Everyone experiences anxiety at one time or another. Most of the time it is a simple case of nervousness, such as sweaty palms or "butterflies in the stomach" before a job interview or giving a speech. These are normal body responses and are usually mild and manageable.
There are times, however, when anxiety can present serious problems. Anxiety disorders, in addition to generalized anxiety, include such disorders as phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies indicate that eight percent of all adults have suffered from a phobia, panic disorder or other anxiety disorder during the preceding six months. For millions of Americans, anxiety disorders are disruptive, debilitating and often the reason for loss of job and serious problems in family relationships.
Many anxiety disorders can be helped with therapy, support groups and other non-medication treatments, but when the problem is severe or with certain diagnoses, a person may require medicine to control the unrelenting and uncontrollable tension and fear that rule their lives.
Doctors can prescribe highly effective medications that relieve the fear, help end the physical symptoms such as pounding heart and shortness of breath, and give people a greater sense of control.
Psychiatrists often prescribe one of the benzodiazepines, a group of tranquilizers that can reduce debilitating symptoms and enable a person to concentrate on coping with his or her illness. With a greater sense of control, this person can learn how to reduce the stress that can trigger anxiety, developing new behaviors that will lessen the effects of the anxiety disorder.
There are two types of anxiety symptoms, the first is physical and they include
* rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
* stomach problems (gnawing feeling, "butterflies," diarrhea, irritated bowel syndrome)
* breaking out in a sweat, or feeling cold and clammy
* headaches, lightheadedness or dizziness
* bodily tension or aches
Other symptoms of anxiety are more emotional, such as:
* a general sense of apprehension and dread
* difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
If you are experiencing these symptoms and they seem unmanageable, there are some logical steps to determining the cause and treatment.
The use of medications is somewhat controversial, and you should gather information to decide if this is the best option for you. In any case, whether or not you are taking medications, you should also see a therapist to help you handle the feelings you have about events and stressors in your life.
Anti anxiety medications help to calm and relax the anxious person and remove the troubling symptoms. There are a number of anti anxiety medications currently available. The preferred medications for most anxiety disorders are the benzodiazepines. In addition to the benzodiazepines, a non-benzodiazepine, buspirone (BuSpar), is used for generalized anxiety disorders.See also Anti Depressants
The most commonly used benzodiazepines are alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), followed by chlordiazepoxide (Librium, Librax, Libritabs). Xanax has become a house hold word and arguably the most common of all anti anxiety medications. It’s possible for a Xanax user to suffer xanax withdrawal symptoms when he stops using the anti-anxiety drug.Considering that it can be dangerous to withdraw from xanax, a person who wants to quit may need to seek professional help.
Benzodiazepines are relatively fast-acting medications; in contrast, buspirone must be taken daily for 2 or 3 weeks prior to exerting its anti anxiety effect. Most benzodiazepines will begin to take effect within hours, some in even less time. Benzodiazepines differ in duration of action in different individuals; they may be taken two or three times a day, or sometimes only once a day. Dosage is generally started at a low level and gradually raised until symptoms are diminished or removed. The dosage will vary a great deal depending on the symptoms and the individual's body chemistry.
Benzodiazepines have few side effects. Drowsiness and loss of coordination are most common; fatigue and mental slowing or confusion can also occur. These effects make it dangerous to drive or operate some machinery when taking benzodiazepines especially when the patient is just beginning treatment. Other side effects are rare. Benzodiazepines combined with other medications can present a problem, notably when taken together with commonly used substances such as alcohol. It is wise to abstain from alcohol when taking benzodiazepines, as the interaction between benzodiazepines and alcohol can lead to serious and possibly life-threatening complications.
Following the doctor's instructions is important. The doctor should be informed of all other medications the patient is taking, including over-the-counter preparations.Benzodiazepines increase central nervous system depression when combined with alcohol, anesthetics, antihistamines, sedatives, muscle relaxants and some prescription pain medications. Particular benzodiazepines may influence the action of some anticonvulsant and cardiac medications. Benzodiazepines have also been associated with abnormalities in babies born to mothers who were taking these medications during pregnancy.
Each anti anxiety drug is different and it's important that you work with your doctor in finding the one that's best for you.