Medication for anxiety – do they work?

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Medication for anxiety – do they work?

 Everyone worries (Anxiety) from time to time, and this is a normal human response to certain situations. It can help you to perform better. However, when your worrying becomes more pronounced and it stops you from functioning in your daily life then that is when you are more likely to seek help, and turn to your doctor for medication. There is a belief that medication will act fast to resolve the issue at hand, namely your anxiety. Medication will not act as, quickly as you may expect and you may worry ‘does my medication for anxiety- do they work!’ In reality it may take a few weeks for the effects of the medication to begin to make a difference.

Here is a brief overview about a few of the medications used in anxiety disorders. To manage anxiety symptoms.

There are certain groups of medications that are used in particular forms of anxiety:

Beta- blockers: (Propanalol) can be used with panic. They help to reduce the peripheral signs of panic for example, increased heart rate and shaking of the hands. Beta blockers are more commonly used for high blood pressure and heart conditions such as angina and irregular heart beats.


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s), citalopram, sertraline, venlaflaxine; are the more popular choice of medication as they are reported to be non addictive and have fewer side effects, some of which can be unpleasant. They improve the signalling between neurons in your brain. This form of medication can take up to 6 weeks before there are signs of benefits. There is a possibility of increased thoughts of suicide.


Anti – depressants: (Amitriptyline- also used with heart conditions), may also be prescribed as, depression may also be present with your anxiety symptoms and this may well factor in you using this form of medication.


Benzodiazepine (Diazepam) : is used less today, due to its history of being addictive. They are still in use and are said to be less addictive nowadays. They reduce anxiety quickly, however if used over a long term period they will prove difficult to be weaned off, due to their addictive nature.


Anti- psychotics: (Haloperidol), can be used in severe forms of mental distress, for example severe anxiety.


Medication has been found to work and be effective in many cases, however, they have side effects. It is not a cure for your anxiety!  Anti- anxiety medication works faster to relieve the symptoms and takes less effort than talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Medication can take up to 6 weeks before there are significant signs of benefit.

Side effects may include: dry mouth, dizziness, loss of libido and the possibility of increased thoughts of suicide.


The above is not an exhaustive account of the medication available for your anxiety symptoms. If in doubt, please speak with your doctor or psychiatrist for further information.


Anxiety covers a wide spectrum of disorders; Panic disorder, health anxiety, social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are a variety of medications that can be used and this is determined by the anxiety symptoms you are experiencing.


Medication for anxiety – do they work?

Research has found that medication for anxiety, combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) works well, to relieve your anxiety symptoms. Many clients have found that the use of CBT has allowed them to obtain a greater understanding of their condition, and, develop strategies that they can use long term. More often than not the techniques in CBT once learnt and practiced regularly help to reduce the onset and the experience of anxiety symptoms.

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Omisona Fasina
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