Are Benzodiazepines An Effective Solution For Anxiety?

 

The potent effects of benzodiazepines have caused this class of anti anxiety medication to gain extreme traction as an effective aid to anxiety.

Unfortunately, alongside this popularity comes wide spread notoriety.

Benzodiazepines can be both addictive mentally as well as physically and they are reported to exhibit nasty withdrawl symptoms for those who look to stop long term usage.

If you suffer from anxiety, you may be wondering if the effects of benzodiazepines are worth the risk. In this article I hope to shed some light from personal experience.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice in any way.  I am not a doctor, please speak with a professional if you need help.

 

The Positive Effects Of Benzodiazepines

The effects of benzodiazepines come largely from their ability to cross the blood brain barrier and directly influence GABA levels within the brain.

Unlike many SSRI’s that are used for anti-anxiety purposes, benzodiazepines exhibit their effects very rapidly.

This is one of the most highly sought after effects of benzodiazepines but also one of the reasons that they have a high potential for addiction.

For many of you struggling with anxiety, waiting for two to three weeks for an SSRI to take effect does not sound pleasant.

With a benzodiazepine such as Valium or Xanax, you can begin to experience symptomatic relief within the same day.

Additionally, benzodiazepines do not need to be taken daily.  In fact, I would highly recommend against daily usage.

Benzos such as Valium and Klonopin have an extremely long half life which means they stay effective for an extended period of time.

Both of these medications may provide you with anxiety relief for a surplus of 24 hours from a single pill.

In my personal experience, Valium taken in the evening will provide relief all throughout the next day.  I cannot speak for Klonopin although, with a 40 hour half life, the same can be expected.

Keep in mind that the arguably most famous benzo – Xanax does not have this extended half life.  If you choose to medicate with Xanax, usage will be more frequent and potential for addiction will be higher.

Assuming you do not have hormonal imbalances or an extreme serotonin deficiency, the anxiolytic effects of benzodiazepines will be pronounced.

Cool Picture But Don't Do Drugs


Are Benzodiazepines Addictive?

Once again I am not a doctor.  With that out of the way, I would say they are absolutely addictive IF you abuse them.

If you are someone who ignores a healthy lifestyle and continues to drink alcohol and indulge in an anxiety inducing lifestyle, and think you can use benzodiazepines to balance things out, you are in for a rude awakening.

I do not recommend this.

In my opinion benzos are a great safety net but they should never be used daily.  They should be a backup plan for the days your healthy lifestyle isn’t quite enough and your ability to cope isn’t quite up to par.

There are many horror stories on the internet of people who have abused benzodiazepines.  Many times the abusive doses were prescribed by doctors and the users didn’t know the gravity of these medications.

My goal is not to scare you away from them but to awaken caution.  These medications can serve great benefit but also require great respect.

 

What Is Considered A Safe Dose To Avoid Addiction?

I personally used benzodiazepines a maximum of two times per week at the minimum dosage (10mg of valium/diazepam).

This dosage provided me with the positive effects of benzodiazepines without causing any potential for addiction or side effects.  However, I do not have an addictive personality.

If you ever begin to experience addictive symptoms, you should be quick to bite the bullet and reduce usage.

 

Take them as needed, and only as needed, and you should be able to avoid most side effects and potential for addiction.

 

The Safety Net Method

Safety Net

I attribute this method to Douglas Bloch as this is where I first was introduced to the idea.

As we briefly touched on prior, benzodiazepines are great for the days your anxiety is out of your hands. You may also find them to be highly beneficial for easing panic attacks or keeping them at bay.

Perhaps you are experiencing anxiety worse than you have in a long time.  You find yourself worrying about having episodes at important times such as at work, while driving, or even around your kids.

You additionally begin to worry about the health effects of worrying. Now you entertain the idea that you may never stop worrying and all the damage that will cause…

If you find any of this familiar, you may find that benzodiazepines are an effective aid to break this cycle.

Let’s say you have been experiencing panic attacks at work and now you are finding yourself extremely prone to more as you are constantly worried about reliving that experience.

It is almost as though the walls have soaked up your anxious energy and they regurgitate it back at you whenever you enter your work space.

Work has become a highly uncomfortable environment and one which you no longer know how to relax in.

By taking a benzodiazepine, such as valium, you may experience a smoother week.

Hopefully in these calm moments you can realize certain things you are blowing out of proportion and carry that through the week with you.

With a refreshed mindset, hopefully you have successfully overcome a little bit of your worry.

 

Pushing Your Comfort Zone

This is where the effects of benzodiazepines can really be effective.

A key factor in overcoming anxiety for good is your continual growth and effort.

By knowing you have an effective tool to catch you if you fall, you can push your comfort zone dramatically.

Have you heard of exposure therapy?

The main idea behind exposure therapy is to slowly introduce yourself to the things that increase your anxiety.

By doing so, your anxiety about the situation will become reduced over time as you realize the likelihood of disaster is extemely low.

Hopefully, with continued time and effort, you can overcome the anxiety caused by the situation for good.

Unfortunately, many times the initial anxiety is too much to take that first step and people avoid exposure altogether. Rather than work towards getting better, you accept the crippling fear as a lifetime passenger you are forced to roll with.

But what if you knew you had something that could crush your anxiety if things became too heated?

Maybe you need to take a benzodiazepine the first few times to get out there.  As you gain momentum you no longer need the benzodiazepine but the fact that you have it if needed provides you comfort to push further.

Eventually you never need to refill  your prescription as you have successfully overcome your irrational worries.

Speaking from personal experience this can be extremely helpful.  Using this method I overcame daily panic attacks about my job and have not had one in almost a year.

Although I still have Valium on hand, it is simply unnecessary for me to use it frequently.  I have gone months without refilling my prescription in the past and never slipped up.

Note:  A safer alternative with many of the same benefits for exposure therapy would be phenibut.

 

Avoid Reliance

I understand that you may be facing persistent anxiety daily.

If this is your situation and you find the effects of benzodiazepines to be dramatic please do not abuse them.

With the pop of a pill it may seem as though your symptoms are gone, but it is only a bandaid.

Benzodiazepines may be an effective tool but they should not be used as a crutch.

There are plenty of natural ideas you can use to reduce your anxiety throughout this site without medication.

 

Please Remember

I am not a doctor.  Please speak with a medical professional if you choose to use benzodiazepines.  Always be wise and exhibit caution.

 


If you found this useful let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author

Sharing my past experiences battling anxiety, fatigue and depression in hopes that I can help you with your own personal struggles.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Molly - 15/05/2017 Reply

I agree, they should not be taken everyday but for many people the fear of the anxiety kicking in can be worrying and thus why people may take everyday. To give them sort of a comfort. In the UK valium is named Diazpam, and I took 5mg everyday for a week when I was really anxious at work; it helped so much but quickly realised it was turning my brain into mush!

Exposure therapy is the way! like you said it can be hard and overwhelming to exposure yourself to different situations but from personal experience, it has paid of greatly.

Great article Regan 🙂

Regan - 15/05/2017 Reply

Hey Molly thanks for the feedback. Diazepam is my go to as well but I have never taken it frequently, that being said I can imagine daily use could bring with it side effects.

I am super glad to hear exposure therapy worked for you, I think it is a can’t miss step in the battle against anxiety yet often overlooked.

Thanks for the kinds words

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