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My doctor wants me off Xanax, but it's working fine
Jul 17, 2011

I was detected with HIV in June, 2010. Since then I've been very anxious to the point that I'm out of breath and taking Xanax. Before I knew I was HIV, I was on Lexapro because I had panic attacks. My latest lab results showed that my regimen is not working due to resistance and I was changed to a stronger one that I have to take twice a day, plus Xanax and Dapsone. Right there I feel like I have enough.

But my doctor suggested I should change Xanax for something to prevent anxiety like Zoloft, Prozac, or Lexapro. My question is: I know I'm anxious but is changing necessary? Xanax is working fine.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Xanax and other benzodiazepines are very effective anti-anxiety medications, but are best used for brief periods of time. If used for longer durations they can create a tolerance where the drug is needed just to feel normal. It is also important never to just stop taking benzodiazepines because sudden withdrawal can cause seizures and other serious complications. Always work with a physician to slowly taper down your dose of benzodiazepines.

Your long history of anxiety and panic attacks does, however, need to be addressed. SSRI medications like the ones your doctor suggested (Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft) are safe and approved for this condition. There are other kinds of medications that are also effective (buspirone, for example). In addition to pharmacological interventions, I would suggest other approaches such as relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and psychotherapy. You may find that these ultimately provide relief without having to take another medication. Good luck.

-David



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