You suffer from anxiety. You want an immediate solution. Unfortunately, the only quick fix for anxiety is anxiety medicine, and anxiety medicines can be dangerously addictive.
Anxiety medications have their place. Prescription medications are effective last resorts, when other anxiety treatment decisions have failed, and they're acceptable in combination with psychotherapy. But on their own, medicine becomes a crutch - something you rely on to cure your anxiety without actually making it possible to control your anxiety.
It's not just a crutch for you emotionally either. It's a crutch for your brain as well. Your brain starts to depend on the medicine, to the point where it suffers from serious withdrawal symptoms when you wean your way off of it. In addition, anxiety cannot be cured by medicine alone. Those that used medicine to fight their anxiety are going to find that their anxiety comes back when they stop taking the medicine - something that is especially true of those with panic attacks and severe anxiety symptoms.
WARNING: READ THIS BEFORE GETTING STARTED.
If you're already on anxiety meds, you should never stop taking them suddenly. Doing so will cause severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and may actually cause anxiety more severe than when you initially started the medications. Even if you experience severe side effects, continue taking the medicine and contact your doctor for a safe way to reduce the dosage.
You'll also need to make sure that your anxiety will be under control once you go off the medicines. Fill out my free anxiety questionnaire with the symptoms you used to experience with anxiety, and see some of the recommendations for how to reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Talking to Your Doctor About Withdrawal
Always talk to your doctor about the safest way to gradually reduce your medication, and do not use the Internet, including this article, as a source for how to stop taking them. Your body type, the length of time you've been on the medication, your dosage - all of these affect how dosing should be completed in order to safely stop taking medications.
With drugs like benzodiazepines, a very slow withdrawal is crucial. Some studies have put the withdrawal rate as slow as 25% less per month, implying as long as 3 to 4 months or more before the drug is wiped from your system. Weaning off of these drugs can be a very slow process, and one that must be completed exactly as directed to avoid withdrawal.
Planning Your Substitution
You also need to start planning what you're going to do once you're off of your medication. Remember, medicine cannot cure anxiety forever. Once you've decided to stop taking your anxiety medicine, you have to plan for what happens when your anxiety comes back.
You can consider starting therapy, or talk to your doctor about using herbal supplements. Some supplements, like:
All may be as effective as anxiety medicine without the withdrawal symptoms. It's still important to talk to your doctor before taking these medications, as they may interact with other medicines or the medications you withdrew from.
You'll also need to make appropriate lifestyle changes. Make sure that you're not putting yourself in the same stressful environment you did previously. It's not a bad idea to create "disaster plan" either. Talk to your friends and family about something you can do if your anxiety comes back strong after you have stopped taking the medications. The sooner you react to this anxiety, the easier it will be to get back into managing your life.
Prevent the Need to Start or Go Back On Anxiety Medications
Anxiety medications have their uses. But overall, they don't provide the long term relief that anxiety sufferers look for from an anxiety treatment. In the end, it's possible to actually fair worse against anxiety because you have lost practice managing the disorder without medicinal help, and going on and off the medications is not going to provide you with the relief you need.
It is possible to cure anxiety, but to do so you need to rely on your own mental abilities combined with behavioral strategies that give you more strength to overcome your anxiety forever.
I've helped thousands of people not just control their anxiety, but overcome it completely. Yet to do that, you need to start by taking my free 7 minute anxiety test. It's the only way to get the information necessary to provide good treatment options.
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Last updated Sep 28, 2017 by Calm Clinic Editorial Team