Anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms. While that may seem good for the time being, you can develop a dependency that can lead to serious side effects. It is important to be under supervision when you are taking benzodiazepines and to look at other methods of treatment for anxiety as well.
Benzodiazepines are the most widely prescribed medications for treating anxiety. These are very effective to take if you have a panic attack or an episode since they can take half and hour to an hour to take into effect. These medications work when they slow down the nervous system since GABA receptors are affected. One minute, you are taking these medications for specific moments when you need them. Next, you feel like you need them for everything in even the most mildest symptoms. Just like alcohol, it provides temporary relief until it becomes a habit. Benzodiazepines become your go-to medication you take when you wake up, before going to work, going to the grocery store, etc.
Huffington Post says that 44% of benzodiazepine users become dependent. Taking too much of this medication will actually make you more anxious after the medication wears off. This will make you take more and more to get the desired effects. It can take a few weeks to a few months to develop a dependency. Just like with any addiction, it is important not to stop the medication cold turkey. If you do, you will experience dangerous consequences like shakiness, insomnia, stomach pain, confusion, panic attacks, racing heart, sweating, and seizures. Many think that if they experience these symptoms, it means that their previous anxiety is coming back and that they need to get back on the medication to get rid of these symptoms. This is why you need to slowly taper off of these medications.
It is fine to take benzodiazepines in small doses and on occasion. They can be dangerous and deadly if you combine these medications with others. Never drink alcohol when on benzodiazepines as it can lead to a fatal overdose as well as with painkillers or sleeping pills. Antihistamines in sleep, cold, and allergy medication can cause you to over-sedate yourself when mixed with benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines can also be dangerous for certain kind of people. For example, people over 65 can experience confusion, amnesia, dementia, and loss of coordination. This can lead to risks of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents as well as the risk of Alzheimer’s. Anyone with a previous addiction should be taking benzodiazepines with caution as you can be replacing one addiction with another. Benzodiazepines are also dangerous when you are pregnant because your unborn baby can develop a dependence as well as the medication being excreted in breast milk. If pregnant women need to be on benzodiazepines, then it needs to be on the smallest dose.
Anti-anxiety medications can also lead to people becoming suicidal, aggressive, and homicidal. If this is your first time taking the medication or if you have changed your dose, you need to be closely monitored by a doctor. You know the medication is making you worse if you are experiencing hostility, insomnia, restlessness, and extreme agitation. The suicide risk is the greatest during the first two months so if you see any of these signs, call a doctor, therapist, or The National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. You should also keep a journal to describe how you are feeling as you are slowly tapering off the medication. Record how you sleep and your overall day so you can notice the difference while you were on benzodiazepines and off.
If you want to stop taking anti-anxiety medication, speak to your doctor first to avoid fatal withdrawal symptoms. You should also talk to your doctor about what made you want to take benzodiazepines in the first place. Get to the root of the problem so you can find a solution such as maybe you need to try another type of anti-anxiety medication or work with a therapist for different kinds of counseling. If you feel like you are unable to stop, that is the time to find an addiction treatment center to help break the cycle. When you are off the medication, it will take time for your brain to heal and go back to how it was before. Have regular check-ups with your doctor to make sure that tapering off the medication is going well.
Medications are not the only way you can treat your anxiety symptoms as there are other methods that provide lasting changes. For example, working out regularly can work just as well as medication. Therapy can teach you about how to control your anxiety levels, stop worrying, and conquering your fears. Yoga, meditation, and tai chi can connect you on a spiritual level that makes you focus on the present moment only instead of worrying about what has yet to come. You will become calm and relaxed by the time you are done with each session. Remember that no medication is worth ruining your life over. If you outweigh the pros and cons of your anti-anxiety medication and you get more cons, you need to switch your medication. Do not be afraid to speak to your doctor if go grow dependent on your anti-anxiety medication to avoid dealing with serious consequences that can worse your anxiety in the long run.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 1-888-570-7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.