How To Know When Its Time To Take Medication For Anxiety
Until a couple years ago, I didnt think I was an anxious person. On the outside, Im easygoing. Im adventurous, spontaneous and social. Im not afraid of flying, public speaking or crowds.
But throughout my entire life, I have worried, silently and constantly, about almost everything. Ive worried about possibilities that I knew, deep down, werent at all rational. Ive always feared that worst-case scenarios would come true even though they hardly ever do.
I didnt realize that these thoughts stemmed from mental illness. Since I never had full-on panic attacks, I didnt think that I had anxiety. I thought it was normal to feel this way. I thought I was fine that is, until I went on anti-anxiety medication at 29 years old. And it changed my life.
Little did I know, I was one of the 40 million Americans adults dealing with an anxiety disorder about 18% of the population. And up until last year, I was also part of the majority of people with anxiety who dont receive treatment.
Over The Counter Anxiety Medication: Is It Real
Unfortunately, there are not currently any FDA approved over-the-counter anxiety medications. While antihistamines, sedatives or painkillers are sometimes used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, they are not approved by the FDA for anxiety treatment. According to an article published in the journal, Psychological Science,these types of over-the-counter medications treat the pain associated with painful thoughts.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychological treatment. Your psychologist or therapist works with you to change your thinking and behavioral patterns that are harmful or unhelpful.
CBT usually takes place over multiple sessions. Through talking and asking questions, your therapist or psychologist helps you gain a different perspective. As a result, you learn to respond better to and cope with stress, anxiety and difficult situations.
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What Are A Few Key Things I Need To Know About Anxiety Medications
With so many treatment options available for anxiety, its important to understand the differences between medications. Its also helpful to know what to expect when you first start taking them.
Here, well discuss nine things you should know about anxiety medications. This discussion focuses on SSRIs, SNRIs, and benzodiazepines. Buspirone, hydroxyzine, and propranolol are discussed in separate GoodRx articles.
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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Can Social Anxiety Be Cured
Mental illnesses like social anxiety are chronic conditions, and there is no known cure for them. But that doesnt mean you just need to put up with its symptoms. On the contrary, social anxiety is manageable, and with the proper treatment, you can get your symptoms under control and enjoy your life.
Social anxiety disorder is usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Who Can Prescribe Anxiety Medication
If you’re looking to get a prescription for anxiety medication, no matter what type of anxiety you have, it may be more available to you than you’d think. A licensed psychiatrist or your general healthcare provider can prescribe the medication for you if they feel the fit is right.
You also have the option of online psychiatry right here on the Hims platform.
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Anxiety Meds: The Basics
There are several different anxiety disorders, each with different symptoms. Your healthcare provider will choose an anxiety medication thats right for you.
Numerous common anxiety medications are used to treat anxiety disorders, including benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , beta-blockers, monoamine oxidase inhibitors , and tricyclic medications.
Medication doesnt cure anxiety. Instead, anti-anxiety medications provide relief from the symptoms of anxiety, allowing you to focus on living a normal life.
While anti-anxiety drugs are safe for most people, some can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms when used over a long period of time or abused.
If you have an anxiety disorder, medication alone may not be enough to help you bring your symptoms under control. For better results, your healthcare provider may suggest psychotherapy or encourage you to make certain changes to your lifestyle.
What To Do If Your Anxiety Meds Are Making You Feel Worse
Some people are able to find the right medication on the first try, but others need to try more than one medication to find the one that works best for them.2 If you are taking medication for several weeks and dont experience much relief, feel worse, or are experiencing adverse side effects, talk to your prescriber. They may suggest changing your dose, changing medications, or adding another medication to your treatment plan.
Some signs your anxiety medication isnt working include:
- You dont notice an improvement in your symptoms after at least 6 weeks/li>
- You notice some improvement, but your symptoms are continuing to cause you significant distress and interfere with your life
- You are experiencing side effects that are causing you to feel worse
- You feel depressed, suicidal, or want to harm yourself
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Outlook For Social Anxiety Disorder
According to the ADAA, about 36 percent of people with social anxiety dont speak to a healthcare provider until they have had symptoms for at least 10 years.
People with social phobia may rely on drugs and alcohol to cope with anxiety triggered by social interaction. Left untreated, social phobia can lead to other high-risk behaviors, including:
- alcohol and drug abuse
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How To Ask Your Doctor For Anxiety Medication
Theres no best anti-anxiety medication for every person and anxiety disorder. If you think that you have an anxiety disorder and are wondering how to start the conversation with your healthcare provider, relax.
