I have just read an article entitled “High Anxiety” in the Good Weekend Magazine of the Sydney Morning Herald. My mind is a whirling blur of reactions – I feel furious, saddened and disappointed on behalf of the millions of people who have sought help for anxiety and panic disorders only to be given this drug which gives them very short term ‘relief’ and as an added extra, a drug addiction ( after only one weeks use ) which is said to be more difficult to kick than heroin to add to their woes.
Anxiety and panic disorder is one of our most common mental health issues currently affecting about 2 million Australians. It’s been around for as long as anyone can remember in different guises and under an umbrella of different names – PTSD, , frayed nerves, highly strung, panic attacks, neurosis – and you would think that the medical and pharmaceutical professions would have a better handle on things than to prescribe drugs of addiction which actually inhibit the patients ability to deal with their anxiety.
How does a drug like this get through the TGA and how can these big pharma companies ever feel ok about making a profit from people’s misery ? We all hear their speils about how they are caring for our health. One quick look at the Pfizer website and their banner reads “Wellness. Prevention. Treatment. Cure” – Wowser – what a bunch of rubbish that is. I have no doubt that some pharmaceutical drugs can be a literal life saver for people suffering from serious mental illness but surely the aim of treatment is wellness not dependence.
One reason these types of drugs, benzodiazapines, cause so many probelms is that they act by calming the brain and actually slowing it’s functioning. We have a natural brain chemical called GABA which plays this role and when we add these type of drugs to the mix our brains stop making GABA as there is less need. As soon as we stop taking the drug we find ourselves with a brain which has no calming GABA and the panic and anxiety rises rapidly giving the nasty, and often terrifying, withdrawal symptom of unchecked anxiety run rampant. It only takes about a week for your brain to adjust to making less GABA hence the idea that you become ‘addicted’ after a week or so of taking these drugs. The withdrawal effects, even after just one week can include hallucinations, racing heart, high blood pressure, tremors, confusion and rebound spiky anxiety – sounds like a panic attack on roids to me. It takes another week for your brain to start adjusting back to the lack of GABA and the week or two lag time can be truly horrendous. The absolutely heartbreaking thing about this is that it is a very risky time in terms of suicide, self harm and major depressive episodes.
The idea of treating these disorders in this way makes no sense to me. Surely someone dealing with these issues needs and deserves compassion, care, support and treatment which helps them to be able to deal with and overcome the disorder in order to live a full and happy life. Drug addiction and rebound anxiety doesn’t really gel with that.
Anxiety and panic disorders are plain awful and can be very isolating. Just about everyone I have seen in my clinic who is dealing with these issues feels a degree of embarrassment, shame and loss of quality of life and that they are the only ones feeling this way. Let me tell you it’s way more common than you think and affects people across every spectrum of society. You need not feel alone and help is here when you are ready.
As a naturopath my first thought is to try to identify any factors which may be causing or exacerbating your anxiety. There are many factors such as thyroid disorders, poor blood glucose control, hormonal imbalances, magnesium and B vitamin deficiencies which can impact on these conditions and exacerbate symptoms.
I use a combbination of nutritonal supplements, herbal medicines, counselling and dietary changes to help you get control of your symptoms while addressing the causal factors.
Some symtpoms of panic and anxiety include :
• Muscle tension • High blood pressure • Hypervigilance •
• Dizziness • Palpitations • Trembling • Sweating
• Feelings of unreality • Fatigue • Impaired concentration • Irritability
• Excessive worry/sense of impending doom • Sleep disturbances
If you are suffering from panic, anxiety or depression please call to see how I can help you.
NaturoCath – Caring. Encouraging. Supportive
Tel : 02 45677104
email : firstname.lastname@example.org