How do you know if a medication, or treatment, is working? There are no blood tests to let you know your anxiety is improving. Symptoms are different in each person and there are many different types of anxiety. Symptoms can be severe in some people, creating devastation in their lives, and mild in others. Monitoring the effectiveness of treatment, therefore, is difficult and different for each person.
One way to measure the success (or non-success) of a medication is to keep a daily log. There are a number of steps to setting up and maintaining a log:
Create a chart with columns and rows. Along the side of the page, list the symptoms that you experience on a regular basis. Along the top of the page, list the days of the week. Create a page for each week.
Write down between five and ten major symptoms that you have problems with on a regular basis.
An example may look like this:
• Panic Attacks
• Intense worrying
• Heart palpitations
• Stomach upset
• Intense fear
This list should be based on your specific symptoms, not the general symptoms listed for anxiety disorders. You will need to measure how the medication is working to help you cope with the daily difficulties you are experiencing.
Determine a process for measurement. One possibility is to use a score, such as from 1 to 5, with 1 being no symptoms and 5 being a high symptom day. Another possibility is to use either a + or - each day to indicate whether it was a good or bad day for that particular symptom.
Since many of the medications for anxiety can take up to several weeks for full effectiveness, begin the chart as soon as you begin medication. Hopefully, you will be able to see a decrease in symptoms.
Continue charting your progress. Bring the charts with you to your doctor’s appointments to help discuss how you are doing and whether adjustments in your medication are needed.
If your medication is changed, or if you add additional treatments, such as therapy, make sure to note this on your chart. This way, you will be able to see if there has been a difference since change was made.
By keeping track of your progress, you will be taking control of your anxiety, rather than letting it control you.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.