The Agitation Flipside of Sedation

In my work at the Smart Therapy Centre I often see people who have been put on medications to sedate or calm them, with the purpose of combating anxiety and other forms of agitation.

What many people don’t realise is that we very quickly become tolerant to sedatives and tranquilizers leading us to need more and more to achieve the same result.  This is how many people become dependent or addicted.

Worse still, many of these medications are powerful and very short acting, so we can start to withdraw physically from them within a few hours after taking our last dose.

When we withdraw from these medications, we go into a ‘rebound agitation’ state.  This withdrawal state presents as: increased anxiety, agitation, restless legs, pacing, panic attacks, itchiness and can include hallucinations and seizure.

These symptoms are basically identical and easily mistaken for the original anxiety symptoms.  In this way, many people who are taking medications to calm their anxiety believe that their anxiety is not just still present, but that it is coming back with a vengeance.    Therefore, they take more medication.

This can easily become a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle that keeps people trapped on medications. 

Once people are caught up in this cycle it can be very difficult to extract them.  This is because (unbeknown to them), they lose subtle but significant frontal brain function, diminishing their ability to think, plan, remember, judge, decide, organise, inhibit and sequence information. 

Worst of all, it stops them from learning that they can very easily develop a few new skills to reduce their own anxiety without any need for these unwanted effects.