Life is tough, and sometimes, you’re not able to deal with things on your own – you need a little help. If you struggle with crippling anxiety, there’s nothing wrong with taking a prescription to help you get through it (as long as it’s prescribed by a doctor, of course. Don’t self-diagnose!). You do you, girl! Unfortunately, there is still a stigma against mental illness in today’s society. People who don’t understand anxiety disorders may judge you for needing medication which may cause you to be hesitant about getting help. If you’re at the end of your rope and anti-anxiety meds helps you get through another day, you can’t worry about what other people think.
I’ve been taking Zoloft for a few years now, and it helps me immensely. Before taking the meds, I would be so crippled with social anxiety that I couldn’t go out and meet new people – I thought everyone was judging me all the time. I was in therapy and doing yoga regularly, but I still couldn’t seem to get control over my brain. The medication helped me when I felt I wasn’t strong enough to keep going. Now I rarely suffer from those worried thought patterns.
If you’re currently on anti-anxiety medication or thinking about starting, here are some things you should know!
There Are Many Different Kinds Of Anxiety MedsDifferent types of medication are available to help you with your anxiety. Your doctor will work with you to find the type that will work the best with your body, and you may have to try a few before you settle on the right one. Prescription drugs that help with both anxiety and depression called SSRIs and SNRIs. These are non-habit forming (so you don't have to worry about taking them for a longer period of time!) and have relatively few side effects. Examples of this type of drug include: Zoloft, Paxel, Lexapro, Prozac, etc. Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonapin, etc.) are another type of anxiety medication okay for short-term use only. They provide immediate relief of anxiety symptoms but shouldn't be taken longer than two to four weeks. These medications have a sedating and muscle-relaxing component. Source: iStock
You CAN Become Addicted To ThemBenzos (Xanax, Valium, Klonapin, etc.) are habit-forming, meaning that you could experience withdrawal symptoms if you take them longer than recommended. Shaking, sweating, and panic attacks are all symptoms of withdrawal. YES, it sounds scary, but if you take them only as prescribed by your doctor, you don't have to worry about becoming addicted. The longer you take this drug, the less you will feel the effects. This means that you take 1 mg of Xanax, you might need 1.5 mg in three months to experience the same relief. (Yet another reason why it's good to only take prescriptions like Xanax for short periods of time!) Source: iStock
Medication Alone Is Not Enough TreatmentAnti-Anxiety Meds will take away those awful anxious thoughts, but they rarely help long-term. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is recommended to help you understand the root of your anxiety and to teach you how to have healthier thought patterns. Believe me, I know how daunting the idea of going to therapy sounds, but there is no quick-fix to mental illness. You might even find therapy enjoyable once you dive in! Breathing techniques, exercise, and the support of family and friends will also aid you in lessening the anxiety you feel. Empower yourself by making sure that your daily routine is one that relieves anxiety instead of compounding it. Personally, I journal, mediate, avoid caffeine, and do yoga daily in addition to my medication to lessen the grip anxiety has over my life. Source: iStock
They Could Make Symptoms WorseOne type of medication, Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonapin, etc.), can cause you to feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated even on low doses. Also, long-term usage could increase your thoughts of suicide. If taken longer than recommended, weaning yourself off Benzos will cause higher levels of anxiety. It's important to be honest with your doctor about how your feeling and only use these medications as prescribed. Again, every body reacts differently! SSRIs also have a chance of increasing the thoughts of suicide (especially in young adults). Only one antidepressant, Prozac, is approved for use in teens. If you start taking an anti-anxiety medication and have suicidal ideation, it may be the cause. Source: iStock
You Can't Abruptly Stop Taking ThemSSRIs need to be tapered off gradually. So, just because you are feeing relief from anxiety doesn't mean that you should throw out your bottle of pills. This kind of "cold turkey" approach can lead to anxious thoughts, irritability and insomnia. If you're taking an antidepressant for longer than six weeks, you should lessen your dosage over a period of time under a doctor's supervision. This allows your brain to adjust! Benzos, when taken for short periods of time, do not need to be tapered. Source: iStock
They Could Mess With Your Sex LifeHaving a low libido is a frequent side effect of anxiety medication. According to a report, sexual disfunction occurs in 30-80% of people taking SSRIs and is the main reason many people stop taking the medication. Again, this is something to discuss with your doctor, and its up to you to see if the benefits outweigh the potential side effects. Source: iStock
It's Normal To Take ThemLots of people use prescriptions to help them deal with anxiety. Even Jennifer Lawrence recently told the New York Times that she takes anxiety medication. (The most popular woman in the world has anxiety? That makes me feel better!) If you feel like a failure for needing medication to help you get through tough times in your life, remember that anxiety isn't your fault and there are lots of resources out there to help you. Source: iStock
Have you taken anxiety medication? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!