Hi Carrie Ann,
I take anti-anxiety medication (Zoloft/Setraline), and I deem myself as a Setraline lifer
(although that sounds like a prison sentence, but it's not
But anyway, when are meds. introduced, and why? Are they given as a way to stop the symptoms of anxiety while a person learns coping strategies, or are they given indefinitely? My thought is that a person's history with anxiety should be a factor: if the anxiety keeps returning after meds. are stopped, that should be an indication of needing long term use, but if coping skills are successful and symptoms do not escalate into interference with living life, then meds. are not needed.
Usually a psychiatrist will recommend a person, who suffers a severe anxiety episode that lasts for several weeks/months, to stay on an antidepressant for a year, however a psychiatrist could change that to six months, depending on the patient. After the year elapses, and the patient weans off the medication, there may be a sabbatical, where an anxiety episode doesn't return. If it does return, and the patient returns to a doctor again for the same problem, that patient is advised to stay on the antidepressant for three years. After those three year elapses, and the patient weans off the medication, there maybe another sabbatical of no anxiety episodes, but then another prolonged anxiety episode comes back. At that point, after three reoccurring episodes from that five to ten year time span, both the psychiatrist and the patient will have fairly much come to the conclusion, the patient will need to be on the antidepressant for life, since these anxiety episodes keep on coming.
This is the *canned* answer any psychiatrist will give you, although it is a truthful reply. I call it *canned* because most people who start on antidepressants don't wait for one year to get off their meds. Once they get better, they're off them, even if it's just four months. Unfortunately many people (and this includes me) will have another anxiety episode, and due to their stubbornness won't see a doctor, until all options have been lost. The reason why is that many people are advised to turn to medication as a last resort, and try other options like regular exercise, improved diet, alternative therapies, more cognitive behavior therapy, or even better, just tough it all out, since the anxiety "is all in our head, anywayz." I can assure you anyone who tells you that ignorant reply does not have an anxiety/brain disorder, and doesn't understand the pain you are going through, but of course everyone is entitled to their opinion.
You also wrote:
Quoting my very first post here, ...living life to the fullest, I just feel that my quality of life is a little under par. I would most likely conquer the world if I weren't so stifled.
So this leads me to your statement here. I stay on my antidepressant, Setraline/Zoloft, because I've had re-occuring episodes of anxiety, and they were brutal
. When I read posts from people on this forum who feel hopeless, suicidal, or feel there is no escape, I know what they're feeling, since I've been there. However we can't conquer the world, when we're feeling so low. I tried the "other options first, before you go to meds" route, for several years, and from my opinion, I wasted time and money on alternative coping methods to deal with my anxiety, because the anxiety episodes keep on coming back.
I also curse every moron that told me that advice, since they obviously don't have a brain disorder like me, where their anxiety goes haywire. When I think of the months and years I've wasted because of being stifled on anxiety, I wish I had just put an end to all the anxiety madness, and just stayed on medication. But my philosophy is we just gotta move on and learn from our mistakes.
So that is my answer to "what point should meds be used for anxiety." I say, stay on them, once you have (at least two) prolonged periods of anxiety that last for several weeks/months. If those long periods felt like hell, then for me, it makes common sense to not to return to them. I know this forum has a lot of anti-med users, since I've been attacked by posters for being so pro-medication, but it is a forum, and we're allowed to disagree if we don't agree. So this is a response from the Pro-Medication party
Good luck in whatever you decision you make. There is no wrong answer, just the right answer for you. I just felt compelled to share the right answer for me.