Drugs for Anxiety - Should You Take Drugs for Your Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety Disorders » Drugs for Anxiety Should You Take Drugs for Your Anxiety Disorder?
Drugs for Anxiety Should You Take Drugs for Your Anxiety Disorder?
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The pros and cons of taking psychoactive drugs
What are the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs
How nature has her own anxiety busters
Anxiety disorders were not built in a day, but pile up after years of stress, maladaptive thinking and poor coping skills. As such, it may take some time to reprogram your brain out of the jittery mode.
Treating Your Anxiety Disorder with Drugs:
Drugs, both prescription and natural, change your brains biochemistry, providing quick relief from overwhelming angst and helping you cope better with your nervousness.
Thirty years ago, anxiety sufferers relied primarily on Valium, which left them zonked and, as it turned out, dependent.
Today, you can get quick help from intolerable panic from a variety of magic bullets, called psychoactive drugs, including anti-depressants as well as anti-anxiety drugs. But that option is open, should you and your physician or psychotherapist decide that this is your best route.
In this post I discuss the pros and cons of drug use to help you decide if you would like to take that route.
If you are leery about using prescription drugs, consider zapping your anxiety via the natural drug route. Some people find herbs such as Kava, a natural tranquilizer, as effective in treating anxiety.
Should You Take Drugs for Your Anxiety?
Barbara, a 43-year-old nurse who worked the night shift, started to feel terrifying panic attacks when driving her car to the hospital. Suddenly, she would feel as if shed forgotten how to use the steering wheel and constantly worried about swerving into another car. She switched to taking the bus, though the route went through dingy, run-down neighborhoods and took her twice as long.
When she got home, she was too jumpy to fall asleep. She also found herself increasingly short with her patients and family. Then, she experienced panic attacks when taking the elevator in the hospital. Since she worked on the sixth floor, she feared she might have to give up her job altogether.
At her wits end, her physician prescribed Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, along with Prozac, an antidepressant. Though generally opposed to taking prescription medication, she felt that her suffering was intolerable. Within two weeks time, the panic attacks ceased. She was able to drive to work, take the elevator without trepidation, and to sleep better.
So, Should You Take Drugs for Your Anxiety?
If you suffer from anxiety, one of your toughest decisions is to swallow the pill or to go drug free. Why suffer needlessly, some say? Drugs will quickly alleviate your symptoms, as they did for Barbara.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, say the naturalists, because with drugs can come unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects, possible dependency, head fogginess and the feeling that the drug, not you, is in control of your behavior. What to do?
If you look to the experts, dont expect easy answers. In the tug of war between the mind and the body, psychologists, psychiatrists and physicians often lock horns as to the role of each in causing anxiety disorders.
Some say that anxiety disorders are chiefly biological, making drug therapy the logical primary treatment.
Others say that anxiety disorders are primarily psychological and maintain that effective psychotherapy render drugs unnecessary. While still others caution that the causes of anxiety disorders are too intertwined to be teased out, suggesting that a combination of drugs and psychotherapy would work best.
In making your decision, be suspicious of extremists at either end. Where theres body theres mind and vice-versa: behavior is biological and psychological (try laughing or crying without using your body!).
Changes in how one functions produces changes in the other. A sense of balance, of being in that just right zone, happens when you feel physically at ease and mentally alert. When your biochemistry is out of whack, so are you: depressed when understimulated; anxious when overstimulated.
People dont will themselves bold or cautious, but are born that way. The National Cancer Institute has uncovered two distinct temperamental genes: one for novelty seeking, for people who plunge right into the water; and one for harm avoidance, for people who toe the water first and then gingerly step in.
Drugs work by altering biochemistry, coaxing our brain out of feeling fearful or sad, and they do it quicker than other therapeutic interventions. Theres good reason for that.
In the anxiety prone, and especially with panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, a biological imbalance—too little of this chemical, too much of that chemical—appears to be what sets off our symptoms.
Colluding with this imbalance are maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behavior that feed our biological vulnerability to overreact and perpetuate our symptoms.
But our unique biochemical make-up appears to determine how our symptoms manifest themselves, whether it be in the form of panic, compulsive hand-washing, drug addiction, violence, or whatever.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking Drugs:
Now that youve gotten an overview of todays wonder drugs, what are the advantages and disadvantages of taking them? Its a tough decision because, although medication can be helpful, there are always risk factors.
You and your doctor need to weigh the risks and the benefits of any drug, and whether it makes sense given your particular symptoms. Here are advantages and disadvantages of drug use.
Much of the time they work.
Rather than diminish control, the drug helps some patients gain control.
If started at a low dose, the risk of side effects is minimal.
Since panic attacks have a biological origin, a biological intervention seems reasonable and appropriate.
Given their potential for side effects and dependency, psychoactive drugs should be taken only under medical supervision.
There are side effects during the first week or two of usage, though starting off with low dosages and gradually increasing the dosage minimizes these.
They typically take four to six weeks to take effect, except for Benzodiazepines.
You may have to experiment before you find a drug and dosage that works for you.
Fifty percent of people experience a relapse of panic attacks after discontinuing use of anti-depressants.
Though not physically addicting, they can create psychological dependency.
Many people overcome panic attacks and phobias without their use.
In deciding whether or not to self-medicate, try not to be swayed by anothers claim to have overcome anxiety without drug use. True, people are capable of balancing mind and body without drug intervention.
Some yogis and monks can even control physiological factors like body temperature. And recently psychological intervention alone was shown to eventually produce changes in brain chemistry in OCD.
But individuals differ. Needing chemical support is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it may indicate strength, since you are willing to take steps toward easing your suffering, which is not your fault.
Each persons situation is a compilation of individual biochemistry, inborn temperament, and childhood and life experiences, the sum total of which differs from anyone elses. As such, each of us copes differently with lifes stresses.
Whats important is to find the regimen that works best for you. Drugs are especially recommended if you find yourself so overwhelmed with anxiety that you are unable to function.
If you do decide to use drugs, most professionals in the field recommend that you do so as part of a total therapeutic program. Though drugs will block symptoms, they will not address the underlying issues and problems that produced your anxiety to begin with.
Moreover, without therapeutic intervention designed to teach better coping skills, symptoms often return after discontinuation. This can be demoralizing and leave you nothing within yourself to fall back upon.
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