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I am writing this blog in the hope that another stressed spouse will benefit from my experience.

When my stress level started to increase as my husband’s AD symptoms of diminished judgment, reasoning, memory, and impulse control increased, I accepted my doctor’s recommendation for the anti anxiety drug Xanax, to be taken as needed. I took it as needed, which was every night before bed, and sometimes late in the day. I resisted the idea of taking a daily anti-depressant. I was STRESSED, NOT DEPRESSED, I reasoned.

Then the AD Devil took total possession of my husband’s brain.  I was subjected to verbal abuse, violent rages, screaming temper tantrums, irrational unending arguing, in addition to insurmountable financial stress. I finally realized that Xanax was not going to control my anxiety attacks, sobbing, inability to catch my breath, and difficulty getting out of bed in the morning to face the day.  I gave in and asked for an anti-depressant. 50 mg. of Zoloft once a day kept me alive and somewhat sane through the worst of that period, which lasted over a year.

Sid is calm now. I have adjusted to his situation as much as has been possible for me. My financial situation will never be as it once was when we both had good jobs, but at least I am able to pay for the Villa every month. I have been feeling fairly well emotionally. I decided it was time to come off of the Zoloft. I knew enough not to stop cold turkey, as the results could range from unpleasant to medically serious.

I should mention that I always took this medication before bed, because if I took it during the day, it made me too sleepy to function. Two weeks ago, I cut my dosage in half, taking 25 mg. instead of 50. For those first few nights, I felt anxious and “wound up” in the early evening. I also slept restlessly, and had disturbing nightmares. As with most dreams, I do not remember what they were, just that they were violent and stressful. I was sure these reactions would pass, and within less than a week, they did. I felt fine. My plan was to continue on the 25 mg. for two weeks, maybe three, and then gradually wean down to one every other day, every two days, and then none.

Here we are in the middle of week three. My stress level is up. My coping skills are diminishing, my patience with my husband is down, and my crabbiness is way up. My crabbiness is reaching the level it was during my last year before retiring, when I was working with gang members, drug addicts, and murderers (and they were Middle Schoolers!). I was so stressed that year that anything would set me off. Believe me when I tell you that you would NOT have wanted to be my companion in a restaurant with poor service after I had a bad day with the “gang”. 

And so it was yesterday for the unfortunate receptionist at the gym. It was not her fault that their flyers had poor editing. It was not her fault that the flyer announced a program of nutritional counseling, personal training, and physician monitoring as an inconclusive program. Imagine her surprise when I confronted her and asked why in the world I would join an inconclusive weight loss program, and patiently (maybe not so patiently) explained to her the definition of the word “inconclusive”.  After re-reading it, mulling it over for awhile, she said that I was correct, to which I nastily replied, “ I know I’m correct! I was a language teacher for 25 years.”

Oh my. Oh my. I returned to my car, admonishing myself for such rude, snippy behavior. I have not been handling Sid’s repetitive, repetitive, repetitive questions, his morning confusion, nor his forgetfulness, very well either.  It has occurred to me that perhaps the reason I was feeling so calm and able to cope, was the 50 mg. of Zoloft. Perhaps, in my case, the stress of living with Alzheimer’s Disease requires 50 mg. of Zoloft. Perhaps I should have adhered to the old adage – “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!” Perhaps I should give up on my own doctoring skills, and follow the original prescription dosage. No perhaps about it – I took the 50mg. dosage last night, and will continue to do so.

I really do hate relying on medication as a coping mechanism, but I guess the old ad slogan applies in this case – “Better Living Through Chemistry”.

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©Copyright 2010 Joan Gershman 
The Alzheimer Spouse LLC
2009 All Rights


 The material included on this website contains general information intended as information only. This site is not intended to provide personal, professional, medical, or psychological advice, and should not be relied upon to govern behavior in any certain or particular circumstances. The opinions in the blogs are solely those of the owner of the website. The opinions on the message boards are not necessarily endorsed by the owner of this website, and are the opinions of those persons writing the messages. All material on this web site is for demonstration and informational purposes only.           

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