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Avatar universal

Concern about Xanax Use

I'm a 40 year old female, and I take anti-anxiety meds on an as-needed basis. I recently switched to Xanax .5 mg from Klonopin 1 mg. My doctor made the change because I didn't find the Klonopin as helpful as Xanax, which I'd taken briefly about a year ago.  Much of what I've read about Xanax is... scary. But I find it very helpful. I mainly want to know if I should worry about becoming dependent and what steps I can take to make sure that doesn't happen.

On average I would say I take one or two of the pills maybe 2 or 3 times per week. Sometimes a week or more will go by without my taking them at all. Other times, if things are bad, I may take them two or three days in a row.

I'm not sure if my issues with anxiety are genetic or environmental (or even whether that matters). My mother was on anti-anxiety meds for about as long as I can remember. The last several years of her life she was taking Ativan and Paxil. Her sisters have also had long histories of anxiety problems and anxiety meds as well. As for environmental factors, I have dealt with a series of traumas over the course of my life that I'm guessing might have taken a toll. During one stretch of 6 years, my sister and her daughter were killed in a car wreck, my father died of a heart attack, my brother was paralyzed in an accident, my mother attempted suicide and we lost our family home to foreclosure. That all happened before I was twenty (ages 13-19). Three years ago, my mother suffered a heart attack and stroke and was unable to care for herself because of physical limitations and dementia. I moved her into a nursing home and was her primary caregiver. She died last year after a protracted hospital stay. My brother, who is a paraplegic, lives with me. He doesn't need me to physically care for him, but I am his sole financial provider.

It has only been in the last two years that I've needed anti-anxiety meds. Before then, I had tried a number of anti-depressants (Prozac, Effexor, Lexapro, Wellbutrin). I started taking anti-depressants because I have so much trouble staying focused and concentrating on my work but I either felt no better on them or felt like I was in a fog. Eventually I gave them up. In the last couple of years anxiety has become a real issue. Things knock me for a loop more easily now. Often there is no real trigger for my anxiety. I just suddenly feel like my stomach is in knots and have this awful pervasive feeling that something is very wrong, like something bad is about to happen. During these times, I'm unable to concentrate on my work and it's difficult for me to deal with people. I avoid the phone (it startles me just to hear it ring) and generally avoid dealing with anything. Taking the meds really helps take the edge off and allows me to calm down and work.

Like I said, my real question is whether my Xanax use (a couple of times a week) sounds reasonable and/or healthy, or if I need to be concerned about addiction.

Thank you for any help/advice.
8 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
At the level of usage you described, you will have no problem. but if you rely on it every day, and increase the dose, you are in the trouble zone, and xanax is a nasty addiction, so monitor yourself closely.
Avatar universal
your post caught my eye because I was on anti-anxiety meds for 10 years AND my mom was a suicide.  
Just to be sure you aren't missing anything...have your thyroid antibodies checked which will indicate whether you have autoimune thyroid disease (Hashimoto's).  

This is what caused my anxiety and it was gone within two weeks after starting thyroid hormone.  
Thyroid disorder is well known to cause psychiatric disorder...and often Hashimoto's presents with psychiatric symptoms even before thyroid labs go out of range.  

I'm always on the alert for missed cases of this - because of my own situation...and also because both my mother and cousin's suicide autopsy's indicated they had thyroid disease. Undiagnosed in both cases. Autoimmune thyroid disease has a genetic component and will lead to things like heart failure and severe memory and cognitive disorder if not detected and treated.

Avatar universal
I am so sorry for your many losses and the tragedies you have had to endure.  I understand because I have had several losses myself.

Don't be too hard on yourself. I think you need to give yourself time to heal from it all. Who wouldn't be depressed and/or anxious given everything you have been through?

At one point in my life I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, and I too, used to be very startled with any type of sudden noise and the phone ringing as well. Perhaps you may have some of that, too. I am fine now, and I'm sure that you will be, too.

Check with your doctor and I'm sure that he/she can guide you with the appropriate dosage of your medication.

