Medicine for Anxiety

Are You Deciding Whether to Use Medication for Anxiety?

Today, we are joining the American Psychological Association Mental Health Blog Party, trying to decrease stigma and bring public awareness to mental health issues. Anxiety medication and deciding whether to medicate your anxiety are important issues!

Many people ask my recommendation when deciding to use drugs to manage their or their children's anxiety symptoms. I cannot give a recommendation since I am not an MD but I do have an opinion!

The best way to make this decision is to weigh the risks and benefits of taking the medication. And to do this, you'll need to gather some basic information.

Which Medications Are Used to Treat Anxiety?

Learn how to decide whether anxiety medication is right for youThe most often prescribed medication for anxiety are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), also known as "antidepressants." SSRIs like Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft take a few weeks to start working and many people have great luck with them. For some people, anxiety increases in the first few weeks of taking an antidepressant, but is relieved thereafter.

SSRIs have been around for 60 years and are considered to have fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants.

Another type of medication is called benzodiazepines, which go to work to relieve anxiety almost immediately after they are taken. These include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) You can find a complete list of anxiety medications here. These work within 15 minutes or so by slowing down brain activity. Don't operate a vehicle with these medicines, please!

All of these medications have some side effects, which can show up differently for each person. (Always consult your doctor when you are going off them.) While there is a general way they work, each person feels them differently. Often people find out what is right for them through trial and error. Talk to you doctor about this!

Remember: Medication is Not an Anxiety Cure

It just stops the symptoms. If the risks of anxiety are so high (you cannot function, leave your house, or want to die), medication might be a great way to take the edge off so you are able to work on your anxiety. Also, knowing you have an anti-anxiety medicine to take if need be, can take some of the fear of anxiety away. So its presence can help whether you take it or not.

Chemical Imbalance Myth

Pharmaceutical companies want us to believe that we have a chemical imbalance in our brain and we need medication like a diabetic needs insulin. This is a marketing tactic. It has done great things to reduce stigma, but it also makes people think they cannot get rid of their anxiety on their own.

In reality, our brain chemicals are changing constantly, every moment, according to our mood and body’s reaction to stimuli. “Balance” is a relative word. Yes, these medicines act on that chemistry, and in most incidences improve our mood, but we can also change our brain chemistry with our thoughts, nutrition, and actions.

There are also herbal supplements for anxiety you might want to consider and other activities to do to help get rid of anxiety.

What do you think about taking medicine for anxiety?

By Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
and here: Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog,
share here: Twitter@JodiAman, Google+
inspire here: Facebook: Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace,
Get my free E-book: What Is UP In Your DOWN? Being Grateful in 7 Easy Steps.

APA Reference
Lobozzo, J. (2012, May 16). Medicine for Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

Evelyn Cle
October, 10 2018 at 9:00 pm

Hi, I got my anxiety after my divorce. Today my anxiety is the worse ever been so far. I can't drive not even to the store even worse to work. The doctor gave me Xanax even when I told her my anxiety situation. I need something that it will calm me down but at the same I can drive. Please help me find something.

December, 1 2015 at 10:58 pm

Hey.I'm a 100% non synthetically-medicated piohcytsc kid. Diagnosed schizophrenic and have very serious positive symptoms and equally horrible negative symptoms. Here is what I do to keep on top of the depression that is one of my negative symptoms.1) Omega 3 Fish Oil. You may have to buy a brand manufactured for kids because adult brands don't tend to be filtered for mercury and you DEFINITELY want a mercury-free product. 2) Multi-vitamins. Take something with a very high iron, vitamin D and magnesium.3) Exercise. If you're overweight, a healthier bodyweight will help you out. If you're not, exercise will still release endorphins. Personally when I'm at my worst I do yoga from flashcards, (this is when I cannot leave the house) boxing, and jumping jacks while a music channel (usually rock but I figure anything with a good beat that you like listening to when you're happy will work) is on. I also go running, when I'm not as bad, usually in a forest on warm days or at a beach on cold days, somewhere where I'll be alone with nature and my ipod. 4) Music. I mentioned the music channel & ipod above, but I also blare Queen, Bowling for Soup, Blink-182 and the All-American Rejects (aka nobody who sings about death, depression, suicide, sadness, or has a downbeat - less than 4/4 - track) and I HATE IT. It makes me MAD and MAD is better than depressed. It is more productive. ;]5) I force myself to do things I enjoy when I'm happy. I take a shower with the nice smelling soap and warm my towels on the radiator, I watch the funny episodes of Firefly and my favourite films and read magazines and This Book Will Save Your Life (A.M Homes - it's my favourite book). And if that sucks, I do the laundry and hoover. For me what works is just keeping moving. Then even if my whole day sucks and I can't bear it, the next day I can wake up to something good I've done and maybe feel better for it - or I have fond memories of my favourite movie etc.6) My favourite one - I read a book I've written. It's a big old book that I bought ages ago and when I'm happy, I write things I like in the book. Stupid stuff like, Xander from Buffy, and the sound from line arrays, and Diamond 4's, and sherbert lemons, and Harry Potter 1, and Gandhi quotes, things that have no consequence. If I'm only mildly down, it can get me back up.7) Meditation. Just sit quietly and concentrate on not concentrating on anything. If that makes sense. Don't allow yourself to have thoughts. Let your only thought be the thought that stops you thinking about anything. It sounds complex but you probably get my meaning. I like to meditate either in the dark in my room but the sunlight is good for depression so I force myself to sit in the middle of the living room with all the shades open in the sunlight. Therapy. Not from a councillor - from a psychologist, in particular a psychologist who is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist - these people are like GOLDDUST. They will teach you how to get through your worst moments and help you tailor your recovery techniques to your own personality. Plus, they're also usually really cool not-up-themselves people. Interview a few different psych's if you can, and if they're in an office and wearing a suit, don't bother. Find someone who wears jeans and listens to the music you like and likes the TV shows you like, so you geniunely like their company and that way, you'll get a lot more out of your time with them - it'll be more friendly and less clinical. And that in itself will lift your mood.Please bear in mind that the most important thing to have to get over depression without meds is psychological resilience. You need to be the type of depressed person who says, this sucks, but I WILL GET THROUGH THIS. I WILL NOT GIVE UP.. I WILL FORCE MYSELF THROUGH THIS. If you're prone to giving up (I am not saying this is something to be ashamed of, it's just something to be honest about - I understand fully that being a can't-be-f*cking-bothered/don't-want-to-can't-make-me depressive is horrific and not something the depressive can help) you may have to come to terms with the fact that you may need a low dosage of meds (Citalopram is good in low doses) to get you through, and you may have to rely more heavily on therapy. Either way, get a CBT and remember you are not alone, and you should never give up on yourself.'When all you've got to keep is strong, move along. And even when your hope is gone, move along.'Good luck. Was this answer helpful?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 2 2015 at 11:54 am

