Sunday, August 18, 2019

How to Stop Taking Social Anxiety Medication (Steps)

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Withdrawing from social anxiety disorder medication is the best thing you can do to help yourself in the long-run. The 8 steps on this page will help you do it as painlessly as possible.

The only thing anxiety medication does, is mask your condition – covering it up, allowing it to maintain itself or even grow in severity.

If you’ve made the intelligent decision to stop taking your anxiety medication, this page will show you exactly what to do. I’m sure that at times withdrawal will be hard for you, but not half as hard as things would get if you stayed on meds.

Although it may not seem like it in the beginning, stopping this kind of medication at this very point in your life will be your easiest way out of social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Before we begin, I must first stress that withdrawal from medication should be overseen by a qualified medical professional (i.e. your doctor). Before doing anything that I recommend in this article, seek advise from your doctor first.

The 8 Steps of Withdrawal

Step 1. Do NOT just stop taking your medication!

I had to include this as a step, even though it’s telling you what not to do – it is that important.

Withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, and naturally, we want to minimize that discomfort. Discomfort can only be minimized by being patient enough to withdraw from meds very slowly.

If you stop your medication any faster than I recommend on this page, you’ll be increasing the chances of getting really uncomfortable “rebound anxiety”. 

Rebound anxiety is when, having reduced meds, symptoms worsen.

The below withdrawal strategy will take weeks, but let’s be honest, that’s better than your anxiety coming back more discomforting than ever. So, don’t just stop taking medication – even if you’re sure you’re not dependent on it.

Step 2. Explain to your doctor that you’re
coming off medication(s)

Go to see the doctor and tell him/her that you’ve decided to withdraw from medication. Explain that the drugs merely mask your condition, and that you understand that the real solution to social anxiety lies elsewhere.

Once you’ve read the rest of this article, you’ll be in a position to tell your doctor exactly how you plan for this medication withdrawal to happen.

Step 3. Make sure you’ve got good
support from someone

It won’t be easy coming off meds, so you might need the encouragement of another person to help you stay strong. This person needs to understand that medication for social anxiety is not helpful, so that he/she can encourage you to stick at your withdrawal.

This can be a parent, sibling, friend, partner – just someone that can be there to encourage you when you need it most.

It doesn’t have to be just one person, either. The more encouragement you’ve got, the better.

Step 4. Get yourself onto a fixed
dose amount. Miss NO doses

The first step in the actual withdrawal process is to get a consistent medication schedule in place. You must make sure you take every single dose at just the time it should be taken.

This has to happen because in order to gradually reduce your dosages of meds, your body needs to be used to a particular amount. If you’re missing doses here and there, there’s no knowing how much medication your body is used to.

So, in order to reduce the dose slowly and with minimal discomfort, we MUST know what your exact dosage is – and we can know that by putting a solid schedule into place.

We need to work out how much you should be taking to begin with. What’s the highest dosage you’ve taken lately? Pick that dosage and take it at the same times you’ve agreed each day with the doctor. Do this for 3 whole weeks.

3 weeks may seem like a long time, but any quicker than that and you risk unnecessary levels of rebound anxiety. If you be patient, you’ll suffer less.

Step 5. At the end of the 3 weeks, cut out
10-25% of each daily dose

Time to start reducing your dosages of you anxiety medications. Reducing by 10-25% is good because it’s a significant enough change, yet it shouldn’t bring you too much rebound anxiety.

Of course, me saying reduce by 10-25% isn’t a specific enough answer. You need an exact %. Your doctor can advise you on this better than I can, since (s)he knows exactly what you’re taking, and how much of it you’re taking. 

To make this crystal clear: consult your doctor for an exact percentage by which to reduce your dosage of medication. From here on, this article’s examples will assume a dosage reduction of 25% – but that does NOT mean it is what I recommend for you specifically – it is just part of the example.

If you’re used to taking 10mg per day, twice daily, on a 25% reduction that would become 7.5mg per day, twice daily. 

This will happen after having already (from step 4) taken 10mg per day for 3 weeks.

Stick at your new Step 5 medication schedule for 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, decide if you could cope yet with another 10-25% less. If you think you could, move on to step 6. If not, do another week at the step 5 dosage.

Step 6. Cut out 10-25% more of the
original (step 4) daily dosage

Keep this up for 3 weeks at least. 4 or 5 or 6 weeks is OK too if you need that time – there’s no hurry.

