Why I Don’t Take Medication for My Anxiety

December 11, 2018

I have disclosed in a previous post (my review of multiple anxiety relief methods, you can view it here), that I do not use medication for my anxiety. There are a lot of different opinions on whether or not medication should be taken for anxiety, and to what extent. Before I begin, I just want to say that every person is different. What works for me may not work for someone else. My experience will be different than anyone else’s, and not everyone will share my views on this. That is okay. I am not asking for you to submit to my viewpoints, I just want to share what my experience has been and give the reasons for not taking medication. I found alternate opinions extremely helpful when I was first trying to navigate the world of mental health, and I also would like you to get to know me a little bit better.

My Experience with Anxiety Medication:

It was in January of 2018 that I first went to the doctor for my anxiety. I had been told by my counselor at the time that it may help me to stay in school, and to work through my feelings for the time being until life calmed down. Following her guidance, I panicked through a few doctors appointments. Good things and bad things came from this time. 

The one positive from seeing the doctor several times over the next few weeks was it soothed my health anxiety a lot. Over the three months up to this point I had lost a lot of weight, going from the 125 pounds I had been for the past 10 years down to 116. It may not sound drastic, but for a person who had only had weight fluctuations of 1-3 pounds for her entire life, it was pretty intense. However, the first thing that my doctor did was check for physical ailments. She tested my thyroid to make sure that it was working properly and not causing my weight and anxiety issues. I had a full blood panel done. She checked my stomach for any abnormalities. She pushed me to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist to check out further issues (which I did). Therefore, one fact that I left those few weeks with was the confident that I was perfectly healthy, besides being a bit underweight from not eating because of my anxiety, and the symptoms that came from anxiety. 

Another positive was that I learned to listen to my body, and decide when things were not right for me. After the first appointment, once my blood results and thyroid test were given the all clear, my doctor prescribed me Lexapro (an anti-depressant), and Ativan. The thought was that I could take the Ativan in order to go to school and function until the Lexapro kicked in (4-6 weeks), and then wean myself back off of it. I took the Ativan for the first time the next day, and it was a nightmare. After taking one of the smallest doses they offer, I got extremely dizzy, then slept for five hours in the middle of the afternoon, and then woke up feeling woozy and sick. I tried taking it another time in order to go to school, and was so incredibly out of it that I did not trust myself to make the 35 minute drive. So I quickly decided that Ativan was not for me, and went back to the doctor. I was then prescribed Xanax. 

The Xanax worked…sort of. I am sure that I would have needed a higher dose in order to take away the high level of panic that I experienced, but it just made me feel extremely strange, and I got a ‘hangover’ from it the next day. I used it to help me do a few small things (like get through my birthday with only one panic attack instead of my normal 3-5), but largely hated it. It made me feel dull when I was on it, and the next day I would get migraines and feel sluggish. I figured that it was not a huge deal, because the Lexapro would be kicking in soon, and at this point I had already dropped out of school. I had been wary of the addictive tendency of Xanax and other benzos in the first place, so it was not too much of a loss to me.

Why I Didn’t Stay on Anti-Depressants/Anxiety Medication

I stuck with the Lexapro, taking it religiously until I finally started to feel its affects around week five. It had lowered my anxiety slightly, however, it came with another undesired side effect: it took my personality. I had heard that it could make a user feel more depressed at first before it leveled them out, so I was willing to try and stick through these feelings.

Two months after beginning Lexapro, I could not stand it anymore. My anxiety was down, I could tell, but in return, I had no desire to do anything. I had lost all of my passion and motivation. At this time I was taking online classes, and disclaimer: I love school. I am obsessed with learning and getting good grades, it is a terrible quality of mine. When the Lexapro was in full effect, I didn’t even want to touch my school. My grades began to suffer, and I had no drive left. I became extremely apathetic about my situation, lazy in regards to working on changing my thought patterns, and generally grumpy. 

I made the decision to come off of the Lexapro because I decided that anxiety is a part of me, and that some of my issue is thought processes that I have created and I need to un-create. I did not want to simply put a bandage over my problems without getting to the root of the issue, and the way the Lexapro made me feel put me right on track for not improving myself personally at all, and simply relying on medication to get through my day. 

