I am going to come right out and say, FOR ME, I did not care to take medication for my anxiety. I tried two different types, Xanax and Klonopin, and I could not stand the side effects. In this article, How to overcome anxiety with medication, I will talk about the industry standards as far as the different medications are concerned, to include their side effects. Using medication may be what you have to do to overcome anxiety. That will be something for you and your doctor to decide.
A month or so after experiencing anxiety I went to the doctor for the first time. By that point, I had figured out that I was experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, but I had no clue how to handle them. In fact, I was at my wits end (Some would say that’s a short road!) by the time I went to the doctor. My life consisted of living between attacks. My strategy back then was enjoy my life until the attacks came, and then riding the attacks out until they were over. The attacks would leave me exhausted and fairly depressed.
After going to the doctor he diagnosed me as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). He prescribed me Xanax and told me to take it whenever I felt anxious or felt an anxiety attack coming on. Unfortunately I do not remember the dosage that I was taking. Xanax made me feel light headed and disconnected when I took it. It did in fact stop my anxiety attacks, but the weird hollow feeling it gave me instead, was no fun either. I finished one prescription worth of the Xanax and then I never took it again.
I went back to the doctor and explained to him that I did not want to take the Xanax and he suggested changing the medication. For me that was not the answer. The doctor did say that there were other ways, such as seeing a therapist or reading one of the many books that were out on the subject at the time. Back then, the internet was nothing more than bulletin boards (Remember those days?) and I didn’t even own a computer. So, it was at that time in my life that I began exploring alternatives to medication.
I can say with confidence, the next several years were fairly miserable. Although I was still working, dating my then girlfriend, now wife, and enjoying life as best as I could, the attacks were worse than ever. One day while at work, I was having a particularly nasty attack and I had had enough and I went to a doctor. That doctor, prescribed me Klonopin. At that point, based on the way I felt, I was ready to take anything that was going to make my anxiety go away. Once again, the medication worked, my anxiety disappeared when I took it, but it made me feel stoned. I was dazed and mildly confused when I took klonopin. I remember sitting on my couch watching TV like a zombie after taking it. This time, after taking it five or six times, I threw the bottle away and never took it again.
Of course, I was right back to the anxiety and panic attacks. And once again, with determination, I set out to try and figure it out on my own. If you have read my story, then you know eventually I was successful and I have not had to take medication since then. But, there are a lot of people that take and even need the medication their doctor prescribes them. Everyone reacts to the medication differently and for a lot of people, it works and the side effects are negligible. What I shared with you in the beginning of this article, was simply my experience. You should never stop taking medication that your doctor prescribes you unless you first speak with your doctor.
This article, How to overcome anxiety with medication, in no way is trying to deter you from taking medication. It is very important that you see your doctor and follow their advice.
Before prescribing any medication, a doctor must conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation of a patient. Several factors may determine whether you will take medication and what type of medication will be prescribed. Some of the factors a doctor will consider are:
Previous medical history
Pre-existing medical conditions
Previous use of anti-anxiety medications and your reaction to them
Drug and/or alcohol abuse
Severity of your anxiety condition
What anxiety ldisorder you are suffering from
Are you suffering from depression
Allergies and reactions to other medications
What other medications are you currently taking
Have you been to therapy and what were the results
Antidepressants were developed for depression but have also been used to help with anxiety disorders.
Newer antidepressants called Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors alter the neurotransmitter serotonin levels in the brain, some of these are:
These drugs are commonly prescribed for panic attack disorders, OCD, PTSD and social phobias. These drugs are usually started at low dosages and then slowly increased until they have the desired effect. These drugs have fewer side effects than some of the older antidepressants. The most common side effects with these drugs are slight nausea or nervousness when you first start taking them, but the body is quick to adapt and most people stop feeling these side effects once they become used to the medication.
Tricyclics are older than SSRI’s and are used to treat various anxiety disorders. Some of these are:
These drugs are also prescribed at low dosages to see how the patient reacts to them. There are a few more side effects with tricyclic, such as dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth and weight gain. Just like the other drugs, adjustments in the dosages can help with the side effects.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are the oldest type of antidepressants. Some of these are:
People that take MAOI’s cannot eat certain foods and beverages, such as cheese and red wine. There are a list of medications that people on MAOI’s cannot take either, some of them are pain relievers, cold and allergy medications, birth control pills and certain herbal supplements. These substances can react negatively with MAOI’s and cause a dangerous spike in a person’s blood pressure.
MAOI’s and SSRI’s should also not be taken together because they can have very adverse reactions such as confusion, hallucinations, increased sweating, muscle stiffness, seizures, high blood pressure, heart rhythm and other life threatening conditions.
These are high potency benzodiazepines. The most common side effects with these drugs are drowsiness. One issue with benzodiazepines is that our bodies quickly adapt and build a tolerance to them, causing the need for a higher dosage in order to receive the same effect. Some of these are:
There are a few issues with these drugs. There may be a withdrawal period for someone that stops taking these drugs. Because of their level of addiction, they are usually prescribed for shorter periods. Because of these factors, some doctors do not like to prescribe these drugs or they prescribe them in inadequate dosages.
There is a newer drug called Buspar and it is used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is an azapirone and some of the side effects include dizziness, headaches and nausea. Unlike benzodiazepines, azapirone must be taken consistently for two weeks to be effective.
As you can see, these drugs are serious business and you must consider carefully before deciding to take any of them. Make sure and find out about all the side effects of a drug before taking it. Tell your doctor about any other medications that you are currently taking. Make sure and understand exactly how and when to take your medications. Many medications require you to taper off of them rather than stopping cold turkey, make sure you understand that. Unless specifically told to by your doctor, never take more than the prescribed dosage and never double up on your meds. If you miss a dosage, then you should wait for your next scheduled dosage and continue as normal.