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Hydroxyzine Withdrawal Symptoms: Causes, Effects & Management

Prolonged use of hydroxyzine can lead to hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms when the dosage is reduced or stopped. As a commonly prescribed medication for anxiety and allergies, It’s important to be aware of the challenges that can arise when stopping hydroxyzine and managing withdrawal symptoms. In ScienceDirect studies, hydroxyzine showed higher withdrawal symptoms who took hydroxyzine late in pregnancy.

It’s difficult to deal with withdrawal symptoms. Michael Alago shares his real-life story of recovering from addiction and fighting drug withdrawal. Growing up in Brooklyn, music was integral to his early life and ignited his passion for the industry. As an A&R executive, Michael made notable discoveries like Metallica and collaborated with stars such as Cindy Lauper. Despite his successful career, he faced challenges with addiction. He openly discusses dealing with withdrawal symptoms and the impact on his mental health during this period. 

This article will discuss hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms, how long they last, and effective ways to manage them. Knowing what to expect during withdrawal can help you achieve lasting success.

Understanding Hydroxyzine and its uses 

Hydroxyzine, also known by its brand names Atarax and Vistaril, is an antihistamine medication commonly prescribed to treat a range of conditions, including anxiety disorders, allergic reactions, and itching.

Hydroxyzine reduces allergic reactions and calms the central nervous system by blocking histamine receptors in the body.

Uses of Hydroxyzine

If you have anxiety, allergies, or a planned surgery, your doctor may prescribe hydroxyzine oral tablets for you. It’s used in adults and some children to:

  • Treat anxiety
  • Treat itching related to dermatitis or other allergic conditions
  • Help induce sedation (a state of sleepiness and relaxation) before or after anesthesia for surgery

Hydroxyzine is also used for the short-term treatment of nervousness and tension that may occur with certain mental/mood disorders, such as anxiety and dementia. Additionally, it helps manage withdrawal symptoms (e.g., anxiety and agitation) in alcoholics.

Other uses include decreasing anxiety and nausea before/after surgery or during childbirth. It can also enhance the effectiveness of certain narcotic pain relievers, such as meperidine.

Hydroxyzine Mechanism of Action

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that works by affecting certain natural substances (acetylcholine, serotonin) in the body or by acting directly on certain parts of the brain. 

By blocking a natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction, hydroxyzine helps alleviate allergic symptoms and provides a calming effect.

Hydroxyzine is available in different forms, including: 

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Syrups

Your doctor prescribes the required form with the required strength of this medicine. It typically provides relief within 15-30 minutes of ingestion, with effects lasting for 16-24 hours. 

Hydroxyzine Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone stops or reduces their hydroxyzine dosage after extended use, they may experience hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms. These can include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The severity and duration of these symptoms vary based on factors like the dosage and duration of hydroxyzine use, as well as the individual’s overall health and physiology. Understanding these potential withdrawal symptoms can help you manage the process more effectively.

Duration of Hydroxyzine Withdrawal 

Hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms can vary based on individual factors such as dosage, duration of use, and personal health. Typically, withdrawal symptoms start within 6 to 12 hours after the last dose and may last from days to several weeks. The severity and duration of these symptoms depend on overall health, the length of time hydroxyzine was used, and the dosage taken.

For some, withdrawal symptoms might last up to 7 days, while others might experience them for a longer period. It’s crucial to manage these symptoms under medical supervision to know the safe and best withdrawal process.

Tapering Off Hydroxyzine 

Abruptly stopping hydroxyzine can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms, including hallucinations or seizures. Tapering off hydroxyzine allows your body to adjust to lower levels of the medication, minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

The specific tapering schedule will depend on factors like how long you’ve been using the medication and the dosage. This gradual reduction approach is generally safer and more comfortable than stopping suddenly.

Factors Influencing Hydroxyzine Withdrawal Symptoms 

Hydroxyzine withdrawal severity and duration are influenced by several factors:

  • Dosage and Duration

Higher doses or long-term use of hydroxyzine can lead to more intense withdrawal symptoms. Those who have used higher doses or for extended periods may experience more severe symptoms compared to those with lower doses or shorter use times.

  • Individual Health

Each person’s health and body function differently, affecting how they experience withdrawal. Factors like metabolism, liver health, and existing medical conditions play roles in how hydroxyzine is processed and its withdrawal effects.

  • Risks of Stopping Suddenly

Abruptly discontinuing hydroxyzine without proper tapering or medical supervision can worsen withdrawal symptoms. It’s crucial to work with a healthcare provider to ensure a safe and manageable withdrawal process.

These factors help tailor strategies to minimize hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms & impact.

Coping Strategies for Hydroxyzine-caused Withdrawal Symptoms 

Withdrawal from hydroxyzine can be tough, both physically and emotionally. It helps to have effective coping strategies in place. Consider these approaches:

  • Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors, which can be really useful during withdrawal.

  • Support Groups

Joining a support group can provide a sense of community and understanding. Talking to others who have experienced similar challenges can offer emotional support and new ways to cope.

  • Self-care

Take care of yourself by practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce anxiety and promote calmness. Eating well, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise are also crucial for your physical and mental well-being during withdrawal.

Remember, everyone’s experience with hydroxyzine withdrawal is unique, so finding what works best for you is key.

Seeking Support for Hydroxyzine Withdrawal Symptoms & Impact 

Managing hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms should be done with the guidance of a healthcare professional. In some cases, medical detoxification might be recommended. This involves 24/7 medical supervision and support, either in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Medical detox provides a safe environment for withdrawal, reducing the risk of complications.

A healthcare provider can monitor your progress, adjust the tapering schedule if needed, and provide necessary support. Working with a healthcare provider ensures a personalized tapering plan and support for a smoother, safer withdrawal experience. 

It’s crucial not to attempt withdrawal from hydroxyzine or any medication without proper medical guidance to manage potential risks effectively.

FAQs: Hydroxyzine Withdrawal Symptoms 

Que: Does hydroxyzine have withdrawal symptoms?

Ans: Yes, stopping hydroxyzine suddenly can cause anxiety, agitation, insomnia, dizziness, headache, and nausea. Always stop under medical guidance.

Que: What are the first signs of withdrawal?

Ans: Signs include trouble sleeping, irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety, aches, cravings, and fatigue.

Que: Why can’t you take hydroxyzine in the long term?

Ans: Hydroxyzine isn’t meant for long-term daily use for anxiety or sleep because your body can become tolerant to it, reducing its effectiveness over time.

Que: How long does hydroxyzine stay in your system?

Ans: It takes about 70 hours (5 half-lives) for hydroxyzine to completely leave your body after the last dose, with a half-life of about 14 hours.

Que: Does hydroxyzine affect the brain?

Ans: Yes, hydroxyzine crosses the blood-brain barrier, affecting histamine levels in the brain, which can help with allergies but may also cause side effects.

Conclusion 

Overall, Stopping hydroxyzine can lead to hydroxyzine withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, irritability, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, and vomiting. Working closely with healthcare professionals is crucial for safely managing withdrawal. 

Gradually tapering off under medical supervision, using coping strategies, and seeking support through therapy can help make the process smoother. If you’re considering stopping hydroxyzine or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, seek personalized guidance from a healthcare provider for support.

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