Pros And Cons Of Otc Medicines For Anxiety
While there are some advantages to taking OTC remedies for anxiety, there are also a number of potential drawbacks to consider. Before you take any kind of OTC medication for your anxiety, be sure to talk to your doctor to help avoid adverse effects and harmful medication interactions.
Potential to cause drowsiness during the day
Not effective for severe anxiety
Not approved by FDA for treating anxiety, or not regulated by FDA
Not meant for long-term use for anxiety
Potential side effects
How To Use Stress Medicine
It’s important to remember that you should never take any anxiety drugs alone, and you should try to avoid them if possible.
Medications are not evil – certainly not as evil as many people will tell you. But mental health medications have downsides. It’s more than just side effects. Medications can actually harm your ability to cope with stress in the future, because of:
- Physiological Dependence That’s when the body requires the medicine because it’s adapted to the effects. Your brain starts to depend on it, to the point where your natural stress coping ability gets even worse. If you stop taking the medication, you’ll suffer from intense side effects. You have to wean off it slowly, and you have to take it every day even if you’re not feeling anxious that day.
- Psychological Dependence Perhaps more troubling is psychological dependence. This is when you depend so much on the medicine that you don’t do anything else to cure your anxiety. When you stop taking the medication and experience some stress, you’re going to want to go immediately back to medication, and this type of behavior can make it much harder to cope with anxiety.
It’s important to keep that in mind. You need to make sure that you’re only choosing a medicine as a last resort because of these risks, and even if you do choose a stress medicine and feel better, make sure that you’re still learning proper coping strategies so that your anxiety doesn’t come back when you stop taking the medicine.
Foods That Help Or Hurt Anxiety
There are several types of medications used to treat anxiety disorders.
Within each of these categories, there are subgroups of drugs that work differently and have their own benefits, risks, and possible side effects.
Theyre supereffective in treating anxiety disorders, says Beth Salcedo, MD, the medical director of the Ross Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders and a past board president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Its not known exactly how SSRIs work on serotonin to alleviate anxiety, says Dr. Salcedo, but what is known is that theyre not addictive like benzodiazepines are .
Its important to follow your doctors instructions when taking any prescription drug. Talk to your doctor if youre concerned about the side effects of a medication, or if the drug youre taking doesn’t seem to be alleviating your symptoms.
Other antidepressants that may be prescribed for anxiety include:
- Wellbutrin, Zyban, Aplenzin, Budeprion, or Buproban
- Tricyclic antidepressants, such as Amitid, Amitril, Elavil, or Endep Aventyl, Pamelor or Tofranil
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Lifestyle Changes For Anxiety
Lifestyle adjustments are tried and true methods to address chronic anxiety. While lifestyle changes for anxiety may not be enough to treat severe anxiety disorders, they will always support other methods of anxiety treatments. Lifestyle modifications include things like prioritizing sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
To explain, restorative sleep balances brain function, thereby improving function and reducing anxiety. Additionally, a diet consisting of whole foods and limited sugars and caffeine has anxiety-reducing properties. In conjunction with a healthy diet, alcohol should be avoided or greatly reduced in an effort to combat symptoms of anxiety. Regular alcohol use has an effect on GABA, the neurotransmitter needed for balanced brain chemistry.
Exercise may be the most important adjustment for reducing anxiety. Physical activity triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain such as endorphins and serotonin. Yoga and other meditative activities are especially helpful in elevating mood and reducing stress.
Anxiety Medications And Anxiety Conditions
Before discussing medications, it’s important to remember that not all anxiety is the same, just as not all anxiety medications affect people in the same way. Different medicines affect each person differently, so there is rarely a simple answer for which medication to try.
It’s also important to emphasize that medications should never be taken alone. Anxiety medications can cause physical and psychological dependency. If you only take anxiety medicine, you can lose the ability to cope with anxiety without medication. Then, if you stop taking the medication or it becomes ineffective , you may severely struggle to cope with anxiety in the future. Always make sure you’re using methods of controlling anxiety that do not involve medication if you choose to try an anxiety drug.
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Different Medications For Different Anxiety Disorders
One of the issues that comes from recommending a medication is that doctors have found that each medicine works differently on each individual. It starts with determining the disorder you suffer from. What works for generalized anxiety disorder may not work for panic disorder, and what works for panic disorder may not work for obsessive compulsive disorder, and so on.
No one can truly recommend a medication without knowing your own personal history, and you must never take a medication that affects your mental health without a doctor’s supervision.
Drug Interactions And Overdose
While benzodiazepines are relatively safe when taken only occasionally and in small doses, they can be dangerous and even deadly when combined with other central nervous system depressants. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before combining medications.
Dont drink on benzodiazepines. When mixed with alcohol, benzodiazepines can lead to fatal overdose.
Dont mix with painkillers or sleeping pills. Taking benzodiazepines with prescription pain or sleeping pills can also lead to fatal overdose.
Antihistamines amplify their effects. Antihistaminesfound in many over-the-counter sleep, cold, and allergy medicinesare sedating on their own. Be cautious when mixing with benzodiazepines to avoid over-sedation.
Be cautious when combining with antidepressants. SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft can heighten benzodiazepine toxicity. You may need to adjust your dose accordingly.
Paradoxical effects of benzodiazepines
The benzodiazepines work because they slow down the nervous system. But sometimes, for reasons that arent well understood, they have the opposite effect. Paradoxical reactions are most common in children, the elderly, and people with developmental disabilities. They include:
- Increased anxiety, irritability, agitation, aggression, and rage
- Mania, impulsive behavior, and hallucinations
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What Medications Are Used To Treat Anxiety Disorders
When treating anxiety disorders, antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs and some SNRIs ,Ã Ã have been shown to be effective.
