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Lynn Martin

last login — 20/03/2012 @ 05:12PM

 

 

Benzos and Anxiety

22/03/2011 02:42PM

 

 

 

I am on benzodiazepines, should I tell my counselor?

                                                     

 

"Benzodiazepines are indicated for the short-term relief (two to four weeks only) of anxiety that is severe, disabling or subjecting the individual to unacceptable distress, occurring alone or in association with insomnia or short-term psychosomatic, organic or psychotic illness." – UK guidelines.

 

The US does not have a protocol but there is a Citizen Petition asking the FDA to require more accurate prescribing guidelines and side effect information for all benzodiazepines.  You can email [email protected] for information about this.  You might want to make your counselor aware of the petition.

 

Dependence usually does not occur in four weeks or less, but has been known to develop in as little as a week. With long-term use, dependence occurs in almost 100% of cases.  Over time, physicians often increase the dose because interdose withdrawal symptoms are mistakenly thought to mean the base level of anxiety has increased.

 

 Ask your counselor how familiar she is with issues surrounding benzodiazepine use.  Make sure your counselor takes a complete medication history, including benzodiazepines you may have taken in the past.

 

Not infrequently, you may find yourself consulting a counselor for anxiety symptoms that are compounded by the effects of benzos.  If your counselor is unaware the role benzos may play, you may end up being treated for symptoms caused by benzodiazepines as opposed to symptoms for which the benzos were originally prescribed. 

 

If you have issues with benzodiazepines, your counselor can help you recognize the difference between your baseline anxiety level, and emotional reactivity caused by benzodiazepines.  Getting off benzodiazepines requires a closely monitored and very gradual taper.  Unfortunately many physicians are unaware of this and your counselor may need to help find a doc who understands the need for a very slow taper. 

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