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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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How serious are the side effects of Ambien?

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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3047 Questions

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Posted on Tue, 31 Jul 2018 in Brain and Spine
Question: How serious are the side effects of ambien I have taken it for several years? What is the withdrawal like?
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 56 minutes later
Brief Answer:
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Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

As you probably know, Ambien is meant for short term use. If a person has ongoing sleep problems, the underlying problem should be addressed. For example, for anxiety, an SSRI antidepressant can take care of the underlying anxiety and thereby allow for sleep at night. If the problem is from sleep disorders such as apnea, that should be diagnosed and positive airway pressure devices can give better sleep.

In terms of how hard it is to get off of Ambient and the side effects to expect, that varies from one person to the next. But in general there is more agitation and insomnia and in some people that can last for weeks to months.

It should be withdrawn slowly (break in half, etc) and if you are experiencing side effects of agitation, anxiety, insomnia, another medication can help get you through the withdrawal symptoms. For example, clonazepam is a long acting benzodiazepine. While it's best not to stay on that, it may be all that you need for a few weeks. If you have underlying anxiety for which the Ambien was being used, then an SSRI antidepressant can be used safely in an ongoing way.

I recommend that you work with your doctor in this process to help you get off of the Ambien.

Does that answer your question? If you would like, I can detail the various possible withdrawal symptoms people can experience, but the main ones are agitation and insomnia. Then again, some people are able to stop taking it and do fine immediately.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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