Tell them your symptoms and they will work alongside you to recommend a medication thats best suited to your needs and general health.
If youre prescribed any type of anti-anxiety medication, use it exactly as prescribed and stay in touch with your healthcare provider to keep them informed about your treatment.
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Anxiety Medications May Limit Your Other Activities
Benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness, lack of energy, confusion, impaired thinking, and judgement, and blurred vision. These side effects may stop you from participating in other activities. You should not drive until you know how the medication will affect you. You may have problems at work or at school. You may feel sleepy or groggy.
How Will Antidepressants Make Me Feel
Antidepressants should help to improve symptoms of both depression and anxiety.7 While some people worry that they are like happy pills that could cause them to feel emotionally numb, most people who take antidepressants report that they help improve their ability to cope with lifes stressors and enhance their quality of life.11
Rather than improving your symptoms immediately, antidepressants can take one to two months to experience their effects. If you dont notice an improvement in your symptoms after a sufficient period of time, you may have to work with your prescriber on increasing your dose or changing medications. Some people may respond better to certain antidepressants, so you may have to try more than one medication to find the one that works best for you.2
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What Are The Warnings/precautions/side Effects Of Anti
- Benzodiazepines should not be abruptly stopped because of the risk of seizures and other serious side effects. It is dangerous to combine benzodiazepines with other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol. Doing so may cause profound drowsiness and/or impair breathing. Those who have breathing difficulties such as sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should not use benzodiazepines.
- Benzodiazepines frequently cause drowsiness therefore, care should be taken when operating machinery or motor vehicles.
- Side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness and dry mouth.
- Beta-blockers should not be withdrawn suddenly because severe cardiac problems, including heart attacks, may occur. Beta-blockers also should not be used in patients with certain breathing disorders, including bronchitis and emphysema.
- Beta-blockers can mask signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and overactive thyroid disease. Dizziness and drowsiness can occur with beta-blockers.
- The alpha-blocker prazosin can cause dizziness and lightheadedness, both common side effects. Early in treatment, fainting can occur, especially when standing up.
- The alpha-blockers clonidine and guanfacine may cause dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, sedation, and weakness.
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Can Anxiety Medication Cause Mood Swings
Teens and children may be more likely to have suicidal thoughts due to the use of atomoxetine. There are other atomoxetine side effects such as dizziness, tiredness, mood swings, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and sexual side effects. Children and young adults may be at increased risk of suicidal thoughts due to Nefazodone.
Do Anxiety Medications Have Any Serious Risks Or Side Effects
Of all the medications described here, benzodiazepines have the highest risk for side effects. Its possible to become dependent on them and build tolerance to them. Over time, you may need higher doses to experience the same effects.
These effects can happen to anyone. This is because of the way benzodiazepines work in the brain.
Withdrawal symptoms can develop if benzodiazepines are suddenly stopped after being used for a while. To avoid withdrawal symptoms, its recommended to gradually lower your dose. Your healthcare provider can help you with this. But because of these potential side effects, benzodiazepines arent recommended as first-choice medications.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are a serious side effect associated with antidepressants. You should talk to your healthcare provider right away if you experience this while taking an antidepressant.
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Are There Side Effects To Medication Used To Treat Social Anxiety
Yes, there can be side effects from the antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication and beta-blockers used to treat social anxiety disorder. The type of side effects depends on the medication and how your body responds to it. Ask your healthcare provider or psychiatrist about what you can expect after youve started a medication.
Ssri And Snri Side Effects
- Dependence or withdrawal
Your doctor will work with you to determine whether these side effects outweigh the potential benefit of an anxiety medication. If you are having trouble with any side effects from a medicine youre on, talk to your health care provider or chat with a doctor on K about different medication options.
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Figuring Out If You Have An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders come in many forms. What I have is known as generalized anxiety disorder , which is marked by consistent, excessive worries that are difficult to control or stop. It affects about 6.8 million American adults and women are twice as likely as men to have it.
Other types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Because anxiety has such a wide range of signs and symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose, according to Christen Sistrunk, a licensed professional counselor in Texas who specializes in treating anxiety disorders.