Hello Karas,
Thank you for your very informative, very helpful comment. You've shared a lot of practical ideas that are very likely going to help/inspire many readers.

Questions About Panic Attacks - Center for Narrative Practice
November, 21 2012 at 8:40 am

[...] Anxiety medicine is only one way. Other ways are distraction, breathing, and making new meaning out of them. [...]

Questions About Panic Attacks | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog
November, 21 2012 at 5:40 am

[...] Anxiety medicine is only one way. Other ways are distraction, breathing, and making new meaning out of them. [...]

Stigma of Mental Illness | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog
October, 10 2012 at 6:47 am

[...] of people. I just have a problem with defining people by saying they “need” it. When deciding about medication, it important to look at the risks and benefits. ”Needing” the medication is what [...]

Recovery Peer Specialists CRPS » Blog Archive » I’m Blogging About Bloggers Who Blogged Today For Mental Health And the APA Blog Party
May, 16 2012 at 6:11 pm

[...] (a HealthyPlace blog) – Are You Deciding Whether to Use Medication for [...]

Joanne Shortell
May, 16 2012 at 1:33 pm

"SSRIs have been around for 60 years and are considered to have few side effects. (This is relative to other medications that have more side effects.)?????? According to whom and what other medications are they being compared to that have more side effects? antidepressants all have significant side effects,some are serious and may cause health problems that persist after the drug is discontinued (e.g., triggering mania) and some are life threatening (e.g., increased risk of suicide). This is not to say that no one should take them, but they are already overprescribed and people should not be misled about potential risks.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 16 2012 at 1:51 pm

I agree they are overprescribed. You misunderstand me, we are essentially saying the same thing. I was saying that many doctors tout that they have "low side effects." I wanted people to know this is relative. This doesn't mean they have low side effects, this means compared to something like chemo that has high side effects. So they could potentially have risky side effects, but by Western Medicine standard it is low. I wanted to make the point that this doesn't mean much to an individual where the side effects could be high risk, so that each person has to weigh the risk for themselves. I am telling them not to be misled about risks.
Thanks so much for your comment, it tells me I have to be clearer in my delivery!

Dr Musli Ferati
May, 16 2012 at 12:56 pm

Didactical and provocative article on anxiety is the above writing. My steady psychiatric work-out exhibits many veracity suggestion that are developed in simply and understand way in this monumental observation. Indeed, the medication of anxiety indicates the primary psychiatric treatment, but implicates many consequences if patient didn't make any change in its daily functioning. First of all, every psychiatrist should to explain in comprehensive manner the causes and the way of development of anxiety disorder to respective anxiety patient. In parallel of subscription of antianxiety medication, it is necessary to advice the patient for some change in lifestyle that could help to overcome common life strength and difficulties. Without these psycho-social interventions, the outcome of psychopharmacological treatment would be somewhat a type of psychotropic addiction.

May, 16 2012 at 12:50 pm

Thank you very much Jodi for this post. It is a subject I need to know more about because although I have been prescribed medication since over 30 years ago, I never took them long enough except for the last big relapse in 2007.Since 2007, I changed doctors, treatments, tried all kind of different medications. I have stopped them all gradually since Christmas.I took the decision as a reaction to something my doctor told me (criticizing the way i was feeling, telling me that a clever person like me shouldn't feel down), and I don't regret the decision although I feel a little guilty about it. I don't feel better nor worse.This post is freeing me from that guilt, because I did replace medication with many other things that are helping me better. Thank you <3

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 16 2012 at 1:25 pm

I am glad you felt a release of guilt, that's how I meant it!

Mental Health Month Blog Party 2012 – Round Up | Your Mind Your Body
May, 16 2012 at 11:10 am

[...] (a HealthyPlace blog) – Are You Deciding Whether to Use Medication for [...]

Leave a reply