How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?
Anxiety disorders are common, but people often wonder “how is anxiety treated.” And, while most of us face stress on a regular basis, it is sometimes more difficult for those who have anxiety disorders to deal with. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness. About 18.1% of the population, or 40 million adults, suffer from anxiety disorders every year.
While these disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those who suffer from them seek treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety is often treated with a combination of therapy and medications.
So, how is anxiety treated? Is it therapy, medication or both? There are several different drugs used to treat anxiety and stress-related disorders. Medications are often prescribed for short-term use or on an as-needed basis, depending on the kind of drug. Here are some of the different kinds of medications that are used for the effective treatment of anxiety and stress.
Antidepressants, specifically the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to help prevent or treat various anxiety disorders. Examples of the more commonly used SSRIs are citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. Two antidepressants, duloxetine and venlafaxine are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) act on two brain chemicals, norepinephrine and serotonin, and some tricyclic antidepressants, including imipramine can also be an effective form of treatment. SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclics will need to be taken daily, regardless of whether you have anxiety on that day.
Antihistamines and Beta-Blockers
There are some antihistamines, such as hydroxyzine, and beta-blockers like propranolol, which are usually used to treat heart conditions, can help treat a kind of social anxiety disorder called performance anxiety and mild forms of anxiety. Advantages of taking these kinds of medications are that they are only taken when you are suffering from anxiety, or right before you are going to be at an event that will provoke anxiety, such as public speaking.
There are some anticonvulsant drugs, such as gabapentin, marketed under the brand name Neurontin, and pregabalin, which is under the brand name Lyrica, have been proven to show promise in treating some kinds of anxiety, according to research studies.
If experience acute anxiety, which is in the form of panic attacks, you will most likely be prescribed some form of medication to treat anxiety as well. There are some more prominent medications that are used for immediate relief of episodes of anxiety or panic attacks. These are benzodiazepines. There are several different benzodiazepines on the market. The more common ones that are prescribed for anxiety include:
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
These kinds of drugs do have some side effects that can have a negative effect on the patient’s life, including memory problems, difficulty paying attention, drowsiness, irritability, and dizziness. Benzodiazepines do cause physical dependence, so they are highly addictive. Because they are safer taken in large doses, benzodiazepines are now prescribed more often than barbiturates.
Busprirone, whose brand name is Buspar, is another anxiety medication. With less side effects than many other drugs and no risk of becoming dependent, Buspar is a good choice for many patients. It does have its own side effects, but it might not be as effective when a patient has taken benzodiazepines for the condition in the past.
There are different kinds of therapy that are used to treat anxiety. These therapies are used in conjunction with the different kinds of medications that your physician might prescribe. Psychotherapy is sometimes used with or without medications, it is a fundamental treatment for generalized anxiety disorder.
There are several different kinds of psychotherapy used to help alleviate generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. Supportive-expressive therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy both focus on the anxiety as an outgrowth of their feelings about their most important relationships.
Biofeedback is also effective for treating anxiety, consisting of a series of therapy sessions in which you watch your own brain-wave patterns on an electroencephaolograph and learn to control the waves.
Taking Medications for Anxiety and Stress
If you are prescribed medicine for anxiety and stress, you should take it as prescribed. Don’t skip doses, increase doses, or change anything about the dosage without talking to your physician first. While some anxiety drugs are addictive, the odds of being addicted are much less if you follow your doctor’s orders. If you have any concerns about your medication or its side effects, you should talk with your doctor right away. It is better to address issues with the medication as soon as possible. You can also consider online therapy to help treat anxiety. Learn more about online therapy and in particular, online cognitive behavioral therapy.