A mother’s admission that Xanax helps her be a “better mom” is drawing attention toward parents who are currently battling depression and anxiety with the help of prescription drugs.
Hope Chanda, a Florida mother with a 6-year-old son, told CNN that she was first prescribed medication for anxiety after she began undergoing fertility treatments.
“All the hormones made me crazy,” Chanda said, referring to the six rounds of shots and three cycles of the hormone Clomid. But even more anxiety exacerbating were Chanda’s two miscarriages.
"After the second miscarriage, it all came out," Chanda said. "I had this feeling that something was really wrong."
Now Chanda says she takes a prescribed half a milligram of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, twice a day, and 20 milligrams of the antidepressant Celexa at night.
"It helps me be a better mom,” she said. "I look forward to taking my medication. I'm more flexible, tolerant and rational. Before, when the kids were being a problem, I would get frustrated and yell immediately. Now, we work through the problem."
Chanda is just one of roughly 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But parenting with a mental illness provides its own unique set of problems.
JD Bailey, a blogger who catalogs her struggle with depression on Honest Mom, says that it can at times make parenting even more challenging.
"Last week I had to step away when my 6-year-old, Annie, was having a full meltdown," Bailey said. "I felt like the worst parent in the world because I didn't want to make her feel better. I just wanted to get out of there."
Instead, Bailey took refuge in her laundry room, taking deep breaths alone until "I knew I could be levelheaded, hug her, and talk her through it."
"Parenting is a tough job, one that is exhausting on a good day," Jenn Berman, a Beverly Hills-based psychotherapist who authored the parenting guide "The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids," told CNN. "If you're also prone to depression, it can push you over the edge."
But many therapists warn that taking prescription medications on their own is an ineffective solution to a serious problem.
"You should not take psychiatric medication unless you are in psychotherapy," Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist and TV personality, said. "The medication is a Band-Aid to combat the symptoms while you work on the root of the problem."