Do You Take Medication for Anxiety?

Question: Jill, I was curious if you don’t mind my asking. Do you take any medications? I do not but sometimes I wonder if it would help. I did take Paxil 17 years ago & I would say that is when I gained a lot of ground. Medication or not….that is the question. lol… I’d love your thoughts.

Answer: Yes I do. But only on an as needed basis. A 30 day supply of of Klonopin lasts me 6 months or more. Taking medication for anxiety is highly personal- meaning, there is no “one size fits all” solution. I know that a lot of doctors prescribe antidepressants (SSRI’s) for long term chronic anxiety. I have taken Prozac and then Celexa in the past. I am not currently taking an antidepressant.

Despite going through a lot of family and personal drama last summer, I am in a surprisingly good space, anxiety- wise. I attribute that to my consistency in sitting down to meditate for 6 minutes every morning, going to the gym a few times a week for exercise, and showing up to work every day (where I interact with my friends, coworkers and patients). I also make sure to get out and socialize at least once every month or two.

In other words, I strive to have balance in my life. I know I am someone for whom a resurgence of anxiety is possible at any time. I am hard wired to be a nervous person. I accept that about myself and know that practicing self care doing the things mentioned above are essential for my well-being.

But I know there are good and bad seasons in life. And when the next bad season comes- as it inevitably will- life is always changing- if I feel I need to take more medication or add an antidepressant – then I certainly will.

The fact that you say you “gained a lot of ground” when you took Paxil is something. But today is today. Are you in a similar situation now, and are your symptoms similar as when you decided to take the Paxil back then?

How are Things Going in Your Life?

Are you feeling good overall? Can you function with a level of anxiety and still go about your daily activities without too much angst (because you know from experience that once you are out and about it naturally goes away)? Or do you feel limited and like your world is closing in? These are questions you may want to ask yourself in deciding whether to take anxiety medication.

Nature is Anti Anxiety Medicine

Do you like to spend a little time in nature? Today is my day off. This morning it was 40 degrees, cloudy and drizzling. And my right hip and right big toe were aching. But I still went for my morning walk. Exercise is too important to be missed and nice Spring weather is just around the corner! I found a little trail in the middle of one of the local parks where I can let Buddy go off leash. It was wonderful- I loved hearing the mucky muck sounds of my feet on the wet trail, and the sound of the little babbling brooks from all the melted snow. We saw some majestic hawks and a squirrel or 2.

Here is the little path- it goes uphill for a good half mile to a cell phone tower. The steady uphill felt so good. I know it looks dreary but it was actually beautiful. I love being alone with Buddy in the woods!

And here’s my Buddy boy smiling and happy to be out. He is limping a little but he still needs his exercise. He’s going to be 10 in a few months!

Being out in nature is one of the best balms for anxiety. I am going to go out again later when it warms up and do a little yard clean up. I just love the fresh air and hearing those spring birds. And being with Buddy too, he just loves every minute outside.

My job entails being around people and interacting constantly. So I absolutely love my solitude and alone time. I use it to restore and re-energize me.

How well do you take care of yourself?

With regards to taking medication for anxiety- or not– only you know how you feel. I don’t think most of us are trained very well to take care of ourselves. Taking care of others now that’s a different story, right? lol!  I am a natural care taker. But learning to tune into my feelings and learn to recognize when I am in distress- now that was something I had to teach myself.

So when you are on the fence and thinking about medications for anxiety- it helps to look within. How are your thoughts- are you mostly ok, or are you in one of life’s darker times? Really evaluate how you are feeling and how you are functioning.

If you are in anxious distress- where you can no longer work, drive, or do your normal activities of daily life, that is a red flag. There is nothing to be gained by trying to muscle through feeling overwhelmed like that, or watching your world close in and feeling terrible about it. It’s not something you can just snap yourself out of, in my opinion.

So be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for having anxiety. Instead, take action: read a good anxiety resource book or work a program that you know will help you. Take good care of yourself and if you need to see a doctor to ask about medication, then do so.

No guilt, no drama. Just take care of yourself.

I wish you peace,

Jill G.

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20 Responses to Do You Take Medication for Anxiety?

