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Why does anxiety medication work?

Why does anxiety medication work?


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It seems really odd to me that anxiety medication can work, because I can't understand how a medication can alter a feeling.

My understanding is that the idea of anxiety medication is to alter neurotransmitters and activity in certain areas of the brain in order to change how a person experiences anxiety. For example for someone who experiences anxiety an ideal medication (very informally) would be a medication reducing activity of amygdala.

What I find very odd about this approach is that I don't believe feelings are just chemicals, i.e it dosen't make sense to me that altering some neurotransmitters in the brain can have a psychological impact on a person but only a physiological. I don't understand how someone can fear a something (for example a spider) and altering its brain chemistry and activity can make someone not feeling afraid of a spider.

So does anxiety medication have impact only on the physiological symptoms of anxiety?


How to Use Stress Medicine

It's important to remember that you should never take any anxiety drugs alone, and you should try to avoid them if possible.

Medications are not evil - certainly not as evil as many people will tell you. But mental health medications have downsides. It's more than just side effects. Medications can actually harm your ability to cope with stress in the future, because of:

  • Physiological Dependence That's when the body requires the medicine because it's adapted to the effects. Your brain starts to depend on it, to the point where your natural stress coping ability gets even worse. If you stop taking the medication, you'll suffer from intense side effects. You have to wean off it slowly, and you have to take it every day even if you're not feeling anxious that day.
  • Psychological Dependence Perhaps more troubling is psychological dependence. This is when you depend so much on the medicine that you don't do anything else to cure your anxiety. When you stop taking the medication and experience some stress, you're going to want to go immediately back to medication, and this type of behavior can make it much harder to cope with anxiety.

It's important to keep that in mind. You need to make sure that you're only choosing a medicine as a last resort because of these risks, and even if you do choose a stress medicine and feel better, make sure that you're still learning proper coping strategies so that your anxiety doesn't come back when you stop taking the medicine.


Psychotherapy is effective and here’s why

Answering just what makes it work is complex, said Wampold, a professor of counseling psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, but relationships and customized treatments play key roles.

So what makes a good therapist? According to research presented by Wampold, a good therapist:

  • Has a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills.
  • Builds trust, understanding and belief from the client.
  • Has an alliance with client.
  • Has an acceptable and adaptive explanation of the client's condition.
  • Has a treatment plan and allows it to be flexible.
  • Is influential, persuasive and convincing.
  • Monitors patient progress.
  • Offers hope and optimism (realistic optimism, not Pollyanna-ish).
  • Is aware of a client's characteristics in context.
  • Is reflective.
  • Relies on best research evidence.
  • Continually improves through professional development.

With an effective therapist, science shows that psychotherapy even works better in the long-term and is more enduring than medication. In fact, not only is it more cost-effective, but psychotherapy leads to fewer relapses of anxiety and mild to moderate depression than medication use alone—so much so that Norwegian Health Authorities have issued new guidelines concerning treatment of mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stating that psychological interventions, not medications, should be applied first.

So what's stopping psychotherapy for being the go-to treatment for nonpsychotic conditions? For one thing, major pharmaceutical companies heavily market their medications directly to the public and health professionals, said speaker Steven Hollon, PhD. While therapy is getting sharper, more effective, and more enduring, it is continuing to lose market share to medication.

But it doesn't have to be this way, said APA officials. There is an increased effort by psychologists and APA to change attitudes and make psychotherapy a first-line treatment. With evidence-based treatment guidelines under development, and the move for an official statement by APA on psychotherapy's effectiveness, one day medication may lose its market share to psychotherapy.


The Use of Medication in Treatment

Based on the medical model, mental illness should be treated, in part, as a medical condition. This treatment is typically the use of prescription medications.

Medications for mental illness change brain chemistry. In most cases, these medications add or modify a chemical that is responsible for problems with mood, perception, anxiety, or other issues. In the correct dosage, medication can have a profoundly positive impact on functioning.  


Treatments for anxiety

Treating a person with anxiety depends on the nature of the anxiety disorder and individual preferences. Often, treatment will combine different types of therapy and medication.

Alcohol dependence, depression, and other conditions can sometimes have such a strong link to anxiety in some people that treating an anxiety disorder must wait until an individual manages any underlying conditions.

Recognizing the developing symptoms of anxious feelings and taking steps to manage the condition without medical assistance should be the first port of call.

However, if this does not reduce the impact of anxiety symptoms, or if the onset is particularly sudden or severe, other treatments are available.

Share on Pinterest Relaxation techniques can help to address anxious emotions before they develop into a disorder.

In some cases, a person can manage anxiety at home without clinical supervision. However, this may be limited to shorter and less severe periods of anxiety.

Doctors recommend several exercises and techniques to cope with brief or focused bouts of anxiety, including:

  • Stress management: Limit potential triggers by managing stress levels. Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines, organize daunting tasks in to-do lists, and take enough time off from professional or educational obligations.
  • Relaxation techniques: Certain measures can help reduce signs of anxiety, including deep-breathing exercises, long baths, meditation, yoga, and resting in the dark.
  • Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Write down a list of any negative thoughts, and make another list of positive thoughts to replace them. Picturing yourself successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if the anxiety symptoms link to a specific stressor.
  • Support network: Talk to a person who is supportive, such as a family member or friend. Avoid storing up and suppressing anxious feelings as this can worsen anxiety disorders.
  • Exercise: Physical exertion and an active lifestyle can improve self-image and trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that stimulate positive emotions.

Standard treatment for anxiety involves psychological counseling and therapy.

