Cognitive/Sleep Issues = Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome

Background info: Benzodiazepines are GABA-A receptor agonists. They are well known to downregulate GABA receptors. Allopregnanolone functions in exactly the same way, it is a GABA-A receptor agonist, only far more potent.

Proposed Theory: We know for a fact Allopregnanolone concentrations are changed by Finasteride. This is only logical, because Allopregnanolone requires 5-alpha-reductase in its synthesis. I believe that the spike in Allopregnanolone following discontinuation of Finasteride, and then the subsequent collapse in Allopregnanolone levels when our hormones collapsed a week later caused the exact same GABA-A receptor condition as Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.

Selected Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
Particularly, people complain of Hypnic Jerks (being shot awake because of some muscle jerk in your body), some say frequent urination, waking up at 3-5 am every night, particularly 4 am is mentioned often (this is exactly when I wake up every night).
Muscle Twitches
Things don’t feel “Real”
Cognitive Fog
Pressure in Head
This one blew my mind, as I have been suffering with head pressure, particularly when I first quit the drug. It was unbearable really. (They are blaming glutamate for this due to GABA receptor downregulation).

On the positive side, they claim everyone recovers from the condition (this is under the assumption our Allopregnenalone levels have returned to a normal level). They also mention that side effects can rollercoaster, and just because you have been feeling well does not mean they won’t return, but the claim is that overall direction for side effect related problems is towards BETTER POSITIVE DIRECTION. This is very good news for me, and it exactly explains my current condition. I was doing very well with sleep and mental side effects for a while, and then I gradually began to feel worse and worse, and now I am hoping I am on a positive upswing.

Very importantly though, you MUST NOT take any GABA-A receptor agonists anymore. Particularly, there is a thread posted by andyuk with a link to a post on longecity from a nutritionist. You MUST avoid the GABA agonists he mentions in that thread, and never, ever take any Benzodiazepines. I am looking into treatment options that might work to upgregulate the GABA receptor, and now that I know what the mental condition is, I have a great deal more information to check for people that have already recovered from this.

If you are currently taking a GABA-A receptor agonists, you SHOULD NOT quit them cold turkey. You can even have seizures from doing so. You must taper them off, and you can check into that on various forums.

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Also i read vision isuess may because of decdeased gaba.
True or not, i really believe gaba has a huge role in this mess.

I went trhough Benzodiazepine withdrawal in 2010.

Worst two weeks of my life, didn’t sleep for 5 nights, but it passed and I quickly returned to normal.

Not sure how this is relevant to PFS, it’s an entirely different experience.

Do you have the cognitive and sleep problems associated with PFS?

Here is a thread talking about how fasting (intermittent fasting in particular) has helped people dramatically with their mental sides associated with benzdiazepine withdrawal. This corresponds very well with what people around here have been saying about fasting, and might finally push me into actually doing some fasting. … ic=95976.0

People there claim sugar seems to make their symptoms worse, which is exactly what I have experienced, and several other people here have mentioned it as well. Matter of fact, people seem to have a great deal of blood sugar problems after benzo withdrawal, which could explain a lot of the extreme exhaustion problems I have had in the past due to sudden hypoglycemia.

This theory also explains when people find alcohol as temporary relief to their condition as people on this forum refer to alcohol as “liquid benzo,” and you are supposed to avoid it at all costs.

I think this is quite simple. Lowered neurosteroids because of 5ar dysfunction causes our cognitive problems.

So what can you do to get sleep while not messing with gaba? Like Dannyc said he bounced back in 5 days from benzo withdrawal. I think there are people here that have never recovered their sleep. What do you do with that? Lack of sleep causes cognitive issues as well.

Awor told me he had to use Ambian for a couple years before his sleep got better.

L-Theanine and bacopa monnieri both seem reasonably well tolerated by these people. L-Theanine is shown to increase GABA concentrations, and bacopa increases gaba receptors. I have already ordered both, and I can report back if they are at all effective at relieving symptoms. These are both already popular among healthy people into “nootropics” which are brain enhancing chemicals designed for improved memory/concentration etc etc, and they both have very good and proven track records from improved cognition and safety. If my theory is correct, these should have a reasonably noticeable effect our mental symptoms, so I can report back shortly.

I’m also looking into more conventional treatments for this condition, but the main takeaway for me is that everybody gets better eventually, it just takes time. Even just knowing that makes me feel so so much better. Plus, it gives me an idea of what NOT to take so I don’t set myself back.

Review of Allopregnenalone’s effect on GABA receptors, including acute and chronic exposure developing tolerance similar to Benzodiazepines.

Head pressure - the OP links this to downreg of gaba receptors. Gaba is apparently found in fermented foods. Since taking sauerkraut I’ve noticed a huge improvement in head pressure and muscle twitches. I even notice this with pasteurized sauerkraut. I stopped eating sauerkraut for a week and the muscle twitches came back.

My theory is a bit different. Alcoholics blast their GABA A receptors for upwards of 20 years by drinking every day before it has an impact on their sleep. I dont think a couple weeks of GABA changes are what causes the symptoms the OP is talking about.

I think the GABA receptors and density are fine but there just ISNT any GABA. Proof of this is if you have a couple drinks, or any other thing that binds to a GABA receptors… you will get sleep, etc…

Headpressure I believe is linked to low serum GABA. That calming ability of GABA is not there and its got your OREXIN receptors dominating . I dont know any of this to be true. Just theory.

Tinnitus and Vision issues… I believe are due to low DHT which offers protective coating to this system. Without DHT… your CNS is not getting that nice buffer of DHT which is why your getting sensitive vision, rining in ears and muscle twitches.

