The role of medication in anxiety treatment
When anxiety becomes incapacitating, medication can help. Traditional anti-anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic effect after 4 to 6 months, so SSRI antidepressants are frequently recommended as a long-term anxiety solution.
I need relief, and I need it now!
Many people take anti-anxiety medications when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies would suffice; it’s up to you to weigh your options and decide what’s best for you.
Benzodiazepines for anxiety
Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Valium (diazepam), are the most commonly prescribed anxiety medications. They work quickly, and the higher the dose, the more severe the side effects.
Drug dependence and withdrawal
Because benzodiazepines cause physical dependence and tolerance, stopping them suddenly can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Gradually tapering off the drug can help minimize the withdrawal reaction. Many people mistake withdrawal symptoms for the return of their original anxiety condition.
Drug interactions and overdose
When taken in small doses and only on occasion, benzodiazepines are relatively safe; however, when combined with other central nervous system depressants, they can be dangerous and even fatal. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before combining medications, and be cautious when combining with antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft.
Special benzodiazepine risk factors
Benzodiazepine use in the elderly is linked to an increased risk of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents, while use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the unborn child. Benzodiazepines are physically addictive on their own and dangerous when mixed with alcohol and other drugs.
SSRI antidepressants for anxiety
SSRIs like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa have been used to treat anxiety disorders. They take up to 6 weeks to start alleviating anxiety symptoms, so they can’t be taken “as needed.”
Antidepressant withdrawal can cause symptoms like extreme depression and fatigue, irritability, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and insomnia. If this is the person’s first time on depression medication, monitoring is especially important because the risk of suicide is highest during the first two months of treatment.
Buspirone is a newer anti-anxiety drug that acts as a mild tranquilizer. It works for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but not for other types of anxiety disorders. Nausea, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, weight gain, and constipation are all common side effects of buspirone.
Beta blockers are a type of medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems, as well as anxiety when used off-label. Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response.
Medication isn’t your only option for anxiety relief
If you’re worried about mounting bills, a tendency to jump to “worst-case scenarios,” or an unhealthy relationship, anxiety medication won’t help; instead, try self-help, therapy, or other non-drug treatments, which can result in lasting changes and long-term relief.
Deciding if anxiety medication is right for you
When deciding whether or not to treat your anxiety with medication, weigh the benefits and drawbacks with your doctor. Anxiety medication side effects can range from minor irritations like dry mouth to more serious issues like acute nausea or significant weight gain.
Questions to ask your doctor
Psychologist Anna Glezer, M.D., is the founder of Mind Body Pregnancy, an organization that promotes healthy pregnancy and motherhood. She is a Harvard-trained clinician with joint appointments in the reproductive psychiatry and OB/GYN departments at UCSF Medical Center.
Does anxiety medication make you feel weird?
You may be experiencing one or more of these unpleasant symptoms if you’re taking antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, ADHD medications, or other medications. For example, you may feel nauseous and vomit when taking your medication, lose your appetite, and/or have diarrhea.
What is it like being on anxiety medication?
Drowsiness, confusion, and clumsiness are some of the common side effects of anti-anxiety medications, and this is true even at low doses. The higher the dose, the more intense the side effects become. Benzodiazepines can be fatal if abused.
What does anxiety medication do exactly?
Beta blockers help control physical symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heart, trembling voice, sweating, dizziness, and shaky hands by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response.
Does anxiety medication change your personality?
Paxil is rarely prescribed these days due to concerns about side effects and withdrawal, but other SSRIs (such as Prozac and Zoloft) are likely to have the same effect on personality, according to Tang.
What are anxiety symptoms?
Anxiety can cause the following mental symptoms:
- Irritability, racing thoughts, uncontrollable over-thinking, concentration problems, feelings of dread, panic, or ‘impending doom,’ feeling irritable, heightened alertness, sleep problems, appetite changes
Can anxiety tablets make you worse?
More than 100 million people use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac and Zoloft, to treat depression, anxiety, and other conditions. However, these drugs have a common and mysterious side effect: they can worsen anxiety in the first few weeks of use, leading many patients to discontinue treatment.
What can I take over the counter for anxiety?
Doctors may occasionally prescribe Vistaril (hydroxyzine), an antihistamine similar to Benadryl, for the short-term treatment of anxiety, in addition to Benadryl.
What is a drug that calms you down?
Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, help to relieve anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks or extreme fear and worry.
What is the strongest anti-anxiety pill?
The benzodiazepines, which include alprazolam ( Xanax ), clonazepam ( Klonopin ), chlordiazepoxide ( Librium ), diazepam ( Valium ), and lorazepam ( Ativan ), are the most popular anti-anxiety drugs for immediate relief.
How do I cope with anxiety?
When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, try these:
- Take a break.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can exacerbate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
- Take deep breaths.
- Count to ten slowly.
Does Adderall help with anxiety?
Adderall is a stimulant that can make you feel more focused and awake while also decreasing the effects of Xanax. For example, if you have anxiety, it can make you feel more anxious, and if you have panic disorder, it can increase the number of panic attacks you have.
What is the best mood stabilizer for anxiety?
According to Dr. Aiken, lamotrigine is the only mood stabilizer that reduces mood swings by lifting depression rather than suppressing mania. u201cThis makes it a great choice for people on the bipolar spectrum, where depressive symptoms usually outnumber manic symptoms.u201d
Is anxiety all in your head?
Anxiety is all in your head, and here’s why: We all have anxiety at different times in our lives, and it’s the brain’s way of preparing us to face or avoid danger or deal with stressful situations.
Does CBD help anxiety?
CBD is commonly used to treat anxiety, and studies suggest that CBD may help patients fall and stay asleep. CBD may also be a viable option for treating various types of chronic pain.
Is anxiety a mental illness?
Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear, which can cause you to avoid work, school, family gatherings, and other social situations that could trigger or worsen your symptoms.