Skip to comments.A Host of Anxiety Drugs, Begat by Valium
Posted on 02/24/2005 4:19:25 PM PST by neverdem
Among famous inventors, Leo H. Sternbach may not immediately leap to mind.
But this May in Akron, Ohio, Dr. Sternbach, who is 96, will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He holds more than 240 patents, but perhaps his most famous invention, in collaboration with colleagues, is a chemical compound called diazepam, better known by its brand name, Valium.
One of the earliest benzodiazepines, Valium was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1963 as a treatment for anxiety, and it would become not only the country's best-selling drug, but an American cultural icon.
Referred to knowingly in Woody Allen movies, enshrined as "Mother's Little Helper" in the Rolling Stones song, condemned as poisonous in best-selling books, Valium reached the height of its popularity in 1978, a year when Americans consumed 2.3 billion of the little yellow pills.
But by the 1980's its reputation for creating abuse and withdrawal problems was well known, and the new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac were widely considered better treatments for anxiety and panic disorders.
Still, the benzodiazepines - there are now more than a dozen others available besides Valium - never disappeared. They are still widely prescribed and, in the view of many doctors, extremely effective in treating not only anxiety and panic disorder, but bipolar illness, insomnia, catatonia and alcohol and drug withdrawal.
"The key is to use them correctly," said Dr. Eric Hollander, director of clinical psychopharmacology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Using them correctly is not so simple. Benzodiazepines cause sedation, which can be either therapeutic or a side effect, depending on the patient's ailment. Dr. Steven Roose, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, said that for anxiety the "S.S.R.I.'s are still the first-line treatment, but they can initially cause an exaggeration of anxiety symptoms."
"Pretreating with benzos can prevent this," Dr. Roose continued, citing Ativan, which "can be used for the sleep problems that S.S.R.I.'s can cause, although it should be used only for a brief term."
The use of benzodiazepines in drug withdrawal may seem paradoxical, since they can be addictive themselves.
But the newer longer-acting benzodiazepines like Klonopin may have fewer withdrawal problems than the older drugs because they are metabolized more slowly and leave the body gradually.
Even though they don't usually induce euphoria, benzopiazepines can become street drugs of abuse for their sedating effect, and some cocaine users like them to "chill out."
The benzodiazepines can also impair motor function, especially during the first weeks of treatment, and cause temporary memory impairment. The drugs do not help with depression, so those with both anxiety and depression, a common combination, may be better off with the double effect of the S.S.R.I.'s.
People who use alcohol as self-medication for anxiety are not good candidates for benzodiazepines, which can be deadly when combined with drinking.
Perhaps most notoriously, there is the danger of addiction, but some believe that may be exaggerated.
"My view is that the risk of dependency and tolerance is overblown," said Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard and editor in chief of The Harvard Mental Health Letter. "People being treated for anxiety are not looking for a high; they're looking for relief from their anxiety symptoms, and if benzos give it to them, that's good."
I was on only 1 mg of Klonopin for 12 years.....in hindsight, it started to effect me negatively after about 8 but becuase it was so slow and insideious, you don't know it is the drug......near the end, I was hostile, anxious, obsessed, lacked judgement etc....just like a drunk since they hit the same receptor sites.....it took me a long time to recover....i worked hard......guess what....I have no anxiety, or anything after recovering.......it was the damned pills that made me sick and I now have medical proof of that..
you are right and if they do work, they will stop working. I tried to ween off with doctors but they don't know crap about it....it got so bad, I went to detox center and did cold turkey....the addictionologist there knew nothing about protracted withdrawl....the shit hit the fan....and it got worse after 4 months where I almost went insane and lost all functions almost.....this crap should never ever be cold turkey...this stuff has happened to hundreds at least in the US...but you never hear of it cause doctors don't know about it or don't see it or cant diagnose it. MOst people go back on cause they can't stand it....
Excellent thread- thanks to all who openly discuss their experiences with these drugs.
Many years ago I was given an MAO inhibitor (nardil) for over a year. When I came off it I thought I was truly losing it- felt psychotic for about a month...finally it went away- but withdrawl was sheer agony. These are life-saving drugs when we need them- but long term effects are so important to understand.
So what would you all recommend for mild anxiety?
I don't understand the addiction to hydrocodone and big opiates because my body rejects them. Ativan was good for sleep for 2 days because I slept well later without them. I didn't get high from any of this stuff. All I need now is about 2 Darvocets for breakthrough pain. It's up to 4 months now after 3.5 years.
good if you got off...hydrocordone is very addictive. Benzo's don't make you high though I know some people like them cause they can give the soothing effects of alcohol but bind much tighter to the receptor sites.....everyone's brain is different and if it likes the stuff, it will battle the hell out of you when you want off
I feel for you. Messing with the GABAergic system is NOT smart long term. Quitting cold turkey can lead to DEATH, although I'm sure on some days you wished that you were!
A melatonin pill and a Valerian root capsule. Available at Rite-Aid over the counter. Your anxiety will turn into a yawn. No coffee!
I have valium and robinol (an atropine derived antispasmodic) for very painful spasms of my common bile duct...I don't take the valium often, but when the pain gets up into heart attack type levels, boy, it can make the difference between hurting like no tomorrow or no pain.
Can't take narcotics for this pain - soon as it wears off, the duct spasms worse!
"So what would you all recommend for mild anxiety?"
What is your diet like? Do you exercise?
proper diet and exercise are a good start and possibly some cognitive behavioral therapy are best for most mild anxiety's......many people don't realize how diet can effect this along with alcohol and nicotine.....there are many good books and manuals at the bookstore or Amazon that can help you with this.......medicine for 95% of this is just a short term crutch cause it addresses the symptoms but not the cause
Hopefully you purchase the valerian "standardized" extract...they're a little more expensive but worth it.
Melatonin is a cortisol antagonist, and a great sleep aid but can magnify depressive tendencies if you have them.
One woman's mild anxiety is another's full-blown panic attack:)
Mild anxiety...seems to respond well to persistent walking, running, swimming or biking...minimum 2-3 miles- enough to get the endorphins kicking in on a regular basis..
you are lucky it only lasted a month or so.....with benzo's it can go on for months and the damage take years to correct, plus MAO inhibiters can be deadly if you eat the wrong foods........glad you are off......
no kidding......I knew they were addictive but didn't know the long term effects......and I was only having panic during a situational time.....not a panic disorder...I wished I were dead for almost a year and took two more years for my central nervous system and adrenals to heal. Doctors should know more about the risks.......idiots....
thanks.......I guess they don't use benzo's as much anymore though in the 70s and 80s they handed 'em out like candy....makes opiate addiction look like a day in the park but glad you made it.....what I went thru was analagous to a prisoner of war camp and I AM NOT exaggerating.....those who have gone thru this would tell you that life after protracted benzo withdrawl is a piece of cake.....
long term after effects of benzo's can last a very long time....glad you survived...if you read some of my other posts on this.....I went thru the most horrific protracted withdrawl that left me incapacitated and didn't recover for over 3 years
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.