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Old 06-02-2013, 06:15 AM
ym ym is offline
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Default High Dose Baclofen - Severe Anxiety

I decided to post up about some difficult experiences I have had with high dose Baclofen & anxiety. Apologies for the very long post I wanted to make sure I included all the details so that anyone who has experienced similar effects could recognise these symptoms in themselves.

I originally titrated up to 250mg and was completely anxiety free. For the first time in my life I could speak completely confidently in front of large groups of people, handle confrontations and was free of worry. Accompanying this freedom from anxiety was a hypomania. The feeling of being unstoppable and being able to achieve anything after years of crippling anxiety was liberating.

The problem was that I was sleeping less than 1 hour a night whilst needing to nap in the daytime. I decided to drop down my dosage. I had read on this forum that Pregabalin could be used to assist with sleep. I already had Pregabalin as I had been prescribed this previously for anxiety. At 6pm I had taken 150mg of Baclofen and I decided to take 300mg of Pregabalin. I had the most severe all over body convulsions / muscle spasms for the next 3 hours. I attribute this to a bad reaction from the combination of the two drugs - then exacerbated by the drop from 250mg to 150mg in Baclofen.

Over the next week I stabilised my dosage at to 220mg Baclofen and did not take more Pregabalin. I continued to experience some muscle spasms but this lessened over the next two weeks. However it is an ongoing problem that I am now very susceptible to muscle spasms. I find that now if I miss one dosage of 40mg I experience tingling & muscle spasms in my legs the next day whereas previously this was not the case. I would suggest avoiding mixing Pregabalin and Baclofen.

Through this period I did not experience anxiety or other negative effects. But this experience had frightened me and I made the decision to titrate down Baclofen by 30mg per week.

This went well until I hit 150mg. At this dosage I started experience light muscle twitching in my hands and irritability especially when concentrating. I remained at this dosage for the following four weeks and the irritability symptoms began to subside. However, towards the end of this period I noticed that I was beginning to experience some anxiety again.

At a meeting where I was required to speak in front of 30+ people I experienced rapid heart beat and shaking legs for the first time since I first started Baclofen. I attributed this to withdrawal and increased my dosage to 180mg that day but I am not convinced this helped. The next day I had another meeting of a similar nature and decided to stay at 180mg. However as I was due to enter the meeting I was having a panic attack, heart pounding, voice quivering and legs shaking. I decided to take an additional 50mg Baclofen (a total of 230mg). Previously this would have completely eliminated my anxiety but this time it didn't seem to work.

In the days following this I experienced the most severe crippling anxiety I have ever experienced in my life. Far worse than severe hangovers or alcohol withdrawal. This involved panic attacks, crippling pain in solar plexus, feeling of dread, throbbing heartbeat and overwhelming waves of anxiety from morning till night. The slightest loud noise or anxiety provoking situation made me experience anxiety akin to being held at gunpoint. I attributed this to withdrawal and decided to stabilise at 200mg per day.

I have been on this dosage for 6 weeks and it has not got better. My doctor prescribed me Buspar (15mg). I think this reduced some of the above symptoms but with it came a lump in the throat which made it very difficult to talk so i discontinued this after four weeks.

I have began to realise that it may not be withdrawal symptoms I am suffering from but a bad reaction to high dose Baclofen. In the morning I wake up with moderate anxiety. It is when I take the first dosage (40mg) that the severe anxiety symptoms begin to kick in. I can relate to a lot of the symptoms experienced by TX Git Slinger on his thread (sorry can't post links I'm a new user!). It has been difficult to accept that similar dosages of Baclofen that once eliminated my anxiety are now causing severe anxiety.

I am hoping I will get better but am concerned that if I have to come off Baclofen I will be back to the same position I was before I took it with insufferable anxiety - or that some of the current severe anxiety may remain. In the mean time my doctor has prescribed me Diazepam 2mg x 3 per day. I have taken these a couple of times in situations of extreme panic and they do seem to have helped. I am too scared of what I have read of Benzodiazepam withdrawal symptoms to take these every day though. I don't think I could cope with any more anxiety on top of what I am currently experiencing!
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:52 AM
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ym,

When I tried Baclofen, it did not have any effect on my anxiety one way or another. It is interesting how it affects so many people so differently.

