One thing that comes up in my work as a nutrition coach is that I see so many young women (20s and 30s) who are on anti-anxiety meds. It seems to me they are being prescribed like candy. In fact, 1 in 4 women are on medication for a mental health condition (far more than men).
As with many Western pharmaceuticals, I am sure there is a time and place when they are appropriate, but also believe they are being over-used. In my work with patients, we end up helping a lot of people get off these medications.
I want to share some of my personal thoughts on this, some questions to consider yourself and discuss with your doctor before making this decision.
1. Drugs have side effects. They all do, there's no getting around it.
2. Drugs have main "desired" effects. The anxiety meds are altering your brain chemistry. Are you ok with that?
3. How long will you be on the drugs? Is this being prescribed as a temporary salve, or a long-term solution? How hard is this medication to get off of? Would you have to taper off and for how long? Are they safe during pregnancy, should you want to get pregnant at a later date? Remember the pharmaceutical companies want you to be on these drugs for life, that's how they make money. How long do you want to be on them for?
4. Are you open to trying alternative remedies? We tend to "prescribe" yoga, meditation and a clean diet, and those make a big difference for people. Acupuncture is helpful as well. Exercise is tremendously helpful, and so is spending time in nature. Here's a recent post called Coping with Anxiety.
Starting a yoga or meditation practice requires a greater commitment than taking a pill. But with the commitment, comes a possibility for growth and healing. An opportunity to cultivate skills for handling anxiety that will benefit you for the rest of your life. (Because more stressors will surely come your way!)
What worries me about the prescription drugs is that we get into a mind-set that it's not possible to fix our problems any other way. I worry that this closes doors, it shuts out opportunities for healing. We learn not to trust ourselves. The solution is "out there" and cannot be cultivated from within. The message is that we don't have the ability to handle our anxiety in this moment, nor is it possible for us to develop the ability. That's not an empowering message, and that's why I have taken care to avoid these meds even when they've been recommended.
The anxiety symptoms are a message from our body that something is out of balance. Can we acknowledge that message, address it, tap into our emotional strength and heal?
5. Seeking advice. I think it's important to discuss these concerns with your doctor. In addition, is there a trusted person in your life who you can consult with? They may offer some perspective, see a blind spot you're not aware of, and be able to support you through a difficult time. Talking about your anxiety may feel uncomfortable or taboo, yet it may be helpful to share and get support.
For further reading this is a great overview about anxiety from womentowomen.
Please share - have you had success with managing your anxiety or getting off anxiety meds?
Love and grace,
"Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree, in the midst of them all." - Buddha