The first step to evaluating whether you have anxiety is to figure out the type of anxiety you have and how it affects you, said Justin Baksh, chief clinical officer of Foundations Wellness Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. For instance, maybe you feel it because you brain cant shut off. No matter how hard you try, your mind wanders into the future about finances, work, family issues, and so on, Baksh said.
Or perhaps you experience more physical symptoms, like an upset stomach, digestive issues, sweaty palms, a constant uneasiness, heart palpitations or bouncing legs. Depending on the type of disorder, you could also experience specific fears, avoidance of social situations, shaking, dizziness, fear of losing control, a sense of unreality the list goes on.
You Toss And Turn Every Night
Its a vicious cycle: You cant fall asleep because youre anxiousand youre exhausted the next day, which makes you even more anxious.
For our ancestors, late-night anxiety was a survival technique. They had to sleep with one eye open to spot the tiger lurking beyond the campfire. But if youre worrying about money, a pounding heart wont help you pay the mortgage.
A great solution for run-of-the-mill insomnia: exercise. It promotes better sleep and also helps you calm down in the moment. In addition, deep breathing resets your anxiety response.
But if you dread darkness because you know there will be no rest for you, talk to your clinician.
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Personalize Your Treatment Plan
If your clinician recommends an anti-anxiety medication, ask if pharmacogenetic testing can help personalize your treatment plan based on your genes.
Pharmacogenetic testing with Genomind, for example, looks at 24 genes related to mental health treatment. It provides guidance across 10+ mental health conditions, including anxiety, and 130+ medications to help clinicians determine:
- Which medications may be more likely to be effective
- Which medications may have side effects
- How you metabolize medications for personalized dosing guidance
The Genomind test requires a prescription. Wondering if it can help you? Learn more about Genomind here.
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The Type Of Cbd Products That You Are Using
There are many different types of CBD products on the market. For example, you can use CBD oils, gummies, vapes, creams, and gels.
The amount of time it takes for CBD to take effect will depend on how it is administered. You can expect to notice the benefits between one and two hours if you administer it orally, such as consuming a capsule, gummy, or oil. On the other hand, you will probably notice the effects in as little as 15 minutes if you use a vape.
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Activities That Help Relieve Anxiety
Anxiety can keep people from living life to its fullest and finding happiness. Activities such as exploring nature, watching TV, or simply spending time with friends can all be helpful in reducing anxiety.
Mental health professionals like therapists and counselors help people reduce anxiety through talk therapy. Therapy for anxiety can help people change their thought patterns in order to reduce anxiety.
What Can You Do Yourself
Many people with generalized anxiety disorder dont even think of going to see a doctor. They try to manage their fears on their own, for example using books or information from the internet. Some learn relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training or yoga. The effectiveness of these kinds of strategies for managing anxiety disorders on your own is not well studied in scientific studies. Relaxation techniques are often used in psychological treatments, but it isnt known how effective they are when used alone.
Some people try herbal sedatives like valerian, lavender or passion flower. There hasnt been much research on these products either. Many people assume that herbal remedies are better tolerated and safer than other kinds of medicine. But they can also have side effects and may influence the effects of other medication.
People who treat an anxiety disorder on their own may only seek professional help after a very long time. If an anxiety disorder is really affecting your everyday life, certain kinds of psychological treatment and medication can help.
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Anxiety And Addiction Recovery
When taking a potentially addictive drug for anxiety, dual diagnosis can occur. This is when you experience addiction as well as a mood disorder. Its more challenging to treat two disorders so recovery should incorporate a variety of tools. Benzodiazepine use in the United States is prevalent and many are admitted into treatment programs to help them recover. When a patient stops using anti-anxiety medication, they can become more acutely anxious. This is why group therapy and one-on-one therapy is essential. Some may find holistic treatments like meditation will help them find the mental balance in their life. Benzo addiction stories demonstrate that someone with anxiety cant remain on these medications for a long period of time. While on the medication, this is the time to learn how to better manage anxiety. To continue using benzodiazepines or abuse them will only exacerbate the issues youre trying to heal. Professional treatment for benzodiazepines addiction is likely necessary. The withdrawal can be dangerous so medical detox may be necessary.
Given the dangers of anti-anxiety medications its important to discuss all risk factors with your doctor prior to use. If youre struggling with ongoing misuse and abuse, please give us a call today at to discuss possible treatment programs that can aid in overcoming anxiety medication addictions.
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