Since I just became a board member ten minutes ago and this is my first post, perhaps I should be posting in a new members forum somewhere, but I really just have this one lorazepam question. So here I am.
Background: I am manic depressive. My official diagnosis is rapid cycling bipolar disorder, severe, with predominant depression. I received a diagnosis of depression and prodromal bipolar at 16, but did not start taking medicine until my first full blown psychotic episode and hospitalization in 1998, at age 20. Like many of you, I have tried a lot of meds. I have tried about four mood stabilizers, six antipsychotics, and lots of anti-depressants. Most didn't work or made things worse. Anti-depressants in particular have been disasters, which is a shame, but unsurprising.
I am taking lamictal (150 mg), seroquel (quarter to half a 25 mg tablet), and lorazepam (2 mg.) I have been taking these same meds for almost four years now and in these amounts for about one year (I had previously been taking more lamictal and lots more seroquel.) We have tried adding in other things during that time, but at this point there isn't a whole lot I haven't tried, and nothing else has seemed to help. I like being on these low doses and although I still am a very depressed and anxious person, I am relatively stable and feel a lot better than I did on higher doses (which made me less crazy, but also more depressed.) It is a good compromise for me.
My problem is that I just don't like being on lorazepam. Or rather, I like being on it, but I worry about taking it. I take it at night with the seroquel for sleep. Four years back, after my last hospitalization, I was taking a lot more seroquel and still could not sleep, so my (much missed) old psychiatrist added in the lorazepam. He started me at one and then quickly increased me to two. That helped soooooo much and still does. I worried about taking so much--before that same psychiatrist had only given me .25 mg lorazepam tablets, PRN, even when I was waaaaaay crazy back in 2003. And it was supposed to be temporary. But it worked so well, he kept me on it. He actually increased the script to 3mg, because he wanted me to take one in the morning for my anxiety, but I never took it and my script eventually went back to two. When I met my new psychiatrist in January 2009, I told him that I wanted to eventually wean off the lorazepam, but he didn't seem to think this was a good idea. Even the naturopath I saw, who takes a very critical view of lorazepam, said when I asked about quitting, "well, you need sleep. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do."
I take it about two hours before I go to bed. It is nice to have that down time where I do not feel tight and anxious like I do the rest of the time. And I have a bipolar uncle who has taken the same amount of lorazepam forever and ever without trouble (although I have a schizophrenic aunt who had a bad experience with it.) I don't really like the slightly stoned feeling I get--I have never liked being drunk--but it is a relief to have a "break from my head", as my uncle said, and to sleep soundly.
My worry is that the medicine is making me, I don't know, dumber and maybe flatter, even during the day. Most meds do that, but lorazepam more so. My parents aren't too keen on it, either. They are very pro-medicine--my dad is an MD and my mom wanted to be a psychiatric research doctor before she married--they just don't like lorazepam. And I still have a lot of anxiety during the day and I wonder if the lorazepam, being short acting, is having a rebound effect. For some reason no one has ever suggested switching me to a less "temporary" and longer acting benzo, probably because I never wanted to be on a benzo to begin with. Also, although I am very diligent about and happy with my birth control, I worry about getting pregnant on a category D med. And I saw some Dr. Amen video in day treatment years ago where he showed these pictures of what lorazepam does to the brain and it did not look good. That freaked me out.
I don't think that I am addicted, except in the way I am "addicted" to any medicine that works, because I have stayed at the same dose so long. But I also know that getting off benzos is a nightmare.
Does anyone have any ideas? Has anyone had rebound anxiety from taking a short acting benzo once a day? Has anyone gone off a benzo and felt better for it in the end? Or did you just go back on it? Has anyone had any luck with GABA supplements? I know that the science on GABA supplements is not good, but I have heard of a few people who liked them. Or yoga? It is supposed to help raise GABA levels, although there agin, I don't know how much. Even if I could do something that would help raise those GABA levels a little, and then lower the lorazepam dose a bit, I would be happier.
Thank you for reading my very long post! I have loved this site for years, just never really looked at the boards before now.
Edited by brush rabbit, 25 July 2010 - 04:04 PM.