Best of luck to you.
Avatar universal
I have just started lexapro today seems as things are almost sureal however I was able to focus and get things done.On only 2 1/2 hours of sleep as I have not been able to sleep..I am not sure if it is due to finacial burden stress of a very trying marraige or realted to seasonal depression or heridity. As you see on oct 12th 1975 my father comitted suiced I was only age five. He was manic depressive and spent time in menatl hosp.Also was abusive to my mother almost killed her.He was also involved in narcotics and alcohal..wasn't a good five year start they say that your personality is pretty much developed by then.From there lived with my mom and her borfriend like hippies they were with a brady bunch family even..till like most hippies they moved to a yuppie nieborhood only dif was they stilll lived like hippies for a few years some one had to put the hammer down it was my mom. so her boyfriend worked two jobs and partied on the sly causing much fighting thru till 1989 when my brother was killed in car accedent at this time I was involved in narcotics and living with my abusive boyfriend of 5 years at this time.So I moved back home as my momsboyfriend barley surviving this accident recoverd.We almost lost our home as things were bad financialy but now worse come to find.My mom left her boyfriend diveded evry thing up and sold  the house in 1990 and baught  a condo when in 1991 my mother died of lung cancer leaving me all of 21 with no emmidiet family  A will that I ended in a court battle with my uncle and a step sister that I wasn't even able to win her ashes out of and   a boyfriend who is now my husband we have been together since 1989 was an aquatence of my brother met him at his funeral I did. With no time to grieve I have kept treding on my husband lost his job of 11yrs two yrs ago seems like yesterday I worked while he got a degree and raised our two children.He has recreated himself while I have lost Who I am I am 35 yrs old couldn't tell you what my favorite purfume is or favorite brand of jeans as I haven't shoped for underwear in 3 years I am enveloped in evry ones needs and couldn't tell you my own for I havn't thaught of them untill now there are so many I am overwhelmed by my own self neglect. My children are envoleved in sports teams my husband is in a band  I see people at the house on weekend all we do is  drink socialy I don't have much to talk about other than my problems. tired of being a drag always on the verg of crying I just feel like a square peg in a round hole I don't seem to fit in and don't have any answers my husband calls me debbie downer I felt devastated the first time he said it All I could think is evry thing I do for you and you see me upset and you are annoid by it.I just don't know what to do prey the lexapro works I guess......
Avatar universal
I have taken Xanax the SAME EXACT WAY AS YOU for about 2 years now. I personally feel it's not easy to get dependent on it if you take it this way. I have days where I don't have to take it at all, and will go a few weeks without taking it. Then I'll have days where I have to take it 4 times a week. It just depends on my hormones or something, I think. But when I have a "relapse" of panic/anxiety, and need to take 2 pills at a time for a couple days...then go for a few days without taking any, I have no withdrawl symptoms and feel fine. According to my doctor, this is a rather healthy way to take Xanax.
Avatar universal
Well I am currently suffering from social anxiety I believe because I have a hard time being around people without feeling judged and then my heart starts to race but anyway I am not taking any medications currently but I would like to start because my anxiety has gotten so bad within the past month that I can't take it anymore. So I would like to ask my psychiatrist who I will be seeing for the first time tomorrow about Xanax. But I am scared of the side effects that I am hearing about. Like one of the side effects I heard is tightening of the throat passageway and hallucination? Like huh? There were other side effects I read about but none of them caught my eye like these two. Anyway tell me if you guys think I should try xanax first because I really need immediate relief hair. Oh by the way, I almost forgot that I constantly and emphatically pull out my hair throughout the day and sometimes I don't even recognize that I am doing it. Half of my head is bald. Anyways I hope Xanax can help me with this problem OF COURSE WITHOUT THOSE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS.
Avatar universal
This website could not have come at a better time. I have been taking .5 mg. of Xanax for the past 2 1/2 years after having several panic attacks and being diagnosed post partum depression. I have been trying to figure out how to get off of it safely and only take it on an as needed basis. Everytime I try and not take it for a couple of days I get really cranky and disorientated. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Avatar universal
I take Xanax .5mg when needed...at most a few times a month but usually not that often...it helps me avoid anxiety issues revolving around death.  

I think what is most often missing is utilizing meds and psychological treatment at the same time.  Studies have shown that one without the other usually only ends up being a bandaid to the problem..but using both results in a much more quick ability to deal with problems and function normally in society.

I read where Debbie is not happy feeling like a dud and that your husband calls here Debbie Dud and that hurt her feelings.  Understand that your husband probably has not idea what you're going through...no matter how much you may or may not tell him he can never understand...it's just impossible...I know at one time I would have never guessed I couldn't control every facet of my life...particularly my mind, but it's best to know that sometimes your life gets the best of you.  You need to learn to cope and overcome and that's not always easy.

Debbie, don't let someone's not understanding your problems bring you down or make lose your selfworth.  No matter what it is important to understand and find the goodness in yourself.  We don't need to be the center of attention or be Robin Williams to impress people...but we do need to love ourselves and find peace with ourself.  I think talking to someone qualified to help will give you the fastest results you could imagine in conjuction with meds if needed...eventually you won't need them but possibly the ears of a friend who is willing to listen.

I really hope you are all able to see past these feelings and realize how important you are to those that love you...how important you are to yourself.  Life doesn't always feel great...but let me tell you, it can always get better, no matter how dark it appears.
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