*Here I will repeat, this is only my experience. I can not speak for everyone with mental health issues. There are some times when medication is absolutely necessary. My decisions were made with help from a doctor and my counselor. In my case it simply became a matter of preference for me. Did I want to work on my thought processes that I was allowing to damage me with the help of medication or without-I found that I would be more driven to make a change without. 

How I Have Coped Without Anxiety Medication

I am going to be honest: my journey has probably been a lot harder and longer because I decided to go off of pure will-power. However, I would not change anything if I were to go back. This year has made me so aware of my own body; how I respond to certain environments, how the food I eat and the amount of sleep I get affects my anxiety levels, the way my period messes with my mental health, and much more. I feel like I would not have been as aware of these parts of my life had I used medication. 

Right after I stopped Lexapro is when I discovered acupuncture, and that was invaluable. I was able to get the calming affects that I needed for important days (like my wedding day!), without having to sacrifice my personality or anything else. I have loved exploring ways to lower my anxiety naturally and through planning ahead and just taking care of my body, while also working hard every day to change my way of thinking.

So will I ever go on medication for my anxiety again? That depends. I still have Xanax that I keep just in case, but I have not used it since May. I believe that I will try my hardest to get better with my counselor and more natural methods, and see how far I can go. If it comes about that my issue is on a more chemical basis, rather than just the result of toxic thinking for far too long, then I may rethink my medication decision. If no matter what I do my anxiety is limiting my life, and therefore the lives of my husband and family, then I believe I would be selfish to not even consider medication. But for now, I will keep plugging on with my healthy foods, my yoga, and my own stubborn mind. 

42 Comments

  • Scott DeNicola December 28, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Medication is a band aid for most things nowadays. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 9:54 am

      That is very much my opinion too! I believe a lot of things can be remedied by just taking care of your body!

  • Renee Theresa December 28, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for sharing. I am on anxiety meds because I feel that for no reason I am having constant panic attacks. It doesn’t seem to do much though so maybe I will try some of these things!

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 9:56 am

      That is a really large reason as to why I started. My panic attacks were classified as unprovoked in many instances. So the therapy of working through my thoughts was not very helpful! That would be awesome! I really truly suggest acupuncture. It is amazing. I wrote a post where I talked about my alternate relief methods, which I will link below. Best wishes to you!

      http://www.thehonestreader.com/alternate-anxiety-relief-methods/

  • Treasures in Christ December 28, 2018 at 10:12 am

    So glad you were able to get off your meds and are taking an alternative route that has better results

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 9:57 am

      I am very thankful for this as well! It has made my body feel so much better!

  • Mrs. Type A December 28, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your experience. I know a lot of your readers will benefit from your thoughtful post.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

      I am hoping that this will be the case. Getting my diagnosis and being thrown into the world of medication and therapy was such a stressful and confusing time. I only hope that I can help others in similar situations.

  • vballangel5 December 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Thank you!

  • Shnooks December 28, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, I also suffer from anxiety and I have been preferring not to use medication too, It’s just something that tells me that If I start using medication I will be depending on it for the rest of my life that’s why I prefer to always look for natural alternatives too 💗

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Yes! That was one of my biggest fears in going on anti-anxiety medication. They are so addictive and it is incredibly easy to become dependent on them. I am much more inclined to take good care of my body and pursue natural methods. I wrote a whole post about natural methods which I will link below in case you are interested. Anxiety is absolutely no fun and I wish you the best!

      http://www.thehonestreader.com/alternate-anxiety-relief-methods/

  • kutercarol December 28, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Anxiety can be debilitating. I took meds for about two weeks and like you, felt dull and not on my game. I decided to go the natural way. It’s hard work. I love your healthy attitude, approach and awareness of the disease. Thanks for posting.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:01 am

      It was extremely hard to be on medication, and very relieving to know that I am not alone in how I was feeling! Natural way is best!

  • Keshia Richmond December 28, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Our body is our personal guidance system and when we listen to our body, we can heal so much.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:02 am

      Absolutely! Paying attention to our body can tell us much of what we need!

  • Ivan Jose December 29, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Natural remedies are indeed the best Thank you for opening up about your anxiety and providing insights on overcoming it.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:03 am

      100%! Thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences!

  • gloriousheights December 29, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I too prefer avoiding medincins I prefer homeopathic for anxiety. No side effects you can look into it. Also yoga and meditation helps a lot.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Very interesting! I am always looking into more natural ways to treat my anxiety. Do you have any specific homeopathic remedies you like?

