Anxiety Medication and Therapy
There are many different anxiety medications available. These medications have generally proven benefits for relieving anxiety symptoms – particularly for severe anxiety – although many come at a cost, since in order to treat your anxiety they need to alter your brain chemistry in a way that many people find problematic.
Medication in anxiety treatment is generally safe and effective and is often used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Medication for anxiety may be a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on severity of symptoms, other medical conditions, and other individual circumstances. However, it often takes time and patience to find the drug that works best for you and it it is always meant to be in conjunction with anxiety therapy.
Although prescription medications are the fastest method of treating anxiety disorders, they can have numerous side effects and consequences. Patients can easily become dependent on tranquilizers and sedatives, such as the benzodiazepines Atavin and Xanax, because of the sense of calm they produce.
Anti-depressants like Prozac and Zoloft, while not habit-forming, may cause a variety of physical side effects such as weight gain, insomnia, upset stomach, and diminished sexual appetite. These drugs can, when taken correctly, help sufferers of anxiety disorders to feel better, but most experts agree that for long-term improvement, patients should combine use of pharmaceuticals with psychotherapy.
Side-effects of Medication for Anxiety
Although medication for anxiety can be useful in treating many anxiety disorders, it can produce side-effects worse than the condition they are intended to treat. For example, benzodiazepines (Ativan, Librium, Tranxene, Centrax, Klonopin, Paxipam, Serax, Valium, Xanax) are often used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia.
Known adverse reactions from these class of drugs include increased aggressiveness, depression, and personality changes/ Long term effects include depression, aggression, phobias, OCD, and dependence and possible withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued. Additionally, benzodiazepines can impair memory, especially the ability to store acquired knowledge in long-term memory.
The other class of medication for anxiety are antidepressants, most notable tricyclics, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs).
The list of side-effects from these drugs is long, including mild nausea, sexual dysfunction, headaches, diarrhea, sleep disturbances, drowsiness, anxiety, brainfog, inability to concentrate normally, restlessness, and trembling. Due to the side-effects, many people choose to try alternative methods first before resorting to these medications.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
I use a combination of different psychotherapeutic approaches and natural methods to help anxiety disorders. Research has shown that natural methods of treatment can be particularly effective in treating anxiety when combined with psychotherapy. I extensively studied these therapies while earning my Doctorate in Naturopathy.
With support, education, and modification of behaviors and lifestyle, many people enjoy long-term success. My book Healing & Wholeness: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Mental Health explains how the powerful combination of psychotherapy and natural methods helps people to recover from anxiety quickly and appreciate lasting results. When medications must be used, natural therapies can often help to reduce side effects.