Anxiety is becoming increasingly prevalent in our modern world, and more and more people are heading to their family doctor to obtain medication to treat the issue. However, this may not always be your best course of action, as these anti-anxiety medications can bring with them a plethora of miserable side effects. Read on to educate yourself about the type of drugs that medical doctors and psychiatrists prescribe for anxiety, and their risks and rewards.
The philosophy behind anti-anxiety medications is that anxiety is caused by a certain type of chemical imbalance in the brain. This imbalance can lead to problems such as anxiety and depression, and doctors believe that certain medications can right that imbalance and return the patient to better mental health. The most common drugs prescribed for anxiety are benzodizepines and, believe it or not, Antidepressants are designed to correct imbalances of serotonin in the brain, and even though many people don’t know it, they are prescribed just as frequently to treat anxiety as they are for depressive symptoms. They really are one of the safer choices for medically treating anxiety, but they come with a host of side effects such as upset stomach, sleep disturbances, weight gain, loss of sexual libido, and dry mouth. Antidepressant drugs are not a quick fix for anxiety, as it may take weeks for them to have any effect. Discontinuation symptoms can also plague patients when they attempt to withdraw from these drugs, however, they are not addictive in the way that benzodiazepines are, and we’ll discuss them next.
Benzodiazepines are more commonly prescribed and more well-known, and they include brand names such as Valium, Ativan and Xanax. These drugs are your quick fixes for breaking up anxiety attacks, as they can begin to work as soon as they get into your bloodstream, which can be a matter of minutes. However, their effectiveness is a double-edged sword, as they are most definitely habit-forming and should be used with the utmost caution. Benzodiazepines should only be used as needed in the short-term, as the more they are used, the more they lose their potency, and you will soon find yourself needing higher and higher dosages to achieve the same effect you experienced in the beginning. Benzodiazpines are infamous for causing drowsiness, and should never be mixed with alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and so are benzos, and they can create a lethal combination. The warning label on the bottle will also tell you to be careful when operating a vehicle or heavy machinery due to the drowsiness factor.
Fortunately for you, there are a variety of natural alternatives that can supplement or take the place of these anti-anxiety drugs. Regular cardiovascular exercise has been in shown in some studies to be just as effective as medication, and yoga in particular has been shown to increase levels of GABA in the brain, the same chemical that benzodiazepines influence. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also an effective tool in your fight against anxiety, as it can help you learn to restructure your thinking and eliminate unhelpful, unrealistic thoughts that lead to your anxiety. In fact, most people in the mental health field would never recommend medication without therapy, as the two combined present a potent force against the condition.
In closing, the choice to take medication is a personal one, but it should never be made without the pertinent facts.
“Mental Health Medications.” National Institute of Mental Health. <Http://www.nimh.nih.gov> 9 Nov 2012.