Nurses with Panic/Anxiety Disorders & Prescriptions at Work

  1. Are there any nurses out there that have generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder? For those of you that do, what ways to you have to cope?

    Furthermore, are nurses permitted to take prescription drugs while at work? Such as Xanax or Ativan for severe anxiety. Obviously, no one should take drugs if they know it will make them sleepy or loopy. Could these kinds of meds land you in trouble if they are prescribed, genuinely needed, and doesn't impair your ability to function?
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    Joined: Oct '12; Posts: 7

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  3. by   classicdame
    I believe the answer will depend on your state BON. You might need to report to the BON who may elect to contact your MD (with your permission of course). The thing about mind-altering meds is that, when you need them you are not aware they are altering your thinking. That could be dangerous for you and the public. I think the wisest thing to do is contact the BON

    The key word is impairment and the impaired person is not a good judge.
  4. by   Esme12
    moved for best response
  5. by   VivaLasViejas
    I have some fairly significant anxiety which is one of my bipolar symptoms, and I take a small dose of Klonopin every night. This is sufficient to control my anxiety in most cases, so if I start needing PRN doses during the day, it's time to ask myself what's going on that needs to be medicated. And if it's happening at work, I need to ask myself if it's something about the job or something inside of me that's reacting to it.

    IOW: if you're needing anxiolytics at work, something's not right and it deserves further evaluation.

    As for the rules: definitely ask your BON, and by all means refer to your employee handbook---some employers have a zero-tolerance policy toward use of ANY potential intoxicants while on the job, including prescribed meds.

    I wish you well. I know how crippling anxiety can be; believe me, you have my sympathies.
  6. by   LVN_Soon2Be
    You would want to contact your state's BON regarding this issue. When I worked as a CNA (not a nurse yet, just a student one), I would never take a benzodiazepine. I have been on Xanax (mainly at 2mg TID-QID, even though now I am on 0.5mg-1mg QID PRN) for awhile, sometimes routine and mostly PRN. It doesn't make me tired or effect my cognitive functions, except retaining some information. Klonopin though, that made me super sleepy.

    Benzodiazepines can make you be "forgetful" and to the extent that they make you "forgetful" depends on the person. You should communicate with your provider about this and only you know how these medications effect your ability to work. Benzodiazepines don't make me forgetful too much but I still would forget some small details of whatever I was doing, reading, learning, etc.

    I have been diagnosed with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The stimulant medication I take actually helps my anxiety, as I can actually sort through my thoughts when I take it.
  7. by   LVN_Soon2Be
    Also, one more thing. Pause when you get anxious and take a look at why you are feeling anxious... Is it anxiety/panic or is it everyday/work stressors. If I'm stressed about work, school, finances, etc. I do not take a benzodiazepine. I know they are contraindicated for everyday stress, if they were indicated for everyday stress then even more people would take them, probably everybody on the planet.

    Anxiety disorders are difficult to live with. I know how many problems they cause in all aspects of your life. Stay strong, you aren't alone! I know how lonely it feels to be a PD/GAD sufferer
  8. by   kaylee.
    This has been my experience with xanax: i have anxiety and occasional panic. There are two different states i have been in where xanax works differently.

    If i come home from night shift and have another shift that next night, 1mg of xanax works wonders by washing away all the nagging thoughts of the previous shift and allowing me to drift into the sleep i need.

    Another use for me has been during a time of increased pressure during the day. An example is a job interview: my psychiatrist told me to take 0.5 an hour before. I had been on numerous interviews before where i was so nervous that i completely blew the interview. This time i took the 0.5, and it took me from that wound up nervous state to pretty close to my baseline. It was astonishing! I never realized before how much more detrimental the anxiety was.

    Point being, for me, taking it to wind down in bed when at lower levels of arousal makes me drowsy: the desired effect.

    Taking it when highly aroused (and half the sleeping dose) brings me to alert, functional and awake.

    If you imagine the intensity of your anxiety along a line, from 0 -10, taking it while at a 10 can bring you right around where you want to be.

    Keep in mind that a high high dose could probably take you from an 8 to a 2, which is way too drowsy, but a small dose can decrease a high level of anxiety to where you are no where near drowsy, but functional.

    So this is just me, by no means anything but my speculation and experience, but i have discovered that it is dose-dependent and intensity-dependent.
  9. by   fitzfan82
    I have an anxiety disorder (among other things) but I have had it long enough to know what dose of Xanax I can take that will calm my nerves but not make me sleepy or 'out of it'. Its all about knowing your own body and tolerance. If you can't take a benzo without it making you sleepy or having other adverse effects, you will probably need to find a different way to reduce your anxiety at work.

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