Scared by Dangerous Traffic? Take a Xanax

Why should these women be able to cross the street safely when we can prescribe them drugs instead? Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/ibananti/362049085/##Ilya Boyandin/Flickr##

Once in a while, a story comes along that perfectly encapsulates how dangerous traffic forces people to re-orient their lives. This example, relayed to us by a reader, comes from a recent lecture at the psychiatry department of a major Manhattan hospital about anxiety disorders in the elderly.

The lecturer brought up the case of an 80-year-old woman who uses a walker. The woman told her doctor that she was afraid to cross First Avenue to make her appointments because of the traffic. She wasn’t afraid of leaving her apartment or walking across smaller streets; it was First Avenue that scared her.

So the doctor prescribed Xanax to help her deal with her anxiety.

Xanax was not endorsed by this group of doctors due to its side effects, but our reader was taken aback when no one — neither the presenters nor the audience — raised concerns about applying the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder to an elderly person simply because she is concerned about crossing a dangerous street.

“Nobody said, ‘This is an inappropriate response to a dangerous situation,'” our tipster recalled. “Have we so given up on managing our streets in a rational way that we’re now just medicating people?”

  • Yes, and the one on the right isn’t wearing suitably bright colors for crossing first Avenue either.  her fault if she gets hit.

  • Eric McClure

    This says volumes about both how we as a nation manage our streets, and our healthcare system.

  • Was Seniors for Safety available for a comment?

  • Joe R.

    Xanax? That stuff is bad news, period. In fact, so-called anxiety disorder is in most cases a normal reaction to the insanity of many aspects of our culture. My mom dreads crossing our local drag strip-164th Street. Should she just take Xanax instead?

  • Joe R.

    Xanax? That stuff is bad news, period. In fact, so-called anxiety disorder is in most cases a normal reaction to the insanity of many aspects of our culture. My mom dreads crossing our local drag strip-164th Street. Should she just take Xanax instead?

  • Vze183heh

    “These women” were photographed in Dublin, Ireland in 2005.  I’m fairly certain they made it across the street.

  • Vze183heh

    “These women” were photographed in Dublin, Ireland in 2005.  I’m fairly certain they made it across the street.

  • KillMoto

    A sane person would prescribe a .357 and some lessons on how to hit a large, fast moving metal object approaching at illegal speeds…

  • Bolwerk

    Ask Prudie?

  • jim.moore70

    “And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.
    http://www.huxley.net/soma/somaquote.html

  • Hilda

    About three years ago, riding up 1st Ave., I got stopped at 59th by a traffic cop directing northbound vehicles to turn left while construction was being performed at the south side of the bridge onramp. This is when 59th was completely torn up and there was traffic being directed both ways on 59th between 1st and 2nd Aves.  
    There was a woman with a cane that was trying to cross 59th, but every time she started with the light, the traffic cop would direct cars to turn, and she was forced back. I was shocked, and got off my bike and put my bike against the fence, put my arm out for her to grab and shouted at the cop to let her cross. 
    The cop actually looked relieved and stopped traffic to let us cross, then kept traffic stopped so I could run back and get back to my bike on the other side. He then said to me that he did not trust the vehicles to stop for her and was worried to let her cross.
    This was the traffic cop saying this.

    and it also reminds me of this terrible death 
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/05/08/75-year-old-man-on-crutches-wearing-reflective-vest-killed-in-manhattan/

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