Can Anti-Anxiety And Antidepressant Medication Affect Anxiety Disorder Recovery And Anxiety Test Results?

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated September 21, 2022

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Video Transcript

Can you recover from anxiety disorder while on medication? And can taking an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication skew my anxiety and hyperstimulation test results?

To answer your first question, yes, you can recover from anxiety disorder while taking an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. However, your recovery won’t be complete until you have discontinued your medication and have worked to remain anxiety disorder-free without medication. Being off medication and living life normally is the true test of your recovery work.

That’s because medication can change how you respond to situations and circumstances and how the body responds to your behaviors.

So, you won’t get a true recovery reading until the medication has been discontinued and you’ve given your body sufficient time to stabilize.

That said, you can make good Level One and Level Two recovery progress while taking an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, and you might even be satisfied with the results. But because medication can skew your recovery results, you won’t know how well you are truly doing until the medication has been stopped and you’ve given your body sufficient time to respond apart from the medication’s influence.

So, yes, you can recover from anxiety disorder while taking an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. But you won’t know how well you are truly doing until the medication has been stopped and sufficient time has elapsed for the body to adjust away from the effects of the medication.

The goal we recommend working toward is making good progress on Level One and Level Two recovery. When you think you are ready, discontinue the medication, give your body time to stabilize, and then see how you do. If you’re still having some issues, you can work on them once they are detected off the medication.

Also, keep in mind that anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications often produce side effects, with many of them mimicking anxiety symptoms. Consequently, you might not know if your recovery efforts are paying off because of lingering symptoms.

So, it can be difficult to gauge your Level One recovery success based on symptoms. It’s preferred to gauge your recovery success on your Level Two recovery work. If you and your therapist agree you’ve successfully addressed your underlying factors, discontinuing your medication and finishing up Level One recovery work after the medication has been discontinued could provide a better indication of your success apart from the medication.

Once your medication has cleared, your body has stabilized, and your remaining symptoms subside, you’d have good reason to believe your recovery efforts have produced the results you were working toward.

As long as medication is part of the equation, you can’t truly know how complete your recovery work is.

So again, yes, you can recover while taking medication. But that recovery won’t be as complete or long-lasting until the medication has been discontinued and your body has had sufficient time to stabilize. You will know how complete your recovery is when you are clear of the medication.

As for your second question, can taking an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication skew my anxiety and hyperstimulation test results?

Yes, it can. Again, because medication can dampen behavioral and physical responses, you won’t get a true score on your tests.

Anti-anxiety and antidepressants typically cause the “underscoring” of anxiety and hyperstimulation test results.

Again, once you have discontinued the medication and your body has stabilized, you will get more accurate test results. If there are remaining issues, you can address them to attain complete recovery.

So again, until medication has been discontinued, there’s a high likelihood you’ll underrate your anxiety and hyperstimulation test scores, causing a misrepresentation of your condition and recovery progress.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including this Frequently Asked Anxiety Question.