How To Know If You Need Anti Anxiety Meds – Are Anti-Anxiety Medications Right for You? Learn about the common side effects, risks, and responsible use of anti-anxiety medications, including benzodiazepines like Xanax, beta-blockers, hydroxyzine, and antidepressants.
When you’re in the throes of a panic attack, paralyzed with fear, or tired of worrying about another sleepless night, you’ll do almost anything to find relief. And there’s no doubt that when anxiety gets in the way, medication can help. But is medicine the best solution?
- 1 How To Know If You Need Anti Anxiety Meds
- 2 The Pros And Cons Of 6 Leading Anxiety Medications
- 3 Anti Anxiety Journal
How To Know If You Need Anti Anxiety Meds
Many different types of medications are used to treat anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines (usually prescribed for short-term use) and newer options such as SSRI antidepressants (often recommended for long-term anxiety relief). These drugs may provide temporary relief, but they also have side effects and safety concerns – some significant.
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It is also not a cure. In fact, there are many questions about their long-term effectiveness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effects after 4 to 6 months of regular use. and report the latest analysis
Found that the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating anxiety was exaggerated and in some cases not better than placebo.
Moreover, it can be very difficult to get off anxiety medication without severe withdrawal, including rebound anxiety which may be worse than your original problem.
So where does that leave you when you’re miserable? Although anxiety relief comes with side effects and dangers, it can still seem like a fair trade-off if panic and fear rule your life.
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The bottom line is that there is a time and a place for anxiety medication. If you have severe anxiety that interferes with your functioning, medication can help, especially as a short-term treatment. But many people use anti-anxiety medications when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies work just as well or better, minus the downsides.
Anti-anxiety medications can relieve symptoms, but they are not for everyone and are not the only answer. It is up to you to evaluate your options and decide what is best for you.
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Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications. Medications such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, usually providing relief within 30 minutes to an hour. This makes them very effective when taken during panic attacks or other unpleasant anxiety episodes. However, they are physically addictive and are not recommended for long-term treatment.
Benzodiazepines slow down the nervous system, helping you to relax physically and mentally. But it can also cause unwanted side effects. The higher the dose, the more intense these side effects – although some people experience drowsiness, fogginess and incoordination at even lower doses. This can cause problems at work, school or daily activities such as driving. Addiction can last until the next day.
According to the FDA, benzodiazepines can make pre-existing depression worse, and newer studies show they can make depression resistant to treatment. In addition, benzodiazepines can cause emotional numbness or numbness and increase suicidal thoughts and feelings.
In general, benzodiazepines are not recommended for long-term use because of safety issues and the risk of abuse increases as tolerance to the drug increases.
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With regular use, benzodiazepines lead to physical dependence and tolerance, with large doses needed to achieve the same level of anxiety relief as before. This happens quickly – usually in a few months, but sometimes even in a few weeks.
Many people mistake withdrawal symptoms for a return to their original anxiety state, leading them to believe they need to start treatment again. Gradual reduction of the drug helps reduce withdrawal reactions.
Although benzodiazepines are relatively safe when taken only occasionally and in small doses, they can be dangerous and even fatal when combined with other central nervous system depressants. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before combining medications.
Do not mix with pain relievers or sleeping pills. Taking benzodiazepines as pain or sleeping pills can also cause a fatal overdose.
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Antihistamines increase its effect. Antihistamines, found in many over-the-counter sleep, cold, and allergy medications, have a calming effect on their own. Use caution when mixing with benzodiazepines to avoid excessive sedation.
Be careful when combining with antidepressants. SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft can increase benzodiazepine toxicity. You may need to adjust the dosage.
Benzodiazepines are used because they slow down the nervous system. But sometimes, for unknown reasons, they have the opposite effect. Paradoxical reactions are most common in children, the elderly, and people with developmental disabilities. It contains:
Anyone who takes benzodiazepines can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But some people are at higher risk:
The Pros And Cons Of 6 Leading Anxiety Medications
People over 65 years old. The elderly are more sensitive to the sedative effects of benzodiazepines. Even low doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive decline similar to dementia. The use of benzodiazepines in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, hip and leg fractures, and motor vehicle accidents. Long-term use of benzodiazepines also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
People with a history of drug addiction. Because they are physically addictive and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or past drug use problem should use benzodiazepines only with caution.
Pregnant and lactating women. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can cause dependence in the developing baby, which may develop after birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women should carefully discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with their doctor. If medication is needed, use the most effective dose.
Benzodiazepines cause drowsiness and poor coordination, which increases the risk of accidents at home, at work and on the road. If you use benzodiazepines, be very careful when driving, operating machinery, or doing anything that requires physical coordination.
Anti Anxiety Journal
Many medications originally approved to treat depression are also prescribed to treat anxiety. Compared to benzodiazepines, the risk of addiction and abuse is lower. However, antidepressants take up to 4-6 weeks to begin to relieve anxiety symptoms, so they cannot be taken as needed. Its use is limited to chronic anxiety disorders that require ongoing treatment.
The most commonly prescribed antidepressants for anxiety are SSRIs, such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa. SSRIs have been used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although physical dependence does not occur as quickly with antidepressants, withdrawal can still be a problem. Stopping antidepressants too quickly can cause symptoms such as extreme depression and fatigue, irritability, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and insomnia.
Antidepressants can make depression worse instead of better in some people, increasing the risk of suicide, hostility, and even suicidal behavior. While this is especially true for children and teenagers, anyone taking antidepressants should be carefully monitored. Monitoring is especially important if a person is taking an antidepressant for the first time or if the dose has changed.
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Signs that the drug is making the condition worse include anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, hostility, restlessness, and extreme agitation—especially if symptoms come on suddenly or worsen quickly. If you notice warning signs in yourself or a loved one, see your doctor or therapist right away.
If you are worried that a friend or family member is thinking about suicide, see Suicide Prevention. The risk of suicide is highest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.
Buspirone, also known by the brand name BuSpar, is a newer anti-anxiety drug that acts as a mild sedative. Buspirone relieves anxiety by increasing serotonin levels in the brain like SSRIs and decreasing dopamine. Compared to benzodiazepines, buspirone works slowly, taking about two weeks to start working. However, it is not sedating, does not impair memory or coordination, and has minimal withdrawal symptoms.
Because the risk of addiction is low and there are no serious drug interactions, buspirone is a better choice for the elderly and people with a history of drug abuse. However, its effectiveness is limited. It works for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but doesn’t seem to help other types of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorders And Anxiety Attacks
Beta-blockers, including drugs such as propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin), are a type of medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems. But they also like it for anxiety. Beta blockers block the action of norepinephrine, the stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response. It helps control the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, tremors, sweating, dizziness, and trembling hands.
Because beta-blockers do not affect the emotional symptoms of anxiety, such as anxiety, they are most helpful for phobias, especially social phobia and performance anxiety. If you anticipate a particular anxiety-provoking situation (such as giving a speech), take a beta blocker beforehand.
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