Often I am asked what I think about anxiety medication, and if I believe it is the answer to eliminating anxiety. Whenever this happens, I always tell my story about what medication did and did not do for me.
Help When I Needed It
During the period of my life when I was suffering from chronic anxiety, unable to cut the cycle of fear and perceived danger everywhere, I turned to medication. Both my doctor and counselor at the time suggested that, based on my symptoms, medication was the only course of action that made sense for me:
- The persistent ‘On’ position of my mind was putting pressure on my kidneys, heart and other organs.
- My negative thinking was causing negative hormones like cortisol to flood my body, resulting in super-elevated heart rate and sleep deprivation.
The doctor told me how important it was not to underestimate the effects that chronic anxiety can have on one’s health; both short-term and long term.
My Anxiety “Aha” Moment: Time to Seek Treatment
The particular incident that led me to take anxiety medication was when I began to behave with obsessive tendencies. I was scheduled to go visit my daughter in the UK but the thought of the long flight was bringing on panic and claustrophobia. I was seriously considering not being able to endure the flight. And I was fretting about how I would hold my composure while confined on the plane. Flying had never been a problem for me before, however now my anxiety was taking that pleasure away from me. And the thought of not being able to see my daughter was too much for me to bear. I needed to do something.
I am eternally grateful to my doctor and counsellor for their advice regarding medication. It got me out of my downward anxiety spiral, and set me back on the path to life. I believe it may have even saved my life. It had its place and it did what it was supposed to do, alleviating my anxiety in a crisis situation. Calming me down, it allowed me to reclaim control of my life.
What Medication Didn’t Do
However, what I have also learned after years of taking medication is that it masks the symptoms; but does not solve the issue that is causing the anxiety. Whatever was causing my negative thinking, the what-ifs, the should-have’s, the yeah-but’s, only got silenced for a little while. The root problem was still lingering deep in my unconscious mind, unseen and unknown to me. And when I decided to come off of my medication, the negative thinking showed up again, louder and more persistent this time. My behaviour became even more erratic and more panicked than before.
My Journey Away from Anxiety and Medication
This time, my journey away from anxiety led me to seek non-medical ways of dealing with both the physical and psychological symptoms of my anxiety. I discovered a host of methods that helped remove the negative thoughts, so that anxiety would no longer be triggered. There is an increasing amount of evidence that acknowledges the benefits non-medical techniques have when dealing with the symptoms of anxiety. Methods such as mindfulness, alternative health therapies and talk therapies are proving to be powerful movements in this area.
There are many complimentary paths out of anxiety. Medication has it place and it keeps many safe while they are in crisis, like it did for me. The good news is that it is not the only way. There are new and evolving therapies that can help you put your life back together, and give you long-lasting change in a holistic manner. They can help you experience a different life, one where anxiety is a memory, not a reality.
To our health and wellbeing,