Medications For Anxiety





Medications are normally used to treat the symptoms of anxiety, not to cure it.  The purpose of using anti-anxiety medication is to allow the patient relief from the symptoms in order to help focus on the root of the problem.  Psychotherapy is usually prescribed in conjunction with meds in order to help the patient fix the underlying problems that are causing anxiety.

The most commonly prescribed medications in the treatment of anxiety are anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers.  Often a combination of several drugs will be prescribed.  You may need to work with your physciatrist for some time in order to find the most effective combination with the least amount of side effects.

Anti-depressants are often prescribed for anxiety and include such drugs as Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac.  While there are several classes of anti-depressants on the market, the newest drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  SSRIs help regulate the levels of chemicals in your brain such as the neurotransmitter serotonin.  Neurotransmitters help facilitate communication between brain cells and have been shown to play a part in both depression and anxiety.

SSRIs tend to have fewer side effects than the older drugs used to treat anxiety and depression.  Some possible symptoms of SSRIs include nausea and jitters which should diminish over time.  Some patients may experience sexual dysfunction as well.  Symptoms can be controlled by altering the combination of drugs prescribed as well as the dosage.

Anti-anxiety medication may also be prescribed and include such drugs as Xanax and Valium.  These drugs are benzodiazepines and are usually prescribed for short periods of time to help patients weather rough periods until psychotherapy can provide relief.  Benzodiazepines can be habit forming.  Caution must be exercised when prescribing these types of drugs to patients with a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse.

People over time develop tolerance to benzodiazepines, therefore often the dosage must be increased in order to achieve the same effect.  Symptoms typically include drowsiness and reduced coordination.  Patients taking benzodiazepines should not drive automobiles nor operate heavy machinery while under their effect.  Patients may experience withdrawal symptoms when abruptly ceasing the use of benzodiazepines.  The dosage should be tapered off slowly to avoid withdrawal.

Beta-blockers are occasionally prescribed to help prevent specific symptoms of anxiety from occurring.  Used to treat certain heart conditions, beta-blockers can significantly reduce symptoms of performance anxiety and are sometimes prescribed to treat social phobias such as stage fright.  For instance, if a patient has a presentation coming up a physician may prescribe a beta-blocker such as Inderal to help control the symptoms of stage fright.

If your doctor prescribes medication to help treat your symptoms of anxiety, it is critical that you follow the prescribed dosage to the letter.  Many drugs such as anti-depressants can take weeks to achieve their full effect.  Also, some drugs must be tapered off slowly.  Keep your doctor informed as to any side effect that you may be experiencing.  It can take some time to find an effective mixture of medications to help alleviate your symptoms.  Don’t give up after a week if you aren’t experiencing relief.  Work with your doctor and psychotherapist to fix the cause of your anxiety.