Xanax treatment immediately after stress exposure interferes with the normal HPA-stress response and increases vulnerability to subsequent stress

Yup, in other words, treating a trauma with a benzo makes the long term outcome worse. It seems to disrupt the bodies natural healing process and increases startle and trauma responses over time.

Again, trusting the body to heal itself seems to be something no one wants to do.

This is an abstract from PubMed. It’s a study done on rats. I realize humans aren’t rats but I know I’ve observed similar outcomes in human beings and I think most of you would agree the drugs never helped us and often made us worse. Benzos are also horribly addictive.

Unfortunately it’s being proven that all these drugs raise relapse rates. I have studies that indicate such if you’d like I’ll share. Here is Vera Sherav’s take on another study with antipsychotics showing long-term use increases relapse rates. I’ve got the PDF file of the original study if you want it.

And below is the abstract of the study done with Xanax that I will dare to say can be generalized with all benzos and I’d go as far as to say the rest of the psychotropic drugs.

BACKGROUND: In light of clinical reports suggesting that early benzodiazepine administration interferes with long-term recovery from traumatic stress, a prospective animal model for PTSD was employed to assess the short- and long-term effects of a brief course of alprazolam following stress exposure.

Method: Animals exposed to stress were treated either 1 h or 7 days later with alprazolam or vehicle for 3-days. Outcome measures included behavior in the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and acoustic startle response (ASR) tests 30 days after initial exposure and freezing behavior upon exposure to a trauma-cue on day 31. One group was repeatedly exposed to the triggering trauma shortly before and after treatment and assessed as above. Circulating corticosterone levels were assessed 4 h after initiation of alprazolam and post-treatment. Pre-set cut-off behavioral criteria classified exposed animals according to their EPM and ASR response-patterns into ‘extreme’, ‘minimal,’ or ‘partial’ behavioral response for analysis of prevalence rates. Results: Immediate alprazolam treatment was effective in alleviating anxiety at day 4. No observable anxiolytic effects remained at day 30. Immediate alprazolam also resulted in significantly greater freezing response to trauma-cue exposure and in extreme responses to double-exposure. Corticosterone levels were significantly suppressed by alprazolam during treatment and rebounded after cessation.

Conclusion: A brief course of alprazolam in the immediate aftermath of stress-exposure is associated with less favorable responses to additional stress-exposure later on. Alprazolam was associated with a significant attenuation of the HPA-response, suggesting a possible link between initial HPA-axis response disruption and the subsequent unfavorable outcomes.

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14 thoughts on “Xanax treatment immediately after stress exposure interferes with the normal HPA-stress response and increases vulnerability to subsequent stress

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  1. I took Benzos for 10 years. I went back and forth between xanex to klonipin,,and had no idea it was causing the slow deterioration of my mind (i was put on various SSRIs and was drinking,,because as anyone who has been on benzos for an extended period knows,,they begin to cause anxiety).

    Please pay attention: I was diagnosed w/ BiPolar and they added Lamictal,,then Trileptal,,and I was on 6 mgs of Xanex XR . I had a gran mal seizure for going 20 hrs without xanex. I realized, finally, that I was going to die if I did not quit it. My life was so empty and pathetic I might as well have been dead. I found http://www.benzo.uk.org

    If you want to get off of that poison, you can do it and it is not 1/10th as hard as you are convinced! You just have to taper slowly and follow the tapering schedule. It took me 6 months to go from 6 mg XR and 3 mgs reg xanex to .25 mg of xanex (=5mg valium).

    I take that dose of valium (the equivalent of .25 of xanex) a day. I have been there for 6 months. I don’t have bi-polar anything so obviously I don’t take any of that poison.

    My life is remarkably better…my friends are back,,my passions are back,,I appreciate things I never did at any time in my life.

