One of our new customers, Sarah from Westchester, N.Y., mentioned to us that she takes prescription anxiety medication on a daily basis and has been for years. She recently learned that, with a lot of these anti-anxiety medications not only can you become dependent on them but there are serious potential side effects as well. Below we discuss natural alternatives to prescription anxiety medication.
Sarah told us that one of the side effects she is experiencing is drowsiness. She has no issue falling asleep, but she does have an issue with not having uninterrupted sleep throughout the night. She said she wakes up all night long and gets up early for work. As a result, she tends to become tired and fatigued during the day. She wants to stop taking prescription anxiety medication and switch to a more natural/herbal-based product as well.
More and more of us, like Sarah, are diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed anti-anxiety medication by doctors at record rates. Stress at work, stress at home, relationship issues, financial pressure, and past traumatic events including those that cause PTSD can all contribute to anxiety.
Anxiety is serious and can have the following symptoms:
- Panic, fear and uneasiness
- Sleep problems
- Not being able to stay calm and still
- Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
Doctors want to help and most commonly prescribe benzodiazepines (or benzos) for anxiety. If you or someone you know has any of the following in their medicine cabinet, these are all benzodiazepines:
- Diazepam (Valium) and clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Oxazepam (Serax) and clorazepate (Tranxene),
- Midazolam (Versed) and triazolam (Halcion)
- Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), estazolam (Prosom), and temazepam (Restoril)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), flurazepam (Dalmane), and quazepam (Doral)
What’s the Problem with Benzos?
The problem is that benzos:
- Have not been studied for long-term use (beyond 90 days)
- Have severe potential side effects including increased anxiety (see below for a complete list)
- Can be fatal when mixed with alcohol (in 2014, 38% of overdoses in the New York metro area involved benzos)
- Misuse resulting in hospital admissions have tripled since 1998
- Require medical supervision and potentially in-patient treatment, including the use of a taper drug to withdraw because of the risk of seizure
- Visual, tactile or auditory hallucinations
- Worry that other people can read your thoughts
- Irrational thoughts that others have control over your behavior
- Paranoia that other people are watching you
- Vivid nightmares
- Inability to harness control over uncomfortable thoughts or behaviors
- Extreme mood swings
- Out-of-character behavior
- Emotional coldness toward others
- Unprovoked excitability
- Unexplained rage and anger
- Emotional numbness
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
This is an excerpt from the label for Klonopin, which is one of the most prescribed benzos:
“Psychiatric and Paradoxical Reactions: Paradoxical reactions, such as agitation, irritability, aggression, anxiety, anger, nightmares, hallucinations, and psychoses are known to occur when using benzodiazepines (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Psychiatric).
Risks of Abrupt Withdrawal: The abrupt withdrawal of Klonopin, particularly in those patients on long-term, high-dose therapy, may precipitate status epilepticus. Therefore, when discontinuing Klonopin, gradual withdrawal is essential. While Klonopin is being gradually withdrawn, the simultaneous substitution of another anticonvulsant may be indicated.”
We find this unbelievable. The drug that is supposed to be helping you can potentially make your symptoms worse, make you crazy, and, if used incorrectly, may even kill you. It’s no wonder that additional consequences of long-term benzodiazepine use may include:
- Chronic absenteeism
- Job loss
- Academic expulsion
- Familial problems, such as divorce or child neglect
- Legal consequences, such as driving under the influence (DUI)
- Financial hardships
- Physical injuries due to intoxication
- Criminal offenses, such as assault or burglary.
Natural Alternatives to Prescription Anxiety Medication
Fortunately, there are alternatives. If you are on benzos or another prescription anxiety medication, see a medical professional and discuss your options. It is important that you discuss with your doctor the short-term and long-term implications of taking the drug. Your doctor should also be prepared to discuss alternatives, including herbal remedies.
For example, the herb Ashwagandha has been used throughout time to effectively deal with stress. Not only that, but studies have also found it to produce a 71.6% decrease in total anxiety according to the Anxiety Stress Scale (ASS). In addition, this superherb has shown to increase physical performance, as well as improved memory and brain processing. For over 500 years, it has been used as a remedy for anxiety and stress by mimicking the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is the main calming neurotransmitter in the brain and supports our body’s production of endorphins, which promote tranquility.
Additionally, tryptophan (think of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner) is the most prevalent supplement used to fight stress and anxiety. It acts as a vital catalyst in the body’s production of serotonin, the prime neurotransmitter involved in mood. Niacinamide, a type of vitamin B3, also aids the vital conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP and then to serotonin – with zero side effects. Tryptophan also helps to promote melatonin production in the evenings to support healthy sleep, a commonly-reported reason for benzo use. Vitamin D3 is yet another important component in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
While seemingly obvious, diet plays a major role in contributing to agitation and anxiety. Depleted magnesium and vitamin B levels can hugely affect the feeling of well-being and serenity.
Studies have also shown that passion flower can be effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms from opiates and other drugs; which would prove vital when opting to ease the conversion from benzodiazepines to an herbal anxiety relief.
Before looking to habit-forming prescription anxiety medication that could have unknown long-term side effects, the population must become more informed of the natural alternatives for mood support and regulation. These herbal supplements have proven to be a safe and effective solution to both short-term and long-term anxiety without the risk of dependence and withdrawal. Tranquilene, from Tranquility Labs, has combined a safe and effective anti-anxiety formula that combines all of the vital components needed to promote tryptophan conversion and serotonin production. The pharma-grade ingredients grow more effective over time to reduce stress and maintain long-lasting tranquility.