As I said… all just theories. @awor mentioned to me he took ambien for 2 years and his sleep came back. Thats 2 years of hitting your GABA / Benzo receptors with Ambien. The reason I believe his receptors didnt become desensitized is probalby because they were getting just the right amount of bind that they would have normally gotten from GABA.

Anyway… just theories. I wish there was a way to test GABA and Allo but I guess it is very difficult and inconclusive.


Haven’t been here in ages as I recovered 90% outside of lack of morningwood, spontaneous erections, tissue changes, and lower libido. Also dealt with frequent urination and periodic night sweats.

But I got my life back. Took me about 1.5-2 years but was able to get married, have two kids, get my muscle back, and lived life to the fullest. Slept 7-8 hours, could never nap after SP but sleep was restorative. Mental symptoms slowly resolved and I accepted the physical damage through months of therapy.

Oh, and the kicker? The hair loss turned out to be from Paxil withdrawal the entire time.

Anyway… I was foolishly prescribed a benzo for sleep last year due to a severe ear infection/tinnitus after it kept me up for a week and only took it for 10 days. I went temporarily deaf and the tinnitus kept me up at night and drove my anxiety through the roof.

(I initially used .25mg Klonopin as needed right after my crash and helped calm me down from the crying spells I was having - maybe a handful of times in 2008. I might have mistaken SP withdrawal from benzo withdrawal)

I tapered off in a week which was much too fast - it should have taken months in retrospect even though I was only on for 10 days. It was basically a cold turkey thanks to my unknowledgeable GP even though I gave her the Ashton manual. Nearly had a stroke from high BP and heart rate and should have reinstated or gone to the ER. Having gone through PFS I toughed it out because it made me such a stronger person. Big mistake. You can literally die from benzo withdrawal. I’m highly sensitive to meds given my severe reaction to Saw Palmetto.

Now I’m suffering from BWS and in hell for over 13 months. I believe I “kindled” due to my compromised CNS and my previous use of Klonopin in ‘08.

Insomnia, severe depression/SI, exercise intolerance, sensitivity to MSG. I got my life back and now it’s gone ahead. I believe the Saw Palmetto sensitized my system and left me vulnerable. Most people could CT a benzo short term and have little to no issue. I started having heart palps on day 7!

Haven’t touched alcohol since April 2018 and I was a big craft beer nerd. Not sure hoe badly SP affected my GABA. I was able to drink fine but the last few years a 16oz IPA would give me a headache the next day.

I have no idea if 10 consecutive days of Ambien or Lunesta would have done the same thing but I rue the day the audiologist recommended I ask the ENT for this poison. All I needed was Benadryl or Unisom.

I thought enough time had passed where I wasn’t susceptible to meds. I avoided all meds outside of antibiotics after tapering off Prozac in 2009 and life was amazing after that. But I was so desperate for sleep that I accidentally ruined my life a second time. I also took Medrol alongside the Klonopin so who knows if that played a role.

Can you imagine recovering from PFS and now dealing with BWD a decade later? FML. I’m more devastated/suicidal than last time around. Never cried more in my life and that is saying something.


If anyone gets accidentally dependent on a benzo I strongly advise you do a daily liquid micro taper.

This feels like PFS where doctors don’t believe me and are clueless. I basically needed to find more doctors to prescribe for a proper taper but honestly thought my WD would be short lived due to my extremely short use. In fact, benzos are for 2-4 weeks only but some people can get dependent in as little as 4 days. My doctor didn’t even believe me and I had to plead for 7 pills to taper from. A proper taper could take 6-12 months.

Any sort of exercise sets me back as my brain becomes inflamed and then I get nerve pain a few days later. This is someone who used to lift 235lbs and run 2-3x a week. Exercise helped me heal from PFS. My nuts were the size of grapes after my ‘08 crash and running and lifting restored my T to healthy levels. Now I can’t even lift heavy objects without inducing head pains. All my muscle is deteriorating and I’m gaining fat from lack of exercise.

Please do not make the same mistake as me. I can’t believe I’m a horror story again.


Welcome back, and so sorry to hear about your story. I think there is a lot to be said that you made it through this once - stay strong. Question for you - did you vision ever clear up from Propecia?

Thank you. I got floaters the first time around and halos around bright lights. That never resolved but my brain adapted.

This second spell has introduced even more floaters that are highly bothersome.

Interesting okay - your brain adapted meaning you didn’t notice the halos any more? Or they just didn’t bother you?

I just didn’t notice them anymore.

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I’m in the same position after crashing again 7 years later and now unable to take drugs without similar reactions. Can’t believe you had been clear for 10 years.
Check your cortisol using 4 time points it’s likely high if your head is inflamed. Cut out all sugar from your diet also white potatoes, pasta these things will fuel your cortisol. Eat veg with hormone free meat, vsl3 will help your gut.
Tai chi will help improve energy flow for healing.
Vpassana will help clear your headaches, do it while you are at home, driving or walking.
Fermented foods will improve GABA make your own.
Hope this helps.

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Welcome back, Terp, albeit I am very sorry about the circumstances. What is positive though, is to hear that you did pretty much recover. We need to hear about more stories like yours. Try not to worry too much at this point. Your body has sorted itself out in the past, and I am confident that it will manage again.

Btw, I would very much appreciate if you could spare a moment to participate in our survey. Having a veteran like you in our data would be great.


Sorry for your story man. I’ve been taking .5mg clonazepam daily, except for weekends, since I started having panic attacks in 2016. If I read correctly you were only taking .25 mg daily and are suffering withdrawals. I was told .5mg is such a small dose that I could stop it cold turkey by my doctor if I wanted to. I do have problems with exercise where I get bad migraines and fatigue the night of exercising and days after