Dangerous Side Effects Of Anxiety Drugs
Beyond the paradoxical effect of suicidal ideation and increased anxiety, it is rare for these drugs to show signs of dangerous or fatal side effects. However, in a few rare cases, some people have experienced:
- Heart problems, especially in those with possible cardiovascular disease.
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension .
- Increased bleeding risk.
- Interactions with other medications.
Most of these are related to SSRIs. Benzodiazepines may also cause what is known as dependency, which is when the body adapts to the anxiety drug. Dependency causes two issues. First, the medication will generally stop working , as the body gets used to the drug, which means that you will need to find a replacement medication.
Second, weaning off the drug incorrectly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are not unlike withdrawing from severe alcoholism, and may lead to increased anxiety, depression, psychosis, seizures, hypersensitivity, and possibly suicide. Gastrointestinal problems and insomnia are also very common. Withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, which is why benzodiazepines often need to be slowly weaned off of over time.
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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
Anxiety Medication: List Types And Uses
At some point or another, you have probably experienced anxiety symptoms like racing thoughts, sweaty palms, or shortness of breath. Anxiety is the bodys way of responding to stress, so it is normal to feel physically or mentally anxious from time to time. However, if fear and worry are persistent and interfere with your everyday life, you could be experiencing an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., impacting 40 million adultsthats more than 18% of the population. There are a number of treatment options for anxiety, including anxiety medication.
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Are Drugs Like Klonopin Xanax And Other Benzodiazepines Good For Anxiety
Benzodiazepines work by depressing the central nervous system and reducing anxiety symptoms. These medications are among the most common treatment options for anxiety disorders because theyre quite effective.
Its important to note, though, that benzodiazepines are typically recommended for short-term use only. The American Academy of Family Physicians explains that these drugs are known for being habit-forming and can create both physical and mental dependencies.
You Experience Physical Effects
Constant anxiety and stress can cause many physical symptoms, including:
- muscle tension
These aches and pains can do more than just make you uncomfortable. You also may find that you experience:
- a change in eating habits
- a fluctuation in your weight
- an inability or unwillingness to do activities you used to enjoy
Heart palpitations, which can make you feel as though your heart is fluttering or skipping a beat, can happen during moments of intense anxiety.
You may even feel shortness of breath as your body attempts to increase the levels of oxygen going to your muscles.
Read Also: How To Control Anxiety Without Medication
What Medications Are Prescribed For Anxiety Or Panic
Some of the medications prescribed to treat panic and anxiety include:
- Benzodiazepines: These medications reduce anxiety by depressing the central nervous system
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors : SSRIs increase the availability of serotonin in the brain
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors : SNRIs increase the availability of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain
Some people are surprised to learn that SSRIs and SNRIs, which are also prescribed for treating depression, can be recommended for anxiety. They can be very effective, though, according to the National Health Service, likely because of serotonins positive effect on ones mood, emotional regulation, and sense of calmness.
Is It As Problematic To Take Pills For Easing Painful Feelings Of Anxiety As It Is To Take Pills For Easing Physical Pain
For patients with extreme anxiety, medication can feel like a godsend. Sufferers can relax. They can live normal lives.
Sadly, however, physicians often prescribe anti-anxiety medications to decrease milder anxious feelings like worry, stress, and stomach butterflies. Over-prescribing, rather than prescribing per se, is the main problem.
In addition, using anti-anxiety medications for any reason over many months or years invites addiction problems. While brief use to calm a short-term episode of over-whelming anxiety may be worthwhile, wariness is appropriate. Easing one’s difficultyanxietyby causing an equal or worse difficultyaddictionis inappropriate.
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What Is Anxiety Disorder
There is a multitude of anxiety disorders that cause anxiety, worry, and stress due to social interactions, personal health, work, or a particular phobia. Types of anxiety disorders include:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Given that anxiety is one of the most prevalent disorders in the United States there have been several medications developed to assist with treatment. Lifestyle and environmental factors can increase the risk of having anxiety, including increased stress factors caused by health conditions, sleep disorders, work situations, financial troubles, relationship problems, and death of loved ones. In addition, genetics, major depressive disorders, and family trauma may also trigger the onset of anxiety. Given the wide complexity of these issues, different medications aim to address some of the more common symptoms. Individuals are advised to use medication in combination with therapy for the most effective treatment. But what are some of the more common anti-anxiety medications? They can include:
I Need Relief And I Need It Now
So where does that leave you if youre suffering? Even when anxiety relief comes with side effects and dangers, that can still sound like a fair trade when panic and fear are ruling your life.
The bottom line is that theres a time and place for anxiety medication. If you have severe anxiety thats interfering with your ability to function, medication may be helpfulespecially as a short-term treatment. However, many people use anti-anxiety medication when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies would work just as well or better, minus the drawbacks.
Anxiety medications can ease symptoms, but theyre not right for everyone and theyre not the only answer. Its up to you to evaluate your options and decide whats best for you.
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When You Dont Like The Side
Unfortunately, many teens stop taking their medication because they dont like how it makes them feel. The side effects can hamper their daily activities. For example, its difficult to go out with friends, let alone drive, when you have blurred vision. Its hard to eat when you dont have an appetite. This all leads to medication incompliance.
In fact, one study found that almost 68% of children taking medicine for their ADHD stop by age 15 . Many adolescents cited loss of appetite as an adverse effect of the medication.
