Best Medication For Panic Attacks And Anxiety – Are anti-anxiety medications appropriate? Learn about common side effects, risks, and how to take anxiety medications responsibly—including benzodiazepines like Xanax, beta blockers, hydroxyzine, and antidepressants.
When you’re in a crushing panic, paralyzed with anxiety, or exhausted from yet another sleepless night worrying, you’ll do almost anything to relax. And there’s no doubt that when anxiety gets in the way, medication can help. But are drugs always the best answer?
Best Medication For Panic Attacks And Anxiety
Many types of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines (often prescribed for short-term use) and newer options such as SSRI antidepressants (often used as an anti-anxiety solution). duration). These medications may provide temporary relief, but they also come with side effects and safety concerns—some of which are significant.
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They are not medicines either. In fact, there are many questions about their long-term effectiveness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their anti-anxiety therapeutic effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use. And a review was recently announced
Found that the effectiveness of SSRIs in the treatment of anxiety was overestimated and in some cases no better than placebo.
However, it can be very difficult to take anxiety medication without severe withdrawal, including recurring anxiety that may be worse than your original problem.
So where does that leave you if you suffer? Even if anxiety relief comes with side effects and risks, it can still seem like a fair trade-off if panic and anxiety rule your life.
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The bottom line is that there is a time and a place for dealing with anxiety. If you have severe anxiety that can cause you to function, medication can help – especially as a short-term treatment. However, many people use anti-anxiety medications when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies will work just as well or better, the downsides.
Anxiety medications can relieve symptoms, but they are not right for everyone and are not the only answer. It is up to you to weigh your options and decide what is best for you.
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Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most commonly prescribed type of anxiety medication. Medications such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, usually providing relief within 30 minutes to an hour. This makes them very effective when taken during a panic attack or other episode of extreme anxiety. However, they are physically addictive and are not recommended for long-term treatment.
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Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the nervous system, helping you to relax both physically and mentally. But it can also cause unwanted side effects. The higher the dose, the worse these side effects tend to be – although some people feel drowsy, foggy and uncoordinated even at low doses. This can cause problems with work, school or daily activities such as driving. The pain from the medicine may continue the next day.
According to the FDA, benzodiazepines can worsen previous episodes of depression, and more recent studies show that they can cause treatment-resistant depression. In addition, benzodiazepines can cause emotional disturbance or helplessness and increase suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Benzodiazepines are generally not recommended for long-term use because of safety concerns and the risk of abuse increases if you develop a tolerance to the drug.
When taken regularly, benzodiazepines lead to physical dependence and tolerance, with larger doses required to obtain the same anxiety relief as before. This happens quickly – usually within a few months, but sometimes after a few weeks.
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Many people mistake withdrawal symptoms for a return to their original state of anxiety, leading them to think that they need to start the drug again. Gradually reducing the medication will help reduce the withdrawal reaction.
While benzodiazepines are relatively safe when taken only occasionally and in small doses, they can be dangerous and even fatal when combined with other central nervous system depressants. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine.
Do not mix with pain relievers or sleeping pills. Taking prescription benzodiazepines for pain or sleeping pills can also cause a fatal overdose.
Antihistamines improve their effect. Antihistamines — found in many over-the-counter sleep, cold and allergy medications — are sedatives in their own right. Be careful when mixing with benzodiazepines to avoid overdose.
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Be careful when taking antidepressants. SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft may increase benzodiazepine toxicity. You may need to adjust the enclosure.
Benzodiazepines work because they slow down the nervous system. But sometimes, for reasons that are not well understood, they backfire. Paradoxical reactions are most common in children, the elderly and people with developmental disabilities. They include:
Anyone who takes benzodiazepines can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But some people have a higher risk:
People over 65 years old. Elderly people are more sensitive to the effects of inhaled benzodiazepines. Even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that manifests as dementia. Benzodiazepine use in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, fractures and sprains, and car accidents. Long-term use of benzodiazepines also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
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People with a history of substance abuse. Because they are physically addictive and dangerous on their own and in combination with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or past drug problem should use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution.
Pregnant and lactating women. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to attachment to the developing baby, with withdrawal after birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women should have a detailed discussion with their doctor about the risks and benefits of these drugs. If medication is needed, aim for the lowest effective dose.
Benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness and poor coordination, which increases the risk of accidents at home, at work and on the road. Be very careful when taking benzodiazepines while driving, operating machinery, or doing anything else that requires physical coordination.
Many medications originally approved to treat depression are also prescribed for anxiety. Compared to benzodiazepines, the risk of dependence and abuse is lower. However, antidepressants take up to 4 to 6 weeks to begin to relieve anxiety symptoms, so they cannot be taken “as needed.” Their use is limited to chronic anxiety disorders that require long-term treatment.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
The most common antidepressants for anxiety are SSRIs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa. SSRIs are used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although physical dependence does not develop as quickly with antidepressants, withdrawal can still be a problem. If you stop too soon, stopping the antidepressant can cause symptoms such as severe depression and fatigue, irritability, anxiety, flu-like symptoms and insomnia.
Antidepressants can worsen depression in some people instead of improving it, leading to an increased risk of suicidal, hostile and even homicidal behavior. Although this is especially true for children and adults, anyone taking antidepressants should be carefully monitored. Monitoring is especially important if this is the first time a person has taken an antidepressant or if the dose has recently changed.
Symptoms that the drug worsens include anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, hostility, restlessness, and extreme agitation—especially if symptoms suddenly or rapidly worsen. If you notice warning signs in yourself or a loved one, contact a doctor or therapist immediately.
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If you are worried that a friend or family member is considering suicide, see Suicide prevention. The risk of suicide is highest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.
Buspirone, also known by the brand name BuSpar, is a newer anti-anxiety medication that acts as a mild sedative. Buspirone reduces anxiety by increasing serotonin in the brain – similar to SSRIs – and decreasing dopamine. Compared to benzodiazepines, buspirone is slow acting, taking about two weeks to start working. However, it is not as sedating, does not affect memory or coordination, and withdrawal effects are minimal.
Because the risk of addiction is low and there are no serious side effects, buspirone is a better option for the elderly and people with a history of substance abuse. However, its effect is limited. It works for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but does not seem to help other types of anxiety disorders.
Beta blockers — including drugs like propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin) — are a type of medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems. However, they are also cited for off-label risk. Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response. This helps to control the physical symptoms of anxiety such as heart rate, shaky voice, sweating, dizziness and trembling hands.
Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety And Panic Attacks
Because beta blockers do not affect emotional symptoms such as anxiety, they are very useful for phobias, especially social phobia and performance anxiety. If you are expecting a certain anxiety-provoking situation (such as giving a speech), taking a beta-blocker first can help reduce your “nerves”.
Bupropion (known by the brand names Wellbutrin, Forfivo, and Zyban) is an antidepressant. However, there is some evidence that it may also be a useful treatment option for anxiety and panic disorders.
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