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Can I Ever Get Off Medication for my Anxiety (or Depression)?

One of the most frequent questions I hear from people seeking help for anxiety or depression is:
Can I ever get off my medication?

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Some have tried stopping medications and struggled badly. Often they’re resigned to taking drugs, even though those drugs may not work very well or may have unpleasant side effects. They’ve been led to believe by their doctors that they are probably going to be on medication for the rest of their lives.

Why did their doctors give them such discouraging news? Because medication is what doctors have been taught about in school – it’s what’s in their toolbox. Why don’t they mention neurofeedback (non-drug biofeedback for the brain)? Because they likely know very little – or nothing at all – about it.

The fact is, it’s possible to reduce your reliance on medications. Approximately 75 percent of our clients who want off their meds are able to significantly reduce or eliminate them altogether when they are conscientious about completing neurofeedback sessions and taking certain brain-boosting supplements.

When medication is useful
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not against medications for anxiety and depression. They are a completely reasonable short-term answer for people in crisis. However, in the long term, it’s better whenever possible to tackle the underlying problems rather than rely on medications your whole life.

Medication is useful in helping you manage your symptoms. However, when you get off the medication, your brain’s ability to function hasn’t improved.

Often patients we see have tried getting off their medications unsuccessfully. Some have been told: “This is proof that you need the medication.” Well, keep this in mind…
Nobody’s brain is deficient in Prozac or Xanax (though your brain gets used to it). Unless you have something like neurofeedback to help your brain transition, it can be difficult to get off.

Neurofeedback – A tool for the brain
Neurofeedback,whenusedinconjunction with nutritional supplements, literally teaches your brain and nervous system to be more resilient and to work better. When your brain works better there’s typically less need for medications, and you become better at handling situations or thoughts that can trigger anxiety or depression.

The result? Over time you can gradually wean off medications and do so far more smoothly, even after years of use.

Brain supplements – How can they help?
I’m sure you’re wondering about the supplements I mentioned above, but before I tell you about them, here’s something you should know about me:

For more than 20 years I’ve investigated supplements reputed to contribute to brain health and optimal cognitive functioning. Frankly, I have been unimpressed with most of them, in part because they didn’t meet one of my most important criteria: consistently working. In recent years, however, I have been recommending two products. One is a micronutrient vitamin. The other is a free-form amino acid compound. These supplements, when taken in combination
and as part of a neurofeedback training program, have impressive synergistic benefits. They seem to significantly and consistently increase the rapidity with which our clients respond to their training.

It appears that the high-quality nutrition provided by these micronutrient supple- ments, combined with neurofeedback, helps create a more resilient and stable brain. A more stable brain facilitates an easier transition from medication. (Center for Brain always coordinates medication-reduction efforts with our clients’ physicians).

By the way, the impact of micronutrient vitamins has not gone unnoticed in scientific circles. In a published scientific review, Harvard psychiatrist Charles Popper, M.D. noted that “Broad- spectrum micronutrient interventions… (are) surprisingly effective for altering mood, cognition, and behavior.” He has also noted that micronutrients appear effective in early controlled trials “as potent treatments of ADHD, aggressive and disordered conduct, and mood disorders in youth and adults.”

Assessment – Is what we do at
Center for Brain right for your situation? So, what happens when you come to us and say you want to get off your medications?

  • We assess your situation to ensure that your goal of getting off medication is appropriate
  • We custom-design your neurofeedback training protocol based on a qEEG brain map
  • We recommend, if appropriate, a “brain vitamin supplement regimen”
  • We assess if there are tools or exercises you can use at home
  • We provide guidelines on how to talk to your doctor about lowering your dosage. Most doctors are open to trying medication reduction gradually if they feel it’s being done responsibly. We suggest you discuss with your doctor having extra medication or a prescription on hand if needed. (This seldom happens, but it gives our clients peace of mind.)

3 Cases – Coming off Medications

1. A recent client suffered from depression for 40 years. She had been treated by top psychiatrists and psychologists for decades and was taking several medications. Despite all that, she wasn’t functioning well. She was overwhelmed by the smallest life challenges and resisted even leaving her house.

After 12 neurofeedback sessions in a month, a regimen of specific supplements and some home brain exercises, she reported feeling dramatically better. At that point her psychiatrist reduced her medications by more than 50 percent.

2. Another client, age 35, had up to five panic attacks a day. To cope, she took Xanax, as well as a low-dose of anti-depressant medication. She came to us because she wanted to get pregnant but was worried what those medications might do to a developing fetus. She was looking for an alternative way to manage her anxiety. After 12 neurofeedback sessions, her panic attacks had disappeared. She was able to get off all her medications, and she felt more confident about getting pregnant.

3. Another of our clients had been on medication for mood disorders for 40 years and was spending up to $1,000 per month on them. After working with us for nine months, he was down to just one medication, a very low dose of Lexapro for $30, and no longer ruled by feelings of anxiety and depression.

Michael Cohen, Director and Chief of Neurotechnology
Michael Cohen is a leading expert in brain biofeedback. For over 20 years he’s worked with clients, taught courses and provided consulting to MD’s and mental health professionals around the world, helping them incorporate into their practices new biofeedback technologies for chronic pain, anxiety and mood disorders, ADHD and neurological problems.

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