Author Topic: Question about memory and confusion during the taper  (Read 161 times)

[Buddie]

Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« on: November 11, 2019, 12:12:18 am »
Hi everyone,

I originally posted this to the Introductions section as I am new to this site, but am cross-posting it here as I am not sure how many people look at that section and I would really appreciate some feedback.  Before launching into my long story, I guess I would say my biggest question is has anyone experienced new memory and confusion issues happening during the taper that were not happening before?  Thanks for reading.

So, let's see .. I originally was prescribed 1 mg of lorazepam 2 times per day (in the morning and at bedtime) almost ten years ago. At the time I was going through some rough things, and the lorazepam helped a lot.  A couple of years later, my doctor (the same doctor) also added clonazepam for some other symptoms I was having.  So, for a few years I was taking both benzos, morning and night.  Around three years ago I successfully, and slowly, tapered off the clonazepam.  It was rough going, with lots of sleep disturbances, and rebound anxiety, but I got through it.  Then I began the taper off the lorazepam.  I got it down to 1 mg once a day, at bedtime, and then stayed there for quite a while as some hard things happened in my life and I just needed to stop the taper at that time. 

About a year ago I started to taper again, and by around April of this year I had tapered down to .5 mg at bedtime.  That's when some of the newer symptoms started.  In addition to insomnia and huge amounts of anxiety, I started having a lot of facial twitching, muscle stiffness, dizziness and balance problems.  I actually saw a neurologist to rule out some new illness, and had an MRI and bloodwork done.  He ruled out anything serious, and once I felt acclimated to the .5 (and the twitching stopped), which was in September of this year (about 1.5 months ago), I started to taper down to .375 mg by cutting the pills into halves and quarters.  I did it gradually using a formula I found on the internet which seemed to make sense to me: basically weeks one and two, taking the new dose two nonconsecutive days, weeks 3 and 4, taking it almost every day, and then after that taking the new dose full time. 

Around week three is where I started having new and worrisome problems, in addition to the old ones with sleep and anxiety.  Basically these have to do with mental confusion and memory issues.  I seem to find it harder to remember things I would normally do by habit, like reaching to the right side of the bathroom sink for the hand soap, or turning off the lights when I leave a room.  I also called someone by the wrong name, said a word wrong and momentarily forgot what day of the week it was (I caught myself quickly).  I seem to be struggling more to find a word, and I seem to be forgetting things that happened, too, like forgetting that I said something to somebody. It has gotten worse in the last week or so.  This feels like dementia, and it's really scary.  I'm middle aged, not old, not that a person can't get an early onset dementia, but I think it would be unusual.  So at the moment I have stopped at .375 mg at bedtime. 

The reason I wanted to get off the benzos is that I started reading about the cognitive problems they can cause if taken for a long time (I wish I had read about those when I started taking them, but unfortunately I didn't).  So, one of the things I wanted to ask here on this forum is whether anyone else has had these kinds of issues.  I am trying to stay calm and stay the course, but getting so worried about what is happening to me.  It doesn't help that my anxiety is sky high because of the taper too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this very long introduction, and thank you in advance for any insight or thoughts.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 12:42:51 am »
Hi everyone,

I originally posted this to the Introductions section as I am new to this site, but am cross-posting it here as I am not sure how many people look at that section and I would really appreciate some feedback.  Before launching into my long story, I guess I would say my biggest question is has anyone experienced new memory and confusion issues happening during the taper that were not happening before?  Thanks for reading.

So, let's see .. I originally was prescribed 1 mg of lorazepam 2 times per day (in the morning and at bedtime) almost ten years ago. At the time I was going through some rough things, and the lorazepam helped a lot.  A couple of years later, my doctor (the same doctor) also added clonazepam for some other symptoms I was having.  So, for a few years I was taking both benzos, morning and night.  Around three years ago I successfully, and slowly, tapered off the clonazepam.  It was rough going, with lots of sleep disturbances, and rebound anxiety, but I got through it.  Then I began the taper off the lorazepam.  I got it down to 1 mg once a day, at bedtime, and then stayed there for quite a while as some hard things happened in my life and I just needed to stop the taper at that time. 