  1. Kathleen F. says:

    Hi Jill, I do and have for years. (alprazalom aka xanax) . I had tried many anti depressants and had poor reactions or excessive weight gain. With my Hashimoto’s disease , I have learned that so often anxiety comes with it. So, double whammy : pre disposed from family background and then this condition. I berated myself , initially, and now , the dose I am on , frankly does not do much anymore . Yet, to go up in it, you get accustomed and I just have chosen not to do that. I , too, have to maintain some exercise , and , for me, I have to keep my self balanced food wise. My hypoglycemic attacks …just make me so off and anxious and the cycle begins. With still having some very tough driving issues, and having done programs etc, I still have much work to do ! My gut says if I could get my thyroid issue truly in control /adrenals etc . , lessen the excessive stress I am dealing with at the moment , things would be better! I remembering to breath , yet, not doing well with mediation. I want to and will keep at it! Blessings to all here and thank you again, for your posts. K

    • JillG says:

      Kathleen,
      Are you taking Armor Thyroid or Synthroid (levothyroxine)? I ask because some of my symptoms lessened when I made the switch a few years ago. My sister and a friend of mine also feel better on Armor thyroid. I have *way less* palpitations than I used to. So just wanted to put that out there in case you hadn’t heard of it or tried this version of thyroid medication.

      As for your comment, I relate to everything you said. The amount of medication I take now doesn’t really do anything and yet I won’t ever go up on it because I don’t ever want to be dependent on it again. Been there, done that- weaning off is horrendous – this is a post I wrote about it years ago: http://panicfreeme.com/106/weaning-off-klonopin-is-the-choice-i-make-today/.
      Coming from the worst & most limited person I ever met with anxiety – that would be the old me (100% agoraphobic and dependent on medications with no coping skills) to where I am today (pretty ok and balanced for the most part) if I can offer a suggestion– keep up with the meditation. I will post more on it going forward. That has made all the difference in my life. It is just something you have to keep at.

      Focusing on your breathing or inner body aliveness or even guided imagery teaches you how to step out of your mind. It anchors you so to speak in the present moment, where there is no fear, no anxiety ever. Even if you can only do it for a few moments it’s worth it. The effects are cumulative. If you are not quite at that stage yet, and I realize I say it like a broken record, but if you haven’t tried it yet, you really should get the 60 Second Panic Solution: http://panicfreeme.com/go/60second.html. It helped me immensely, and I still use it as needed.

      When I discovered the program in 2014 I was working at my present job, but having a hard time with it. I couldn’t talk to people well or make eye contact. I had a million hangups. And I still had panic attacks out of the blue. The program is a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and hypnosis and there is even EFT. It is so well done! I dove into the program like someone handed me a lifeline. And I stuck with it. I did the Alter Picture Audio guided meditation every morning, sometimes twice before work. I did the Triple A Technique at work when I panicked. And I did the Fear and Phobia cure video also on the way to work (because I burned it to a CD and played it in my car) and in the bathroom at work. It helped me get over my fear of talking to people and coworkers. It really worked. I am sure you could use it for driving too! 🙂

      Kathleen I wish you every good thing and much relief from all your present stress. xx

  2. Terra says:

    Wonderful post! Thank you! I think after my recent set back (I missed a vacation), I worry about another & wonder if I could be pro-active. Truth is, my everyday life I have managed to stop panic through exposure therapy. When I truly look at this area, I have went from areas of panic to peace so this is possible my friends! Not easy, but possible. It took years but worth the work. My issue comes from unexpected things that come up naturally in all our lives. I would say my issue is anticipating the things to come to the point of worrying myself sick. I’m embarrassed to say that I will look ahead years….ugh. What if I cannot handle this or that? I am trying to be more honest with what I deal with & not have to be the girl that has all the answers. Not easy for me, but that is my 2017 goal!

    • Kathleen F. says:

      Terra, I agree with your post! The anticipatory anxiety , if I need go somewhere etc. I have, in some ways subbed being isolated for peace in that I do not have to face it! Exposure therapy sounds like a great idea. My motto as of late(now put it more into practice) do I beat this or does it beat me?! I prefer to be the winner. 🙂 All the best to you.

