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Taking Medication for Anxiety

Your doctor has given you medication for anxiety. You may not know much about the different types of medication out there. You’re concerned about possible side effects and problems reported in the news about some of the medications. What are the risks, the side effects and the benefits of taking medications for anxiety?

First, Let’s Talk about Antidepressants

Originally, antidepressants were used to just treat depression. It was discovered though that the drug could also help people with anxiety disorders. Therefore, to treat panic disorders Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil or Celexa can be prescribed. To treat generalized anxiety disorders, Effexor or Wellbutin is used sometimes. These medications are started at a low dose and then gradually increased. The side effects can be varied such as: nausea, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, weight gain and more. Tofranil is a tricyclic antidepressant and is used both for GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) and panic disorders. Anafranil is used for treatment of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Both of these medications are started at low dosages. If more is needed, then the dosage is increased over a period of time.

MAOI’s Can Be Used for Treatment of Anxiety

These drugs are Nardil, Parnate, and Marplan. When you are prescribed any of these drugs you have to be careful to avoid certain foods and other medications that can interact dangerously with them in your body.


Other types of medications for anxiety are the Benzodiazepines. These do work more quickly than the antidepressants. For social phobia and GAD, Klonopin may be prescribed for you. Ativan is used to treat panic disorders. Xanax can be used to treat both panic disorders and GAD. Buspar is used to treat GAD but it takes 2 weeks to begin to work. One of the issues with the Benzodiazepines drugs is that they can be addicting. If taken over a long period of time, the drug tolerance builds up and you may need a higher and higher dose to achieve the same effect. Most doctors, therefore, will prescribe these medications for anxiety for short periods of time. Other more common side effects of these drugs are drowsiness and dizziness. There may also cause an upset stomach, blurred vision, headaches and nightmares.

Beta blockers

Beta blockers are other medicines for anxiety use. This medication will block some of the physical systems of anxiety like trembling and sweating. The side effects of this medication are fatigue, cold hands, dizziness or weakness. These are taken on a short term basis too and should be stopped slowly and under your doctor’s supervision.

You and Your Doctor

If you choose to take a medication for anxiety, talk to your doctor; tell your doctor about your concerns. See if together you can come up with a medication which works for you and has little if any side effects. It’s your body, your voice and you have a right to be heard.

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