Medications for Anxiety

By: Mike Shery

Sometimes it is not easy to ignore an upsetting problem. Have you ever become suddenly anxious or nervous and not known why?

Sometimes people actually become housebound because they are afraid of being in places where they might experience sudden attacks of terror or anxiety for no apparent reason. This is called agoraphobia.

Anti anxiety medications can be helpful in situations like these. However, certain types will work best only when used with specific types of disorders.

For example, SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are antidepressants that have become very popular; they do not predispose the sufferer to addiction, their side effects are usually benign and they are often able to reduce feelings of acute anxiety effectively. Their side effects are mild and can range from a dry mouth to feelings of lethargy.

The SSRIs work by making serotonin, which is one of the brains mood-modulating chemicals, more available by inhibiting its usual re-absorption or re-uptake. These medications need to build in your bloodstream over time before they can become effective; it usually takes approximately 4 weeks of daily use before they start to work, so you should not expect instant results.

On the other hand, benzodiazepines are another class of anti anxiety medications that are quick-acting and have an almost instant effect on your mental state. They can be taken 30 to 60 minutes before entering a stressful situation and can make the situation less toxic to the efficiency of your coping skills.

If you need to manage acute but infrequent attacks of panic, benzodiazepines can be the most appropriate type of medications to take. However, they can be addictive, so it is best not to over-use them.

IMPORTANT: If you over-use them and then abruptly stop, seizures or other serious symptoms could result as your body goes through withdrawal.

There are also anti anxiety medications which work by increasing the levels of dopamine, another mood modulating chemical in your brain. Like SSRIs, these dopamine agonists require several weeks of daily use before they start working. Their side effects can include insomnia and manic-like behavior.

Buspar is another type of anti anxiety medication. It has a mild effect and presents little to no risk of addiction. However,it also takes some time for it to work.

These medicines, among others, can make your coping skills easier to use and help restore a greater feeling of normalcy to your life. However, as always, before taking any medications, first consult a trained medical or mental health professional who will help you in choosing the best medicine for you.

As you progress, you should begin to feel a sense of gradual relief. Your ability to make decisions and your confidence in your ability to be safely mobile should also begin to improve.

Occasionally, you may experience side effects, but they sometimes occur, even when using a medicine that is very appropriate. If the side effects are too severe, however, mention it to your doctor.

Over time, your medication should help you cope more effectively with your feelings and the situations you encounter. However, if your anxiety is not decreasing, it may be because the specific type of medication you are taking is not best suited to you. Or, you may need to also undergo psychotherapy or counseling.

If you have doubts or feel unsure, discuss it with your physician. Any competent health care professional will be eager to discuss your concerns. If you are still dissatisfied or have nagging doubts, do not hesitate to get a second opinion.

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