I can't speak to your issues at all but I am hoping that you find a way to overcome your symptoms and get back to an even keel.

Hopefully others who have been at the dosages you have will respond.

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Old 06-02-2013, 10:00 AM
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YM, you are not alone. I had an extremely similar experience. High dose at first made me hypo manic. Witty, charming, industrious, uninhibited socially. Who needed alcohol? Who needed AA? Then the tolerance built, then the anxiety came back. Either increasing or decreasing the dose, however slowly, didn't work. I have been doing a lot of bloodwork and trying to figure it out. I can be pmed and will respond. I have found the open forum less than helpful unfortunately, but I hope you have better luck.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:16 AM
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drb120 - thanks for your response I have sent you a PM
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:54 PM
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Hey ym.

Sorry to hear about what happened. It's pretty unusual, but certainly not unheard of. You found two of the most recent posters about the phenomenon.

I had hypomania, though I didn't have any idea that is what was happening. I looooooooooved it. (That's an understatement.) I was pretty sure that it was going to end, because no one can be that smart, that spot-on, that intuitive all the time. I was worried that when it left I was going to be left less-smart/witty/intuitive etc. than I started out. Didn't happen. Now I'm just me. I'm ok, I suppose, though I could really use a better sense of humor, oodles more patience and a kinder heart. Whatever. I know several other people that have recovered from the hypomania, and gone on to enjoy life.

I am sure that drb can fill you in on all of the things that I told him about it, what worked for many of us... Which clearly didn't work for him. I would offer a couple of suggestions:

I would read his thread, and Tex's thread, and GolfMonster's thread, and then I would NOT do what they did. I mean, you could, but it didn't work for them. Right? I've never seen it work for anyone else, either. (I think Tx got it together, finally. Last I talked to him he was doing okay. He might answer a PM.)

The second thing I would do is to stop chasing the high, if you're still doing that. It won't work. I've tried. I'm very wary of just about every feel good drug out there (and actually most of the other ones too) but I'll tell you what...If someone had promised me another couple of months of that...brilliance, I would have been sorely tempted. I did go up and down and all around looking to feel that good again (or at least better than I did) and it never worked. So quit doing it. Baclofen will fuck you up if you fuck with it.

Finally, I would suggest you do exactly what your doctor tells you to do. There's a big problem for those of us on the other side of the hypomanic person...(As if I wasn't already being blunt enough, it's going to get worse.) The hypomanic person thinks that they are the center of the universe and smarter than everyone else. I don't mind telling you it's a pain in the ass. It was much more fun to feel that way than to be on the receiving end of it. (I ALWAYS got what I wanted, it seemed. Of course, it turns out that I was just a completely maddening bitch until I got my way. Or that's probably how it was. Who knows? I was too damn happy to bother worrying about it, and I was charming to boot. Really. The bitchiness is [obviously] still around. The charming? Not so much. haha!

Why am I being a...so blunt? Because it's pretty serious. Look at drb. Sounds like he's still suffering. So. Stop thinking you know better than your doctor or the voices of experience. You don't. Take the pills as the doctor ordered. If you need reassurance that you are not going to end up worse than you were you can do two things: Look at the experiences of the people who did not take the medication and compare it to the ones that did. And do your homework and read the scientific information about the ways in which anxiety is treated, and why it works. Do some more homework and read around here. If someone is miserable, don't do what they did. If someone is happy, reach out and find a mentor/friend.

Support helps. And this is a HUGE stumbling block. If you can't reach out, can't trust, can't follow advice, suggestion, wisdom, experience then guess what? The only person you're relying on is you. How's that going? (And by finding support I am not suggesting that you rely on PMs, or frequent phone calls or emails from one person. No one person has all the right answers, or all the time.)