      • JillG says:

        Terra, I’m sorry about your vacation! But I’m glad you see it for what it is- a setback and nothing more. And of course you could be proactive! I have done this too- for example, a few years ago my love of flying turned into claustrophobia & panic and I almost couldn’t get on a plane! It sucked, but I faced it step by step in my own way: I downloaded guided meditations to listen to on the plane and had lots of things to keep me busy on the flight- including praying for every person one by one on the plane. Well it worked, the phobia is gone. I can’t say I love flying, but I don’t do it often enough to have a lot of practice. Anyhow the point is you can set a goal about the next vacation and make it happen. And that’s a good goal to have Terra. My dear you are doing so well. Give yourself big props! 🙂

      • Terra says:

        You have the right attitude! Keep fighting for the life you deserve! My exposure started incredibly small….like walking to the back of Wal-mart with wobbly legs. No victory is too small…believe that! Best of luck to you!

        • JillG says:

          My exposure started like that too. Even sitting at a red light was hard. I wobbled through everything. As my hero Claire Weekes (psychiatrist and anxiety sufferer) said in one of her books, “Jelly legs will still get you there.” Of course she was right 🙂

  3. Maz says:

    Fabulous post jilly. You are right medication is a personal choice. I do take medication and have periods where I geat myself up because of it but then I have a chat to myself and then I’m ok

    Good luck with whatever decision you make because any decision is the right one for you x
    Mazx

  4. JillG says:

    Good girl Maz, don’t you dare beat yourself up. Cause I used to do that too, and what does that do except make you feel worse? Life is hard, if you need a little help here and there so be it! No guilt, no shame! xx

  5. Kathleen F. says:

    Jill, I now take WP Thyroid and NDT . I did armour, I have done them all! Along w the anxiety etc, my fluid retention is so high . I may have told you: they told me I have 40 lbs of fluid. It is so hard on the self esteem as I eat “cleanly” so I am discouraged. I was just told about something called NAC so I am giving that a try(it takes time to work). When heart palps come from out of the blue , or low self esteem…..well, I am doing my best to push through! 🙂 Again, Thank you so much for this site and all the people here. Together, we will make it to the other side and more!!! OH! I meant to tell you, I ,too, have the painful R toe!! What is that??! So the hip is better since the cherry juice but the toe….yikes! Another thing in common. 😉 I will steadily work on the meditation-it sounds to promising not to. K.

    • JillG says:

      Oh Kathleen that’s a lot, you poor thing! I have a friend with chronic kidney disease and she has to be on steroids and has tons of excess fluid and she hates hates hates it. She is overweight to being with so it really messes with her self image as well. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you to function carrying that extra load around. 🙁 I know you always do your best, your spirit and drive are commendable!! You have a heavy cross to bear, that’s for sure. Ha ha about the Right toe. Mine is all swollen right now, so I am stepping up the Tart Cherry Juice again. Oh well, that’s not a big thing, just an annoyance. I will keep you in my prayers!

  6. Veronica says:

    Do you buy the tart cherry juice in a grocery store or health food store? Does it really help with arthritis pain? Is there any other natural anti inflam? Sometimes I think it’s my chronic neck pain which really contributes to my anxiety mainly because it’s always there especially when I wake up in the morning. Coffee doesn’t help but it’s a habit and only 1 or 2 a day at the most. Pain really does contribute to feeling low I think. I don’t ever take pain med so would appreciate any natural suggestions.

    • JillG says:

      Hi Veronica,

      I get it on Amazon, here is the one I get: http://amzn.to/2ntgEHW

      I do think it is helping me, and I have a lot of aches. Not sure if it is because of arthritis or my low thyroid or both. But at any given time, I have aches in my shoulders, hips, and toes and fingers.

      I have also heard that coffee is good for inflammation, so I think even if you don’t notice it, it’s probably helping you somewhat.

      I have also heard and know people that take turmeric for its anti-inflammatory benefits. I took it before but didn’t notice a difference.

      I totally agree with you about pain meds, I would never take them either. My husband took them for his Crohn’s disease and was addicted for 2 years. It was not a good time.

