One way to help reduce anxiety is by using anti-anxiety medications, benzodiapines. These medications are quick-acting (usually 30 to 60 minutes) and can help lower symptoms of anxiety in a relatively short period of time, making them good at stopping panic or anxiety attacks or reducing your anxiety symptoms to allow you to participate in activities. But there are some drawbacks to using these medications. The following are 10 things you should know about these medications before you start taking them.
Everyone reacts differently to anxiety medications
Although it would seem that a medication will work the same for everyone that takes it, that is not the case. Because each person metabolizes medication differently or because medication can react with certain foods and drinks, two different people can take the same medication with different results. For some, anxiety medications work well, for others the anxiety symptoms are reduced but still there, others still may find that anxiety medications actually make them more anxious. Sometimes, it is a matter of trial and error to find the right medication and the right dosage for you.
Medication is a good short-term solution
Anxiety medications are not meant to be used indefinitely. They are meant to be short-term solutions. Behavioral strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, have been found to work better for long-term help from anxiety. This type of therapy, however, may take months or longer to provide relief from anxiety symptoms. Sometimes doctors will recommend anxiety medications to help you get the most from your therapy. As you are able to reduce symptoms based on your therapy, you can talk with your doctor about lowering your medication dose or weaning yourself off the medication.
There are many different medications available
There is not just one medication for anxiety. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin. Each of these work differently and one may work for you better than another one. All of these work by reducing brain activity and therefore make you feel calmer.
Anxiety medications may limit your other activities
Benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness, lack of energy, confusion, impaired thinking and judgment, blurred vision. These side effects may stop you from participating in other activities. You should not drive until you know how the medication will affect you. You may have problems at work or at school. You may feel sleepy or foggy.
Anxiety medications may build up in your system
This type of medication metabolizes slowly. If you are taking benzodiazepines on a daily basis, the amount of medication in your system can build up. This can cause you to be overmedicated. If this happens, you may feel as if you are drunk and others may believe you are drunk.
In a few people anxiety medications have the opposite effect
Although it does not happen often, some people find that anxiety medications have the opposite effect, making them more nervous or anxious. They may become irritable. Some people may become aggressive or hostile, have hallucinations or experience periods of mania.