Not everyone around here is as short-tempered as I am. Most people (and even me most times) are very nice. Try it.

Why am I short tempered? pffft. Because.

Good luck. Hang in there. Life really does get much better when you're not high. Really.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:18 PM
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Holy cow, ym. That was a bit terse.

I'm Ne. I can sometimes be a curmudgeon. It stresses me out when people come on here and post what you did. Baclofen isn't candy. It isn't particularly dangerous, but it's no fun when it goes awry. I shouldn't take it personally, but I do. I really wish people knew what you now know before it happens. And I wish there was a simple solution to get out of that place of massive anxiety.

You certainly don't need a bit of a tongue-lashing to add to your angst. Particularly since this, from this point out, this getting-well-thing, it's a mind game. Really. It's not fun or funny. It's not like checkers. It's more like chess. Planning, strategy, discipline, thought. Those things will combat your anxiety just as surely as any pill will, and it'll last longer. One important thing to remember is that anxiety feeds itself. It's a biological cascade of cause and effect, and each time it happens it can be amplified, because that's the way hormones and the rest work. So taking something because you're freaking out, and calming down in the moment, but not actually figuring out how to manage your anxiety, isn't gonna solve it.

All that said, I stand by what I wrote. I just wish I had it in me to say it more nicely. Sorry about that.
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Last edited by Ne/Neva Eva; 06-02-2013 at 04:39 PM..
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:37 PM
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I am still suffering. So I agree with not doing what I did. I tried stabilizing the baclofen dose at 225mg and using benzos, then slow titration downward, where I am now at 150mg after 3 months. My only advice would be look outside this forum for advice. Preferably, professional advice. It sounds like you already see a p doc. I'm going that route too. If you want to exchange any info privately I'm happy too, but I am uncomfortable on the forum. Good luck.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:32 PM
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Let me try again...And hopefully someone else will come along and offer some positive insight, too.
I started on bac for the third time in Oct 2010. I stopped drinking against my will in Feb 2011 after four months of roller-coaster titration. I've been taking bac consistently since then. After experimenting a bit, I settled in at 140mg for a long while. I am now down to 80mg (as of today, actually.) I'm going down 10mg/month because I don't like anxiety, and I do like equilibrium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
Accompanying this freedom from anxiety was a hypomania. The feeling of being unstoppable and being able to achieve anything after years of crippling anxiety was liberating.

