When should you consider taking medication for anxiety?
Everyone has a tipping point and I trust that you know when you have reached yours. Click To Tweet
I have spent the last 10 years working closely with people who suffer from high anxiety. My clients are some of my best teachers and between us, we have worked out what works and what doesn’t work. It is different for every person and you need a tailor made solution that is right for you. However, I hope this anecdotal evidence, in turn, can be really useful as a guide for what you need to consider. I am a Psychotherapist, not a Doctor, Psychiatrist or Naturopath and I recommend finding a decent human in one of these professions (that you can trust) to work out what is right for you specifically in terms of herbal or medical alternatives.
No need to medicate for mild anxiety
If your anxiety is mild see my other post about how to manage it better. Every day anxiety benefits from gently moving your body which of course you know already! So you definitely don’t need to consider medication if you are able to consistently find a way to provide yourself with great self-care when you get hyped. Basic stuff helps like regular walks, yoga or pilates, whatever you can motivate yourself to do given how you are feeling. You often can feel relief and feel less burdened by talking about it all with a friend, distracting yourself with watching your favourite TV series, doing something you love, even playing with the dog.
When is it no longer mild anxiety?
When your anxiety is overwhelming you, when it stops you from thinking straight and participating in normal life, this is a good time to consider if you need support.
This is your tipping point. Usually, your symptoms are leading you to put pressure on your important relationships. Or you feel like it is truly impacting on you being the person you really want to be. Often it will be chronic and by that I mean your symptoms will have become ongoing and debilitating. Usually, by this stage, you feel like you are living on a very scary roller coaster and you can’t get off.
Are you already self -medicating?
Many of us self-medicate to numb the pain of constant anxiety analysis paralysis. Anything to get rid of the racing thoughts, pounding heart, sweaty palms and feelings of extreme tension. Basically, we often have ways of calming ourselves and self-soothing. Think about what could be your usual drug of choice? Maybe you are using food to numb or eat over your feelings, alcohol to feel more calm and confident, cigarettes to settle and create a circuit breaker, drugs to chill out, or numb reality.
Yet as you know if you use these things excessively they become another problem to contend with on top of the anxiety.
Alternative Medication for Anxiety
If you know you need some support but you are definitely more into herbal and natural medicine then consider trying SAMe 100mg Complex. This contains S-Adenosyl-methionine plus zinc and a recent study by Melbourne University has found it helpful for nervous tension. Another herbal supplement that is beneficial is called GABA 100 and it has a great calming effect on the nervous system. St John’s Wort is an oldie but a goodie, another that some use for minor relief for mild non-melancholic depression, but just be cautious as this medication cannot be used in conjunction with anti-depressants.
Another small change that can help is to make the switch to drinking more herbal teas and ditching lots of strong caffeine. A particularly useful herbal tea for anxiety is one called VATA tea and it contains liquorice, ginger, cardamon and cinnamon. It relaxes your nervous system and you can’t help but feel calmer and soothed after a nice hot cup of this with a slice of lemon.
Antidepressant Medication – is it for you?
All medication has some side effects ranging from mild to disruptive.
1/ 3rd of my clients would say taking this type of medication is one of the most helpful interventions they used to get their chronic anxiety under control. A game changer. They would tell me the medication took the edge of the symptoms and the therapy helped them understand what was going on and how to manage the symptoms so much more constructively in the future.
Another 1/ 3rd would say that they tried various antidepressant medication and yet they hated the side effects and were not willing to put up with being on it. Different pills result in unique side effects depending on your body chemistry. Clients describe initially feeling spaced out, some believed they put on weight or they felt their libido was compromised whilst taking certain drugs. You need to be prepared to experiment a bit to find out what works best for your unique body.
The final 1/ 3rd of clients would say that they do not want to become dependent on a drug for managing their mood and they would not even consider this option. Their reasons ranged from not liking taking medication of any kind, to a particular concern with the habit forming nature of taking antidepressants. This is a reasonable concern because it is true that it can be difficult for some people to come off the medication. It is recommended that a very slow decrease in dose over a number of months is the safest way to reduce the bodies reliance on the drug. For some clients the idea of not being able to control their anxiety themselves is just not what they want. Usually, these people are willing to work really hard to develop other methods such as regular exercise, meditation and dietary changes to combat their symptoms.
Over to you…
The gold standard for treatment as it stands is that for chronic anxiety, medication plus good quality therapy is the best way to work through what is causing the anxiety and learning how to manage it in the future. For quite a few clients I have definitely seen it help them become much calmer, and more grounded. People feel the drugs will numb them emotionally but my experience is that it is quite the opposite. Clients are able to still feel the full range of feelings after the initial adjustment period. They don’t lose their personality or numb out and become this person that cannot feel. Instead for those that choose this path and find it helps, they report feeling less panicked and racy and gain a clarity that can help them work through whatever is going on in their lives. In this way, it assists them in the therapeutic work. Everyone is unique and the decision to take medication or not should always rest with you as the individual. So if you are considering this step, do lots of research, talk it over with someone you trust and then seek the best professional guidance you can trust. after you have reflected on it for you I think the most important piece is to listen to your own inner wisdom, this will always guide you how to best take care of your body and your mind.
Everyone is unique and the decision to take medication or not should always rest with you as the individual. So if you are considering this step, I encourage you to do lots of research, talk it over with someone you trust and then seek the best professional guidance you can find. After you have reflected on it for you, I think the most important piece is to listen to your own inner wisdom, this will always guide you how to best take care of your body and your mind.