Are Your Medications Interfering With Your Vocal Ability?

Has your voice become hoarse or raspy? Does your throat often feel raw, achy, or strained?
Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing?

If you are an independent artist and also one of the one in ten Americans that may be taking an anti-depressant and/or anti-anxiety medication*, then you may want to consider your medicine cabinet as you assess your vocal health.

Many common anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications have side effects that affect your speaking and vocal ability. Overall, they have a drying effect on the vocal chords, may result in slow or slurred speech and make alcohol more potent, so be careful as you network. For a complete listing of over 200 medical and mental health medication effects on your voice, check out the National Center for Voice and Speech,

To balance your vocal, physical and mental health when using medication:

  • Be fully informed of your personal resources, capacity and support system. Are you sad over something like death or divorce or are you clinically depressed? Some providers will medicate under both scenarios.
  • Should you consider medication, combine it with cognitive behavioral therapy or self help strategies to improve your effectiveness in resolving the problem.
  • If you choose medication, be informed about all its side effects, ask your pharmacist for the manufacturer insert that comes with the drug as the insert you get may only have the side effects that affected a large number of users rather than all the reported side effects of that drug.
  • Consider and explore an exit strategy with your doctor as many anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications cannot be stopped suddenly due to withdrawal effects and weigh your risks and benefits. For example, voice hoarseness may be preferable to kidney damage. 
  • Do speak with your healthcare professional as to any signs or symptoms you are experiencing that affect your personal or professional quality of life so that necessary corrections or adjustments can be made.
Remember your physical, mental, and vocal health do not have to be incompatible


Article written by Dianna Sanderson, MS LMFT

Dianna Sanderson, is a studio session singer, live performer and licensed marriage and family therapist located in Florida. She currently works as a Director at community health agency and centers her therapy practice around healing the divisions we have that hinder fulfillment of our life goals. Through solo projects and tours in USA, Europe, Africa and Central America she is also keenly aware of the personal victories and challenges faced by vocalists in today's market. 
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About Airplay 360

AIRPLAY 360 is a monthly published digital magazine designed to inform, empower and motivate independent inspirational musical artists by offering a soundboard of information provided by artists, producers, label executives and other industry professionals.
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