Have you ever had that familiar and unpleasant feeling, you can feel your heart racing, temporarily paralyzed by an overwhelming feeling of fear of the impending doom, discomfort, and inability to maintain focus, a disabling mental condition that takes over your consciousness and fills you with fear, worry, and restlessness? Yes, that sounds very much like an anxiety problem.
Anxiety disorder is quite rampant in the US. A report shows that over 40 million (18.1%) adults in the US aged 18 and above are affected by anxiety disorders. Even though anxiety is a mental illness that has a cure, only 36.9% of the individuals living with this condition receive treatment. So, how do you explain anxiety?
Table of Contents
- Anxiety-related Disorders
- Medication For Anxiety
- How do Anxiety medications work?
- Can you get addicted to anxiety medication?
- Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people have lived with anxieties all their life while some only experience it when an unforeseen event takes place. There are so many reasons why a person might feel anxiety. Anxiety is considered a mental disorder and is divided into 3 main categories:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Trauma/stressor-related disorders
A general characteristic of anxiety is fear and this causes the body to function at an accelerated rate with a loss of coordination.
Medication For Anxiety
There are specialized medications for anxiety and these medications require a prescription from a qualified medical professional. The most commonly administered drugs are Benzodiazepines, popularly called “benzos.”
Benzos are a class of drugs that are administered for a particular spectrum of ailments related to mental disorders. Benzos have proven to be very efficient in the treatment of moderate to severe anxieties and other conditions such as epileptic seizures, and frequent panic attacks. The drug has also flourished in its application as a remedy for the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism. Here are some Benzodiazepine medications that are typical for anxiety:
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam ( Halcion)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Diazepam (valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
Anxiety medications are very effective but they also present with their own health risks, therefore it should not be used without prescription or advice from a medical professional
How do Anxiety medications work?
Benzodiazepines, as case study works as a sedative. It slows down the body’s functions and puts the body in a relaxed state. Benzos increase the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. The chemical GABA reduces activities in the part of the brain that is responsible for: memories, rational thinking, emotions, and basic functions like breathing. The effects of anxiety medications are muscle relaxation, and sedation, this causes the reduction of anxiety.
Can you get addicted to anxiety medication?
Anxiety medications ultimately cause changes to the chemistry of the brain when used for long, and therefore has the tendency to cause addiction. How does this happen? When a person uses an anti-anxiety medication for long they build tolerance for the drug and they become more likely to gradually increase their own dosages without the counsel of a medical practitioner. Benzos have a tendency for abuse due to their ability to cause a “high.” Some individuals abuse the drug because of its euphoric and sedative effects, and in this process, they become addicted to the medication. \
Benzos are easily available as first choice medication on prescription, and because of this, many people are unaware of its addictive nature and tendency for abuse. Signs of addiction to the medication may be overlooked at the initial stages.
Since benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications cause dependency, how can a person know if they are developing a dependency on benzodiazepines? Here are a few signs and symptoms to look out for:
- When you find yourself taking more than the recommended dosage
- If you find yourself obtaining prescriptions from various physicians in order to increase the collective amount available to you
- If you find yourself unsettled or restless unless you take the medication
- If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you abstain from the drug for a period of time
- If you are having difficulties controlling the number of drugs you use and how often you use them
- If you find yourself hiding the medication from friends and family or having to lie about the medication
- If using the drug begins to have a negative impact on your social life, family, lifestyle, job, and other aspects of your life
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
When a person who has been on benzos for an extended period of time, stops taking the medication completely or decides to cut down on the dosage, the person may start to experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be fatal in some cases. What does benzodiazepine withdrawal feel like? The symptoms may include; respiratory failure, irritability, extreme seizures, coma, and possible death, especially when benzos are used concomitantly with other CNS drugs and alcohol.
1. Addressing Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental condition that should be treated with caution. It is important to use the right medications appropriately. If you find yourself developing tolerance or dependency to an anxiety drug, contact a medical doctor immediately for safer alternatives.
Although benzos are the most commonly used drugs for anxiety treatment, there are other anxiety medications that are less likely to cause addiction. it is necessary to discuss your options extensively with a medical professional to know which medication is best for you.
2. Non-habit-forming medications for anxiety
It is a fact that benzodiazepines are controlled substances in the United States; however, not all anxiety medications are addictive. Many people lack this information and for this reason, they live with anxiety disorders without taking any action to treat it. The uncommon truth is that there are anxiety medications that are non-habit-forming. Here are some anxiety medications that are non-addictive:
3. Selective Serotonin Re uptake (SSRIs)
The SSRIs are a class of highly effective pharmacological first-line medications for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.
How do SSRIs work? They alter brain chemistry by correcting neurotransmitter deficiencies that may be responsible for anxiety. The medication is easily tolerated by different individuals with minimal side effects. The SSRIs may take a while to take effect fully, often 2-6 weeks or longer, however, it is often preferred for its ability to treat co-occurring depression that comes with anxiety. Some types of SSRIs include:
4. Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
This category of anxiety medications is less commonly used compared to SSRIs. The SNRIs are usually administered to patients when the SSRI fails. The two most common examples are Venlafaxine XR and Duloxetine.
The SNRIs works similarly to the SSRIs in their delayed effect, taking up to two weeks to become active, however, the SNRIs focus more on the norepinephrine transmitter.
Beta-blockers are more of atypical medications off-label for the treatment of anxiety. Their mechanism of actions includes the blocking of catecholamines, a chemical in the body that builds up to cause anxiety.
Anxiety is usually caused by a chemical release of catecholamines. The functions of beta-blockers are to block the processes that lead to the production of catecholamines. The accumulation of catecholamines typically causes:
- Blood pressure elevations
- Constricting blood vessels
The uses of Beta-blocker are numerous, as they are also effective for any form of physical anxiety symptoms. One of the most studied types of beta-blockers is propranolol.
These are some Anti-anxiety medications that are non-addictive. There are also many categories such as:
Ensure to consult a medical practitioner first before purchasing or using any particular anxiety medication type.