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Medications and Treatments for Anxiety

April 25, 2011 - 04:09 AM

When excessive worry interferes with your ability to function, then you medical doctors or psychologists may determine that you are suffering from an anxiety. If you do not respond to psychotherapy or counseling, medical doctors may prescript one of several medications. I’ve researched these meds and wish to share with you what I found out.

GABAPENTIN (brand names: Neurontin, Gabarone)

Although specifically approved only for use in the treatment of epilepsy and post-herpetic neuralgia (pain following shingles), Neurontin is widely used to treat anxiety disorders. However, although Neurontin is frequently prescribed by mental health professionals, numerous trials show that it has limited usefulness in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Gabapentin has also proven to cause weight gain, which can increase patient’s anxiety levels.

Side-effects of Neurontin based on results of clinical trials: 1 in 4 people experience dizziness, 1 in 5 experienced drowsiness. 1 in 10 people experienced infections, coordination problems, and fever. 1 in 13 experienced nausea, swelling or fluid retention in their legs, feet, arms or hands, vomiting, and unusual eye movements. Other common side effects, occurring in 1%-7% of people included: tremors, double vision, weakness, diarrhea or constipation, weight gain, changes in thinking, bronchitis, memory loss, speech problems, hot flashes and high blood sugar.

ALPRAZOLAM (brand names: Xanax)

Xanax is a short-acting drug of the benzodiazepine class. It is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. It is quite lipophilic, meaning that it quickly gets into the brain so can give immediate feelings of ease. This can be particularly useful for those who experience rare, but unexpected incidents of extreme fear or panic attacks.

However, the quicker a drug works, the more addicting it can be. If you take a pill, and it makes you feel better almost immediately, but then wears off in about 6 hours, you are starting to train your brain to be dependent on the drug. In fact, your brain makes its own natural Xanax-like substance, called GABA. This substance inhibits your brain’s natural tendency to speed up and obsess. Once you start taking one of the alprazolam type medications, your brain’s natural ability to manufacture GABA will cease to work after about a week. Once you quit taking the medication, it will take about 7 days for your brain to resume creating this natural substance. During that time you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms. In addition to the very real danger of addiction, side effects of Xanax based on clinical trials include:

76.8 percent of people experience drowsiness. 1 in 2 people experience fatigue, 1 in 3 people experience coordination problems, irritability, memory problems and increased appetite (leading to weight gain). In addition there are many more side effects that include: confusion, sexual problems, speech problems, difficulty urinating, menstrual problems, and constipation.

ESCITALOPRAM (brand names: Lexapro, Cipralex, Seroplex, Lexamil, Lexam)

Lexapro has been approved by FDA for the treatment in adults with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Lexapro is not a fast-acting drug. It normally takes 4-6 weeks before any significant alleviation of symptoms can be noticed. This drug works by balancing a naturally occurring chemical in your brain (serotonin). Serotonin is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another – the more serotonin in the space between your nerve cells, the better. This drug works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin – hence its classification of drug: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI).

Based on the results of clinical studies, you have a 1 in 4 chance that you’ll experience headaches, a one in 6 chance you’ll be nauseous, 1 in 7 chance you’ll have ejaculation problems, a 1 in 8 chance you’ll experience either extreme tiredness or insomnia (or both). In addition, 5-8% of trial subjects experienced dry mouth, increased sweating, diarrhea, decreased sex drive and orgasm problems, constipation and dizziness.

FLUOXETINE (brand names: Prozac, Sarafem) Prozac is another drug of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class: The most common use is Prozac for anxiety. Using Prozac for anxiety will help relieve certain forms of anxiety, including obsessive compulsive disorder and panic attacks. The most common use of Prozac however, is for depression. but Prozac for anxiety works by evening out the natural occurrence of chemicals that contribute to a general feeling of well-being or happiness. Like Lexapro, Prozac will take 6-8 weeks to take effect. Conversely, when you are ready to discontinue the drug, you must slowly scale back your dosage as you can experience withdrawal problems.

In clinical studies, the most common side effects of Prozac included: 1 in 3 people experience insomnia, 1 in 4 experience nausea, 1 in 5 people experience weakness and headaches, 1 in 6 people experience diarrhea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, increased anxiety and nervousness. Other symptoms experienced are: shakiness, dry mouth, decreased sex drive, yawning, indigestion, dizziness, sweating, impotence, and ejaculation problems

LORAZEPAM (brand names: Ativan, Temesta)

Ativan is part of a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. These medications work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that is naturally calming. GABA can slow down or stop certain nerve signals in the brain. As a result, Ativan has several effects on the body, including: Reducing anxiety, relaxing muscles, stopping seizures. You can take benzodiazepines as a single dose therapy or several times a day for months Side effects of Ativan: In general, there is some risk of physical and psychological dependence when taking Ativan. If you suddenly stop taking Ativan, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Be sure to follow your doctor's directions for discontinuing this medication or changing your dose. In these studies, the most common side effects of Ativan included: 1 in 6 experienced a feeling of sedation, 1 in 12 experienced dizziness. Other side effects include: weakness, unsteadiness, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, vertigo, headaches, nausea, constipation, sex drive changes, impotence and orgasm problems, hair loss, depression, suicide thoughts, increased anxiety, rage, insomnia, and hallucinations.


Whether you suffer from a specific anxiety due to a fear or worry about something in particular or just find that you will respond quite well to some form of psychotherapy. In fact, many health professionals will often recommend that you go this route first and avoid the related side effects of the medications, which I just described. However, listen to your medical doctor or psychologists before making a decision.

Hypnosis is one of non-medication techniques that is frequently recommended. It has the ability to calm the stress related to anxiety and well as significantly begin reprogramming your mind so that you can live anxiety free. I designed my ANXIETY FREE self-help CD and MP3 to do just that.


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Tags: lexapro for anxiety, neurontin anxiety, xanax for anxiety, lexapro anxiety, prozac for anxiety, atenolol anxiety, ativan anxiety

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