In the mental health world, a debate persists: to pill or not to pill? For some, prescription meds can be lifesaving; for others, they’re not a preferred treatment method. In “The Pill Diaries,” we’ll be telling your stories in your own words. The goal: End pill shaming, bust stigmas, and promote understanding. After all, each person’s journey to better mental health is uniquely their own.
I can’t shut up about my anxiety medication. I tell anyone who will listen, and I’ve even texted pictures of my prescription bottle to all of my anxious friends suggesting they ask their docs about it, because it’s changed my life!
It started about three years ago. I knew something was off when I was having a racing heartbeat all the time, from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep. Sometimes the anxiety would get so bad I would have rage spirals and lash out at anyone near me.
Logically, I knew there was nothing to be anxious about—at the time I was living a pretty low-stress life in a low-stress town—and lifestyle efforts like exercise, deep breathing, and sleep didn’t do shit to help.
Zoloft, manufactured by Pfizer Inc., is a brand name for sertraline, a prescription drug classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It’s often prescribed to treat such conditions as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, per the Mayo Clinic. While SSRIs have traditionally been thought to function by inhibiting serotonin reabsorption in the brain, a recent study has suggested that isn’t the case and that the precise mechanism is unclear.
Klonopin, manufactured by Roche, is a brand name for clonazepam, a prescription medication from a class of antidepressant drugs called benzodiazepines, often referred to as benzos. It’s used to treat anxiety, panic, and seizure disorders, according to Medscape. Benzos are believed to work by amplifying the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, creating a calming effect. Because it’s a sedative, Klonopin may also be prescribed to treat sleep issues. Benzos are known to be highly addictive, so only take Klonopin as directed.
Combining Zoloft (sertraline) and Klonopin (clonazepam) requires medical supervision. Both drugs affect brain chemistry, which can potentially cause side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, or difficulty concentrating, according to Drugs.com. Like all benzos, Klonpin is highly addictive. According to the Addiction Abuse Centers, symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse include weakness, blurred vision, mood changes, poor judgment, doctor shopping, and behaving recklessly.
At a routine physical, my doc asked if I had depressive or anxious thoughts, and I burst into tears. I didn’t have high hopes for medication (I started with Celexa), but it curbed the rage spirals right away. Everything was going well until 2020 happened. I became extremely ill with COVID-19 that March, and some of my long-haul symptoms were (and still are) a racing heartbeat and increased anxiety. Fun!
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I was also handling a lot of disasters with the business I own. My life went from lowish-stress to extreme-stress. That’s when the panic attacks started.
Since then my doctor has tinkered with my meds. I switched to Cymbalta, which stopped the panic attacks, but I recently tapered off that and onto Zoloft which seems to be working well for me. I also have a bottle of Klonopin on hand in case of a panic attack, which are happening less frequently.
I still have low-level anxiety pretty much all the time lurking in the background but overall, I am a much calmer, happier person. Zoloft and Klonopin have really made a huge difference in my life.
MENTAL NOTE: A medication one person takes may not work for another and may have different side effects. Always talk to your doctor before trying or switching psychiatric medications. The photo on this story is not representative of the actual pills discussed. The views expressed in this story are solely those of the author or source who requested anonymity.