What’s Up With Chill Pills?
Clearly, we’re a nervous nation
Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S. That’s 18 percent of all women and men. But we gals get it worse—women are 60% likelier to experience an anxiety disorder than men, who are way less anxious.
Here’s how the pills work: Calming chemicals are boosted while nerve signals are blocked
Benzodiazepines (including Xanax and Ativan) block nerve signals that trigger anxiety and raise levels of calming chemicals, says psychiatrist Catherine Birndorf, M.C., SELF’s happiness expert.
Scrips are up
In 2011, 47.8 million prescriptions were ritten for alprazolam (the generic form of Xanax), versus 33.9 million in 2004. “In the short term, benzos can help treat occasional panic attacks—or be used for specific situations like a fear of flying,” Dr. Birndorf says.
“Benzos are a Band-Aid, not a cure.”
“I suspect some doctors end up overprescribing benzos because it’s easier to give patients a quick fix than to take the time to address what’s causing anxiety in the first place. The first line of treatment for anxiety should be psychotherapy or antidepressants,” Dr. Birndorf says. And although you might think that chronic worriers are good candidates for these meds, benzos aren’t the best choice for people who stress constantly, she warns. “If that sounds like you, consider getting more comprehensive treatment.”
Can they be risky? Yes
Benzos can be habit-forming, Dr. Birndorf says. If you do take them regularly, make sure you taper off with the help of a doc. One in three people who popped alprazolam daily for two months experienced withdrawal after stopping.
Don’t. Do. This. Ever.
Overusing benzos with other drugs can be fatal. Benzo-related hospital admissions nearly tripled from 1998 to 2008; 95 percent involved the abuse of another substance. Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger both had benzos and other drugs in their system when they died. Scary!
Watch the drinking
Benzos mixed with booze can cause you to stop breathing. If you must sip, stick with one drink,
Why not try this?
12 to 16 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy can give you the tools to manage your anxiety better. Find a therapist at abct.org.
20 minutes of exercise a day has been proven to reduce stress and general anxiety, and improve your mood all day.
10 minutes of daily meditation soothes stress, too. Plus, there are no side effects—other than feeling calmer, that is.
inspire: live a better life
Editor's note: We will now be publishing Miss Manners articles twice weekly, but you will only see one question and answer per article. You can expect to see these articles appear on Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward.
President Harry S. Truman was behind efforts to establish the first Armed Forces Day in 1950, and decades later the nation continues to set aside the third Saturday in May to recognize and thank members of the U.S. military for their patriotic service. With these five homecoming images, we salute all service members at home and abroad.
There's much to be desired about working from home: the stress-free commute, flexible hours, and improved work-life balance.
Wishing for the fountain of youth? You may not need it. We've rounded up real-women secrets, tried-and-true beauty tips, and the latest research to help you fight aging.
Experts weigh in on when to bite your tongue at the office.
Oh, the places you'll go — to get some "me" time, that is. REDBOOK readers confess all on Facebook.
How much money you make isn't nearly as important as how you use it, according to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, authors of the new book Happy Money.
Plus, how do you ask people to not bring gifts to a shower?
Looking for a career upgrade? Follow these tips for a foot in the door.
These tanning and skin cancer myths aren't just wrong — they can do serious harm. Wise up and head into a healthier future. P.S. You'll look a lot younger too.
It's possible to rejigger your brain circuitry and feel more joy, even on Monday mornings. Here's how.