The problem was that I was sleeping less than 1 hour a night whilst needing to nap in the daytime.
When I went through that experience of freedom I was brand-new-sober. My final jump to 320mg was something around 40-60mg. I really don't know and my notes aren't really clear. After that, I dropped down to ~100mg and then went back up, all pretty quickly. I'm still confused, honestly, what was baclofen and hypomania and what was brand-new-sober. Have you ever experienced the "pink cloud"? It's an AA term. I have. It was very reminiscent of that, but more. And I wasn't sleeping very much either but had huge amounts of energy. So I knew something was off kilter, I just didn't know what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
I decided to drop down my dosage. I had read on this forum that Pregabalin could be used to assist with sleep. I already had Pregabalin as I had been prescribed this previously for anxiety. At 6pm I had taken 150mg of Baclofen and I decided to take 300mg of Pregabalin. I had the most severe all over body convulsions / muscle spasms for the next 3 hours. I attribute this to a bad reaction from the combination of the two drugs - then exacerbated by the drop from 250mg to 150mg in Baclofen.
That sounds terrible. I'm sorry you had that experience. I'll keep it in mind should anyone else show up with questions about pregabalin or a similar experience. Maybe it will help someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
Over the next week I stabilised my dosage at to 220mg Baclofen and did not take more Pregabalin. I continued to experience some muscle spasms but this lessened over the next two weeks. However it is an ongoing problem that I am now very susceptible to muscle spasms. I find that now if I miss one dosage of 40mg I experience tingling & muscle spasms in my legs the next day whereas previously this was not the case. I would suggest avoiding mixing Pregabalin and Baclofen.
I had a similar experience with nystagmus. It's a muscle thing in the eyes. I got it once and then it stuck around for a looong time. It was intermittent, and probably depended on whether or not I was taking bac regularly. (I've never been very good about that. Even now.) It went away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
Through this period I did not experience anxiety or other negative effects. But this experience had frightened me and I made the decision to titrate down Baclofen by 30mg per week.
Okay. That's a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
This went well until I hit 150mg. At this dosage I started experience light muscle twitching in my hands and irritability especially when concentrating. I remained at this dosage for the following four weeks and the irritability symptoms began to subside. However, towards the end of this period I noticed that I was beginning to experience some anxiety again.
How long were you at 150mg?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
At a meeting where I was required to speak in front of 30+ people I experienced rapid heart beat and shaking legs for the first time since I first started Baclofen. I attributed this to withdrawal and increased my dosage to 180mg that day but I am not convinced this helped. The next day I had another meeting of a similar nature and decided to stay at 180mg. However as I was due to enter the meeting I was having a panic attack, heart pounding, voice quivering and legs shaking. I decided to take an additional 50mg Baclofen (a total of 230mg). Previously this would have completely eliminated my anxiety but this time it didn't seem to work.
I understand the inclination to take more, and then less, and then more and...Just trying to figure out where it all is going to land. It sounds pretty reasonable, but it doesn't work out that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
In the days following this I experienced the most severe crippling anxiety I have ever experienced in my life. Far worse than severe hangovers or alcohol withdrawal. This involved panic attacks, crippling pain in solar plexus, feeling of dread, throbbing heartbeat and overwhelming waves of anxiety from morning till night. The slightest loud noise or anxiety provoking situation made me experience anxiety akin to being held at gunpoint.
Definitely had that going on when I was titrating up. I assumed it was related to drinking and too much baclofen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
I have been on this dosage for 6 weeks and it has not got better. My doctor prescribed me Buspar (15mg). I think this reduced some of the above symptoms but with it came a lump in the throat which made it very difficult to talk so i discontinued this after four weeks.
That's an odd reaction to buspar, isn't it? Anyway. Why have you stayed at 200mg for so long if it's so uncomfortable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
I have began to realise that it may not be withdrawal symptoms I am suffering from but a bad reaction to high dose Baclofen. In the morning I wake up with moderate anxiety. It is when I take the first dosage (40mg) that the severe anxiety symptoms begin to kick in. I can relate to a lot of the symptoms experienced by TX Git Slinger on his thread (sorry can't post links I'm a new user!). It has been difficult to accept that similar dosages of Baclofen that once eliminated my anxiety are now causing severe anxiety.
Yes, I would agree that it doesn't make sense that what once worked doesn't work anymore. But honestly, that's been my experience so many times with this medication. I credit it with giving me contented, sober life, but it took a while to find a copacetic place. And even after that, over the course of the last couple of years, I've changed it. I figured out that (for me) small increments really can make a big difference. They're just not noticeable initially. It's a lot like when I first noticed the absence of anxiety. I didn't know it was there until it was gone, and then I realized I couldn't pinpoint exactly when it left. Does that make sense? I killed a small spider--something that was absolutely unthinkable pre-bac. That's when I realized I wasn't scared of EVERYTHING anymore. I've had the same thing happen with other effects of baclofen. I'll go up, or down, by 10mg and there is a cessation of sleeplessness. Or the old somnolence...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ym View Post
I am hoping I will get better but am concerned that if I have to come off Baclofen I will be back to the same position I was before I took it with insufferable anxiety - or that some of the current severe anxiety may remain. In the mean time my doctor has prescribed me Diazepam 2mg x 3 per day. I have taken these a couple of times in situations of extreme panic and they do seem to have helped. I am too scared of what I have read of Benzodiazepam withdrawal symptoms to take these every day though. I don't think I could cope with any more anxiety on top of what I am currently experiencing!
I will leave it up to you about which direction to go. I understand the dilemma. I want you to know, though, that there are several of us that have experienced something similar to what you're going through and come out on the other side, still on baclofen, still indifferent to alcohol, and still normal. (As normal as I get, I suppose. Which is pretty normal, though I think you might find that hard to believe based on my posts this morning. You'll have to take my word for it.)