      • gloriousheights December 30, 2018 at 4:15 pm

        Yes I had an aunt who was a homeopathic doctor she helped me a lot. She told me about gelsemium I really like it. I have heard a lot about chamomile too. I suggest you meet a homeopathic expert because there’s a certain potency (like dosage) that one takes. Good Luck 👍🏻 I hope it helps you the way it helps me and my family members.

        • thehonestreader January 1, 2019 at 1:45 pm

          Thank you for the advice! I will have to see if I have a homeopathic expert around me!

  • chaddden2001 December 29, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I’ve tried a couple of meds and they’ve either had no affect whatsoever or made me feel worse in a different way, so I know where you’re coming from. For me, aromatherapy works best, but I’ve never tried acupuncture.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Yes! The cons were always greater than the pros, so I just decided that it really was not for me. I do really love aromatherapy, I sleep with a diffuser every single night. If you would like I wrote a much more in depth post about my alternate relief methods, which includes a large section on my experience with acupuncture.

      Here is the link!

      http://www.thehonestreader.com/alternate-anxiety-relief-methods/

  • sincerelymissj December 29, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I agree with someone above medication is a band aid solution and therapy.Thank you for sharing your story.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:07 am

      It absolutely is in some cases! Thank you for reading!

  • mbenton22 December 29, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Wow I really enjoyed reading this. I have people close to me that suffer from anxiety!

  • Jeferson Beluso December 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    I’m glad you discover the wonder of natural solutions…..i have a relative who suffered the same and she’s taking those medications…. Honestly it does more harm than good as her conditions only worsen….. We should not be dependent on chemicals especially treating brain related disorders….. We don’t mess with our brain……

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:09 am

      I am very sorry to hear about your relative. It is truly terrible to become dependent on these types of drugs. It makes your body feel so much worse. If you would like, I have a post about other anxiety relief methods, maybe you could give it a read and make suggestions to your relative? Or if you would like any other information do not be afraid to reach out! Wishing the best for you and your relative.

      http://www.thehonestreader.com/alternate-anxiety-relief-methods/

  • Matija Antonić December 30, 2018 at 3:23 am

    It’s a good thing that you realized that although medication managed to lower your anxiety it robbed you of yourself, and decided to stop it,a lot of people wouldn’t, doctors prescribe what they think will help, now will it or it won’t it depends on the person, someone might take medication and feel completely fine, someone else might not, but there are always alternatives, and I am glad to hear that you are able to cope with it, continue fighting, and don’t give up.

    • thehonestreader January 1, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      I definitely agree, many people will forfeit their sense of self just to have relief from their symptoms (which I am not bashing at all I just think that it is unfortunate). And that is also very true, different methods work for different people. Thank you so much!

  • Jasmeet Singh December 30, 2018 at 7:07 am

    I think medication is temporary and have serious side effects. You have found a better solution. Thank you for sharing.

    • thehonestreader December 30, 2018 at 10:10 am

      I agree completely, it is simply not worth the risk. I believe I have! Thank you for reading!

  • Emilio Marcos Sierra December 30, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for your honesty and your educated view on this matter. I am sure this will come in handy to so so many people

    • thehonestreader January 1, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      You are very welcome! I am really hoping that many people will benefit from my experience.

  • Coleccion De Fotografia December 31, 2018 at 1:33 am

    First of all I would want to say you are stronger than you think and second of all you are so brave to share this with us. I am so happy you have finally resorted to alternative cures and you are right acupuncture gets you that calming effects your mind and body is yearning for. Thanks for sharing such a great post!

    • thehonestreader January 1, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you so much. It was hard at first to share such intimate parts of my life, but if it will help another I think it is so worth it. Acupuncture rocks! Thank you for reading!

  • Jomar Allen Enecio December 31, 2018 at 5:51 am

    I love this article. I will definitely follow your blog to get more updates. I’m looking forward for your next article! Good read!

    • thehonestreader January 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      I am so happy that you would like to follow along! Thank you for your kind words!

  • Jomar Allen Enecio January 1, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Great Read! I get the chance to learn new things! I will definitely follow this blog so I get updated for new articles!

  • Danielle W. January 4, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    I have had similar side effects from anxiety medication. However; I found that for me, the pros outweighed the cons. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: