I started out on xanax. It's nasty stuff. At first I thought it worked great. Then slowly, I needed more to get the same effect. Worse still, I needed the xanax on hand, couldn't be late- and having the next dose ready was central to my life. As I needed more xanax to stave off the withdrawal effects- which were pretty immediate- the xanax itself stopped working. In fact, it started to be something of an annoyance. But better than just stopping. I tried reducing the xanax (too quickly) and had a terrible panic attack. The symtoms were horrendous and of course... I took more xanax to fight it off. Where was I going? (by the way, I was also on fluoxetine during this time: a very high dose of 60mg)
So I went to see a consultant and he decided that I should switch from xanax to clonazepam and keep with the fluoxetine (best reduced last of all). Switching from xanax to clonazepam, I expected to be a breeze. It wasnt. Basically I took the clonazepam and when I felt the xanax withdrawal symptoms come on, took as much xanax as I needed to stave them off. Over several weeks, I weaned from xanax to mix xanax/clonazepam to just clonazepam (with the fluoxetine of course)
Of course clonazepam is always going to be hard to come off and benzos are better if youve never started. But clonazepam I found to be far far easier to deal with than xanax. In fact, having it with the fluoxetine the one thing I've discovered is this: the lower the dose of clonazepam, the better i tend to feel (though cutting it out completely at this point will bring withdrawal symptoms). Clonazepam blocks the antidepressant effect so at high doses, you just get miserable. It takes a while before you realise that. It makes you more depressed but less anxious. But you only need a very very small amount of clonazepam to take the anxiety away (I find .25 or .5mg does the trick) and with the fluoxetine, I feel like I've got the depression bit covered.
60mg is a lot for fluoxetine I admit and after all this time, I'm still determined to kick the clonazepam before the fluoxetine (as it should be) but my experience tells me that if you are addicted to a particularly dangerous short- or short/ medium lasting benzo like xanax, moving to clonazepam made a big change for me. It allowed me to stop and think about my situation, made me realise that in fact its BETTER in short doses because then you get some action from it without the depression side-effect that benzos have. It made life liveable. I do still feel there's a part of me missing,so I plan to reduce slowly to nothing then maybe stay on 20mg or 40mg fluoxetine a day. My experience has taught me that benzos arent good in the long run- but a small dose of clonazepam combined with fluoxetine was a hundred thousand times easier to cope with than when I used fluoxetine with xanax.