Other anti-anxiety drugs include the benzodiazepines, such as as alprazolam , diazepamÃ , buspirone ,Ã and lorazepam . These drugs do carry a risk of addiction or tolerance , so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability. Some anticonvulsant drugs , some blood pressure medications , and some atypical antipsychotics are also occasionally used “off label” to treat anxiety symptoms or disorders.
Safety And Other Considerations
It’s also important to realize that the long term use of a mental health medication is going to have an effect on your wellbeing. Some cause digestion issues. Others cause extreme fatigue. These side effects can have a disruptive effect on your life.
Similarly, some anti-anxiety medications cause dependency with severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it or miss too many doses. Some medications may also lose their effectiveness over time . Keep this in mind and discuss with your doctor when you are choosing the right medication for you.
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Which Medications Work Best For Social Anxiety Disorder
Although many medications may be prescribed for social anxiety disorder, SSRIs and extended-release venlafaxine are considered first-choice medications. Research shows that more than half of those taking these medications experienced an improvement in their symptoms.
SSRIs and venlafaxine also have a lower risk of side effects than other antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants . These medications can help treat other symptoms that people with social anxiety disorder may experience, such as depression. Among sertraline, paroxetine, and venlafaxine, there is no particular medication that has been found to be more effective than the others for social anxiety disorder.
Special Benzodiazepine Risk Factors
Anyone who takes benzodiazepines can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But certain individuals are at a higher risk:
People over 65. Older adults are more sensitive to the sedating effects of benzodiazepines. Even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that looks like dementia. Benzodiazepine use in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents. Long-term benzodiazepine use also increases the risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
People with a history of substance abuse. Because theyre physically addicting and on their own and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or former substance abuse problem should use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the developing baby, with withdrawal following birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women need to have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of these medications with their prescribing doctor. If medication is necessary, the goal is the smallest effective dose.
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What Is A Safe Anxiety Medicine
It’s also difficult to discuss the safety of antidepressants for anxiety and other anxiety medicines because the word “safe” means different things to different people. The good thing about most anxiety medications is that none of them appear to have fatal side effects. All medications can have some exceedingly rare side effects that may not be known and allergies to medications can be very dangerous, but antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and others are highly unlikely to cause any severe or possibly fatal side effects. You can talk to your pharmacist if you’re worried.
But anxiety medicines can cause two distinct types of side effects:
Physical side effects are those that cause some discomforts that affect the body, rather than the mind. For example, a class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors may cause:
- Cloudy Thinking
- Digestion Issues
These side effects may be disruptive enough to affect your well-being. Benzodiazepines may also cause digestion issues and nausea, and have other side effects that include:
- Lack of Coordination
In some cases, the side effects can be severe enough that the person needs to stop taking the medication right away. They also may cause dependency and withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the medications, and in some cases, they may lose their effects over time as a result of tolerance.
- Most Benzodiazepines
List Of Antipsychotic Drugs Used To Treat Anxiety
Antipsychotic drugs are often used in combination with other anxiety medication. They are a second-line option due to the possibility of severe side effects. A list of antipsychotic drugs used to treat anxiety includes:1
- Molindone research suggests antianxiety properties
- Olanzapine off label use for anxiety
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Alternative Treatments For Anxiety
As with most mental health issues, non-pharmacologic therapies, such as talk therapy or counseling, can be an effective treatment strategy to treat symptoms and address the underlying factors contributing to ones anxiety. Identifying the underlying emotional or behavioral reasons for anxiety can help a person understand his or her triggers for it, what they can do to cope with it, and how they can potentially overcome it. If you are experiencing anxiety, consider finding a qualified therapist before or after speaking to a doctor to see if therapy can help your situation. Many types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, have helped people completely relieve their anxiety. Counseling can be a stand-alone treatment or done in conjunction with taking medication.
Possible alternative substances that are under investigation for the treatment of anxiety include Hydroxyzine, kava kava, and pregabalin. Barbiturates are also sometimes used to treat anxiety, but their use is limited now with the availability of many benzodiazepines. Antihistamines can also be used to promote relaxation however, their use is also limited and should only be used when a person is allergic to benzodiazepines.
Alternative body therapies such as massage, nutritional therapy, and breathing exercises have also produced positive results for alleviating anxiety. Yoga and meditation may also help a person who is experiencing anxiety find relief for his or her mild or chronic symptoms.
Choosing An Alternative To Prescription Medication
Medications do have their place. Even though they use chemicals that are not natural for the human body, theyre not the demon that some people have made them out to be.
Yet they are also still risky, and anything affecting your brain isnt something you want to start taking without a doctors supervision. So even if a medication was available without a prescription, it may not be worth taking without a doctor.
In addition, no anxiety medication should be taken without something to ensure that you can stop taking the medicine someday, and medication should be avoided in general if there is a way to treat your anxiety without them.
There are no over-the-counter drugs to take for anxiety, but there are some natural solutions and treatments that may be able to provide some relief. Therapy and self-help techniques are still strong tools for addressing anxiety and do not require any medication.
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Best Medication For Anxiety And Panic Attacks
The medications used to treat anxiety focus on alleviating anxious feelings, and lessening the severity and frequency of panic attacks. They make patients feel calmer even when theres agitation. Feeling anxious from time to time is part of life. Anxiety is a component of the human bodys natural defense system and is closely linked to the flight and fright response.
However, its best to keep in mind that theres a difference between being afraid of stepping out of the house and feeling anxious before facing new people or a crowd. Essentially, anyone who battles an anxiety disorder can be put on anxiety medication. However, just because someone experiences anxiety doesnt mean he/she should take anxiety medication because psychotherapy and exercise may be equally effective. That said, here are some common medications for anxiety and panic attacks: