New Anxiety Medication + Sleep
Last updated: June 2022
I've written previously about living with anxiety and depression in addition to insomnia.
Last spring, I shared how I had begun taking medication for said anxiety on an as-needed basis, and how it was positively impacting my sleep and improving my symptoms of insomnia. I was quite pleased about this silver lining; but knew the medication was not meant to be taken routinely and the benefits would only be sporadic. However, I was extremely grateful for the way that it helped me manage my anxiety.
Then, I experienced several additional compounding traumas – back to back.
Critically high anxiety
My anxiety grew to critically high levels and has stayed there for an extremely long period of time.
It's not healthy, and it's not sustainable. I wasn't sleeping well before, and this has not helped in the slightest.
When I do finally fall asleep, I'm flooded with nightmares and find myself waking up in a cold sweat, almost afraid to try falling back asleep. In general, I constantly feel completely depleted while also living in a hypervigilant high-alert state. This state feels eerily like being both tired and wired, which in some ways feels very much like periods of life with insomnia. It's overwhelmingly exhausting.
Managing meds for anxiety and depression
My psychiatrist and I have been working together for several months now to try to find a suitable daily medication to better support the physical manifestations of anxiety I experience, while also managing my other conditions, including insomnia. It's been challenging, to say the least.
The first daily anxiety medication I tried caused increased heart palpitations, decreased focus, and most importantly, it failed to reduce my anxiety. We tried 3 different doses before choosing to abandon it.
The second medication prescribed was denied by my insurance, then after the appeal, the pharmacy had it on backorder. When I finally received it, it was contraindicated in combination with another medication I was on. So, I never ended up trying it.
Second opinion with a specialist
All this time, I was relying too much on the as-needed medication to make it through the days.
Finally, out of desperation for improvement, I reached out to another psychiatrist. One that specialized in the type of trauma I'd experienced. I shared with her the symptoms that were most impacting my daily life, including my inability to get good rest. We had an in-depth conversation about my history, and medications I've tried and failed (for both anxiety and insomnia), and at the end of the first appointment, she recommended a new, old medication.
Trying a new, old med
The medication she suggested was the 1 I actually had a short history with. It's a medication that I took almost a decade ago off-label, prescribed by a gastroenterologist. I was on it for less than 6 months, and while it didn't serve the intended function at the time, I didn't remember having any challenges with it. And, as someone who has a long list of prescription intolerances, this felt like a good sign.
The dosing for this new medication is quite large, ranging from 25 mg to 600 mg, and I started on the smallest dose. Within a few nights, I noticed that not only did my anxious feelings seem reduced, but my sleep had started to improve.
Medications for anxiety affects my insomnia
Living with insomnia alongside other chronic conditions means that every medication I take can impact my ability or inability to sleep, which can be really frustrating.
For now, I'm grateful for the positive changes I've experienced, and I hope that this medication and I (and the improvement of my insomnia) can have a long-term relationship.
Do you take medication for anxiety? If so, how does it affect your insomnia? Please share a comment.
This or That
Do you have insomnia AND anxiety or depression? How do your anxiety medications affect your sleep?
What do you do at night when you can't sleep?