I’ve written about the dangers of Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and other drugs in a class of drugs called ‘benzodiazepines’. The drugs are grossly over-used by patients, and over-prescribed by psychiatrists, usually for patient complaints of anxiety.
My primary concern over use of benzodiazepines is that when used to treat anxiety, they are more likely to aggravate than improve a patient’s symptoms, especially if taken regularly. Patients develop physical and psychological dependence to benzodiazepines very quickly. Once physically tolerant, patients experience withdrawal symptoms if doses are missed, and generally interpret the withdrawal symptoms as manifestations of their own anxiety disorder. The progression from taking alprazolam or clonazepam ‘as needed’ to taking them regularly is as predictable as any other biological process. And after physical tolerance has developed, symptoms that were once considered manageable become part of an unmanageable ‘anxiety disorder.’
I have learned over the years that the term ‘anxiety’ means different things to different people. The complaint shouldn’t cause doctors to automatically reach for the prescription pad. When asked to describe his ‘anxiety’ in detail, a patient said ‘I will pace around the house, looking for something to do. I will turn on the TV and change channels, but there is nothing interesting. I feel…. restless and bored. I need to get out of the house, but there is nothing for me to get outside to do. I’m like a caged animal. You know— anxiety!’
I responded, ‘you mean you were bored?’