What Are The Treatments For Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Medication for Anxiety
Medication is useful for alleviating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and is often prescribed in conjunction with other therapies. Some types of anxiety drugs can be habit-forming and are usually prescribed on a short-term or as-needed basis.
Different anxiety disorders have different medication regimens. Some are preventive and some are designed to cure the problem.
Antidepressants, particularly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , are widely used to treat and prevent a variety of anxiety disorders. Examples of SSRIs that are commonly used to treat chronic anxiety include citalopram , escitalopram , fluoxetine , paroxetine , and sertraline . The antidepressantsduloxetine and venlafaxine , SNRIs which act on the brain chemicals serotonin and norephinephrine, and some of the tricyclic antidepressants like imipramine , may also help. Novel antidepressants such as mirtazepine are also prescribed at times.Ã
Another anti-anxiety drug is busprirone . It has fewer side effects than the benzodiazepines and is not associated with dependence. Buspar, however, can have its own side effects and may not always be as effective when a person has taken benzodiazepines in the past.
Therapy for Anxiety
Lifestyle Modifications to Alleviate Anxiety
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What Does Zoloft Do To The Brain
The prescription drug Lexapro is the brand name for an antidepressant that has been prescribed to help treat depression and anxiety. The drugs are believed by some doctors, like Dr Google , Prozac Zoloft or even just plain old fluoxetine . These medicines alter brain connectivity through boosting production of serotonin which plays a role in maintaining mood balance as well!
You’ve Started Having Problems At Work
AsHershenson says, “It is a problem when your anxiety begins taking a toll on your mental and physical health, affecting work and relationships.” This means your anxiety is likely getting out of control and going beyond the “normal” anxiety we all feel every day. So, are you having trouble making it through a work day? Or are you too nervous to travel on business trips? Take these as signs.
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Nervousness Can Feel Awful What Are The Pro And Cons Of Treatment Options
Anxiety feels highly unpleasant. Anxious feelings can torment you. They can feel as unbearable as physical pain. Drug companies recommend anti-anxiety pills. TV ads promulgate pills. Many physicians write a pill prescription as the best route to feeling calmer. In my clinical practice, by contrast, I find that non-pill treatment methods help in all but the most and chronic extreme cases. And they help without the downsides of anti-anxiety medications.
The Role Of Medication In Anxiety Treatment
When youre overwhelmed by heart-pounding panic, paralyzed by fear, or exhausted from yet another sleepless night spent worrying, youll do just about anything to get relief. And theres no question that when anxiety is disabling, medication may help. But are drugs always the best answer?
Many different types of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines and newer options like SSRI antidepressants . These drugs can provide temporary relief, but they also come with side effects and safety concernssome significant.
They are 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 effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use. And a recent analysis reported in JAMA Psychiatry found that the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating anxiety has been overestimated, and in some cases is no better than placebo.
Whats more, it can be very difficult to get off anxiety medications without difficult withdrawals, including rebound anxiety that can be worse than your original problem.
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Drugs To Treat Anxiety Disorder
Xanax has boxed warnings. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration . Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
Using benzodiazepines, even as prescribed, can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if you stop taking the drug suddenly. Withdrawal can be life threatening.
Using benzodiazepines can also lead to misuse and addiction. Misuse of benzodiazepines increases your risk of overdose and death.
Only take these drugs as your doctor prescribes. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have any concerns about safely taking a benzodiazepine.
What Kinds Of Medications Are Best For Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear that occur when no danger is present. They trigger intense physical reactions, such as hyperventilation, a racing heart rate, and chest pain, and some people even confuse panic attacks with heart attacks.
Certain anti-anxiety medications can help to minimize the effects of panic attacks, including benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines can provide significant, rapid relief when one is in the middle of a panic attack.
SSRIs and SNRIs can help to reduce ones likelihood of having a panic attack in the future, too.
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Drug Dependence And Withdrawal
When taken regularly, benzodiazepines lead to physical dependence and tolerance, with increasingly larger doses needed to get the same anxiety relief as before. This happens quicklyusually within a couple of months, but sometimes in as little as a few weeks.
If you abruptly stop taking your medication, you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Increased anxiety, restlessness, shaking.
- Depression, confusion, panic attacks.
- Pounding heart, sweating, and in severe cases, seizure.
Many people mistake withdrawal symptoms for a return of their original anxiety condition, making them think they need to restart the medication. Gradually tapering off the drug will help minimize the withdrawal reaction.
Can My Anxiety Medication Cause Long
Benzodiazepines may have a long-term impact on your central nervous system your brain and spinal cord. They might change your brains reaction time and ability to think. But more studies are needed to confirm these long-term effects. These effects are less likely to happen if youre taking a benzodiazepine for a short period of time.
While most medications dont cause long-term changes to your brain function, people with anxiety may have physical changes in their brain. This can affect how they respond to normal situations and their ability to process emotions. Medications and therapy can help with this.
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Are There Any Vitamins Or Supplements To Help Treat Anxiety
Vitamins and supplements generally dont have a lot of evidence that say theyre effective for anxiety. Many vitamins and supplements also have potential interactions with prescription anxiety medications.
If youre interested in starting a new vitamin or supplement while taking a prescription anxiety medication, its recommended to speak to a pharmacist to make sure its a safe combination.