    Please, please,,realize that the whole pharmaceutical thing is a racket
    and the bastards who run it look at you as a consumer to be milked until you die. And if you keep taking that garbage, you will die or you will wish you were dead. If you are being told you have other mental illness,,chances are it’s a total lie. It is not necessarily your Doctor’s fault, but it is more of them going with what the other Doctor’s do.
    I think the behavior is deplorable, but I try to understand that most people would not be that cruel. Only a benzo addict can know the pain of being so confused you don’t know what to do, and you cannot explain how you feel.

    I am a Psychology student now and an anti-pharmaceutical activist. I do radio interviews and write articles for prominent alternative media.
    I cannot impress enough that the people who designed this class of drugs were well aware of what they were doing. They have literally put you in a state of hypnotic mind-control. And it is on purpose.

    Go to the site I listed,, find a community who care and understand,,and take Dr. Ashton’s manual to your Doctor. The tapering regiment is detailed. If you cannot conceive it, let your Doctor do it,,they are being paid for that. If your Doctor tells you you need to stay on these rat-poisons, get a new Doctor!

    You are being lied to. Take your life back.


    1. Ozneb,
      I appreciate your story and it’s all very true, but if you’re an activist and advocate it would have been nice if you’d left a real email address and said who you are. You are on a blog that IS a COMMUNITY of people who understand and you didn’t bother figuring that out…

      I hope you come back and let us know more about who you are and perhaps learn more about this blog and the community it supports at:


  2. Hey Gianna,

    I had a little shake with anxiety last night. I believe it was from the previous night’s insomnia. I also take alternating 2 x Ambien CR and 3 x Chloral Hydrate. At least the CH keeps me from drinking as it makes alcohol toxic, by some mechanism or another.

    In Buddhism, you are supposed to feel your feelings and not avoid them. I was pretty successful doing that last night, but have failed in the past. It just gets too intense.

    I think with anxiety that if you start worrying about the anxiety, then you are lost! So, if I can remember that the Geodon is what originally started the anxiety, then I can convince myself that it will never be bad, and only a minor thing. And as you have mentioned could very well be due to the medications I take.

    Not only am I addicted to the Xanax XR, but now Klonopin also does not work, though I do not take it on a daily basis. With that, what makes me angry is the fact that Klonopin has a 3 day half life. That means if I would take it for one night, for sleep, say. Then the next night I go ride my horse, that means that while I’m riding my horse, my reactions are impaired because the Klonopin is in my system.

    Just one more thing my MD did not tell me! When I asked her about it, she admitted that was true about klonopin. Riding a horse on klonopin is dangerous, and she knows I have a horse. What are they thinking? What do they think they have to do for their $10/minute?


  3. Benzodiazepines are addictive, and many people suffer severe withdrawl symptoms when they stop taking these drugs. They exacerbate anxiety and trauma in the long run, even though they might make people feel better when they first start taking these drugs. These drugs only induce passivity.

  4. Interfering with traumatic memories…yep, that’s why after my Dad was killed last year I started tapering OFF of the Xanax.

    My goal was and remains today, to feel all emotions and not numb them down with drugs.

  5. Anyway, even if I am able to deal with anxiety, naturally, I will still be addicted to the 2mg of Xanax XR, which shortly after taking it, it stopped working. Now I take it just so I won’t have withdrawal.

    yes, the nasty truth about benzos…

    but as I’ve told you in email…I have much less anxiety now that I’m off just about everything…

    I think akithesia is often mistaken for anxiety….and that is caused by the drugs…

    also I eat a pristine healthy diet and meditate and amino acids and a few other key supps work wonders.

  6. I find this alarming.

    As I’ve stated, on this blog before, the worst part of my life was after I had been disabled from work, which was early 2004. I then started having anxiety attacks, in early 2006. There was a medication change that may have induced the anxiety. My doctors wanted me to try Geodon, and I got akesthesia, and anxiety from it. But going back to Seroquel didn’t work. At that point, I got put on 2 mgs of Xanax XR, 2500mg of Depakote, and 1000mg of Seroquel.

