Why Taking Xanax Suppresses Anxiety Symptoms (But Doesn’t Solve Them)
Medicine has come a long way in developing drugs and medication in treating various physical and mental conditions. For millions of sufferers of anxiety disorders, drugs like Xanax have proven to be a lifesaver in terms of getting their lives back on track.
But despite the effectiveness of drugs like Xanax, they do have very serious drawbacks that can end up doing more harm than good. Xanax is a prescription medicine, and responsible doctors make sure it is given out in manageable doses among patients that surely need them.
Unfortunately, a good number of Xanax users have come to abuse the drug in an attempt to squash their anxiety symptoms completely. But research has shown that using Xanax for anxiety may suppress the symptoms but it doesn’t have the capacity to cure them entirely.
But how can a popular drug like Xanax aggravate anxiety rather than work to cure it? Before making any assumptions of what using Xanax for anxiety means, it’s very important to first understand how Xanax works and what it does for people who use it.
What Exactly is Xanax?
Xanax (Alprazolam) falls under the category of drugs known as benzodiazepines. They are designed as anti-anxiety and anti-panic medication that works by slowing down the central nervous system, giving the user a relaxed and sedated feeling. Xanax is normally used to ease tension, nervousness, anxiety, distress and a variety of other conditions that trigger overwhelming negative feelings, thoughts and emotions. Likewise, Xanax works by influencing the part of the brain that controls your emotions, inhibiting normally negative feelings from overwhelming you.
Furthermore, benzodiazepines are some of the most commonly used drugs in psychiatry. They are one of the most often prescribed medications in the industry and come under different labels: Xanax is only one of them.
Other drugs such as Ativan, Klonopin and Valium have similar attributes to Xanax; though Xanax has been documented to be quite popular in various anxiety-driven circles. Benzodiazepines are used to treat a wide variety of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety and panic disorder as well other anxiety induced conditions.
There are a lot of medications under the umbrella of benzodiazepines, so it’s important to know some of the differences between these medications. Most of the differences between the drugs are straightforward enough in nature; usually concerning how long it takes before these drugs take effect and how long the effect lasts.
Xanax, for example, is best taken on a regular basis because of the rapid onset of action while only lasting a handful of hours. This varies greatly from a drug like Knolopin which lasts much longer than Xanax, but is just as effective. However, the side effects of each of these drugs differ, and can prove very dangerous for individuals allergic to them. Knowing the effects of these different drugs is critical in knowing which benzodiazepine is best for your condition.
Despite the expected effects listed above, the dosage needed for benzodiazepines to be effective differs on a case to case basis. Although some individuals require a daily dosage of benzodiazepines others simply take it as needed. But it is always recommended to follow the prescription and dosage outlined by your doctor.
As mentioned earlier, Xanax’s primary use as an anti-anxiety drug makes it a very potent sedative as well. Xanax as well as other benzodiazepines are used as anti-convulsant medications to stop seizures and other convulsant conditions due to their potent properties as muscle relaxants.
How Does Xanax Work Against Anxiety?
Xanax works by binding with a neural receptor located in the brain called the GABA receptor. Although the name may sound intimidating, the GABA receptor is simply a neurotransmitter that is responsible for various functions and responses in the brain that trigger and regulate anxiety.
When taken in sufficient amounts, benzodiazepines such as Xanax regulate the mechanism that makes us feel anxious and uneasy. By binding to these receptors, the chemicals and chain reactions that make us feel anxious and uncomfortable are inhibited. Our fight and flight response, which is normally triggered when we are under stress, or in danger, is sedated or completely shut down. Because of this, we feel calmer, at ease, and relaxed.
Typically, taking Xanax for anxiety can also help to minimize the symptoms of anxiety attacks that include depression, lack of self confidence, weakness and loss of motivation. In short, Xanax works by lowering our inhibitions and attaching itself to the receptors and increases the chemicals and hormones that act as tranquilizers in our body. Xanax is fast-acting, and can take as little as fifteen minutes to take full effect. However, the potency of Xanax differs from person to person.
Why Isn’t Xanax a Long Term Solution for Anxiety?
Unfortunately, Xanax comes with a long list of potentially harmful side effects that can prove more harmful to a person if the dosage of the benzodiazepine isn’t monitored or regulated. One of the most destructive side effects of Xanax is that it is completely habit-forming.
Xanax, like many other benzodiazepines, is an addictive substance. Many anxiety sufferers claim to be reliant on Xanax to be able to function despite their condition, but they are simply dependent on the sedative nature of the drugs. Some researchers have cited that Xanax is just as addictive as cigarettes; though the length of time before dependency has yet to be conclusively proven. Despite this, it is very important to take drugs like Xanax under the direct supervision of your doctor or a medical specialist.
Should you suddenly discontinue Xanax treatment after heavy use of the medication, withdrawal symptoms are more than certain to manifest. Before cutting yourself off from Xanax treatment it is highly recommended to first seek out the advice of your physician. By weaning yourself off slowly from your medication you can prevent jarring bouts of withdrawal.
On top of that, Xanax comes with these other possible side effects:
- Excessive sedation
- Memory problems
- Aggravated depression
- Cognitive damage
- Mental impairment
- Inability to concentrate and focus
- Difficulty breathing
- Itching and rashing
- Uncontrollable drowsiness
- Weight gain
- Increased salivation
- Menstrual irregularities
Although Xanax is used to suppress the symptoms of anxiety, it isn’t recommended for anxiety sufferers to rely on Xanax as a primary course of treatment when dealing with anxiety disorder. Xanax for anxiety is simply recommended as a supplementary recourse in dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, especially if you’re unable to function any other way, since it never actually solves the underlying problems and unless your anxiety is debilitating, may create an unnecessary and addictive psychological and chemical crutch.
And because of Xanax’s addictive nature, it isn’t recommended for Xanax to become a long term solution for your anxiety. There are countless natural therapies that are safer and more effective in dealing with anxiety on a long term basis. Therapies that include cognitive behavioural therapy, or even hypnotherapy, can prove to be a far safer, and far more successful long term solutions than relying on medication.
What Precautions Must You Take When Taking Xanax?
There is nothing wrong with taking Xanax, should you choose to do so, but again we feel it’s important not to look at it as a long term solution. But it is still one of the most effective medications available on the market for suppressing symptoms of anxiety. But before you begin taking Xanax, be sure to inform your physician of any medical or physical conditions or allergies you may have; no matter how negligible. If you aren’t sure about your allergies, it is recommended that you take the necessary tests to find out if you are allergic.
Should you decide to take Xanax to treat your anxiety disorder, make sure you follow this list of precautions to ensure you use Xanax as safely and effectively as possible:
- Follow the prescribed dosage of your Doctor.
Because of the addictive nature of Xanax, it’s important that you keep your physician informed of how often you take it. Be sure to remain honest regarding your intake to be sure you do not develop a dependency.
- Do not take Xanax with alcohol.
Alcohol can have very dire side effects when paired with benzodiazepines.
- Xanax is not to be consumed by children.
Xanax was designed as a drug for adults. Should you think that your child requires medication consult your physician.
- Do not take Xanax if you are pregnant or nursing.
Xanax can cause complications for women who are expecting. Consult your physician on possible alternatives.
- Be wary of other drugs taken alongside Xanax.
If you are under any other medications, inform your doctor first to make sure you do not take a medical cocktail that can worsen or complicate your condition.
- Do not offer Xanax to others.
Even if you are feeling the benefit of Xanax, bear in mind that it is still prescription drug. Do not offer Xanax to others; and do not freely give it away even to those who already take it. Doctors should be able to supply their patients with the dosage they need.