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Xanax daily use for panic disorder and agoraphobia
  1. #1
    Ricardo93 is offline New Member
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    Default Xanax daily use for panic disorder and agoraphobia

    Hello everyone,

    I am a 23 year old who suffered from extreme and severe agoraphobia, panic attacks and anxiety for around 5 years. To make things to the point I was using alcohol as a medication, to go out, to socialize, to go to the airport, train station you name it. Basically I used alcohol to get on with my life, at first like many of us alcohol helped take the edge off but it was not until around 2 years and a half later that it got in complete out of control. I use to wake up and drink, put liquor in water bottles and basically drink the whole day until I sleep. After a heavy drinking session I woke up to extreme withdrawal symptoms and I decided to step up and seek help.

    I was prescribed prozac (20mg) once daily and Xanax to wean off the withdrawal. It's been a year now that I have stopped drinking but I am still on medication. My panic disorder was destroying my life and along with alcohol my life was hell. Xanax saved my life, however after a year of taking it in a bit worried when looking at posts about addiction. I take 0.5 MG to 0.75 MG of Xanax per day for sleep and anxiety. I always go out with 2 pills in case I have a panic attack, I feel safe when j have them. My life is much better now and I honestly don't understand why Xanax has such a bad reputation for People that need it. I suffered from a severe panic disorder with alcoholism and taking a pill and a half of Xanax for my anxiety does not sound bad to me. However opinions differ snd j wanted to see if anyone else uses Xanax daily for panic disorder and agoraphobia and had a history of alcohol consumption. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences

  2. #2
    Ricardo93 is offline New Member
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    As well that now i can do things I would have never imagined without it such as going out without any issues, working and having a normal lifestyle

  3. #3
    Thisweekforsure is offline Advanced Member
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    Welcome to the board!

    First and foremost, taking Xanax - under doctor supervision - is far preferable to using alcohol to self medicate. As long as you take your Xanax according to doctor's orders and do not abuse it, your long term health is much better off. Alcohol will kill you in the short run (drunk driving) and in the long run (liver failure). But Xanax can also kill you if you abuse it, and it also, like alcohol, makes permanent changes in your brain's neurotransmitters.

    So, you are right to be concerned. Xanax, like any benzodiazepine, creates a physical dependency. A physical dependency has two important results. First, over time you will notice the beneficial effect decreases and you will need to increase the dose to get the same benefit. This is called "tolerance". Second, you will have withdrawal symptoms if you discontinue it suddenly or taper off too quickly. This is called "physical dependence". It is not the same thing as addiction or abuse but does have some of the same results, such as physical withdrawal symptoms.

    Because of these two problems, it's best to keep your use at a bare minimum, and not to use the Xanax as your only tool to fight your anxiety and agoraphobia, but to find other tools in your toolbox, so to speak. One of the most important tools is education about the disorder. For example, the classic panic attack lasts only a few minutes. People can learn to "ride it out" and greatly reduce the fear by simply becoming educated about them. Cognitive behavioral therapy, such as gradually increasing our exposure to social situations, can improve us, without the use of drugs.

    What happens with agoraphobia is that the attacks are so uncomfortable that we begin to avoid the situations that cause them, then the attacks happen in reduced situations, rinse, repeat, until finally we are not comfortable even leaving our homes. Once we get to that point, it can be necessary to get past the crisis by using drugs such as Xanax. But ideally, you should view the drug as only a temporary bridge, while you work on other ways to address the problem.

    Unfortunately the root causes of these disorders are not completely understood, but something in our environment triggers them in people who are genetically susceptible. You can experiment with a lot of lifestyle changes to see if something helps reduce these attacks. What you eat, how much or how little you exercise, where you live, and what is going on in your life all may be triggers for your attacks. But you need to realize that these changes may not be immediately noticeable, they will help only if you give them time to work. So don't be discouraged if you for example, cut out high sugar sodas and don't see a change today. Give it several weeks of no sodas and then look back and see if you can detect an improvement in retrospect.

