Medications for Anxiety, Panic and Phobias
Forty million people in the United States (U.S.) are affected by anxiety disorders, which are the most common group of mental illnesses in the country. However, only 36.9 percent of people with the condition receive treatment. Besides generalized anxiety, other anxiety disorders include phobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
We’ve all experienced “butterflies in the stomach” before giving a speech or sweaty palms during a job interview. It is a normal part of life to experience some anxiety. Additionally, some people may experience jumpiness, nausea, feelings of apprehension, irritability, uneasiness, rapid / irregular heartbeat, stomachache, faintness, and breathing problems.
There are situations where anxiety can present serious problems, even though, oftentimes, it is a mild and manageable condition. Depending on the duration and severity, anxiety can make daily life activities the activities difficult or impossible.
Phobias, which are persistent, irrational fears and are characterized by avoidance of certain objects, places and things, sometimes accompany anxiety. A panic attack is a severe form of anxiety that may occur suddenly and is marked with symptoms of nervousness, breathlessness, pounding heart and sweating. Sometimes the fear that one may die is present.
Anti-anxiety medications help to calm and relax the anxious person and remove the troubling symptoms. There are a number of anti-anxiety medications currently available.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, antidepressants are often used as the first line of treatment. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, specifically, are the most-often prescribed antidepressants. They help make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps maintain mood, become more available to the brain.
Some SSRIs used to treat chronic anxiety include paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft).
The antidepressants duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor), SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), which act on the brain chemicals serotonin and norephinephrine, may also help. Some tricyclic antidepressants like imipramine (Tofranil) can work for some people, too. Antihistamines (such as hydroxyzine) and beta-blockers (such as propranolol) can help mild cases of anxiety. SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclics each need to be taken daily, even if anxiety is not experienced all the time. It is important to follow your doctor’s dosage instructions. Antihistamines or beta-blockers are usually taken only when needed for anxiety, or immediately before an anxiety-provoking event (for example, taking propranolol shortly before giving a speech). Finally, certain anticonvulsant medicines, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica), are also beginning to show value in treating some forms of anxiety in early-stage research studies.