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Antidepressants, Benzodiazepines, and Meditation

Recently, I had to be put on an antidepressant (fluvoxamine/luvox), and a benzodiazepine (klonopin).

Is it possible to meditate well, even enter into the Jhanas, on this type of medication?

Comments

  • I'm on a lot of meds but not those. Some times I can only do walking meditation. How about see how it goes?
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Don't know about benzos. Certainly if they're knocking you out they're a problem for meditation, but it's possible that shouldn't be your highest priority at the moment. If they leave you reasonably alert, they should be OK for meditation.

    SSRIs and related drugs would make it easier to enter the jhanas if anything. No problem there. They could take away some opportunities for insight practice, if they prove effective, but you would be left with plenty of insight-suitable material.
  • BhanteLuckyBhanteLucky Alternative lifestyle person in the South Island of New Zealand New Zealand Veteran
    I was on SSRIs for a few years and had good focus, good meditation.
    I was less interested in meditating however, as I wasn't miserable any more.
    The benzo might blunt your concentration though.
    Best wishes.
  • It might be harder, but it's definitely possible. People get discouraged because of many different reasons. After all, we all have our monkey minds and it takes practice to learn how to control them.

    You WILL meditate well and it is going to change you in much deeper way than any medication you will ever take. Just don't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that you are too distracted, unfit, imbalanced etc. to even try, cause it's not true. It's about making a sustained effort, not about having perfect sessions and you have to stick to it to start seeing benefits. Start with short (+-5 min) sessions, do it every day, start with creating a habit and build from there.

    @amida what are your doses? Do you exercise? Have a healthy diet? I know a lot about medications, and one thing I'm sure is that majority of people taking antidepressants (and this includes me) could deal effectively with whatever problems they have without taking any drugs at all. They do cause strong dependency and taking them doesn't make life less complicated.

    Keep us updated on your progress!

    Wish you all the best!
    SerenalobsterJeffrey
  • Is it possible to meditate well.
    Yes, it was possible for my sister and may well be possible for you. Walking meditation is a great idea.
  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Benzodiazepines make it quite a bit harder to meditate IMO, their purpose is to sedate and numb the mind which dose not make it very sharp for cutting through ignorance does it? They mainly stimulate activity around the GABA receptors in your brain, a main area in which alcohol also stimulates, hence why heavy alcoholics are often given valium to come off of alcohol.

    My 2+ years of regular benzo use has taught me a lot, but the dharma would have been easier to penetrate if I had not been using them put it that way. There is only a certain distance you can go, you hit walla easily and it takes away a lot of concentration which is key for meditation. Clonazepam (Klonopin) is fairly similar to valium in its effects and duration as a benzo, in fact for anxiety they are my 2 favourite benzos.

    @Amida I do not know the ins and outs of why you are using them, but just try not to use them for more than 6 weeks maximum.
  • AmidaAmida Explorer
    I've been on klonopin 0.5mg twice a day for 5 weeks.

    I got on antidepressants and klonopin due to OCD, depression, and anxiety. Was so bad I no ground to even meditate, so I hoped the antidepressants would give me some ground to build up from. I plan on stopping the benzo/klonopin soon.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone.
  • robotrobot Veteran
    SSRI's can cause agitation in some people so clonazapam is prescribed to counter it. That's the way it went for me when I was on Paxil. I found the clonazapam to be so mild that it really would not even make me sleepy.
  • Amida said:

    I've been on klonopin 0.5mg twice a day for 5 weeks.

    I got on antidepressants and klonopin due to OCD, depression, and anxiety. Was so bad I no ground to even meditate, so I hoped the antidepressants would give me some ground to build up from. I plan on stopping the benzo/klonopin soon.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone.

