The Repercussions of Long Term Anti-Anxiety Medications

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long term anti-anxiety medications

I can remember my anxiety issue starting around 1994, I was driving my then girlfriend and her brother to a concert in St. Louis, MO. I was fine on the way there but as we got closer to the event, I started to feel uneasy, palms were drenched with sweat, heart beating out of my chest and I felt nauseous. I didn’t go into the concert with them I stayed out in my truck. Every so often I would get out and tell myself I was going in, but that never happened. I have always been the kind of person that has a way out. By that I mean, if I was driving I would have all of these different theories going through my head as to what I would do in a certain situation. The same holds true for being in public places. I would wonder where the exits are and how many are there. I never really thought too much about all this until the middle to late 90’s. I was working as a salesman for my parents business and my hands would constantly drip sweat. If I answered the phone the receiver would be wet. I had to wipe my hands on my slacks before shaking someone’s hand. On my honeymoon with my first wife, we were to go and watch the Blue Angels fly, but I just couldn’t force myself to go. We ended up staying at the hotel all day. My mom’s side of the family has a history of depression/anxiety she talked me into going and talking to our family doctor.

The Pill Factory

I explained everything to my doc and he asked the normal questions: have I ever thought of killing myself, was I tired or had felt fatigued throughout the day, how was my social life or did I prefer to stay home? He felt my symptoms were more of an anxiety and not depression so he first prescribed Lexapro and told me to let him know if I felt it was working or not. I didn’t like Lexapro, my hands still were sweaty and I just didn’t feel “right”. So after a month or two, my prescription was changed to Prozac. The doctor thought that since my mom was taking it and was doing okay on it, that I should do as well as her. The Prozac didn’t last more than a few weeks. It made me feel “fuzzy” and tired all the time and I felt depressed, which I really never felt before. They say the third times a charm, well in this case it was the beginning of my ongoing issue.

For the third prescription I was given Effexor. Now, mind you that in most cases, there would be a weaning or purging process to allow time for the other meds to leave my system. That never happened. I was given the Effexor and went home and took it as prescribed. The first night I didn’t seem to have an issue with it. The second night I woke up in a sweat and had what can only be described as an “electrical shock” feeling in my head. I called the doctor’s office as soon as I woke up. I was told to stop taking the Effexor immediately and they would get me in to find something different. As a 20 something back then I just did what I was told to do, it never crossed my mind that I had an adverse reaction to this medication. I got in the doctor’s office the next day and told him what was happening. If I remember correctly, I was told it should subside in a few days. Well that didn’t happen.

After the Effexor, I talked to my doctor and he said we could try Cymbalta. He said it’s primarily an anti-depressant, but at that point I was willing to try anything to stop the electrical shock feeling. Within a few days of the Cymbalta being in my system the feeling was dissipating, and within a few weeks it was gone. Unless I forgot to take a dose. So here I am, some 20 years down the road taking anxiety medication that I felt I would be off of within a couple years. Due to the reaction my system had to the Effexor, I feel as if I’m stuck taking Cymbalta the rest of my life just so I don’t have to have those shock feelings.

There were times that I have gone to the chiropractor and had a good adjustment and it has alleviated some of the feeling. That tells me that the Effexor has managed to mess up my nervous system. I am at present, trying to start the weaning process from the Cymbalta and go with a couple natural supplements that seem to help. I don’t know how it’s going to go, I’m nervous and scared that because of the 20 plus years of being on an anti-anxiety drug my body is going to do some crazy stuff.

What Now?

I have read the longer one is on an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant, the more apt you are to sustain long term neurological damage. Essentially the exact same medications we take to help us are really going to make us sicker, the older we get and the longer we take them.

I haven’t been to the doctor in three years except to have my yearly med check done. I’m ready to stop having to go just for that also, but because of other problems that have arisen in the last few years, I may have to keep going. I have always had better than perfect eye site, last year at work I noticed it was hard for me to read numbers that I have been reading for years. I went to the eye doc and was told I have an astigmatism, glasses were given and this year I went in for my check because my eyes seemed to be getting worse. Of course, a new prescription was given and I was told that in the next 3 years I will have bifocals.

