What are Xanax withdrawal symptoms?

Xanax withdrawal symptoms include panic attacks, racing thoughts, and severe depression. Learn what to expect during Xanax withdrawal here.

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Do you want to quit Xanax (alprazolam)?

Think you may be dependent on Xanax?  If you’ve developed a dependency on Xanax, you probably don’t want to quit taking Xanax suddenly. If you do, you can experience symptoms of severe alprazolam withdrawal. This is why it’s always best to talk to a doctor so they can slowly taper your dose of Xanax to minimize the full extent of withdrawal symptoms.

Keep reading here to learn what to expect during Xanax withdrawal. We review the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal and why they happen.  We also let you know what is withdrawal from Xanax like.  Finally, we invite your questions about Xanax withdrawal at the end.

Why do Xanax withdrawal symptoms occur?

Xanax, or alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine drug and is prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and in rare occasions, depression. Xanax has a depressant effect on the body which accounts for its calming effects on the nerves. The central nervous system depression allows people not to feel anxiety or suffer panic attacks. So when does Xanax use provoke withdrawal?

When people use Xanax for long periods of time, their bodies will develop a dependence to Xanax. The reason dependence occurs is because your body gets used to the depressant effect Xanax has on the body. In other words, Xanax becomes part of the normal functioning of the body. And dependence on Xanax is what accounts for the presence of Xanax withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking alprazolam. How?

When you are physically dependent on alprazolam and miss a dose of Xanax, the body reacts violently. This violent occurrence happens within the body system and is its way of regaining homeostasis. Though painful, Xanax withdrawal is the only way that the body can learn to function and regulate as it once was without the presence of alprazolam. Eventually, the swing of the pendulum will steady.

What are symptoms of Xanax withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms following the abrupt cessation of Xanax have been divided into “major” and “minor” sub types. The major withdrawal symptoms include delirium, psychosis, and seizures. However, Xanax withdrawal symptoms do vary from person to person. Various mental and physical health factors play a role in what withdrawal will look like and how severe they may become. Physical symptoms can be uncomfortable and mimic the flu. Other physical symptoms can consist of vomiting, chills and sweat. The minor withdrawal symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can include:

  • agitation
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • heart palpitations
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle twitches
  • panic attacks
  • paranoia
  • parathesia
  • racing thoughts
  • rebound anxiety
  • seizures
  • severe depression
  • speech issues
  • tremulousness

Additionally, “rebound symptoms” are common to benzodiazepine types of medications. In other words, the symptoms that Xanax was originally treating (anxiety, depression) may not only come back, but can worsen during Xanax withdrawal. These exacerbated symptoms can make it even harder in your process to no longer use Xanax.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms: How long?

The onset of Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually occurs about 6-8 hours after the last dose of alprazolam has worn off. Because of the nature of benzodiazepine withdrawal, withdrawal from Xanax can take longer than other types of medications. Withdrawal can feel like a yo-yo. At first, you feel like you have withstood the worst of it only to find acute symptoms have shown up once again. However, Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually peak over the first 72 hours and even out after about a week. Still, it can take weeks to months to before you are totally free of Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms treatment

Always seek medical supervision during Xanax withdrawal. There are several ways to treat Xanax withdrawal symptoms. One thing that is important to note is that the potential for severe depression and suicide increases when you stop taking Xanax suddenly or cold turkey. Seeking support to address issues of depression is extremely important. Other treatment that can help withdrawal include the following:

1. Tapering Xanax doses

Because people use Xanax for lengths of time, it is not always best to suddenly stop talking Xanax. In fact, the risks of serious adverse side effects are too great. However, if you talk to your doctor you can can come up with a plan and a timeline to slowly reduce your Xanax doses until they are so small the drug is practically no longer in the body. This method of tapering Xanax over the course of a four (4) to eight (8) weeks also takes care of the severity of certain withdrawal symptoms and can lessen the intensity of withdrawal.

2. Medication for Xanax withdrawal

Because Xanax treats anxiety, doctors often recommend that you transfer to another anti-anxiety medicine to help treat original symptoms. Alternative anti-anxiety medications or diazepam therapy can be used during Xanax detoxification. Short term anti-depressants may also help. Otherwise, speak with your doctor about other medications to help treat pain, discomfort and insomnia during Xanax withdrawal.

Xanax Withdrawal symptoms Questions

Still wondering about how bad Xanax withdrawal might be? Have anything to share about how you got through Xanax withdrawal? Please ask your Xanax questions below. We are happy to respond to you personally, and will try to answer your questions ASAP. And if we don’t know the answer, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: PubMed: Discontinuation and Withdrawal Problems of Alprazolam
NCBI: A case of suicidal thoughts with Alprazolam
DHS: Medication Xanax (alprazolam)
Daily Med: Xanax
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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