  7. Veronica says:

    Thanks Jill. I’ll try cherry juice. Also I like fresh cherries so will choose them along with blueberries over other fruit. By the way I totally get your thoughts on people at workout class who are flashy and uber fit and well just in your face with their confident ‘look at me’ s–t. Even before I developed this really tiresome debilitating condition I was never a show off. Maybe it’s the way I was brought up. Sometimes I envy those pushy types but I’ll never be one so will have to work with who I am and what I’ve got. I seem to be able to see through all the BS in life which sometimes doesn’t help…it seems to make me even more of a loner especially without my best friend, my true one, my late husband,who was so absolutely authentic in every way that I struggle with the loss so much and do find that my confidence died when he did.

    • JillG says:

      Oh Veronica, I have no words for your loss. I have always envied women who had a strong supportive marriage like yours. Mine is definitely different. We are in a weird time of life- empty-nesters and not sure what the future holds. I just want peace, no drama.

      As for the show offy-girl, when I was young I hate to admit it but when I was medicated enough, I was that girl. That’s why as much as she was annoying me, I could identify with her on some level. She was young and beautiful, but beauty fades as we all know. Such a fleeting thing to hold onto.

  8. Veronica says:

    Just had a ‘me too’ moment with what you just shared. Being young and pretty and ‘in high demand’ went to my head as well and looking back I was perhaps over confident and dismissive of many things which I now embrace. In some ways personality and good looks give one an easy in on life and adventure. Perhaps as you say it’s the “I’ve been there” thoughts which bother us the most about those people. My husband was also extremely good looking and with a huge personality so together we were quite a couple. We balanced this by choosing to spend every Summer at camp where we were completely alone with our dogs and the wilderness, accessing only by water, no phones, no electricity so really ‘out there’. This has been my strength and my saviour and is probably the reason why societal re-entry is so tough for me at this stage in my life. Sometimes having to integrate on one’s own seems a bit pointless however I still have my Summer camp friends who are all really good, down to earth people like the person I’ve become. Thanks Jill…you help me to understand how we constantly evolve and hopefully into better people.

  9. JillG says:

    “Dismissive of many things which I now embrace” – that made me laugh out loud! Very true- although I remember nothing about growing up was all that easy. And when you throw anxiety and panic in there, forget it. Being pretty was both a blessing and a curse for me- lots of male attention (that was good and bad) and lots of trouble with females- due to insecurities. Glad I don’t have to deal with that crap anymore. I officially crossed into “Ma’am” status a few years ago. Before that it was always, “Can I help you Miss?” Ha ha. I’m sure you can relate.

    But there are many things about getting older that I love. So many things don’t matter to me anymore, and I am a kinder, and a dimension of spirituality has opened up that I used to crave but didn’t know how to access. Despite my dealing with anxiety, I have some real inner peace in my life, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    Thank you for sharing about your Summer camp! How wild and rustic! Listen, those fond memories will always live in your heart! I know your social re-entry may be challenging, but you can make it happen and create some happiness, even if only in baby steps. Be gentle with yourself. I’m sure your husband would say the same!

  10. Veronica says:

    Hi Jill.
    Thanks for sharing. It means a lot to know that others are on the same page doesn’t it. Instead of accepting a couple of invitations over the w/e which were really ‘social’ I opted to complete a ‘to do’ list at home and not beat myself up about ‘why?’. I did laundry, ironing, filing, made a pillow for a friend and cooked a batch of my favourite roast chicken and froze it. Soon I’ll be shipping my car and flying north. For the first time I’m doing it this way instead of the 4 long days of driving. Of course you can imagine how the prospect of this is affecting me, especially the lines at the airport. I’m taking a folding cane/seat just in case my legs get wobbly, am not taking luggage other than a small carry on and will give myself a lot of time to go through the process. Anticipating the worst when it’s over a month away is self defeating and I do have an ‘as needed’ med for back up. I think that a lot of the problems which come up are on a/c of the fact that I don’t fly around much any more and so am out of the loop however, leaving myself a ton of time to get through it along with the folding seat will I hope help and I’m sure that if I pull it off I’ll be more confident on the return trip in the fall. Enjoy your day Jill.

  11. JillG says:

    It sounds like you are doing everything “right” for your trip. Now you just have to go through the motions, keeping your mind on positives and staying out of “what if” territory to the best of your ability. You have put a good plan in motion, I know you’ll do well! 🙂

  12. Veronica says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. Will let you know on this blog how it played out. Praying for balance and calm. V

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