I have a hard time remembering words when talking to people or trying to tell my boss something that I have told him time and time again. I don’t believe that its age playing a part in these issues. I think it is the years of being on these medications. I have also noticed that I get angry a lot faster than I ever have, I’ve always had a temper but I have been able to keep it in check quite nicely. Over the last couple years I have noticed that it doesn’t take much to anger or upset me. This too is a huge factor for weaning myself, I am the father of five daughters, aged 15 months to 21 years old. I cannot allow this to continue for their sake, and if for nothing else, I need to stop this before it makes me forget who I am.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for your honesty and your survival!

    General Anxiety Disorder! You betcha, we have fear-loathing-anxiousness-depression-sadness in this 24/7 Disney Cruise society, so the by-product is over medication and over-stimulation or lack thereof!

    The right to happiness is in our constitution? At what cost, and which countries pay the price for our supposed consumer happiness? Which people end up as the stepping stones for other people’s success, i.e. happiness? One man’s success is another million women’s failure! Think e-commerce, Amazon/Bezos (now he wants Target, and already has Whole Foods and has killed the bookstores in America).

    Look, I am two months unemployed, terminated from a job, unethically and wrongfully. I have a deep reserve of spiritual and socialist verve, or vim and vigor. However, it’s tough looking at the news, at the state-by-state statistics around precarity, the new worker in America. Macy’s? 10,000 workers will be sacked.

    Here, the real lo down on precarious workforce, the new normal, and, by the way, the foundation to ramped up anxiety, fear, and disease: The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class!

    https://www.hse.ru/data/2013/01/28/1304836059/Standing.%20The_Precariat__The_New_Dangerous_Class__-Bloomsbury_USA(2011).pdf

    It’s startling how anxiety-producing the disruptive technologies/economies are to the American worker. And I wonder how that increase in prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs correlates to the unemployment, and under-employment?

    Disruptive Technologies explained:

    https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/disruptive-technologies

    Like all fine writers at Hormones Matter, I look at the not-so-mainstream facts around everything in my sight zone. First, the real facts on unemployment:

    And, the U-6, unemployment rate not publicized by the Chosen People’s Media, well, it’s over 8.5 percent! That’s 13 million, by the U-6 rating by the BLS. And, alas, it’s even higher than that.

    The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for November 2017 is 21.7%.

    http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts

    I am writing articles on my own predicament while I go to scheduled interviews. I have written three pieces at Hormones Matter on my sacking precipitated by my questioning Gardasil at a Planned Parenthood training, a non-profit for which I did not work.

    What I am finding is a huge correlation between age of termination and chronic illness, mental illness and suicide. The above figure, 21.7 percent is huge. No more laughing at the white male 50 and over Southerner who is killing himself, as those oh-so hip SNL and Colbert lovers do. I have reached back into my radio show days and am looking at Robert Sapolsky’s, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. We are 24/7 fight and flight physiologies, collectively!

    https://www.mta.ca/pshl/docs/zebras.pdf

    Now, the shadow stats on anti-anxiety meds (2010):

    2.5 million
    The number of Americans surveyed for prescription drug use from 2001 to 2010

    1/5
    One out of every five U.S. adults takes drugs to treat some type of mental health condition

    22
    Percent increase in the number of U.S. adults taking mental health drugs in 2010 compared to 2001

    29
    Percent increase in the number of women using antidepressants in 2010 compared to 2001

    1/5
    Proportion of women over the age of 20 who are prescribed antidepressants, like Zoloft and Lexapro

    11
    Percent of middle-aged women using anti-anxiety medications

    5.7
    Percent of middle-aged men using anti-anxiety medications

    3
    Number of people ages 20 to 44 using antipsychotic drugs (like Resperadol) and ADHD medications (like Ritalin) in 2010 for every one person who used them in 2001

    100
    Percent increase in the number of children under age 10 taking antipsychotic medications

    40
    Percent increase in the number of girls being prescribed ADHD medications

    23
    Percent of people in the “diabetes belt” states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama who are on at least one psychiatric drug, according to the AP

    Sources:

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/women-and-prescription-drug-use_n_1098023.html

    http://theweek.com/articles/480090/americas-startling-use-mentalillness-drugs-by-numbers

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