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Treating Anxiety Without Xanax

Treating Anxiety Without Xanax

Many people first become addicted to Xanax and other benzodiazepines while taking them for anxiety. While they are good for this purpose, they are also extremely addictive and are not meant to be used indefinitely. Even a few weeks of regular use can lead to physical dependence and difficult withdrawal. People quitting benzodiazepines often worry they will have no way to control their anxiety once they quit. Fortunately, there are ways to control anxiety without benzodiazepines.

Therapy.

Therapy has been shown to be the most effective way of treating anxiety. The most common forms of therapy for anxiety are cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, and exposure therapy. CBT examines how you think about the events that cause you anxiety and teaches you to challenge any cognitive distortions. For example, if meeting new people makes you anxious, it’s probably because of your assumptions. You might assume the new person won’t like you or that you won’t like them, and that either outcome would be horrible. In reality, there’s about an equal chance that you will get along or not, and if you don’t get along, it usually doesn’t matter.

Exposure therapy is a gradual process of desensitizing yourself to anxiety triggers. The more you avoid anything that makes you anxious, the more anxious you are likely to become. Exposing yourself to manageable levels of anxiety helps you become more comfortable with anxiety and shows your anxiety is almost always unfounded.

Exercise.

Exercise has been shown to be as effective as medication for most people experiencing depression and anxiety. It increases serotonin and BDNF, two compounds that improve mood and cognition. It reduces blood pressure and resting heart rate, which makes you feel calmer. It also improves executive function in the brain, which helps you exercise more control over your emotions.

Cut down on caffeine.

Caffeine is a relatively mild stimulant and if you drink a lot of tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, or energy drinks, you might be under a constant low level of stress. If you are already experiencing anxiety, caffeine can make it worse. What’s more, caffeine has a half-life of about four to six hours, so unless your caffeine intake is extremely low, you will probably still have enough in your system at bedtime to interfere with sleep. Having poor or inadequate sleep compounds anxiety during the day.  

SSRIs.

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are best known as an antidepressant but they are often prescribed for anxiety too. People with anxiety typically have low serotonin levels, which an SSRI can correct. Higher levels of serotonin are correlated with a greater feeling of wellbeing. The catch is that it takes several weeks to start working. You also have to taper off if you decide to stop using it and the long-term effects of using SSRIs are not completely known. It’s better to try other interventions first, but if anxiety persists, an SSRI may help.

Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.