What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat. Everyone experiences anxiety in some form, but it becomes a disorder when symptoms interfere with daily life.
Medications for Anxiety
Medications can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and improve quality of life. The most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SSRIs are the first line of treatment for anxiety, as they tend to have fewer side effects than other medications. These medications work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, which helps to stabilize mood and reduce anxiety.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed type of medication for anxiety and include drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro. They work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, which helps to stabilize mood and reduce anxiety. Common side effects of SSRIs include nausea, weight gain, insomnia, drowsiness, and sexual side effects. Most people tolerate these medications well, but some may experience more serious side effects.
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
SNRIs are another type of medication used to treat anxiety. These medications work similarly to SSRIs, but they also increase the availability of norepinephrine in the brain. Common SNRIs include Effexor, Pristiq, and Cymbalta. Side effects of SNRIs are similar to those of SSRIs and may include nausea, weight gain, insomnia, drowsiness, and sexual side effects. SNRIs may also cause more serious side effects, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Benzodiazepines are another type of medication used to treat anxiety. These medications work by calming the body and reducing symptoms of anxiety. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Benzodiazepines are generally only prescribed for short-term use due to the risk of addiction and tolerance. Common side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, and impaired judgment.
Beta-blockers are medications that are typically used to treat high blood pressure, but they can also be used to treat anxiety. These medications work by blocking the effects of adrenaline on the body, which can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heart rate and sweating. Common beta-blockers include propranolol and atenolol. Side effects of beta-blockers include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and nausea.
Tricyclic antidepressants are an older type of medication that can be used to treat anxiety. These medications work by increasing the availability of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps to stabilize mood and reduce anxiety. Common tricyclic antidepressants include amitriptyline and nortriptyline. Side effects of tricyclic antidepressants include drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and weight gain.
Anxiety is a common and treatable condition. Medications can be an effective treatment for anxiety and can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. The most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety are SSRIs, SNRIs, benzodiazepines, beta-blockers, and tricyclic antidepressants. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of each medication with your doctor before starting treatment.