About a year ago I started to taper again, and by around April of this year I had tapered down to .5 mg at bedtime.  That's when some of the newer symptoms started.  In addition to insomnia and huge amounts of anxiety, I started having a lot of facial twitching, muscle stiffness, dizziness and balance problems.  I actually saw a neurologist to rule out some new illness, and had an MRI and bloodwork done.  He ruled out anything serious, and once I felt acclimated to the .5 (and the twitching stopped), which was in September of this year (about 1.5 months ago), I started to taper down to .375 mg by cutting the pills into halves and quarters.  I did it gradually using a formula I found on the internet which seemed to make sense to me: basically weeks one and two, taking the new dose two nonconsecutive days, weeks 3 and 4, taking it almost every day, and then after that taking the new dose full time. 

Around week three is where I started having new and worrisome problems, in addition to the old ones with sleep and anxiety.  Basically these have to do with mental confusion and memory issues.  I seem to find it harder to remember things I would normally do by habit, like reaching to the right side of the bathroom sink for the hand soap, or turning off the lights when I leave a room.  I also called someone by the wrong name, said a word wrong and momentarily forgot what day of the week it was (I caught myself quickly).  I seem to be struggling more to find a word, and I seem to be forgetting things that happened, too, like forgetting that I said something to somebody. It has gotten worse in the last week or so.  This feels like dementia, and it's really scary.  I'm middle aged, not old, not that a person can't get an early onset dementia, but I think it would be unusual.  So at the moment I have stopped at .375 mg at bedtime. 

The reason I wanted to get off the benzos is that I started reading about the cognitive problems they can cause if taken for a long time (I wish I had read about those when I started taking them, but unfortunately I didn't).  So, one of the things I wanted to ask here on this forum is whether anyone else has had these kinds of issues.  I am trying to stay calm and stay the course, but getting so worried about what is happening to me.  It doesn't help that my anxiety is sky high because of the taper too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this very long introduction, and thank you in advance for any insight or thoughts.

In short, yes. It is a common but very disabling symptom of benzo w/d that is of indeterminate duration. I found that after up-dosing my cognitive functions returned.

Sincere Best Wishes 

Edit: If you change your mind about tapering from benzos, here is a group about up-dosing:  http://www.benzobuddies.org/forum/index.php?topic=174254.0
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2019, 01:08:38 am »
Thanks, [...].  Just knowing that it is a common symptom of withdrawal is reassuring.  If I know it's temporary, I feel like I can (probably) hang in there, at least for a while.  I appreciate your response.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2019, 01:43:18 am »
I'm glad you're posting on this board [...], you'll get more responses here than in introductions.  :thumbsup:

I was reading in the The Ashton Manual about memory issues, she mentioned she saw it more in people who were in protracted withdrawal, but I've sure seen a lot of members mention it. 

I hope it's a symptom that will soon go away, of course, it will probably be replaced by something just as awful, that's how this process goes.  :tickedoff:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2019, 02:05:30 am »
Hi [...],

I did actually look for that in The Ashton Manual as well.  I noticed she said that when people had memory issues it was probably a continuation of symptoms they had while taking the benzos.  But for me, other than the normal occasional forgetfulness of middle age, I didn't have these symptoms until I started this phase of the taper.  I do find it reassuring to hear that you've heard others mention these symptoms a lot.  Thanks for replying!

[...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2019, 02:23:51 am »
I wanted to share, for anyone this may help, that I had a good conversation with my psychiatrist (who is also a neurologist) about this, and he made the very good point that it is not surprising that memory and cognition could be affected given how little sleep I am getting during this taper  I don't think I've had one good night's sleep in months.  And, of course, anxiety can also have a bad impact on mental functioning.  This makes a lot of sense to me.  I found this reassuring, and am posting it in case someone else may also be reassured by it.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Question about memory and confusion during the taper
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2019, 01:25:13 am »
What I find hopeful is your Dr's recognition of your symptoms, too often we're dismissed by those we reach to for help, I'm glad you've found good support. 
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.