Lots of people go to their doctor and say that they are anxious or that they cannot sleep. The doctor wants to help and sends them home with a prescription. Sure enough, the medicine makes them feel better and get to sleep. Problem solved.
Well, not really. In fact, the doctor may have created an additional problem. You see, medications to not treat anxiety or insomnia. They only manage the symptoms. The medications are also addictive. For some people, it doesn’t take long, only a few weeks, before their brain has adapted to the medicine and the person needs a bigger does to get the same effect. If they try to withdraw from the medicine they feel horrible, get afraid of not having access to the medicine, and invest all the power of their own healing into a pill.
If you read my previous post you’ll know that anxiety is a learned response. It is treated by retraining the brain. It is the same with sleep. Sleep is also a learned response and if you can’t fall asleep then you need to retrain the brain. Medicine doesn’t do any of that retraining.
Is there a place for medication in the treatment of anxiety on insomnia? Yes there is. It is a very limited and sometimes important place. The medicine needs to be used strategically and carefully to get a specific response to help a person’s brain know what we are trying to teach it.
The best approach is a collaboration between your psychologist and your prescribing doctor so that together they can determine of medication will be helpful, and if it will be, which medication and how it will be used.