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Medication Depression & Anxiety

Person taking medicationPrescribed & Unprescribed

Today we are looking at two very different views of medication as it relates to depression (and its evil step child, anxiety).

The first view is legitimately-prescribed medications; medications for all sorts of maladies.  Many of these have side effects.  Depression and anxiety are among them.

Medication Side Effects

Dr. Armon B. Neel Jr. asks in AARP, “Are you feeling depressed? One of the drugs you’re on could be the cause.  If you suspect that your depression symptoms are linked to a prescription drug you’re taking, talk to your doctor or health care provider right away.

Researchers have long known that many drugs can make us feel down or even depressed and that, as we age, our changing body chemistries put us at a greater risk for this side effect. But few doctors think to review the medications list when their patients have the telltale symptoms of depression: lack of energy, listlessness, feeling rundown, excessive fatigue, changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, sadness, despair. As a result, they often layer on top of the drugs causing those symptoms a new drug, such as an antidepressant, for treating them, which may in turn trigger additional side effects”.

The second view of medications is that of those unprescribed:


Paraphrasing fellow mental health professional, Anthony D’Aconti:

While a drink or two might curb your anxiety in a social situation, the facts show that self-medicating produces only a short-term effect that leads us to avoid the actual source of our anxiety. The simple truth is that self-medicating with alcohol, marijuana or even cigarettes is an avoidance behavior that can cause more mental and physical health problems than it aims to correct.

First, we experience a down mood or anxious feeling. When anxiety, depression and other common symptoms of an anxiety disorder hang around for too long, we often find ourselves unable to manage them. A couple of drinks suddenly make us feel lighter, more confident, less self-conscious and better able to cope with our feelings. Before we know it, anxiety, worry and depression seem to fade away.

When Self-Medicating Turns to Dependency

Unfortunately, the problems that follow the short-lived benefits of self-medicating are harder to notice. One of the most common problems is that we slowly but surely begin to depend on substances to cope with anxiety.

Essentially, we develop a “solution” for our anxiety without ever learning how to cope with it on our own. We remove our inner ability to manage anxiety and replace it with a quick fix. If you have an anxiety disorder, then a dependency on alcohol, marijuana or other substances can not only keep you from addressing and resolving the actual problem but also take you further away from finding your own inner ability to cope with your symptoms. In the end, we easily get hooked on the idea of self-medicating and turn to it more often. When dependency deepens, so does our anxiety about the dependency. We essentially develop another behavior to hide.

Finding Healthier Alternatives to Self-Medicating

The first step to overcoming anxiety is understanding the facts. Hopefully, a clearer picture on the perpetual cycle of self-medicating as it relates to alcohol, substance abuse and dependence will lead you to turn to more healthy treatment methods such as exercise, healthy diet, regular sleep and perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy.

This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. Now that you recognize your need to seek help, you need not go through this alone. We know cognitive behavior therapy. With our support, you can get through these difficult times. You just need the courage and openness to begin the process and the tenacity to stick to it


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I am the Founder and CEO of Counseling On Demand with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with over 25 years of experience in helping Individuals, Couples, Adolescents, and Families who struggle with a wide variety of Life's Challenges. I thus have developed an Array of Effective Counseling Tools and Evidenced-Based Interventions to help you towards Your Road to Better Mental Health and Wellness. You are Never Alone...I look forward to meeting with you or your family member soon!