Anxiety - Thinking outside the pill bottle & staying grounded.

Sep 19, 2022

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

As mentioned last week, it is perfectly normal and healthy to feel anxious, afraid, and stressed from time to time. Anxiety becomes a health concern and a definite issue when it takes over and is disproportionate to the situation. For some feelings of anxiety can have a significant effect on the quality of life. It may cause an inability to respond to a situation before the situation has even occurred.

For some anxiety may be a lifelong struggle and for others it may be temporary. In both cases, it is possible to life a very fulfilling life even if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. There are many effective treatments available to help manage anxiety and symptoms of anxiety.

Prescription medications are available to help. Benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam are a common thought when it comes to treating anxiety. They are effective, have minimal side effects in young people when dosed correctly and work great as a short-term solution. Sublingual lorazepam can work great for an extreme fear of flying, a dental procedure you cannot envision having or an MRI for someone who cannot handle tight spaces. However, our society has become much too dependent on benzodiazepines for long term solutions. This has given them a bad name and rightfully so. Benzos as they are referred to quickly have tolerance issues if used regularly. This means your body will require more medication to keep getting the same response. At higher doses we see drowsiness, mental fog, and an increased risk of falls in seniors. It will eventually stop working and may lead to dependence, which means you need to continue taking the medication to function properly. If you take the medication away it causes a withdrawal. Antipsychotics and antidepressants may be a better option for long term solutions for anxiety management. However, once again you are depending on a medication and not the body's natural responses to cope with demanding situations. You should always speak to a health care provider if you think you need help.

I would encourage everyone to ensure they talk to their health care provider about non-medication anxiety medication techniques. Certain measures have been proven to reduce the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks. Some may be able to learn to manage their anxiety without any medication at all.

First you need to treat your body better. If it is healthier, it can handle anxiety better. Getting enough sleep is an unbelievable tool many of us do not use. If you are not getting six to eight hours of sleep tonight, commit to change and start working on being a better sleeper.

Completely avoiding alcohol, recreational drugs, and nicotine, while limiting caffeine keeps artificial chemicals from interfering with normal hormones in the body which help handle an extreme situation. There are loads of evidence long term regular marijuana use or cocaine use destroys coping skills later in life. A healthy diet, eliminating excessive sugars, processed foods and toxic oils may be just as important.

Relaxation techniques through deep breathing, meditation and yoga help the body handle increased levels of stress and anxiety. Something as simple as "grounding" and practicing mindfulness may be a start to a more relaxed mind. Being grounded means being aware of the present moment. In mindfulness practice, grounding techniques are widely used to center yourself through stillness and staying present. If anxiety strikes, you may feel restless or overwhelmed, and focusing on anything else can be challenging. To ground yourself, you might take a few deep breaths, count to 10, or find a quiet place to collect yourself through meditation.

Training yourself to stay grounded takes some time and effort, but it is a simple and safe concept. It can be done at any time and any place. There are a wide variety of ways to practice grounding and you may need to find the ones that work for you best. Examples include bee breaths and deep breath techniques. It might include cuddling with a pet or taking a cold shower while listening to your all-time favorite song. Some people might learn to practice visualization, which is imagining yourself in a calm happy place while others might just start dancing or drawing a picture.

For more information on anxiety treatments such as grounding a simple good search can give you some great ideas to try. There are also some amazing apps with daily programs to help you through tough times. Try Headspace to learn meditation, MindShift CBT for anxiety, or the Calm app to help you relax before bed. Always get professional help if you are having a mental health issue affecting your everyday life, but always remember there are more treatments available than just pills in a bottle.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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