Almost everyone suffers from anxiety at some point in their lives. Yet, if you are among 3.1% of Americans who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, medications could be a necessary component of your multimodal treatment. Anti anxiety medications should never be considered a permanent solution, regardless of what your doctor tells you. These could be used to control your condition, while you are working with a therapist and learn to manage your repetitive, negative, and often irrational thoughts. Psychotherapy is the only permanent solution for anxiety, and it works best when combined with meditation, yoga, and regular physical exercise.
Once you have been diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder and it has been decided (by your physician or psychiatrist) that you need to take anti anxiety medication for your treatment, it is important to know and understand all of the options available. The following is an anti anxiety medication list containing information about medications commonly used to treat anxiety. We describe here specifics of each medication, their benefits, disadvantages and possible side effects.
*Xanax – panic, generalized anxiety, phobias, social anxiety and OCD
*Klonopin – panic, generalized anxiety, phobias and social anxiety
*Valium – panic, generalized anxiety and phobias
*Ativan – panic, generalized anxiety and phobias
*Serax – generalized anxiety and phobias
*Librium – generalized anxiety and phobias
Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs whose use results in sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxant properties. In general, these types of drugs are safe and effective for the short term. You can take benzodiazepines as a single dose therapy or several times a day for months at a time. Studies suggest that they are effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety in about 70% of patients. They are very quick acting, tolerance does not develop, and overdose is not dangerous. Generic alternatives are available which can greatly reduce cost.
Sometimes patients experience side effects such as drowsiness, lethargy, difficulty with speech, a decrease in coordination, unsteady gait, and headache. These types of side effects tend to be present the first few weeks of treatment, but usually clear up. Some patients experience irritability and agitation. Taking benzodiazepines can increase the effects of alcohol. Long-term use is still controversial due to possible psychological and physical effects. It can cause tolerance in some people as well as dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines are also controversial for use in pregnant women.
*Inderal – social anxiety
*Tenormin – social anxiety
Beta blockers help to treat the physical effects of anxiety such as trembling, shaking, uncontrolled blushing and controlling rapid heart beat in anxious social situations for several hours. They are safe for most people with few side effects. Beta blockers are also non-habit forming.
Sometimes the social anxiety symptoms present are so strong that beta blockers cannot provide sufficient relief. They also tend to lower blood pressure so those with a heart condition or low blood pressure may not use them. Beta blockers are not recommended for anyone with diabetes or with respiratory issues such as asthma.
*Tofranil – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression
*Norpramin or Pertofrane – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression
*Aventyl or Pamelor – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression
*Elavil – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression
*Sinequan or Adapin – panic and depression
*Anafranil – panic, depression and OCD
Tricyclic antidepressants are among the earliest antidepressants developed. They are effective, but have been generally replaced with other types of antidepressants that cause fewer side effects. They are effective in reducing panic attacks and in elevating depressed moods. They are usually given in single daily doses with no tolerance development or withdrawal symptoms.
Taking tricyclic antidepressants have a delayed onset of 4-12 weeks. Possible side effects include insomnia, tremors or both and both can last up to three weeks. Overdose is a dangerous issue with thee medications and the side effects are considered to be significant.
MONOAMINE OXIDASE INHIBITORS (MAOIs)
*Lardil – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression and OCD
*Parnate – panic, generalized anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD
MAOIs reduce panic attack, elevate depressed moods and increases confidence. These medications are well researched, cause no tolerance development and are non-habit forming.
There are some dietary and medicinal restrictions that must be adhered to when taking MAOIs. Thee can be inconvenient for many patients. Aged cheeses and meat as well as certain medications need to be avoided when taking this medication. There can be significant agitation during the first days of treatment. There can also be a delayed onset of weeks to months and they are very dangerous in overdose. Patients that take MAOIs need to be extremely responsible.
SELECTIVE SEROTONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIs)
*Prozac – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD
*Luvox – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD
*Zoloft – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD
*Paxil – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD
*Lexapro – panic, generalized anxiety and OCD
*Celexa – panic, generalized anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD
SSRIs are a newer type of medication introduced in the 1980’s. They assist the brain in maintaining enough supply of serotonin in the brain. A deficiency of serotonin is associated with many anxiety disorders. They are a well-tolerated medication that is safe for medically ill or frail patients. They are safe in overdose with no withdrawal symptoms unless abruptly stopped. No dependency develops and they do not promote weight gain.
There is a delayed onset of 4-6 weeks and full range effect can take up to 12 weeks. A worsening of anxiety symptoms can happen during the first two weeks of treatment.
SEROTONIN NOREPINEPHRINE REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SNRIs)
*Effexor or Effexor XR – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression and OCD
*Cymbalta – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety and OCD
With Cymbalta, therapeutic response can take up to 4-6 weeks and alcohol must be avoided. Nausea and dizziness are common side effects. SNRIs are more expensive than most anxiety medications.
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