Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 2: Medication

Dear Friends: If your considered opinion is that I am wrong for taking medication to help with my anxiety symptoms, kindly skip this entry. Even well-meaning comments telling me that I'm making the wrong choice are not helpful at this point. My treatment decisions are between me, my doctor, my husband and my God. :)

This is the first time I've ever tried medicating my anxiety, so I think blogging about it to chronicle my experiences might be of value, not only to me, but to others considering medication.

I tried a month on Wellbutrin, which works for some people for anxiety, and for others for depression, but it did nothing at all for me. 
from anxiety-treatments.com

Since Wellbutrin was a bust, my doctor suggested I try Effexor next. It's an interesting drug, and I've done a ton of reading about it now (both good and bad). It sounds like most people who take it consider it very effective for anxiety. The biggest negative issue seems to be that it is difficult to stop taking, and must be tapered very slowly to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to not having it anymore. Being aware of this, though, I should be able to avoid any extreme problems. Hopefully. Assuming I stay on top of refills and proceed slowly if/when the time comes to stop taking it.

As with anything you put into your body, especially drugs to treat mental conditions, there are always multiple warnings about side effects. Both the common and "more serious" lists are provided with the prescription. My doctor said the most common among her patients has been headaches, and she said to call her if I have persistent headaches during the first week of taking it. 

from tankpunkandcybersaur.blogspot.com
Such lists are super scary, but keep in mind that they are only potential side effects. I may not experience any of them, while there is a good chance that this or another similar medication will relieve most or all of my anxiety symptoms.

Now consider that the list of my own personal unmedicated anxiety-induced symptoms is 17+ items long.

I won't list them all, but it includes being extremely uncomfortable in groups or crowds, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath (sometimes), headaches and muscle tension, and intense fear of confrontation.

Here's a good website listing many of the symptoms of Social Anxiety/Phobia if you're curious to read more.

My point is this: I'm going to continue to experience symptoms for sure if I don't do something. I may or may not have side effects from medication. At some point, maybe I won't need medication at all and I'll be physically and mentally perfect. But today is not that day.

I feel a lot of pressure from the "natural remedy" and "holistic healing" aka "homeopathic" believers to avoid medicating anything that isn't life or death, but I'm seeking balance. I totally see the value in alternative treatments, and I will consider ideas and advice, but the fact is, sometimes you just need western medicine. I'm so grateful to live in a world where medicine is readily available to those who need it. 

Anyway, I will follow up as I notice anything, good or bad, along the way. Hopefully it will go well...


Sally said...

Thanks for sharing, Stephanie! I too am a socially phobic person (notice me NOT at tonight's RS meeting) who would hole up in my house 24/7 if I didn't have kids and a church calling. I've noticed my symptoms getting worse with age, and have started wondering about meds. I look forward to following you on this journey!

Steph said...

Sally, thank you for your comment, I appreciate it! I would love to hole up in my house-- I'm with you, if I didn't have kids, a job and a calling, I probably would. :)