    Well from my experience the person who knows what they are talking about most is Dr Ashton who has conducted very extensive research into benzodiazepines, I think Ashton and her colleagues have been conducting studies for over 20 years now. It was from this website http://www.benzo.org.uk/ where I first read about the 6 week maximum prescription. Also this is on her website, it is a manual you may want to have a look into http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/

    I have spoken to a lot of users of benzos and read a lot about them, had first hand experiences and they have caused me the most damage mentally and physically over any drug I have ever taken. The withdrawals (which I am going through now) can be said to be worse than that of a heroin withdrawal, not exactly the craving bit the sheer hellishness of it. With heroin the physical withdrawals last 3-5 days but with benzos they can last weeks and sometimes months. It depends on the half life of your drug, for me it is valium which is not good as the half life is very long, 22-100 hours, so you can assume that at a maximum of 100 hours after your last dose of valium, half of it will still be in your blood stream. Say if the last dose was 10mg that would bring you down to 5mg, then 100 hours later 2.5mg, and so on. So you can see how long it can last. 0.5mg clonazepam = 10mg valium but clonazepams half life is 18-50 hours. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is not to take these drugs on a regular basis even though they are prescribed and legal. The physical withdrawals are bad enough, but the mental withdrawals just make it even worse. Here is a list of possible symptoms, this is my 4th time going through this and I have had probably 80% of this list at one stage or another.
    http://www.benzosupport.org/symptoms.htm

    Seriously, I will say it again, even if you are taking a low/moderate dose like you are, it doesn't matter, you will get addicted as that is inevitable and you will soon enough start to gain a tolerance. I hope you do not end up in the way I am 2 years down the line still using them as an anchor for anxiety, it has just made it all worse.
    Serenapommesetoranges
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Amida said:

    Recently, I had to be put on an antidepressant (fluvoxamine/luvox), and a benzodiazepine (klonopin).

    Is it possible to meditate well, even enter into the Jhanas, on this type of medication?


    Two points:

    1. If meditation becomes difficult or impossible because of these medications, it would be wise to set aside formal meditation and do things differently. To make medical decisions regarding serious psyche meds according to how it affects meditation is, IMO, the same as deciding not to have life-saving surgery because you don't like the color of the surgeon's pants. One should not determine the other.

    2. Any questions you DO have about these medications and how they affect your day-to-day life, (including meditation practices) need to be discussed with a / your doctor. Not strangers on a forum.


    ** As an end note: It take some time for new meds to reach the required levels in the body and for the body to adjust to those levels. There is usually a lot of tweaking when it comes to dosage and switching of meds to find the right combination for everyone. Give it Time. However, do talk to your doctor as often as possible about how you feel on a day-to-day basis, that's the only way he/she will know how things are working for you.

    @ThailandTom; Please don't tell others to stop taking doctor prescribed medication; you are not a doctor and it's extremely irresponsible to play one on a forum....
    TheEccentriclobsterRowan1980
  • @MaryAnne yes I didn't want to come across as if I was saying "stop taking them now!" But as much as what you say is true there should at least be the knowledge there that I have experienced as well as others have with regards to doctors not properly knowing enough about benzodiazepines, switching patients onto doses of a different benzo which do not add up, handing out incorrect information etc. At least you should bring this up with your doctor @Amida, just outline concerns about addiction etc because it is a very real thing. Here is an example of what I am illustrating.

    http://www.benzo.org.uk/katefay.htm
    To summarize that:
    IN CONCLUSION

    Benzodiazapine addiction is an illness in itself, caused by this chemical alone. Non-professional support groups know this and know that the only cure is slow withdrawal and then healing over time. They simply offer the reassurance, support and encouragement that makes this possible.

    Medical professionals rarely understand that this is the case, (although the information has been available to them and the public for decades), and their ignorance has merely served to perpetuate and complicate the addicts' distress.

    The impact on ordinary lives of benzodiazepine prescribed addiction is equivalent in its scale and denial to the tragedy of Bhopal. Moreover this is a disaster of increasing magnitude, as today these drugs are also now being dumped on the peoples of the third world.


    Also here is a story of somebody who was prescribed Klonopin,
    http://www.benzo.org.uk/kim1.htm

    Going back to your original topic, Amida, earlier I was laying on my back and I was experiencing cold sweats and even though it feels like a screwdriver is prodding in between my eyes I was led there and things like smells, the Thai language on the TV, it all was clearer and different. I have realised how my senses have been numbed for so long, and yes I am going through hell now, but clarity is returning. So on that basis I would assume that meditation would be a lot harder whilst on a benzo. I cannot really speculate as it has been 2 and a half years of me using them and I cannot remember much about my meditation practice before then as most things are a fog at the moment.
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited April 2013
    ^^ Kind of reminds me when mothers get together to tell the NEW mother-to-be all their personal horror stories about long labors, excruciating pain, uncaring, horrible doctors, rude nurses, labor emergencies, and other "near-death" in childbirth experiences....all just to "share their own experiences". I call BS on that.

    Let people get information about possible addiction, bad reactions, etc from their doctors.... everyone is different. These same meds DO indeed help an enormous amount of people every day.

    Besides, the OP was about these meds and MEDITATION ... no one asked for medication related horror stories.
    I'm sorry, but this kind of "medical advice" tossed about online always bothers me a great deal. I've brought it up in the past in this forum, so I'm not just having a crabby-day moment. It's terribly irresponsible and frankly, not about YOU/US.
    Rowan1980
  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran
    edited April 2013
    I personally don't consider it to be BS but there you go, a friend of mine ended up in rehab because of benzos and users I know who range from abusers to people using them as prescribed have mentioned the incompetence of some doctors. It is a lot easier and cheaper to hand out pills rather than give decent therapy along with temporary medication.

    I have related my posts to meditation both times and I have felt to add what I know from my experiences first hand, watching a friend end up in rehab and talking with all ranges of users daily, I feel I should let the OP know this because it seems from where I am standing to be pretty darn irresponsible if I did not. I am not saying stop taking them, I am saying know what medication/drugs you are taking and question your doctor because at the end of the day, it is your body and your life that these pills go into.
    Yaskan
  • AmidaAmida Explorer
    Thanks for the advice. My pysch-doctor does not want me on them long, as he knows of the dangers of benzo addiction and withdraw. My general doctor refused to prescribe them for the same reason. I have a friend who was on klonopin for a few years and said the withdraws was the most hellish experience of his life, so I have to agree with ThailandTom here. I'm supposed to start weening off them this week, and I plan to, as it's been 5 weeks of 0.5mg twice a day.
    rivercaneThailandTomlobster
  • Interesting, Tom. I thought you had diazepam and clonezepam half life mixed, but you are right.
    http://www.ask.com/wiki/List_of_benzodiazepines?o=2800&qsrc=999
  • Based on dependence I've observed in others, I agree with ThailandTom that Benzos should be used with great caution.
    SerenaSkeeterkb
  • Amida said:

    I've been on klonopin 0.5mg twice a day for 5 weeks.

    I got on antidepressants and klonopin due to OCD, depression, and anxiety. Was so bad I no ground to even meditate, so I hoped the antidepressants would give me some ground to build up from. I plan on stopping the benzo/klonopin soon.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone.

    Well from my experience the person who knows what they are talking about most is Dr Ashton who has conducted very extensive research into benzodiazepines, I think Ashton and her colleagues have been conducting studies for over 20 years now. It was from this website http://www.benzo.org.uk/ where I first read about the 6 week maximum prescription. Also this is on her website, it is a manual you may want to have a look into http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/

    I have spoken to a lot of users of benzos and read a lot about them, had first hand experiences and they have caused me the most damage mentally and physically over any drug I have ever taken. The withdrawals (which I am going through now) can be said to be worse than that of a heroin withdrawal, not exactly the craving bit the sheer hellishness of it. With heroin the physical withdrawals last 3-5 days but with benzos they can last weeks and sometimes months. It depends on the half life of your drug, for me it is valium which is not good as the half life is very long, 22-100 hours, so you can assume that at a maximum of 100 hours after your last dose of valium, half of it will still be in your blood stream. Say if the last dose was 10mg that would bring you down to 5mg, then 100 hours later 2.5mg, and so on. So you can see how long it can last. 0.5mg clonazepam = 10mg valium but clonazepams half life is 18-50 hours. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is not to take these drugs on a regular basis even though they are prescribed and legal. The physical withdrawals are bad enough, but the mental withdrawals just make it even worse. Here is a list of possible symptoms, this is my 4th time going through this and I have had probably 80% of this list at one stage or another.
    http://www.benzosupport.org/symptoms.htm

