Anxiety and Medication

What about medication for your anxiety?

For decades, the go-to medication for anxiety was a benzodiazepine, either valium, klonopin, or Xanax, especially Xanax. These medications do a really good job of pushing down the terrifying symptoms of anxiety and panic. I’m just not a big fan of using benzos, as they are called, because they are so addictive, but also because they get in the way of people learning coping tools for managing their symptoms. 

Many people who use Xanax will say, “I started having a panic attack, so I took a Xanax and immediately felt better.” If that is a true statement, and I don’t doubt that it is, the reason they felt better wasn’t because of the Xanax. It hadn’t even reached their stomach yet, or been digested, passed into the intestines and into the blood stream. That process takes at least thirty minutes (or more). The relief they feel truly is ‘all in their head.’

In recent years, numerous studies have shown medications in a class known as SSRIs are more effective in managing anxiety (Paxil and Zoloft are a couple of well-known ones). The major difference between these medications and benzos is they do not work quickly. You have to take them for several weeks before they reach a therapeutic level in your blood stream. But after that, they maintain a steady level, not the up and down spikes of a benzo.

In very recent years, there are reports (not controlled studies) that using CBD products are helpful in managing anxiety.

I need to quickly add there are people whose anxiety is so severe that neither coping tools nor SSRIs are enough to manage their symptoms. In those cases, using a low dose of klonopin seems to work best and is warranted.

All of the information I’ve shared in this particular post is not meant to advise you on what to do about medications. It is my hope you will be able to have a more informed conversation with your medical provider about what is best for you.

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