    While working on these things, you might also talk to your doctor about other alternatives to benzos. There are non-benzo drugs that help reduce anxiety you can try. They don't work as quickly or effectively but can take the edge off enough for you to function. There is also a whole world of alternative treatments, herbal and supplement remedies that work great, however you need to do your research to find quality sources, and identify the right doses and types. This is more complicated than using prescription drugs from your doctor because the alternative medicine field is far less regulated and standardized, but as long as you source your supplements from trustworthy companies, far safer. Most supplements do not have the addictive risks of benzos, and certainly not the overdose risks.

    The worrying truth about benzos is that in the long run they can make anxiety disorders worse. They work by flipping the balance of brain chemistry away from "fight or flight" and toward "calm and relaxed". But with time the brain adjusts itself by pumping out more "fight or flight" juice and less of its own "calm and relaxed" juice because the brain always attempts to maintain a certain status quo. So you end up in a situation where taking the daily drug then just gets you back to the original normal, and if you find yourself without it, you will have far more anxiety juice to deal with than ever before. This is the crux of withdrawal. The normal arc is for people to find they work extremely well for a certain period of time, often years, but then one day they don't work as well, you up the dose, they work a while then don't, you up the dose again, and all this time as you're increasing the dose, you're getting deeper into a situation where should you ever need to stop, it will be more and more difficult to do so.

    Despite all these dire warnings, if a person is non-functional, that is, cannot leave the home, cannot work or go to school at all, then these drugs can get you out of the house as you discovered. But my opinion is that you should not think of them as a permanent solution, but rather, have a solid plan to address the anxiety in other ways, and to get off daily use of the drug as quickly as possible. If you must use it, limit use to once a week or less.

    The Prozac has similar issues with dependency and withdrawal but is not nearly as risky as Xanax. You don't have the sedating effects or the overdose risk, (well you do, but it takes much more), but if it were me I would keep the Prozac at your current dose and with time, taper off that too. SSRI antidepressants also create changes in your brain's neurotransmitters which I believe are irreversible. Again, if you need these drugs to function, or if a person is suicidal or has no quality of life, they are far preferable to the alternative. But if you can manage to address your problems in other ways without prescription drugs, you will be better off in the long run. You have a lot of decades of life ahead of you and it would be best to try to find non-drug pathways to deal with your anxiety, as opposed to a lifetime of being on these drugs.

    Be aware also that panic attacks in your age can go away on their own as you get older, although you will likely always have some forms of anxiety disorder as you likely have a genetic tendency toward it. But I don't want you to think what you have now is all you have to look forward to. These began at the age you launched into adulthood. This is a high stress period for all of us. You may find as your life stabilizes you can do okay without prescription medications.

  4. #4
    Tucker63 is offline Banned
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    Hi Ricardo. Thisweekforsure gave a lot of really good advice. The exercise is important, for me, because it gets rid of nervous energy. When I was at points of very bad anxiety, I did take up to 1.5 mg in a day (.50 x 3 times a day). My clue to taper back was when I found myself getting too sleepy or drowsy. I guess I'm lucky insofar as I've never had an issue with Xanax. It's something I've taken if really needed otherwise I don't take it. I too had panic attacks. I think sometimes a panic attack can be brought on my believing you're going to have one; when you may not. Another thing that helps me is keeping my hands or mind busy with stuff like crafts, puzzles, adult colouring, walking or anything that is kinda mindless. The most I take now is half of a .50 mg and that's only once in a while. Part of beating anxiety, for me, is getting out of your head. And if you do feel panicky, start talking to yourself (not out loud of course) and ask what you're panicky about. Then start breaking those fears down. What will happen? Has anxiety killed me yet? Am I really having a panic attack or am I afraid of having a panic attack. Once you get through one day or one panic attack without taking anything, tell yourself 'I did last time, I can do it again' and it soon becomes habit. I'm not discounting anxiety. I know it's awful; truly awful, but it can be overcome. You just have to believe that it can be overcome. I hope that helps some. Start taking half a one, then a quarter of one, then tell yourself, there only for when you honestly need one. Good luck to you

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