Common Features of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

There is a wide range of symptoms that can occur in people withdrawing from Benzos and symptoms vary from one individual to another. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
•    aches
•    agoraphobia (fear of public places)
•    anxiety (most common)
•    constipation
•    depression
•    diarrhea
•    dizziness
•    feelings of unreality
•    hallucinations (visual or auditory)
•    headache
•    hypersensitivity to noise/light/touch
•    insomnia
•    memory impairment
•    nightmares
•    numbness
•    obsessive negative thoughts (particularly of a violent and/or sexual nature)
•    pains
•    palpitations
•    panic attacks
•    seizures
•    suicidal thoughts
•    tremors (uncontrollable shaking of the body)

Other less common symptoms include:
•    metallic taste sensation in the mouth
•    stiffness in the neck muscles

Withdrawal typically occurs within two days after ceasing short-acting Benzos, and usually between two and ten days after ceasing long-acting Benzos. However, the onset of Benzo withdrawal may be as late as three weeks after cessation of Benzos.   This is particularly true of Xanax withdrawal.

Withdrawal from short-acting Benzos (e.g. oxazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam) typically produces a faster and more severe onset of symptoms than withdrawal from long-acting Benzos (e.g. diazepam, nitrazepam) and may be more difficult to complete.

The severity of withdrawal is highly variable and is generally dependent on the elimination rate (half-life), the dose of the drug, duration of use, and the rapidity of cessation or reduction in use. Other important factors include physical illness, pre-existing anxiety or mood disorders and dependence on other psychoactive substances. A person’s environment and support network will also influence perceptions of withdrawal severity.