Keeping to the example from step 5: The original dosage was 10mg in step 4, then the step 5 dosage was 7.5mg, so now it would become 5mg, because I have assumed a dosage lowered by 25%.

After 3 weeks, decide if you’re ready to move forwards again. If you need another week or two, no problem – this isn’t a race. When ready, do step 7.

Step 7. Cut out another 10-25% of the
original dosage agreed in step 4

Take this dosage of medication for 3 weeks, or as with Steps 5 and 6, take longer if needed.

Sticking with our above example: This is the 3rd time we’ve taken away 25% from the original 10mg dosage. Thus, we’re now down to just 2.5mg this time.

Repeat Step 7 until you are at a point where to reduce your medication further, you’ll need to start taking a smaller number of doses each day.

As always, when you’re ready, move on to step 8.

Step 8. Cut out 1 entire dosage
(e.g. morning dose, lunchtime dose or evening dose)

At this point you’re on a low enough amount of medication that you need to start wiping out entire doses. So, if you have a morning, lunch, and evening dose, 1 of them can now be cancelled.

If you take meds 3 or 4 times daily, discontinue one of the “middle” doses first. If you only take 2 doses per day, you can choose which one to take out, but I think it’s best that you let go of the one that is taken latest in the day.

After 2 or 3 weeks without one of those daily doses, take another one out entirely. Repeat this process until you’re completely “unmedicated”.

NOTE: Once you are finished with meds entirely, you might still get symptoms. This is OK. However, if you still get bad symptoms after one whole month of no medication, consult your doctor & visit benzo.org.uk

Coming off medicines like Benzodiazepines is for the best, since medication for social anxiety cannot help you to actually overcome it.

Meds only provide temporary relief, and even that turns into discomfort from side-effects and withdrawal symptoms eventually.

What Might Happen
During Your Withdrawal off
Social Anxiety Disorder Medicine

During withdrawal from Benzodiazepines, certain uncomfortable but harmless symptoms are possible. Many of them are listed here:

Feeling Faint Pins & Needles
Breathlessness Bad dreams
Trembling Hot (or cold) flushes
Volatile sexual feelings Eye-soreness
Dizziness Numbness
Tingling Increased aggression
Ringing in ears (tinnitus) Headaches
Hyperactivity Hallucinations
Chest pains Fast heart-beat
Flu symptoms Nausea
Diarrhoea Constipation

There are more possible symptoms than that list, but like I said, whatever happens to you would be unpleasant yet totally harmless.

There Are 2 Causes of the Symptoms:

Social anxiety disorder medicine stops your nervous system from functioning correctly. The symptoms listed above are a result of:

  1. Your nervous system re-establishing itself
  2. Your body telling you it desires more drugs

3 Ways To Help Yourself Cope
During Withdrawal:

1. Take the exact doses that you’re supposed
to be on, at the correct times

If you allow your dosages to fluctuate (i.e. miss doses or take too high a dose) then your body cannot gradually get used to less and less amounts of medicine.

Your medication schedule has to be taken seriously to be effective.

2. When the symptoms happen, tell yourself that
they’re harmless – just discomforting

Benzodiazepines, when taken in amounts within the recommended dosages, cannot hurt you. It’s reassuring to realise this, so tell it to yourself when symptoms happen.

3. Know that symptoms are a valid part
of recovery. They’re good signs!

See the symptoms as positive steps. You’re moving forwards with your life now, and sometimes circumstances that you don’t like have a positive meaning behind them. 

That’s a lesson for more than just beating withdrawal, I can assure you.

Due to the way the drugs work, withdrawal was always going to cause some issues. The body is asking for more drugs, and your nervous system is getting back on track. These processes were inevitable, and YOU can handle them.

How to Beat Social Anxiety Naturally

Once the social anxiety disorder medicine is being reduced, your central nervous system will start to establish it’s ‘authority’ again. 

This means you can start overcoming social anxiety naturally, because your mind is becoming more and more ripe for being socially rewired.

The drugs sedated the parts of your mind that need to change, meaning that beating social anxiety was impossible. Now that you’re coming off them, you can do it!

Emily Murdoch
Hi I write about health and fitness for women! You may contact me at emily@cleanseplan.com

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