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Sleep Disorders Message Board

Sleep Disorders Board Index

[QUOTE=LeeLee3]I had some sleeping problems when I was getting over mono, almost four years ago. I didn't do much during the day because of the mono, then had trouble sleeping at night. The sleeplessness continued post-mono, to the point where I got no sleep for several days and nights. The doctor prescribed elavil (amitryptiline HCL) and over-the-counter melatonin. It worked. He said I could stay on it for life, since some people just need help to sleep. I tried to go off it, but could not sleep w/o it. He thinks my sleeping problems had more to do with anxiety than mono, but I didn't believe him. But last year, I had some real problems with my career life, and was very nervous and depressed. He tried to give me antidepressants, but I chose not to take them. Elavil is actually a tri-cyclic antidepressant, and I didn't want to be taking so many pills. I've been having career issues lately, too, and am re-thinking the anti-depressants. I just get so worked up over little things - sometimes I can take a deep breath and shrug it off, but sometimes I feel unstable and cry for hours. Maybe if I took a standard anti-depressant during the day, I'd be less anxious and could sleep w/o the elavil and melatonin. The problem is, I'm afraid I'm addicted to them. I didn't take it seriously until I saw a show on TV about a woman who took anxiety pills long-term because she was addicted. She hid it like it was some big secret - I've never hid my medicine because I didn't think it was a big deal, but maybe it is. She showed the same withdrawl symptoms I showed when I forgot to go to the drugstore and had to go without them.

I was just wondering if anyone else has been dependant on sleep medications. I just can't understand why I can't sleep without them - it is kind of scary. I will sit up for hours - sometimes I can get a few hours sleep, sometimes none, and I get very jittery. Is it ok to take sleep medications long-term? I mean, I've heard of people mainly taking them for temporary problems. I guess I just want to hear about others' experiences with sleep treatments, and how you eventually solved the problem w/o the drugs, if you have gotten that far.[/QUOTE]

It's true what they say, Elavil and other AD's are not addictive. Why? Because the definition of "addictive" must include compulsive, drug-seeking "behaviors". Addiction is not considered just is also considered a psychological/socialistic problem.

But guess what? AD's, benzos, neuroleptics and other psychoactive drugs are indeed physically addictive, which is properly termed "dependancy", not addiction. So even though your brain is dependant(addicted) if you will to having the drug, you are still not considered an addict nor is your drug considered addictive.

It's all semantics. Truth is, your brain adapts to the daily dose of the drug and subsequently stops trying to produce chemicals on it's own, whether it be sleep chemicals or others. The continued exposure to a drug that takes over a brain function will also cause something called deregulation. The exposed receptors will weaken or die off, thus making the drug less effective...this is tolerance. Tolerance is sometimes slow to develop, other times it can happen quickly.

IMHO, your doctor is wrong. Your sleep problem had a distinct origin, your mono infection. It is not anxiety, the catch-all diagnosis these days! Even though the mono was gone, sleep patterns sometimes can take a very long time to return after such a problem. Taking the drug to sleep only delayed the brain's process to do so.

Personally, I had a simular problem like yours; after several meds, mainly benzos, I had developed such a severe tolerance that I could take 2 mgs. of Ativan(a stronger benzo) and not fall asleep all night....for several days at a time! It was a nightmare.

I felt I had no choice but to quit Ativan. I ended up in protracted benzo withdrawal for years, but guess what? Sleep came back, slowly but surely, small increases here and there and the amounts of hours I slept grew and grew, even after several years!

The brain can recover it's own sleep if given the time drug free. Problem is, it sometimes takes awhile but it's worth it.

Never cold turkey any med, though, it could be dangerous.

I truley understand how scary this is for you; I was scared poop-less. But I kept telling myself it will pass. It was so frustrating and I suffered alot....but I did notice sometimes even when I slept only a few natural hours in the beginning, those natural hours were unusually refreshing...that gave me the strength to continue intil the hours increased.

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