Anxiety can be described as a feeling of nervousness or deep feeling or concern about something that is going to happen. It can be said as irrational fear or worry about some upcoming events. At some point of life, every person is anxious about someone or something but it is short-lived. A person with anxiety disorder worry or fear becomes constant in life and it can be overwhelming interrupting their daily life at workplace or home.
According to NIMH, about 40 million adults have some kind of anxiety disorder. Often anxiety cannot be cured with medications or therapy but symptoms can be managed. Relaxation techniques can be practiced regularly to relieve off the stress. Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help in keeping your mind calm. If you follow the above therapies along with medication you can overcome symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety Medications :
A medicine that works well for one person with anxiety may not give any improvement in the other. Even your doctor/psychiatrist will have to rely on trial and error method to find the right set of medications that suits you.
This helps in calming the mind and in relaxing the muscles. Anxiety can be caused by combination of several factors including medical and health related issues, trauma and other mental health problems. Having one kind of psychotic problems can trigger anxiety disorder in many people. Benzodiazepines act in increasing the functions of neurotransmitters and other chemicals in the brain. Some of the drugs of this category are clonazepam, alprazolam and diazepam.
Side effects of this drug are drowsiness and reduced memory. And this drug can become addicted hence recommended for short term use only.
This is another kind of drug used for treating anxiety disorder. It can be used for treating acute and long term anxiety problems. This kind of medication affects the way in which certain chemicals are released in the brain thus producing calming effect. Some of the side effects of this drug are drowsiness and headache.
Antidepressant medications are also prescribed for anxiety disorders but it may take several weeks for improving the symptoms. Several kinds of antidepressant medications like SSRI, MAOI and tricyclic drugs are given. Escitalopram, Prozac and sertraline are some names of SSRI’s which can cause adverse effects like nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness and muscle weakness.
Tricyclic drugs are effective in treating not only anxiety disorder but also obsessive compulsive disorder. Some of them include Tofranil and Anafranil etc. These medications can cause dry mouth, nausea, constipation and drowsiness. MAOI’s medications like phenelzine and isocarboxazid are highly recommended for treating anxiety disorders like social disorder and panic disorder. MAOI’s can also similar antidepressant side effects and you need to avoid certain foods and medications while taking this drug.
- Beta Blockers
Beta blockers are normally given for treating heart related issues, but some doctors prescribe them for controlling anxiety symptoms.
Medications are available in plenty for treating anxiety disorder. But you have to face some unpleasant side effects of these drugs. And most importantly, it can cause dependence and it can become difficult for you to stop the medications. You should understand that most of the drugs given for anxiety causes side effects. Your doctor would analyze the adverse effect and accordingly balance the dosage of drug. These medications can slow down the nervous system and millions of people are facing hangover of the drug next day.
Plenty of side effects are listed in each drug but you may not get all of them. Some people can get one or two side effects and over the long run they get used to it. Motor skills can get affected causing slurred speech and poor balance. There are people who say that they cannot focus or concentrate as before after using these drugs. The worst part of these drugs is they can cause opposite effect in some people. Drugs given for managing anxiety disorder can trigger increased anxiety resulting in agitation and irritability. In children with disability it can cause maniac episodes and impulsive behavior.
Drug Dependence :
- Benzodiazepines can cause dependence when you take it for long term. And you will realize you are not feeling comfortable with regular doses. Your doctor may then prescribe for larger dosage which can again trigger further anxiety resulting in restlessness. You may move your leg back and forth which becomes uncontrollable.
- For some people it can cause sleep disturbance and confusion of thoughts. Increased anxiety can cause pounding heart and profuse sweating. In severe cases it can cause seizure attacks.
- Never take these drugs on your own and remember you need to follow the instructions of your psychiatrist who can regulate the right dosage required.
Stopping The Medication :
And most importantly, do not stop these drugs even if you feel good for some days. This can be done with the help of your doctor who, after assessing your condition, can gradually taper the medicine before stopping it. Stopping it suddenly can cause withdrawal reaction and you may end up in worse condition than before.
- Your doctor would instruct you about the list of medicines you should avoid while taking anxiety drugs like Benzodiazepines.
- You should not take alcohol while taking this drug since it can cause severe complications.
- One should not take any other sleeping pills or painkillers since it can cause fatal overdose.
- Antihistamines given for reducing swelling should be avoided while taking anxiety drugs since it can increase sedative effect.
And most of the drugs given for anxiety and depression can significantly affect your sex life. It can reduce libido and you may not be able to enjoy sex like before.
Suicide Risk :
In aged patients, some of the drugs given for managing anxiety can trigger suicide thoughts.
Weight Gain :
- This is one of the common side effects of anxiety medications. However you can monitor your weight closely and start workouts and follow healthy diet while taking anxiety drugs.
- Exercise should be part of your life while taking anxiety drug. It boosts your metabolism and keeps you energetic all through the day. Side effects like drowsiness can be overcome by regular exercising.
- Consult a counseling psychologist and start cognitive behavior therapy. It can completely relax your muscles reducing anxiety significantly.
Yoga and Meditation :
These are powerful tools for managing your mind. It can relax your mind and body totally and when done regularly you can see the difference in the way you think.