my doctor on April 2 so I am going to ask about trying Gabapentin.
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Careful. Gabapentin can have terrible side affects. I understand it can help w/depression, but I understand that it’s really for physical pain and iflammation. (My wife is on a low dose of Gabapentin, due to R.A. and fibromyalgia.
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I used Xanax for three years, taking 0.5 mg at bedtime to help me relax enough to sleep. I was waking in terror several times every night, fearing my parent would live so long I’d die first, the stress was almost overwhelming. No it’s over and I don’t need it.
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Agh! I know the feeling.
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My doctor prescribed Celexa. Later, when I asked if she had any better drugs (she is familiar with my situation), she explained that my anxiety, depression, etc. are situational, not chemical. Most anti-depressants like Xanax are intended to correct a chemical imbalance. She thinks Celexa is the best choice for me. I suggest you talk to you doctor about the best medication for your situation.
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Not Xanax, but another AD. Began not long after we were economically forced to move the mother-in-law in with us. She was aggressive (even hit me, sprayed Lysol in my face — would barge in our home office and scream at us, slam doors - terrible judgment, reckless behavior that could damage our condo - serious hating on me, the daughter-in-law, and pretty awful to her only child.)

My wife, too, is ill w/rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Any attempts to help the MiL were aggressively shot down. This was not sustainable. No money, no family — small and scattered that it is — will take her in. Wife said she gets back on her Zoloft or she must move out. Never seen my patient, loving wife so angry.

All resources we reached out to said we had to “bring her” (what, tie her to the roof of the car? Because she wasn’t getting IN the car with us) to a hospital psych ward — or wait ‘til something awful happened and call police (important: let them know you’ve got a mentally ill person that needs help).

AD has helped us cope — the right med is a relief — doesn’t take the problem away, but helps you make space for yourself, take care of yourself. Also helped us find our humor, again — so essential to well-being. Not to be unkind, but the wording of your Q made me laugh. Yes, we and 2 of our 3 kitties are on AD. And now, thankfully, so is the MiL.

Please seek help yourself. Try to find community, whatever form that may take (as in this forum), and with the help of AD, you’ll understand that somehow, someday, someway, this, too, shall pass. Meanwhile, you’ve got a life to live, in spite of your narciccistic mother. I hope someone can help you get — and keep (that’s the trick) her on the right meds. We’re not happy that the MiL is living with us, but now that she’s back on her Zoloft, things are better.

Better living through chemistry, indeed.
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Dear Piper, yes I am there with you. I use Xanax maybe once a week, and more often before care meetings or when my mom is not doing well.
This is a difficult time and you are doing the best you can to handle the caregiver stress on top of having a life. Please be kind to yourself and know and believe you are doing your best.
Perhaps seeing your pastor, a grief counselor or therapist would offer some comfort, as i have come to learn that accepting the ugliness of the situation gave me a certain peace. If none of those are available, perhaps confiding in a trusted friend would be helpful.
Is there an Alzheimer’s support group in your area? If so, attend. I also go at least weekly to a yoga class for stretching and the meditation, which I call upon those frequent nights insomnia takes over. (A cup of warm decaf tea, and a good book read with very low lighting to tire the eyes works wonders, too.)
You didn’t mention if you are caregiving in the home, or if Mom is in a care facility. If home, finding a respite caregiver to come so you can get out might prove helpful. If in a facility, which is my situation, don’t go every day. Take a break by sending someone else or just trusting the caregivers there.)
You ARE doing the best you can. God bless.
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Xanax is very addictive.  There are other meds that are not as addictive, like Busbar (not sure of the spelling).  If you are worried about becoming dependent, ask the doctor for an anti-anxiety drug that is not prone to being abused.  I totally understand the waking up during the night and being terrified about all sorts of worried.  Busbar helps one of my loved ones with this.  One thing that is very important is to avoid focusing on the fact that you have been reduced to taking something to help.  It is not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it at this time.  It is the responsible thing to look for something to help you deal with this overwhelming responsibility.  You have to take care of yourself and thank God there are meds that can help with that these days and not be addictive or prone to abuse.  Talk to your doctor about that if you are afraid that you cold possibly become dependent on Xanax.
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Yes my mom has taken it for years and can not get off of them. I read an article that once you become addicted coming off the xanax addiction was the same as coming off a Heroin addiction. I have taken it as you have Sparingly. I take sometimes half of one. There are other natural thing you can take for nerves and anxiety such as: a strong Linden tea, Passion Flower drops, you can buy at amazon Calm by Highlands you can also use Boch products. All theese you can find at a health food store or through Amazon. I have tried all these and they work. You have to build yourself a daily an hourly regimen until they are in your system with whatever you choose. I hope this helps. I would try Calm first it gives you a well bieng effect
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My doctor has put me on a very old anti-anxiety drug a couple of times. It is called Buspar, or Buspirone. This worked miracles for my anxiety, and when I felt I no longer needed it, he weened me off of it. I took 2 halves per day, mornings and evenings. For some people this may work better than some of the newer meds. The only side effect I had was to watch my depth perception while driving and stopping with the car in front of me. Luckily no problems occurred. This got better as I adjusted to this medication. This medication may be an alternative for some people.
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Unfortunately I take Ambien, Xanax on occasion help sleep and reduce my anxiety. I'm 56 years old and also tried smoking pot lol (Didn't like it though lol) I'm always looking for something else that will help with my feelings of taking care of my Dad, who has LBD and Parkinsons. I finally said to myself enough is enough of the self medication and I started to take better care of myself. I went to see a nutritionist and we changed my diet and it has helped. I occasionally still take the Ambien but I do the best I can.
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Absolutely! Only it does put me to sleep so doesn’t help when I’m with her.
That narcissism is hell isn’t it?
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Yes but once doctor agreed to give my mom a Xanax a day things got a bit better. She also is on Wellbutrin and Celexa.
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I’ve read through all the posts but didn’t see any mention of the connection of taking a benzodiazepine with dementia. For that reason alone, I would not want to take it on a daily basis. Having said that I had PTSD from a car accident and took Klonipin (clonazepam) for around a year along with Lexapro. It was a tremendous help. My psychiatrist weaned me off both with no ill effects. I still have a Rx for Klonipin which I will take one when I know I can’t sleep due to anxiety over dad. But it’s rare.
My dad has GAD and he was put on Buspar (Busparone) which is not a benzodiazepine and Celexa. Medication is important and works. Tapering off correctly is important.
Talk with your doctor about safer alternatives. Try CBD and meditation. Good for you for exercise too! Talk therapy is helpful. But also letting your mom get her care from LTC May help as well.
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I’ve been on Xanax daily for years. I never abused it & stayed within the prescribed dose. It changed my life for the better. I know I will be on it until I pass & that’s ok with me. My experience doesn’t mean this is the right choice for others. Presently I’m dealing with a husband with mild/moderate dementia & I’m on hospice care for metastatic cancer. I hope you find the right medication for you & do add meditation a few times daily. Sometimes all I can do is 3-5 minutes daily but even that brief a time is helpful. And don’t forget gratitude! Takes no time to say thank you for the sunny day or the email from a friend...things like that can change your outlook quickly. I’ll be thinking about you & wishing you the best!
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Kittybee Feb 2019
((((hugs))))
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