Thanks so much for your response...I'm so glad to talk to others with anxiety disorders. I usually no longer take Ambien for the purpose of sleep. I have overcome needing it every night and only need it occasionally. In fact it seldom keeps me asleep more than a few hours due the the very short half life. I only take it daily to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as muscle cramping or muscle ticklishness, skin burning or anxiety attacks. In fact there are times I will have to take a pinch of Ambien during the daytime to stop these so I can work. I never take more than 10mgs per day though. I have even tried taking divided doses of 5.0 mgs and 5.0mgs 12 hours apart but it only lasts 6-8 hours now. I must get off Ambien now.
Until last year I also took Klonopin as well as 10mgs of Ambien every night for anxiety disorder but had so many untoward afternoon/evening withdrawal symptoms or anxiety breakthrough symptoms that I determined I must stop the Klonopin first and then stop the Ambien. I successfully tapered off Klonopin using methodical water titration as of March 2012. Then I was only taking 10mgs Ambien daily and 7.5mgs Remeron. I found my symptoms continued just as before so I thought it must be from the Ambien. So for a year and a half I have tried to taper off Ambien unsuccessfully. I finally even went the entire month of July 2012 with only 5 small doses of Ambien but my anxiety symptoms actually seemed to accelerate and not get better. I had severe bouts of depression and derealization, etc. that were increasing. I had to reinstate the Ambien but found the interdose withdrawals were even worse.
I have finally come to the conclusion that I must restart the Klonopin to allow me to stop the Ambien. I cannot seem to taper successfully off Ambien directly. I do not have access to sufficient Valium and I know how to do water titration with Klonopin.
To clarify, I have suffered from panic disorder and GAD for about 17 years and have been on and off Klonopin several times. However, each time I was off some stressful event in my life would drive me back to a benzo to treat recurrent panic attacks. I wish I could say Klonopin was a perfect medication for me but I always had some nagging symptoms such as intermittent muscle ticklishness that would drive me to want to stop it. I have taken as high as 2.0mgs Klonopin per day but the negative symptoms of muscle ticklishness only amplified. My best period of the last 17 years was about 18 months when I took no daily benzo but only took an occasional Xanax PRN when panic attacks occurred but never more than twice in a week. I could skip weeks too. I am so interested in how others have dealt with their anxiety disorders and how they seem to find a stable dose of Klonopin that works for them. I wondered if I were on a low dose of Klonopin "without" the Ambien if my anxiety disorder would be better controlled. I really believe Ambien causes an interdose withdrawal phenomonon "if" it is taken every day. I think this can even occur if you are taking a low dose of Klonopin and can make you think the Klonopin is causing these intermittent symptoms. In retrospect I should have tapered off of Ambien "before" I tapered off Klonopin. I am finding Ambien much harder to taper than Klonopin ever was now that my body is dependent on daily doses of Ambien.
Also, my pdoc is not in favor of Valium now which I have also used to taper off about 10 years ago. He wants me to never stop the Klonopin and I have ample supply of it.
My choices seem to be:
1. Cross from Ambien to 0.25mgs -0.50mgs Klonopin per day due to the longer half life which eliminates the interdose withdrawal I am suffering from greatly. Then I slowly water titrate off the Klonopin over 3-6 months. Then I would use Xanax PRN for anxiety breakthrough and never take Ambien regularly again.
2. Cross from Ambien to Klonopin and stay on a low dose of it long term for anxiety disorder. I have no problem with this as long as I don't have to escalate doses in the future.
I am sorry for the long explanation but I want to give a more complete picture.
I am appreciative of the comments of others and am glad to be able to participate in the forum!