Rebound Anxiety: Why Benzos Can Actually Make Anxiety Worse

How Benzos Work

Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative that doctors prescribe to treat alcohol withdrawal, seizure, anxiety, and insomnia. They are meant to be used short-term for treating anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and sleep disorders, but they can quickly cause drug addiction when used daily. They work by affecting GABA, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Gaba exerts a calming effect; when benzodiazepines are present, they magnify this calming effect and cause it to last longer. When a person experiences symptoms of anxiety, overstimulation in the brain occurs, and Benzodiazepines will send signals to counter this overstimulation and reduce anxiety symptoms.

For more information on how our addiction treatment programs can help heal drug or alcohol dependence, please give The River Source a call at 866-294-9331.

What Is Rebound Anxiety?

When a person suddenly stops benzodiazepine use, one withdrawal symptom that can occur is rebound anxiety, which is your symptom of anxiety returning. These symptoms can often be more intense than before starting benzodiazepine for anxiety use. Mostly, symptoms of rebound anxiety are physical, but you can also notice increased feelings of fear, worry, anxiety, and insomnia.

Rebounding anxiety happens because your brain develops benzodiazepine dependence. It relies on the use of benzodiazepines to regulate GABA receptors, and when the medication is taken away, it causes benzodiazepine withdrawal, including feelings of anxiety and panic attacks.

Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term benzodiazepine use can cause physical dependence, but a person can develop benzodiazepine dependence within just a few weeks of regular use. Withdrawal syndrome can range from rebound anxiety to physical withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Sometimes, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be dangerous because they can produce seizures, and you should never stop using them on your own. A medical detox program can help you safely come off your anti-anxiety medication. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, including symptoms such as:

  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle pain
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches

Does Anxiety Eventually Get Better After Quitting Benzos?

Symptoms of rebound anxiety will often appear quickly within 24 hours of the last benzodiazepine use. Every person’s experience with withdrawal from benzodiazepines is different, and rebound anxiety can continue for a few days to several months, depending on certain factors inducing long-term benzodiazepine use, size of the dose, medication half-life, and symptoms of anxiety severity before benzo use. 

So, anxiety symptoms can eventually improve, but it can take a long time. Also, it may just be your anxiety disorder returning because benzodiazepines do not cure your issues and only relieve anxiety symptoms. The underlying causes, including panic disorder, may still be there. There are several ways to improve your anxiety without the use of benzodiazepines.

Non-Drug Alternatives for Dealing With Anxiety

Therapy is one of the most effective approaches for treating rebound anxiety symptoms. Therapists can teach you coping skills and more guidance on other treatment options. Some non-pharmacological approaches to treating anxiety include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Support groups
  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercise, nutrition, and avoiding caffeine
  • Relaxation techniques such as art therapy, music therapy, and yoga
  • Meditation and other mindfulness techniques
  • Breathing techniques, which can help prevent hyperventilation during panic attacks
  • Supplements such as vitamins and herbal remedies
  • CBD products
  • Essential Oils

rebound anxiety benzos can actually make anxiety worseMental Health and Addiction Treatment at The River Source

The River Source provides dual diagnosis treatment for our patients with drug addiction and mental health disorders. Part of benzodiazepine dependence treatment at The River Source includes medical detox to help with physical addiction in benzodiazepine users. Our treatment programs can provide mental health treatment to help relieve anxiety symptoms through behavioral therapy and a holistic approach to prevent further benzodiazepine use. Call The River Source at 866-294-9331 to discuss your treatment options and learn if insurance will cover your treatment today.

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