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  • Foto do escritorJornal O Cola

Depression and anxiety

In our times, especially after the global pandemic – Covid-19 – the topic of mental health began to gain extreme importance. The cases of depression, anxiety and similar disorders have been rising and with them the usage of benzodiazepines. But what is depression? And benzodiazepines? Should or should they not be used?

First and foremost, it’s important to know that depression is one of the disorders that affect more people in the world. According to a news story published on January 13th of 2023 by SIC Notícias, it is estimated that around 700,000 Portuguese experience symptoms of this disorder. According to CUF’s official website, depression may ‘display various forms or levels of severity and its symptoms might extend over time, some of them including: feelings of sadness and boredom; irritability; tension or agitation; feelings of distress, concern, unfounded fears and insecurities; guilty feelings or of self-devaluation; thoughts about death and suicide attempts, (…)’.

Secondly, the main topic of this text is: what are benzodiazepines? As claimed by Infarmed, benzodiazepines are ‘used for the treatment of symptomatic anxiety and sleep perturbations, its prescription being common. The usage of benzodiazepines, even though tolerated, have been conditioned due to the risk of dependency and addiction on a relevant number of users, which makes it complicated to stop treatment’.

There are many controversial opinions regarding the intake of antidepressants, particularly concerning their dependency. In this text, I intend to defend my point of view and conclude by speaking about my personal experience with these types of medication.

On one hand, I defend that people who have been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety should be medicated and get the psychological and psychiatric support they need. Since science is perfectly advanced to create efficient medications to treat these problems, they should be used. It is important to mention that its handling should be made, solely and exclusively, on medical prescription and the patients should be supervised.

However, it is common knowledge that the intake of these medications can cause addiction and dependency, hence why monitoring is essential. Even though the majority of this intake is restricted, it is easier for the patient to “fix” the problem through medication than by efficiently resolving this disorder.

I believe that, whilst defending the benefits of taking benzodiazepines, they should work as an addition to psychological and psychiatric support, that is, they should be an aid and not the answer.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, hereinafter referred to as SSRIs, is a medication that ‘can be used to treat depression’, according to the MSD manuals. These are the initial choice of medical professionals, given that they are weaker than benzodiazepines. My personal experience lies within this type of medication, more specifically Escitalopram.

After many panic attacks and anxiety, prolonged chest pains and difficulty in breathing, it was recommended, seven months ago, that I took 10 milligrams of Escitalopram. It isn’t a very high dose, but it is still a big emotional support. When I have an attack, I have a higher dose to take only in emergencies. In the last few months, the crying attacks and anxiety were rare, considering that, besides the medication I take, I practice breathing exercises that help calm me down. The constant obsessive thoughts and insomnia continue, even though it is getting better in some other aspects. This leads me to believe that the cure is still far away, however, small changes have a great impact and willpower remains.

In conclusion, I believe that the intake of benzodiazepines and SSRIs antidepressants has had a major impact on patients’ lives. However, to achieve a balance in the doses taken, there must be monitoring, either psychological or psychiatric. Seeking psychological support or, in more complex cases, start taking any kind of recommended antidepressant is not taboo. Mental health is essential to public health and should be more valued.

Translated by Mariana Faísca

Bibliographic references:

SIC Notícias, Cerca de 700 mil portugueses têm sintomas depressivos. 13.01.2023, disponível em

CUF, Depressão. Disponível em

Ordem dos Médicos, Antidepressivos (ISRS) como primeira linha de intervenção no tratamento de depressões ligeiras em crianças e adolescentes. Disponível em

CORYELL, William, Manual MSD, Tratamento farmacológico da depressão. Agosto 2021, disponível emátricos/transtornos-do-humor/tratamento-farmacológico-da-depressão

COSTA, Flávia, Tua Saúde, Escitalopram (Lexapro): para que serve, como tomar e efeitos colaterais. Outubro 2022, disponível em

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