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Anxiety Treatments – What Are They?  

Anxiety treatments or stress medication is something that we may all consider at one time or another when we are under extreme stress or anxiety.

Indeed when we are experiencing physical or psychological symptoms of extreme stress it is certainly advisable to visit your doctor in the first instance.

It is important to rule out any other underlining illness before determining that your symptoms are caused by stress.

When treating anxiety or stress once diagnosed it is understood that stress management is by far the best option and you will find many pages here covering coping with stress and stress relief techniques.

However, there may be times in our lives when our stress and anxiety levels are so high that we require amore dramatic intervention to reduce the distressing symptoms, this is where anxiety treatments come in.

Fear of Taking Medication For Stress

Many people fear being prescribed medications for anxiety relief as in the past some of the medicines prescribed had a bad reputation.

Drugs such as Valium and barbiturates were unfortunately over prescribed and misused when they originally came about, causing addiction and other unpleasant side effects.

However things have moved on now and we have a better understanding of how these drugs work and how they should be used. So even Valium and barbiturates have their place if they are prescribed correctly and are used for short periods of time, providing benefits for the patients.

If you are prescribed any form of medication for the treatment of stress, always take the time to discuss everything with your doctor.  Your doctor should be happy to answer all of your questions.

Types of Anxiety Treatments

There are many different types of stress medication available and it is important to understand a little about what they are, so that you can take control of your own situation and manage your stress better.

Tranquilizers

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are gamma aminobutyric acid inhibitors, in plain language they are muscle relaxants.

These anxiety treatments work in areas or the brain known as benzodiazepine receptors. The drugs bind to these receptors which causes the natural brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)to increase and this in turn slows down brain activity.

These include:

  • Diazepam (commonly known as Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Oxazepam

Pros

  • They relieve symptoms quickly and so allow the patient to start to tackle the cause of their stress and anxiety through other therapeutic methods.

Cons

  • Drowsiness
  • May cause slight depression and so should not be taken by someone already suffering from depression.
  • Addictive in the long term
  • It has been reported that the use of these types of drugs are not effective after four months of use.

Antidepressant Drugs

Tricylics

These drugs were discovered in the 1950’s and are known collectively as TCA’s. They are amongst the most effective type of antidepressant but between 10 to 20 percent of people do not respond at all to the drug.

Used to treat panic disorders, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders amongst others.

Types of Tricyclics:

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Dosulepin/Dothiepin (Prothiaden)
  • Trimipramine (Surmontil)
  • Trazodone (Molipaxin)

Pros

  • Not considered to be addictive

Cons

  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty passing water
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Loss of libido
  • Rapid heartbeat

**Most of these should subside within a few weeks

Azapirones

These drugs contain a anti anxiety agent known as Buspirone. This agent works on the serotonin system and so is used to treat cases of depression where other drugs have failed to help.

An anxiolytic drug which activates serotonin in the brain to induce a lighter or happier mood.

Pros

  • Reduces symptoms without mental impairment
  • non addictive

Cons

  • Can take 12 to 14 days before any affects are seen.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

These drugs were first introduced during the 1980’s and are considered to be safer than the older antidepressants.

Types:

  • Citalopram (Cipramil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Fluvoxamine (Faverin)
  • Paroxetine (Seroxat)
  • Sertraline (Lustral)

Pros

  • Causes less drowsiness 
  • Can be taken by people suffering from depression
  • Can help to lift mood
  • Effective anti depressant treatment

Cons

  • Agitation may be experienced when first taken
  • Can cause restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea 
  • Nausea
  • Loss or libido can also be experienced by some patients for the whole time they are taking the drug.

Other Anxiety Treatments

Propanolol – used where stress is affecting performance

Analgesics, antispasmodics or gastric inhibitors – used where particular physical stress symptoms are being displayed.

Beta Blockers - Used to reduce the flight or fight reaction caused by the noradrenaline hormone which can be over stimulated and results in anxiety.


Doctors will only prescribe these types of medication if they feel that you need some time out from your stress so that you can find a long term solution. 

The first thing your doctor may do when presented with someone who is complaining of stress or anxiety is to get the patient to understand more about stress and also to get them talking about their lifestyle and possible causes of stress.  

After this they will make some suggestions on how to cope with stress so that it is managed to prevent further illness. Learning to manage your stress will be an important part of your anxiety treatments. This web site provides much of this advice and guidance also.


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