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Anxiety: Is medication for you?

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By Mikaela Hoover

The most important thing to do when considering whether medication is right for you, is to talk to your doctor. Sometimes you can misdiagnose yourself, and your doctor can help correct that.

According to researchers at anxiety.org, there are four kinds of medications that can be prescribed for anxiety disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s’) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s) are the two most common. The third is a beta blocker (like Propranolol), which is intended to reduce the fight-or-flight response. Beta blockers are often not the first choice, because they are mainly used to stop a second heart attack. In some cases, though, it can help tremendously. Benzodiazepines are the fourth kind. Benzodiazepines are a category of drugs classified as depressants. They affect the central nervous system and treat insomnia, anxiety and seizure disorders. They’re some of the most prescribed medications in the world, like Valium and Xanax. As noted at anxiety.org, people can easily become dependent on Benzodiazepines. Doctors need to be extremely careful when prescribing these drugs.

Another important thing to discuss with your doctor is what time frame you’re looking at. Do you want short term relief? Long term? Do you need it only for certain situations, or all the time? Some medications can only be used for a few weeks, and others you need four to six weeks until it begins to work.

“Sometimes medicine helps. I am on an antidepressant and a muscle relaxer in case I can’t come down.” Anna Rath, 20-year-old Scott Community College student says.

Researchers at anxiety.org urges you to consider the effect medication could take on therapy. If you participate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a form of therapy that focuses on changing thoughts, interpretations of experiences, and behavior, medication could have an effect on your progress. Always consult with your doctor before changing your routine.

When talking to your doctor, remember to ask about the side effects of medication. Common side effects of anti-anxiety medication are upset stomach, confusion, sexual dysfunction and muscle weakness. Keep in mind that your body uses its neurotransmitters for multiple things. Neurotransmitters are a chemical that allows your neurons to communicate with each other. That means if you begin taking a medication that influences your neurotransmitters, it could influence them to change elsewhere as well. It is also possible that once certain levels are changed in some neurotransmitters, other neurotransmitter levels can change as well. That makes it difficult to use a medication that make one change in the brain without making another.

Each one of these medications attempts to reduce anxiety in a different way. Discussing the pros and cons of medication with your doctor is the best path to take.

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Anxiety: Is medication for you?