Has anyone weaned off of olanzapine s... - Action on Postpar...

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Has anyone weaned off of olanzapine successfully?

Milliemillie
Milliemillie

Hi all,

I am currently weaning off olanzapine. I was on 5 mg daily and am now on 2.5mg. I have had two night of not being able to sleep at all. I took some sleeping tablets to sleep last night as I couldn't cope with another night without sleep. I've read that weaning off olanzpine can cause insomnia. I wondered if anyone else had this and if so how long did it last? How did you get through it? What was your weaning process like?

Thanks in advance.

9 Replies
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Hi Milliemillie,

I am sorry you are suffering from insomnia. I have struggled with it recently and it is very difficult.

I weaned off olanzapine in December 2019, like you I went from 5 mg to 2.5 mg and I noticed I struggled to get to sleep with 2.5 mg, but it passed after a few nights. The difficulty in falling asleep though felt very different compared to when I was unwell. Then, I was all wired up and impossible and unwilling to switch off. When I struggled to sleep while weaning off the olanzapine I felt knackered the following day if I didn't do my hours. Is it the same for you?

I totally sympathise with your sentiment of dreading having another sleepless night, it becomes a vicious circle for me as the more I feel anxious about staying awake the more sleep eludes me.

Discussing weaning alternatives with your psychiatrist can be a way to go, maybe keeping the 5 mg for a little while longer could be an option. With the intention of going down to 2.5 mg at a more auspicious time? Or going slower and alternating doses?

For me lack of sleep quite often reflects what is happening in my life. Worries and stresses, extreme situations, all of those bring back my insomnia. Do you think there are any external causes that could be making the problem worse?

I have recently started trying some relaxation techniques before bed, and I have seen an improvement in that I am not waking up after just a couple of hours. I do progressive muscle relaxation. But there is a myriad of them. Some centered around breathing or meditation. Could be something to try perhaps?

I wish you all the best, you are doing really well,

Hi Milliemillie, I'm sorry to hear you're having struggles sleeping - it's awful, isn't it? I had the same problem when I stopped taking Olanzapine. I was also taking Sertraline at the same time, and had heard that Sertraline can cause insomnia, so I had just assumed that when I came off the Olanzapine, because I was no longer getting that sedating effect, that perhaps the Sertraline was giving me the insomnia... but I came off that two after 3 weeks of not sleeping properly (after speaking to the GP). Interesting to know that Olanzapine can actually cause it.

I actually didn't sleep properly for nearly 2 months (and after the first 3 weeks I was no longer on any medication). I think I got at best, maybe 2 or 3 hours a night. I was incredibly anxious about not sleeping, as I was so afraid it might trigger a relapse, but actually, I think perhaps my mind and body were just processing things that perhaps the drugs had blocked. After the first 3 weeks of not sleeping, I found a therapist. That was in November 2017 and I saw him on a mostly weekly basis for around 2 years, and still see him now (he's been a godsend throughout lockdown!)

Like Emimum says, it was a vicious circle for me too - the more anxious I was, the less likely it was that I would sleep well.

I spoke to my therapist about my anxiety and I realised it was absolutely natural. I did not have a good experience with my treatment and so I was dreading the possibility of having to go through it all again.

The funniest thing was that the night I first had a full night's sleep was 24th December - we had gone to stay with my in-laws in France and it was our first night there. I felt that (at last) I could relax. My daughter could get up and go to my mother-in-law if she was up early and I could finally have a lie in. Someone else would be there so I could rest. To "mother" me ;) I can't prove it was connected, but I strongly believe that this was key in my finally being able to get to sleep.

After that night, I didn't have any more problems and slept as I normally do. I still have the odd night or two where I can't sleep as much, but I've noticed it's consistent with certain times in my menstrual cycle and it never worries me anymore.

I also know I have my therapist and I can tell him at any time I experience something I feel is a little out of the norm for me, so I have that "safety net" for reassurance when I need it.

I occasionally did take Nytol I think, but haven't needed it for a long time.

You're not alone... and there is light at the end of the tunnel!

I really hope you get some good rest soon xx

Pikorua
PikoruaVolunteer

Hello Milliemillie,

How are you doing? I can not relate to this specific drug as I was on traditional antipsychotics in 2010/2011. After being sectioned and then cared for by my partner I was in fact like a vegetable. I can not remember my son in my first year much, but pics show me that I really loved my little boy and always wanted to be with him.

Insomnia has been part of my life for shall we say for a bit over 8 years. I have had no idea that I actually always had Bipolar and that Insomnia and Anxiety is part of my cycling spectrum.

Life quality can be truly diminished. I now have been taking CBD oil/capsules for nearly 2 years and my Insomnia has finally lifted. It is such a bliss...my partner and my big boy are completely in tune that I do not wish to take any chemicals and just work with natural and other therapeutic remedies.

I am fortunate to have a safe and secure environment without too many stressors around me. I use self therapy via art and Reiki and continue to study for my Reiki level 3. I find meditation and aroma therapy very useful. In addition I am tracking my moods and write diaries addressed to my boy.

We are all different, so are our needs and circumstances in order to balance our mental health challenges. You are doing incredibly well and weaning off is possible for all of us, if we have a good professional support system. I always will be grateful to a Spanish Psychiatrist and my partner.

x

Hi Milliemille,

I haven't tried coming off olanzapine before, but I'm currently reducing seroquel (which I've heard is similar). I'm taking 2 weeks off work to reduce from 12.5 mg to nothing. I started on 87.5mg and went down to 75mg after 4 months, then to 50mg a month later. At the beginning of the year I dropped to 25mg, then 12.5mg in April.

I've found each time I've dropped down that I initially feel really positive and less sedated, then can't sleep well for the first week, followed by 2-3 days of panic symptoms (after 1 week), then increased anxiety and then fine after 2 weeks (more motivated, present, more myself). It's been the same each time I've dropped down.

It's a journey!

This time I think I'll use lorazapam to help me sleep for first few nights.

Take care

Hi Believeinpeople,

I have also used lorazepam to sleep recently and I had better results with it than with sleeping pills like zoplicone. Of course, when I stop taking it I go back to a few sleepless nights but then I find that my rhythm settles much easier. For the past 3 weeks I wake up at 4 am which is such an improvement from waking up after just a couple of hours (my usual since April this year).

Good luck with the weaning

It definitely helps me when I'm feeling really wound up/ can't sleep. I use it so rarely now, but can be really helpful.

Thanks, fingers crossed the weaning goes well

Dear Milliemillie,

I also suffered a PPP at a similar time and I’m trying to wean off Olazapine. It’s brilliant at the beginning as you stop feeling so blunted but the later stages are tricky.

I’m now on 2.5mg after trying to reduce it further on two occasions. I find it triggers insomnia- for me its early morning waking, this then leads to a return of my anxiety.

I’ve been told this is very normal when weaning Olazapine but I’ve been offered some more therapy before I try again.

Have you discussed this with your team?

Remember to be kind to yourself as you’ll still be healing. Let me know how you get on. x

Hi Treat2019

That’s interesting we are on the journey at the same time. Keep me posted on how you get on.

I’m on 1.25mg a night and am going to try and take that every other day with a view to stopping completely if I can. We shall see.

I wish you all the best with it all x

Hi Milliemillie,

Good luck with the next steps. Going down slowly seems to be the key.

Stay well & be kind to yourself.

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