It’s important to note that although Paulina Porizkova strives to be medication free for her anxiety and depression, she mentions a “Klonopin her pocket.” This is Paulina’s safety net. For those that are taking benzodiazepines (benzos) for an anxiety disorder, you know exactly what I mean by safety net and for those that are not familiar with anxiety disorders or benzos, I will try my very best to explain.
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand but I’ll start with what I know best, anxiety. While there are a number of anxiety disorders, the most common ones include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) continual, extreme worry and tension, usually accompanied by fatigue, headaches and muscle tension.
- Panic disorder repeated panic attacks that include feelings of terror combined with a pounding heart, chest pain, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, numbness and fear of dying.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) marked by obsessions (repeated, upsetting thoughts and images) that a person cannot control that leads to repetitive rituals, called compulsions, such as hand-washing or checking and re-checking door locks.
- Phobias occur when someone feels intense fear about a certain situation or event that is out of proportion to the actual harm possible.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can happen after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event; symptoms include repeatedly thinking about the trauma, being constantly alert or on guard and avoiding reminders of the trauma.
When a person is initially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, they are often prescribed benzos. The quick acting “calming” effects of benzos make them the choice at the onset of treatment but buyer beware. Benzos are highly addictive and it is necessary to be closely monitored while using these drugs. Benzodiazepines are prescribed, PRN (as needed) meaning that the intent is for a person to take them when their anxiety is, to them, intolerable. Unfortunately, “intolerable anxiety” can become a constant therefore so can the benzos.
While it is not necessarily a negative to take prescribed medications, it’s important to know that there are other therapies available. Psychotherapy in conjunction with medication has been found to be a highly successful form of treatment for anxiety disorders.
One of the most common and well-supported methods of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The way that CBT works is basically a “retraining” of how one perceives thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, and actions. For example, a person who is experiencing a panic attack will go into an emotional fight-or-flight response. CBT retrains the thinking (Cognitive) and the action (Behavior) responses through a series of gradual, controlled exposure to a panic-inducing situation with the end result being the ability to cope with anxiety without medication.
For those that do not suffer from an anxiety disorder, it’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can become debilitating and for those that do suffer from anxiety, please know that you are far from alone and that there is treatment available to you. Please check out the National Institute of Mental Health for more information by clicking here or call (866) 615-6464.
*Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included in this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should consult his or her health-care provider.
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