long term anti-anxiety medications

The Repercussions of Long Term Anti-Anxiety Medications

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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, my heart beating out of my chest and I felt nauseous. I didn’t go to 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 the to late 90s. I was working as a salesman for my parent’s 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 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 never felt before. They say the third time is 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 to 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 of years. Due to the reaction, my system had to the Effexor, I feel as if I’m stuck taking Cymbalta for 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 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 of 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 eyesight, 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 it is 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 of 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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This article was published originally on January 4, 2018.


  1. LOVE this!’ I was prescribed high doses of benzodiazepines at age 15 upon seeking help for drug addiction. I assumed my psychiatrist knew what he was doing. Obviously, he did NOT’ I have been sober for almost 9 years at almost 41. 30 years of being on a merry go round of psychiatric medication didn’t help my addiction’

  2. I’ve been on SSRIs for years for autism and never had issues. The only issue I had was with Paxil, when my metabolism changed. I was also diagnosed at that time with hypothyroidism. My moods go up and down a lot. I don’t agitate easily, though. It just keeps me calmer. But too much sensory input will tend to cause me to yell and tremble. This we call a meltdown in the autistic community. I just want my moods stabilized and to learn how to do a sensory diet. I think the sensory diet would help my oversensitivities.

  3. Hows it going for you? Have you ever visitied https://www.survivingantidepressants.org

    If not. You May find it very, very helpful. Under sucessstories!

    Ive been of ssri for six months now, and sympthoms come and go. Electric shock-feeling in my head, flu-like sympthoms, dp-feelings, sweating, blurry sight, cramps, racing heart, severe anxiety and so on are still here. I have some days thats better now vs like 4 months ago.. So, im on the right way atleast.

    And I found some supplements to be a life saver. Like magnesium, L-theanin, b1, b2, b6.

  4. UPDATE:
    Well in July I went in for my yearly med check. I finished explaining to my doctor why I want to wean off, he said that was fine, but he divulged that he too was on an anxiety med, and his explanation of staying on it was to keep the peace in his home. I went from 60mg daily to 30mg, at first it was a little uneasy while my body got used to the change. I’m not sure how long it takes for your body to get acclimated to this, I do know that within a month of the lowering my vision started to improve. Within two months, I wasn’t having to wear my glasses at all! That’s great right? Well here comes the big question…
    In November, 4 months after dosage change, I woke up with the most intense neck, shoulder and arm pain I have ever felt in my life. I thought I had slept wrong, but I’ve done that thousands of times before with not a inkling of the pain I was feeling. I had been working 55 hours a week for the last several months, nothing strenuous, but continued repetitive use of both arms. My chiropractor says it’s a disk in my neck causing nerve and muscle pain and weakness. It took me a month to get better, then on December 5th I woke up and stretched and felt the disk go back out. The pain is ridiculous, from the middle of my shoulder blade around my shoulder, down to my fingers. My thumb, pointer and middle finger swell up, my elbow is insanely tender and hurts to touch. I just looked into the withdrawal/ side effects of the Cymbalta, of course muscle pain/ weakness is on both the normal and serious side effects.
    Chiropractic care helps to alleviate most of the pain, but since re-injury the pain is more intense.

    Any help or information is very much appreciated. I will keep you updated.


    • I was on effexor for 7 years. It took me 6 months to wean off. At the smallest dose at the end I had flu-like symptoms when I stopped that were alleviated by taking a few granules from the capsule. I used 5-HTP supplements to prevent depression. I later found out my anxiety is actually a side effect from allergies and I can take care of that with an Allegra.
      I’ve had similar symptoms brainwise – losing words etc and that turned out to be anemia.
      Good Luck

  5. 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!


    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:


    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%.


    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!


    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

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

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

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

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

    Percent of middle-aged women using anti-anxiety medications

    Percent of middle-aged men using anti-anxiety medications

    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

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

    Percent increase in the number of girls being prescribed ADHD medications

    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




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