Before resorting to any type of anxiety medication, it is important to consider whether your symptoms actually result from a disorder that is psychiatric in its nature rather than from any other unrelated medical condition, for there are numerous ailments similar in their symptomatology to those of generalized anxiety disorder and such. For instance, various endocrine, thyroid, or heart problems may produce symptoms one may believe to be caused by mere anxiety or depression. Certain types of medications may also sometimes be the reason for feeling anxious. It is essential that a healthcare practitioner conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the true origin of your problem before shifting her attention to available treatment options. And once other possibilities are ruled out, and you feel that you are mentally challenged by many if not all situations in your life, then you may be suffering from anxiety, or depression, or often the combination of both.
If you have been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), there are several treatment options available many of which consist of both therapy and medication management working in conjunction with each other. Some of the medications are habit-forming and, although designed to provide immediate relief, e.g., if you suffer from panic attacks caused by anxiety, should only be prescribed on an as-needed basis and require close monitoring by your healthcare practitioner.
Benzodiazepines are known as the most prominent type of such short-term immediate relief drugs. They include Clonazepam (Klonopin), Alprazolam (Xanax), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Diazepam (Valium), and Lorazepam (Ativan). Essentially, they are sedatives with the mechanism of action directed towards increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters in your brain, which in turn makes you feel calm and physically relaxed.
Potential side effects of benzodiazepines may include drowsiness, memory and vision problems, confusion, depression, and headaches. As they are also habit-forming, prolonged treatment may result in addiction. Furthermore, a sudden interruption after two or more weeks of continued use may cause seizures in some people. It is always advised that your healthcare provider considers all important factors and risks before starting you on benzodiazepines.
Different types of anxiety may require different regimens. Buspirone (Buspar) may sometimes be prescribed to treat both chronic and acute anxiety. Although its mechanism of action is not entirely understood, it is believed to react with certain chemicals in the brain influencing your mood. It may take two weeks or more to feel the effects.
Potential side effects of Buspirone are dizziness, nausea, headaches, and seldom difficulty sleeping or strange dreams.
Antidepressants are often used as a long-term solution for anxiety management as they could take up to six weeks to generate any noticeable effect while accumulating in the plasma. Their mechanisms of action may slightly vary depending on the type; however, most act by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain.
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) increase your serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for one's mood, sleep, sexual desire, appetite, and more. The most commonly used SSRIs include escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).
Although SSRIs are typically well-tolerable by most people, the following side effects may occur: diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, muscle weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, and sexual dysfunction.
Tricyclics, similar to SSRIs, are approved and effectively used as a long-term treatment for various types of anxiety disorders, with the exception of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
They have been around for some time now and are used less often than the newer ones, for they result in fewer adverse effects. Clomipramine (Anafranil) and imipramine (Tofranil) are among the tricyclics used to treat anxiety.
Side effects, although moderate in most cases and are manageable by manipulating doses and switching to different types of tricyclics, may include nausea, constipation, blurred vision, and weight gain.
While using medications for anxiety may be medically necessary, it is essential that one maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, learning to meditate, and avoiding drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and illicit drug use altogether. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), daily physical exercise alone for as little as ten minutes per day can help reduce stress and stimulate a general sense of well-being and satisfaction.
Be sure to always talk to your healthcare provider if you think you experience any symptoms of anxiety or depression, as only a licensed and experienced practitioner can find the best appropriate course of action and treatment individually tailored to your unique circumstances.
If you are feeling suicidal, help is always available 24/7 via
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If this is a medical emergency please dial 911.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), marital counseling, and family therapy are the three most popular forms of psychological counseling for anxiety. The main goal of individual therapy is to change the attitude towards the developed fears and anxieties, create new positive thinking patterns and obtain skills to manage a person's behavior and reactions to different situations and events. Families who live with someone with anxiety can benefit from family therapy.Request an Appointment
The experience of anxiety disorders is uniquely individual, but specific lifestyle changes might help to make things easier. This approach includes but is not limited to the following:
Another beneficial way of managing anxiety is getting community support and sharing with others experiencing the same things. The process helps to build psychological endurance and defense mechanisms against irrational, negative, or obsessive thoughts.Discover more Tips
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