    Seriously, I will say it again, even if you are taking a low/moderate dose like you are, it doesn't matter, you will get addicted as that is inevitable and you will soon enough start to gain a tolerance. I hope you do not end up in the way I am 2 years down the line still using them as an anchor for anxiety, it has just made it all worse.
    I'm currently on two medications. Lamictal/Lamotrigine (bipolar & depression) and klonopin (anxiety).

    I have 1mg prescriptions of it which I've been taking in varying amounts for over a year now. I'd say the first couple of months at least were pretty consistently taking it daily. For the most part though, I usually take a half if I'm expecting a situation that may cause anxiety or if I'm experiencing a moderate amount. If I think something that may cause high anxiety is going to happen or am having a panic attack, I'll usually take a whole one. Most I've done I believe is 1.5mg.

    However, I'm definitely not addicted to it as I was able to go nearly a month and a half without touching it. First because I was unable to get more, then I just didn't feel enough anxiety to justify using it earlier this year. I'm back to taking it on what's usually an as-needed basis though.

    If addiction and withdrawal symptoms are a common thing with these medications, I count myself lucky to not have had to deal with them like I did with what I personally consider to be the worst prescription pill ever -- Cymbalta. Whenever I was off that stuff for more than 3 days or so, I'd experience withdrawal symptoms that would increase in severity. I had to try multiple times to get myself off of it, and my doctor was of no use in that effort. Eventually I had to suffer for eight weeks before the symptoms were gone. Friggin' horrible. But I digress.

    The purpose of this post was to just mention my klonopin habits, and that (apparently) not everyone is guaranteed to be addicted or go through hell without it.
    JeffreyThailandTom
  • @Amida I am glad that your professionals are well aware of the dangers here, that is great that they also know you need to taper because it is hellish if you don't, I've had a seizure because 2 years ago I was using 400mg valium a day and just stopped like an idiot. I think that with time more doctors and professionals are becomming fully aware of how these medications can cause harm, even at low and ''safe'' doses. That being said it is nearly impossible to OD on benzos alone, hence my 400mg daily dose, but there are plenty of negative side effects. I just think after going through the shit that I have we all should be just as wise if not wiser than our doctors about the pills we're given, so do your research. Thumbs up though, I'm glad you are in good hands :)

    @Captain_America According to Dr Ashton's studies, depending on ones biological makeup you can become physically addicted anywhere from 2 weeks of daily use to 6 months. We are all different and there are many variables such as metabolism for example. One red flag for being addicted is noticing a tolerance occurring and needing to up the dose. Unluckily for me I seem to have gotten addicted in no less than a month.

  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran
    edited April 2013
    @Amida sorry for bringing this up again but I would like your opinion on what meditation is like under the influence of Clonazepam as you must now have some experience? I am just curious that is all. I have come to realise once before and this time around that a lot of the negative aspects of being sedated or under the influence only come to rise once you come off of the medications. They mask things in life so well, I guess that is their purpose so quite rightly so. But things like addiction creep up without you realising often, lack of emotion, sense in general, all these things are masked. I am pretty sure that it will after some time blunt ones concentration enough so that meditation becomes more difficult at least, however I cannot meditate yet as I am still withdrawing and going through all kinds of silly things. For example it is nearly 7am here and I did not catch a wink of slumber, I wasn't tossing and turning or watching the TV or surfing the net, merely laying there and staring at things in the dark. My fever has gone and I have even noticed that my body temperature has gone lower than it normally is, which is nice considering where I live and how hot it is this time of year. Anyway this all started after a sense of impending doom triggered by the thought of that meteorite that went over Russia a few months ago. I started contemplating how easy it would be for one to pop out of the sky and wipe me and people around me off of the face of the earth. Anyway I realise I talking utter s*#t now, so I probably am delirious in some fashion, so I am going to do something else.
  • just ran across this today and thought it was quite interesting:
    http://blog.23andme.com/23andme-research/what-patients-say-works-for-bipolar-disorder/
  • AmidaAmida Explorer
    @ThailandTom, the klonopin has just dulled the anxiety and made me sleepy more. Can't think of any other side effect. I've been on them 5 weeks. Today, I broke a 0.5 in half, and just took a 0.5. I'll do that for 3 days, then reduce to 0.25, twice a day, then after about 5 days, I'll cut down to one 0.25 once a day, midday, or near bed time, and them stop them.
  • Way to go @Amida!

