Did you know Xanax was first approved in 1981 and produced by the pharmaceutical company Upjohn (now part of Pfizer). It quickly gained popularity as an effective treatment for anxiety, but its widespread use now raises concerns about mass abuse and dependence by users.
Xanax is likely one of them the more common drugs you hear prescribed for mental health conditions. Common across America, its name is widely used in films, books, and media.
Used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, it can be highly effective, but has a potential adverse side effects that users would prefer not to have, but are willing to tolerate in exchange for not suffering perpetual anxiety.
However, included in the side effects are the risks of dependence, and for many abuse of the drug. Sadly, overdoing on Xanax is possible and is used as a route to suicide for some.
Xanax addiction is more common than many realise, and because we see it as a prescribed drug, we’re more likely to tell ourselves that “we’re not addicted, it’s been prescribed to me” – we call this self-justification bias.
Unfortunately, just because a drug has been prescribed to us, doesn’t mean we can’t be addicted to it.
It’s therefore important to recognise if we’re becoming dependent on prescribed medication to tackle anxiety, but to also know that there are natural alternatives to medication that can alleviate anxiety without nasty side effects.
Natural alternatives can be foods and drinks which balance our internal system, or bring our bodies back to homeostasis. Some roots, like Rhodiola Rosea, or Ashgwanda, are adaptogens; adaptogens trigger an adaptation process within us which brings our hormone levels back into balance, reducing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from our systems. With stress hormones reduced, we also experience a positive effect on our serotonin and dopamine levels, the neurotransmitters responsible for making us happy.
Other alternatives can be changes we make to our external environment which have a direct impact on our mood, for example walking in nature has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety, the Vitamin D from sunlight lifts our mood thereby reducing anxiety, and spending just twenty minute by water also has a calming effect on our bodies.
Often, for those experiencing chronic anxiety, we are only aware of the prescribed medications available and aren’t guided on the alternatives available to us that can provide a powerful release from anxiety.
Xanax, is prescribed to treat a variety of anxiety-related disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Xanax works by enhancing the activity of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation.
Xanax is typically prescribed when a person’s anxiety symptoms become debilitating, in that it affects their daily lives, home life, and/or ability to work. It can be an effective short-term solution for anxiety management, but for those living with long-term anxiety, it is better for your body to explore sustainable solutions, and begin looking at why you experience anxiety in the first instance.
Nick Wignall of Very Well Mind
writes about this often, and there are some words he uses regularly which I now remind myself of often –
“Anxiety is usually caused by the worry of feeling anxious, than anxiety itself”.
The side effects of the drug can be very challenging mentally and physically and so its important users try to stop taking Xanax as soon as they’re able to.
Consuming natural alternatives to reduce anxiety that do not come with these side effects, and armed with your anxiety management toolkit, offers you long-term, sustainable ways to manage your anxiety, in a way that is healthy for your body and mind.
Depending how long users have been taking Xanax the withdrawal symptoms can vary from a small, few day withdrawal process, to a much longer, and rather intense withdrawal process.
For those who have come to be physically and psychologically dependent on Xanax, the withdrawal process can be extremely unpleasant for them and will be met with many physical and mental challenges. The intensity of the withdrawal can be of such strength that the user feels unable to go through it, and reverts back to take their usual daily dosage of Xanax. Unfortunately, the only way to come off Xanax is to go through the withdrawal, and the sooner it is done the easier it gets.
Withdrawal should only ever be done following your mental health professional’s official guidance, because each withdrawal is tailored to each user’s dosage, length of time on Xanax, and dependency level.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
Because of its sedative and depressant effects on the central nervous system, Xanax can diminish cognitive function.
So although some high performers look to Xanax for reducing their anxiety and helping overcome challenging periods, the wider effects of Xanax may impede progress in other aspects of your life. Which itself leads to feelings of frustration, and even guilt, as we feel we’re not performing to the best of our capability.
How Xanax can impede cognitive function:
It’s important to note that the cognitive impairments associated with Xanax are usually pronounced at higher doses or when the drug is used disproportionately. For some individuals, effects can be temporary and improve as the drug’s effects wear off, however, long-term or excessive use of Xanax can lead to persistent and enduring cognitive deficits that affect many areas of your life.
It is possible for people to die from an overdose of Xanax.
Overdosing on Xanax can lead to respiratory depression, which means that a person’s breathing can become slow, shallow, or even stop altogether. When the respiratory system is significantly impaired, it can result in a lack of oxygen in the body, leading to severe health complications, including death.
The risk of overdose is especially high when Xanax is taken in combination with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids, as these can enhance the depressant effects of the drug.
Mixing Xanax with other substances can be particularly dangerous and increases the risk of overdose.
If you suspect someone has overdosed on Xanax or any other medication, it is essential you get medical attention immediately by contacting emergency services.
Fortunately, there are several natural alternatives to Xanax that can help manage anxiety without the risks associated with prescription medications. Here is a list of natural remedies:
Passionflower is a plant native to North America and is well-known for its beautiful and intricate flowers. While passionflower is appreciated for its aesthetic qualities, it has also been used for centuries for its potential therapeutic benefits.
The parts of the passionflower plant, including the leaves, stems, and flowers, are used to make herbal remedies and dietary supplements. Passionflower has a long history of traditional use in herbal medicine, primarily for its calming and sedative properties.
Common uses of passionflower include:
It’s important to note that while passionflower is generally considered safe when used as directed, it may interact with certain medications or have side effects for some individuals. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist before using passionflower as a treatment, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.
Passionflower is available in various forms, including herbal teas, tinctures, capsules, and extracts. The appropriate form and dosage may vary depending on the specific health concern being addressed, so seeking guidance from a healthcare provider or herbalist is recommended to ensure safe and effective use.
Kava kava, often simply referred to as “kava,” is a plant native to the South Pacific region, including Polynesia, Fiji, and other Pacific Island nations. Kava has been used for centuries in traditional Pacific Island cultures for its sedative, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), and social relaxation properties.
The root of the kava plant is the part used to prepare a traditional beverage, also called “kava,” which is made by grinding or pounding the root into a powder and then mixing it with water. The resulting drink has a distinctive, earthy taste and is known for its calming effects. It is traditionally consumed in social and ceremonial settings, often as a way to promote relaxation, social bonding, and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Common uses of kava kava include:
It’s important to note that while kava can be a useful natural remedy for anxiety and stress, it should be used with caution. Overconsumption of kava or using it inappropriately can lead to side effects, including dry skin, yellowing of the skin, a condition called ‘kava dermopathy’, and potential liver toxicity.
Due to these concerns, several countries, including some European nations and Canada, have restricted or banned the sale of kava products.
In conclusion, Xanax is a potent medication for managing anxiety, but it comes with a range of side effects and risks. Natural alternatives offer a holistic approach to anxiety management with fewer potential downsides. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your anxiety management routine to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your specific needs and circumstances.
Having been biohacking my mind and body long before it became fashionable, I’ve always lived by the benefits of nature’s resources to improve cognitive and physiological performance. Using my years of experience, products, and wellness practices, I’m now helping others elevate their cognitive performance to help build the life they want. I save you the time I’ve spent learning, so you can focus your time on building.
I proudly use AI to support development of my articles. As a heavily dyslexic person, writing can be a time consuming process with words often jumbled up and sentences the wrong way round. AI has become my crutch; allowing me to share the immense interest in my mind, while making content creation quicker and more accurate. AI is my benefit.
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