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If you’ve ever suffered high anxiety or a panic attack and wound up at a doctor’s office for treatment, you’ve probably been prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Maybe you had all the symptoms; racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, tightening in the chest. You might have even had a full-blown panic attack – couldn’t catch your breath and thought you would pass out or that you might have a heart attack. This condition results from stress (perceived or real) that gets the mind racing, and consequently, the body responds by producing adrenalin, cortisol, catecholamines, and other chemicals. These chemicals strengthen the mind and the body when in danger, such as a car coming at you or an animal about to attack. But there’s a big difference between imminent danger and imaginary danger.

Most doctors prescribe benzodiazepines for anxiety. But unfortunately, the protocol is often the same, “You’re suffering from a chemical imbalance, and this anti-anxiety medication will make it all better.” In truth, there is no anti-anxiety medication – it should be called “mask your anxiety” medication.

According to the National Institute for Health, about 30.5 million people take benzos. In addition, the New Scientist magazine (1/17/2020) reported that 60 million doctor’s appointments involved prescribing benzodiazepines. The most common of these drugs are Ativan, Halcion, Klonopin, Librium, Tranxene, Valium, and Xanax.

Anti-anxiety Medication is Addictive – Even though much of our stress is perceived and not necessarily real, the physiological responses are real. Panicky feelings should not be ignored, and they can ultimately lead to lasting physical problems. But all benzos produce a mild state of euphoria and are addictive. This means the longer you use them, a tolerance is developed, and the more you need to get the result. Also, the more you depend on drugs instead of your own ability to work through nervous feelings, the more psychologically dependent you become.

Anti-Anxiety Medication Gives You Two Problems Instead of One – The longer a person stays on benzodiazepine drugs, the greater the dependency and the harder it is to get off. For every pill taken, the farther away from a solution you move. The anxiety never goes away (and often worsens) because you’ve only masked it with a drug that gives you temporary relief. The pill doesn’t really provide you with anything other than an escape from what bothers you, and there’s a price to pay for that momentary solution. Over time, your anxiety worsens—it’s like piling one band-aid atop another to cover up an infected wound. You still have the wound along with a pill dependence.

Anti-Anxiety Medication Hijacks Your Mind – There’s a pill for everything, and we’ve been conditioned to follow doctor’s orders and take those pills. Unfortunately, traditional medicine tends to medicate the problem instead of healing the underlying problem. Even if you don’t get addicted, the power of your mind and independent thought has been given over to a pill.

If you want to take back your power, it’s easy to treat anxiety. First, recognize anxiety for what it truly is – fear. Fear starts in the mind. Fear is the root of all negative emotions. If you realize that it’s fear that’s causing your discomfort, and if you are willing to face it, you can remove the thing that’s revving your engine. Second, focus on breathing through the sensations rather than fighting them. Meditation instead of medication is another beneficial solution. The more you practice this form of relaxation, the more you will be in control of lifting your foot off the gas pedal. Finally, be aware of your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones – “I’m scared and anxious because I fear ________ will happen” can be replaced with, “I’m concerned that this unfortunate event might occur, but I will prepare myself to handle it in a loving and productive manner,” or “I don’t know what the future holds so I’m going to stay in the moment for now, and save my energy for when and if it is needed,” or “I choose to approach all stressful situations with the strength of love rather than the weakness of fear. I know good can come from any situation when I remain in this consciousness.”

We don’t have control over people, places, and things, but we can have control over ourselves. The choice is yours – a pill or peace that comes from mastery over fear?

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Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.

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