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Taking Lorazepam for Anxiety: Ellie's Story

  • Anxiety and phobias
  • Lorazepam
Girl looking at camera close up opt detail

I’ve always suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, but the past few years in particular have brought me lots of unbearable anxiety. I am now 19 and still struggle on a daily basis to control my anxiety and panic attacks. I was introduced to Lorazepam in hospital as a ‘last resort’. I had tried many other medications for anxiety in the past that had not helped me.

Lorazepam was given readily to me when I was in hospital and my medication consumption could be controlled by nurses, but out in the community it is given much more sparingly because of its addictiveness.

I am given a very limited supply of Lorazepam tablets which have to last me a month, so I only take them when my anxiety has got to the point where I literally cannot cope. My GP and care team are very supportive, and at every GP appointment I am warned of their addictiveness and that I shouldn’t become too reliant on them, but so far I haven’t had any problems, and they’ve done the job.

When I take a tablet I start to feel myself relax. Usually when I am having a panic attack my muscles become tense and I feel like I can’t breathe. Lorazepam helps alleviate those symptoms. It works very fast, and I usually start to feel better 20 minutes after taking it.

The main negative side-effect I experience from taking Lorazepam is that it makes me ‘space out’. This can be dangerous so I tend to only take it when I am at home with my parents around. Also I know that I would never be safe to drive after taking it, so I can’t take it when I have planned to drive somewhere. At first the ‘spacing out’ that Lorazepam caused made me frightened, but now I know what to expect.

It’s definitely a ‘last resort’ medication for me. Most of the time my anxiety can be helped by doing some mindfulness activities or talking to people, like my care coordinator, who has been brilliant at helping me cope with my anxiety. Lorazepam just helps when the above strategies don’t work.

I still have a very long way to go in my recovery. I really want to get to a point where I don’t have a need for medication. I hope that therapy will help me, but there’s a long waiting list and I’m still waiting to get a definitive diagnosis as there are so many different types of anxiety, my consultant doesn’t know which diagnosis I best fit yet.

Sometimes I have slip-ups and end up back in hospital or with CRHT (Crisis Resolution Home Treatment). During these times my medications, including Lorazepam, are increased, but I am learning to cope with the anxiety now, and my admissions are becoming shorter and less frequent.

I  hope that I will get some form of therapy soon, which will maybe allow me to stop taking Lorazepam. So far however, it has been really useful in helping me control my anxiety when nothing else seems to work.