A young friend is now in a lockdown facility being detoxified after he tried to wean himself from Xanax and became suicidal. Police took him into custody before he could jump off the top of a parking structure. The week before he tried to hang himself.

The story is that he sought help for depression and insomnia at his university's infirmary. He was assigned to a therapist who was not an MD. She recommended Xanax and since she could not prescribe, sent him to a doctor who could. The doctor followed her suggestion without examining him. When the initial dose failed to help, it was doubled and then doubled again when that failed. He became listless and unable to cope. He quit his job and broke up with his girlfriend. Then the suicide attempts began, resulting in his current hospitalization.

The plan for his recovery at this point is detoxification followed by new medication and more careful monitoring of his condition. He has probably lost this semester and will not complete his degree this spring as planned. The suicide attempts will be part of his medical record and may hurt his job prospects.

Millions of people take Xanax every day without ill effect, but psychotropic drugs are notorious for bad side effects and withdrawal can be exceedingly difficult. Pharmaceutical companies want doctors to prescribe these drugs since they are big money makers and they do not want strong warning labels or information to doctors. Many doctors do not know the entire effect of these drugs and overprescribe. The drugs often make the patient worse and then dosage is increased as in this case.

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Zoloft ... put me on a very even keel- the lows weren't that low, but the highs weren't very high, either. My emotions were FLAT, and it was actually a nice mental break!

I was much more emotionally stable after I found out about my many delayed food allergies and stopped eating the foods I'm allergic to.  It made life much more enjoyable.  Mostly, being relieved of the intense anxiety and suicidal spells I'd had - but I also enjoy being alive more.  I get pleasure out of everyday things, when I didn't in the past. 

The people who've described quitting psychiatric drugs in this thread, seem to have done so on their own.  It's a sad comment on psychiatry, that people apparently do this as a kind of rebellion against a psychiatrist's wishes. 

Update. My friend has been detoxed and is no longer suicidal. He got out today and sounds good on the phone. He will even be able to complete his degree on time. Good news all around.

I asked two doctors whose opinion I respect about Xanax withdrawal and both thought it was unusual to have such a reaction.

Very good news!

I'm glad your friend is better.  It's a scary thing  to happen.  Good news, to say the least.

Xanax or Alprazolam is an addictive drug which should only be used short term and in carefully regulated amounts. It does have a long list of side effects and contraindications and certainly shouldn't be given without examining the patient the very least to check the contraindications. There is a plague of over prescription of drugs by doctors especially in the States, part the doctors fault and part the patients fault. Patients go to the doctor with a complaint and expect to be given something to cure it with the wonders of modern life and feel cheated or ignored if they don't get something. With a lot of complaints brought to doctors the best solution is that it will either get better in its own time or there is no cure for it, the problem is just life and you have to deal with it. Patients obviously don't want to hear this so doctors are under pressure to give them something and since a lot of patients now have more access to information than they used to they often bring both the problem and the possible solution to the doctor and the doctor for wanting a quick resolution and a quiet life give it to them.

You sound like you have some experience or knowledge about benzodiazepines.  I think they are among the most addictive of drugs, especially xanax. 

I don't know how accurate this link is, but benzo's are listed in the top 10 for addictiveness.

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/prescription-drug-addict...

http://listverse.com/2010/12/21/top-10-abused-prescription-drugs/

The second list includes ambien / zolpidem too.

SSRIs are safer for anxiety - like prozac, zoloft, paxil etc.   There is a perception that SSRIs are just for depression, but they are also useful in managing anxiety.

 

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/index...

 

On Xanax addiction -
"According to the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set Report, 60,200 people obtaining drug abuse treatment were addicted to benzodiazepines. "

Xanax is one medication of the benzodiazepine type so is valium, serax, and ativan. Xanax may be the most addictive because of fast action - fast-on, fast-off.

According to the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set Report, 60,200 people obtaining drug abuse treatment were addicted to benzodiazepines.

Xanax is not an antidepressant. It is a sedative. The mechanism is completely different from antidepressants.

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