Can’t Recover From Anxiety Disorder When Taking Medication

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 27, 2021
You Can’t Recover From Anxiety Disorder When Taking Medication

Anxiety Disorder Myth #7: Another common myth is that a person can’t recover from anxiety disorder when taking medication

This is untrue for the most part. Most people can make significant progress toward complete anxiety disorder-free success even though they are taking an anti-anxiety and/or antidepressant medication. Here’s why:

The physiological, psychological, and emotional state of anxiety is created when we behave in apprehensive ways. Problematic anxiety occurs when our apprehensive behavior interferes with a normal lifestyle. Identifying and successfully addressing the reasons that motivate the use of apprehensive behavior can eliminate issues with anxiety.

To successfully overcome problematic anxiety, we simply need to address the apprehensive behaviors and the reasons we feel motivated to use those behaviors. This work is done through education, addressing the underlying factors of anxiety using a talk therapy approach, and application. All of this can be done even while taking an anti-anxiety and/or antidepressant medication.

A person can still make good progress even when taking psychotropic medication.

There are, however, limitations as to how far a person can progress when taking medication. For example, lasting success is only achieved when you have full confidence in your recovery strategies and new behaviors. This is only attained when using healthy behaviors and without the assistance of medication. Since medication can set up a psychological dependency, this dependency can erode confidence in your new skills and abilities, which can leave you vulnerable to reaching for medication when things are difficult.

So even though you can make good progress while taking medication, lasting success is only achieved when you have full confidence in your new abilities to cope with adversity, uncertainty, and risk in healthy ways rather than anxious ways.

How can believing you can't recover when taking a medication hamper recovery?

If you are taking medication and believe you can't recover while taking it, you may discourage yourself from doing important recovery work. Not doing this work can keep you stuck in problematic anxiety.

But if you believe you can make good progress even though you are taking medication, this can move you a long way down the recovery road even though medication is a factor.

We've worked with many people who have been on medication. As they gain confidence in their recovery skills, we help them successfully taper down and discontinue medication when they are ready. Then, we support them through to lasting success.

Even though you may be taking an anti-anxiety and/or antidepressant medication, you can still make significant progress on the road to lasting anxiety disorder-free health. That is a realistic expectation.

How can believing this myth make things worse?

If you believe you can't make progress while taking a medication, you may not do anything to improve your situation. This can leave you stuck for years and undermine hope for lasting success.

Moreover, medications tend to lose their efficacy over time. This often leads to either switching to a new medication or adding another or others. Neither of these options provides meaningful or lasting relief from problematic anxiety.

Not only can this myth leave you stuck in anxiety unwellness but it can also make things worse if you become dependent on medication, require drug cocktails, and/or believe there's no hope for lasting success.

But if you believe anxiety is a behavior you can work at changing and that you don’t need medication to make full and lasting recovery, that realization alone can bring hope. Hope is an important ingredient to making and sustaining healthy change.

As you learn and adopt healthy ways of coping with adversity, uncertainty, and risk your confidence will grow and you can return to a normal lifestyle free of problematic anxiety issues.

Anxiety isn’t about something that’s ‘gone wrong’ and that you can’t correct. Anxiety is about behavior that all of us can change and control when we know how. Working with an experienced anxiety therapist, coach, or counsellor can teach you those important skills.

All of us at have experienced problematic anxiety and know how out of control it can seem. But we also know that there are many ways we can gain control over it. Getting the right information, help, and support, as well as making the appropriate behavioral changes, is all that is required to successfully treat anxiety unwellness.

There are many reasons to be optimistic. Anyone can learn and adopt less anxious ways of approaching life. Consequently, no one needs to suffer with anxiety unwellness. Life can be great again…and without the burden of problematic anxiety and the limitations and risks of long-term medication use!

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 Myths page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety myth: Can't Recovery From Anxiety Disorder When Taking Medication.