    My problem is that even though I have reduced anxiety since that time, and even after a tornado wiped our house away, I feel like I would rather die that have anxiety, and I just cannot deal with anxiety at all. I have never had psychosis, or anything, just anxiety. It is just too much for me to bear. That’s why I put up with the pills.

    Lately, I’ve been trying meditation and biofeedback. But, when I’m having anxiety, I have meditated for as long as 3 hours. Only monks meditate this much!

    Anyway, even if I am able to deal with anxiety, naturally, I will still be addicted to the 2mg of Xanax XR, which shortly after taking it, it stopped working. Now I take it just so I won’t have withdrawal.

    Alarmed, but have no idea what to do about it.

    Uh, I work out, take vitamins, yoga, meditation, biofeedback and try to eat right.


  7. Benzodiazepines given to acute trauma survivors (humans!) make symptoms worse in the long run. (Braun et al. 1990; Gelpin et al. 1996) Probably because they interfere with memory consolidation, i.e. process of working through traumatic memories.

    Braun P, Greenberg D, Dasberg H, Lerer B. Core symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder unimproved by alprazolam treatment. J Clin Psychiatry 1990;51:236-238.
    Gelpin E, Bonne O, Peri T, Brandes D, Shalev AY. Treatment of recent trauma survivors with benzodiazepines: a prospective study. J Clin Psychiatry 1996;57(9):390-394.

    You won’t read about these results in the ‘Industry Times’ however, har har.

  8. Gianna,

    The more I read these studies, the more I’m drawn to what can replace this failed system of ‘illness management’.

    Simplicity works pretty well, I think….In other words if someone experiences a stressful event, and has subsequent fallout from the trauma, it’s obvious psych drugs are only gonna make matters worse….So, if the drugs don’t work, what does work?

    In my opinion, this works –

    1) Processing the event, so it’s understood not only in the head, but in the gut and heart – until a person comes to the awareness that the even was NOT their fault, and they are still a good person…..Until they understand this, and really feel okay…

    2) Learning ways to find the present moment – here and now – deep relaxation, meditation, prayer, mindfulness….The way to gain perspective on the past….is from the present – until the past is seen from the perspective of a drive-in movie theater screen – far, far away, and a moving sequence of events – the self is seen on a screen…..It happened, we can see that it happened, but we aren’t in the movie – We’re watching the movie, and it’s okay – It’s really okay now….

    3) Eating well, and taking extra supplements – we are what we eat

    4) We are also what we think…Not just what thoughts we allow to enter our mind….but, more importantly, how long we allow them to stay there. We aren’t always responsible for fleeting thoughts, but we can chase them off….With music, reading, writing, playing, all kinds of ‘therapies’ – along with prayer, meditation again….

    5) Moving, breathing – slow deep breaths, and any kind of movement – it gives us the sense that we are not trapped….and the breathing allows us to feel like we can calm ourselves….guess what?, we can…..if we practice, and allow it to become habit….We aren’t victims of our own anxiety…..

    Complex brain chemistry – all the neurotransmitters….getting them to work/fire right in the brain….pretty complex stuff….But, in a way – not really….Doing simple things is the answser to making it all come together…This in not ‘medical’ – It’s lifestyle and ‘spiritual’.


  9. Thanks for the article. I refuse to take benzos. I’d rather just freak out and work through the experience (if that makes sense). re: anxiety attacks

    1. I’m with you pagmatic…
      unfortunately a benzo is the last of 6 drugs I’m coming off of…I didn’t always have this understanding of drugs….

      I’m off a third of the total amount so far.

      the interesting thing now that I’m off all the other major tranquilizing crap I deal with anxiety a lot less frequently already as a result of dietary and supplement changes…granted I have all sorts of other horrific chemical injury from the drugs but anxiety is much improved…

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