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What you should know about anxiety medication

Anxiety medications have a calming and relaxing effect that has made them very popularfor relieving symptoms of anxiety. However, like most other types of medication, anxiety medication also come with side effects and some safety concerns, such as addiction. Here is what you should know about anxiety disorders and ways of managing them.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is usually mild and easily manageable, but sometimes it can be severe and cause serious problems. People with prolonged, high levels of anxiety often find it difficult or even impossible to carry out their normal day to day activities. Those with anxiety may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or more specific anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic. These anxiety disorders are effectively treated with anti depressants and other anti anxiety medication.

Common anti anxiety medication

Medication like tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine (Anafranil), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and fluvoxamine (Luvox) are often effectively used to treat OCD. Panic attacks can be treated successfully with Paroxetine, while social anxiety disorder (social phobia) can be treated with Paroxetine. GAD is treated with Venlafaxine (Effexor). These medicines are often quite effective, but they come with some risks and should not be thought of as a cure.

Risks of taking anxiety medication

Anxiety medicines only provide temporary relief. They do not heal the underlying cause(s) of anxiety and, therefore, can’t cure anxiety disorders. Once you stop taking the medication, anxiety symptoms will likely return in full force. Anti anxiety drugs can also cause a wide range of unpleasant side effects, including light-headedness, nausea and unusually slow pulse. Moreover, many anxiety medicines are habit forming and physically addictive. You might find it difficult to stop taking the drugs once you start using them to fight anxiety.

Alternative anxiety treatment approach

If you have severe anxiety that is interfering with your ability to carry out your day to day activities, prescribed anxiety medication may be right for you to help you get on with life. However, if your anxiety is mild, you can manage it better without taking medication. Regular exercise, therapy and self-help strategies work just as well as anti-anxiety drugs, albeit without unpleasant side effects and risks. Try this alternative treatment approach in addition to or instead of medications whenever you can.

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