I'm a proponent of using other medications wisely and within reason in order to achieve the goal of sanity and contentedness. I find most of the dire warnings about benzos irrational and based on people who abuse them, who are looking to abuse them, or who have uncontrolled anxiety. I would never have taken them before I got sober, and didn't take them when I was suffering from the anxiety similar to what you describe. I should have. Not just because I suffered needlessly, but because I've seen a lot of people give up instead of taking medication that will help.

There are several studies and a really great blog I can direct you toward if you'd like more information. It's what I based my own decisions on. When my husband went from ~140mg to ~80mg over the course of 3 days, he had a complete meltdown. In absolute desperation, I gave him a benzo. (He'd abused these, and just about anything else, in the past.) He stayed on them for about a month, we think. Taking the same (small) amount, at the same times, every day. Perhaps he started skipping the day-time dose before that. And I want to emphasize that it was a small amount of a short-acting, and he took it regularly. He stopped taking that one day and didn't really realize it. I've had a similar experience. And I've seen many others with similar experiences.

So. Even though I've probably got you beat for word count, I've got more to add. I was serious about using your mind to control the anxiety. The chemical part is but one large part. The other is the way you think about and manage it. I can usually recognize signs of my own (chemical) anxiety before I really know what's going on. I have some favorite themes I like to touch on when something is awry. (Like I wake up in the middle of the night thinking my husband has stopped breathing.) I recognize that something needs my attention when that happens. Sometimes it's a matter of taking a pill, but 95% of the time (since my anxiety is mostly controlled) it's about taking some time and space to reset whatever is wrong. Exercise helps. Nutrition. Sleep is huge. (If you're still not sleeping, please try to remedy that. It will help enormously!) Sometimes I just have to find mindless tv. But most of the time it's a something and I have to do something about the something in order to be copacetic again.

I hope you will come back and post again. I agree with drb that professional help might be helpful. It might not. I also agree that sometimes the forum is (and I am) helpful, and sometimes, not so much. I keep trying. And there are others too.

My husband is losing patience as dinner is on the table. If you made it through this tome, I hope it helps.

Take care, ym!
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:51 PM
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Ne/Neva Eva,

I appreciate your taking the time to post a long response. I have decided in conjunction with my doctor to withdraw 10mg per week until I am at zero whilst utilising benzodiazepines on an as-needed basis for the worst moments of panic.

It certainly makes me think twice when I read your comments about people having been through similar experiences and recovered whilst still on Baclofen. However, it was taking extra Baclofen which caused this problem and I often notice that I am feeling at my best in the mornings (10 hours from last dosage) and at my worst directly after taking Baclofen. I don't think there's anyone that can explain why that is happening. The reason I stayed at 200mg for so long was that I was hoping that what I was experiencing was withdrawal but through this period I experienced no improvement.

I am under no illusions that the next five months are going to be gruelling and unpleasant. At the same time the sooner I get off the Baclofen the sooner the chemicals in my head will start to rebalance. The anxiety (& accompanying cravings for alcohol etc) that I experienced before taking Baclofen are nothing compared to the horrific anxiety I am experiencing now.
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:54 PM
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I also agree with your comments about the mental side of your approach towards handling anxiety. Going from feeling that I had completely cured my anxiety, desire to drink and on top of this was more confident and successful than ever to experiencing crippling anxiety in the space of a few months was very hard to take.

For a few weeks I was lying in bed on my days off not wanting to do anything feeling sorry for myself. I've decided that there's no point ruminating upon my problems and I need to get on with my life regardless of how I am feeling.
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