    Wish you all the best with your practice!
  • The benzo's may dull your experience a little but I also take Luvox and it hasn't affected my meditation. I also think no one on here has any right to preach about medications without knowing the situations because while they may do harm they have also saved lives.

    Jeffreylobster
  • Sorry not had time to read all the replies but I have had 4-5 years experience with all kinds of benzos, including klomopin AKA clonazepam.

    It is my favorite benzo when it comes to anxiety and medical purposes, those 2mg pills so minty you can even chew on them if you want, the half life not too short or too long. I have even had banana flavored klonopin.

    Anyway, personally I have found that like anything that alteres your consciousness, it will have an affect on your practice, I don't care what anybody else says I am speaking from my own experience, your mind is so loose and harder to tame by a long shot, not to forget the tiredness...

    PLEASE, I beg of you, do not take these for more than 6 weeks daily, I am no medical practitioner but a woman who has spent many years to studying this subject, a professor, she is worth looking up. Read through.. PLEASE. I am 4 years in and I am F%&*ed trust me, benzo addiction in rehabs is regarded worse than heroin, crack or alcohol. Plus, you cannot take it daily and be fine, after a while it is inevitable that a physical addiction will form.

    Read the following through.

    http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/

    how
  • I've taken numerous benzo's and have never formed an addiction. Yes I have had to be weaned off of them but that's with ANY medication.

  • Rowan1980Rowan1980 Keeper of the Zoo Asheville, NC Veteran

    I'm on a low dose of Celexa, an antidepressant, and I haven't had too many issues with meditation, but your mileage may vary. If memory serves, as it's been about a decade or so, benzodiazepines and similar classes of medications made me too numb to effectively meditate. Dosage, medication, your own personal chemistry, etc. are potential factors in whether or not it affects your ability to meditate.

  • Benzo's and antidepressants will either make your meditation more difficult or they won't. If they won't - no problem. If they do, then you're in pretty good shape too. Ever see a baseball player swinging two bats on the on-deck circle? Or a runner running with ankle weights? These added challenges make us stronger, faster or more focused.

    Personally, I deal with chronic pain not to mention taking twenty-one prescriptions daily. Lately, my meditations have become more focused - not in spite of the pain or general fuzziness, but because of it.

    And just to give my opinion of the drug conversation:

    Everyone is affected differently by drugs - even the same ones. My wife and I are both recovered drug addicts (I've got 22 years clean). My drug of choice was more...of whatever was available and so I've done just about everything. I know withdrawal well - my heart quit for six minutes during one episode. Certainly long enough to stay dead, but I didn't obviously. ;)

    Anyway, not only have I been on benzo's but I also have never experienced withdrawal symptoms from them. My wife takes klonopin during the summer months but not the winter - she too has never experienced withdrawals. I have also taken an antidepressant and stopped abruptly (against doctor's orders) and while there was withdrawal, it was less uncomfortable than the feeling of being on them in the first place.

    My results are not to be taken as standard - your mileage may vary. My only purpose in adding my experiences is to point out that not everyone reacts the same.

    Have your own experience.

    ZenshinRowan1980
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited September 2014

    I take Sertraline (I believe in the states its called xoloft) it doesn't affect my meditation, however when I was taking citalopram I struggled to meditate for more than fifteen minutes. I also take flupenthixol for schizophrenia. In my case I think the antipsychotics help me meditate.

    As @yagr‌ its horses for courses.

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