This might include psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a combination of therapy and counseling.

CBT aims to recognize and alter the harmful thought patterns that can trigger an anxiety disorder and troublesome feelings, limit distorted thinking, and change the scale and intensity of reactions to stressors.

This helps people manage the way their body and mind react to certain triggers.

Psychotherapy is another treatment that involves talking with a trained mental health professional and working to the root of an anxiety disorder.

Sessions might explore the triggers of anxiety and possible coping mechanisms.

Several types of medication can support the treatment of an anxiety disorder.

Other medicines might help control some of the physical and mental symptoms. These include:

Tricyclics: This is a class of drugs that have demonstrated helpful effects on most anxiety disorders other than obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These drugs are known to cause side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and weight gain. Two examples of tricyclics are imipramine and clomipramine.

Benzodiazepines: These are only available on prescription, but they can be highly addictive and would rarely be a first-line medication. Diazepam, or Valium, is an example of a common benzodiazepine for people with anxiety.

Anti-depressants: While people most commonly use anti-depressants to manage depression, they also feature in the treatment of many anxiety disorders. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are one option, and they have fewer side effects than older anti-depressants. They are still likely to cause nausea and sexual dysfunction at the outset of treatment. Some types include fluoxetine and citalopram.

Other medications that can reduce anxiety include:

Stopping some medications, especially anti-depressants, can cause withdrawal symptoms, including brain zaps. These are painful jolts in the head that feel like shocks of electricity.

An individual planning to adjust their approach to treating anxiety disorders after a long period of taking anti-depressants should consult their doctor about how best to move away from medications.

If severe, adverse, or unexpected effects occur after taking any prescribed medications, be sure to update a physician.


EMDR Treatment for Anxiety: How it Works

EMDR treatment works by directing eye movements while imagining distressing scenarios and shifting your attention toward more positive thoughts, causing anxiety to dissipate.

While EMDR treatment is rising in popularity within the mental health community, it has not risen to the level of prominence enjoyed by modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and, thus, remains a mystery to many. So how does EMDR work? Arkowitz and Lilienfeld explain:

EMDR therapists ask their clients to hold the memories of anxiety-provoking stimuli—for example, the painful memories of a frightening accident—in their minds. While doing so, clients track the therapist’s back-and-forth movements with their eyes, much like a person in an old Hollywood movie following a hypnotist’s swinging pocket watch.

During this process, the therapist asks the client to notice the sensations, images, and emotions that they experience and slowly begin to shift attention away from negative thoughts toward more positive ones. In doing so, anxiety begins to lift and the client is able to regain control over their emotional state. Indeed, Shapiro herself notes that dozens of randomized controlled trials have found EMDR to be an effective treatment that produces “rapid decreases in negative emotions and/or vividness of disturbing images. Numerous other evaluations document that EMDR therapy provides relief from a variety of somatic complaints” associated with anxiety disorders.

One of the benefits of EMDR treatment is that you don’t necessarily have to talk about painful memories, making the therapy particularly inviting for those who have trouble verbalizing their experiences or for whom those experiences remain too painful to talk about. Rather, using EMDR for anxiety can be a largely internal process during which you are gently guided by a compassionate therapist who seeks to lead you out of a place of anxiety toward one of safety and inner tranquility. This process can allow you to access parts of yourself that traditional talk therapy may not be able to reach.


Generic Counseling for Non-Anxiety Disorders

Not everyone suffering from anxiety and stress has an anxiety disorder. That's why there is also counseling available for those that simply want someone to talk to. This type of counseling is extremely valuable, because it can help those that are suffering from anxiety get help before it develops into a harder to cure anxiety disorder.

Also, living with anxiety and stress is always difficult and hurts your quality of life. Counseling is an effective way to ensure that your life isn't damaged by living with anxiety, whether you have an anxiety disorder or not.


What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

Knowing the difference can ensure you get the help you need.

There’s a fine line between stress and anxiety. Both are emotional responses, but stress is typically caused by an external trigger. The trigger can be short-term, such as a work deadline or a fight with a loved one or long-term, such as being unable to work, discrimination, or chronic illness. People under stress experience mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined by persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor. Anxiety leads to a nearly identical set of symptoms as stress: insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension, and irritability.

Both mild stress and mild anxiety respond well to similar coping mechanisms. Physical activity, a nutritious and varied diet, and good sleep hygiene are a good starting point, but there are other coping mechanisms available.

If your stress or anxiety does not respond to these management techniques, or if you feel that either stress or anxiety are affecting your day-to-day functioning or mood, consider talking to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you are experiencing and provide you additional coping tools. For example, a psychologist can help determine whether you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders differ from short-term feelings of anxiety in their severity and in how long they last: The anxiety typically persists for months and negatively affects mood and functioning. Some anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia (the fear of public or open spaces), may cause the person to avoid enjoyable activities or make it difficult to keep a job.

Anxiety disorders are common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19% of Americans over the age of 18 had an anxiety disorder in the past year, and 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes.

One of the most common anxiety disorders is generalized anxiety disorder. To identify if someone has generalized anxiety disorder, a clinician will look for symptoms such as excessive, hard-to-control worry occurring most days over six months. The worry may jump from topic to topic. Generalized anxiety disorder is also accompanied by the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Another type of anxiety disorder is panic disorder, which is marked by sudden attacks of anxiety that may leave a person sweating, dizzy, and gasping for air. Anxiety may also manifest in the form of specific phobias (such as fear of flying) or as social anxiety, which is marked by a pervasive fear of social situations.

Anxiety disorders can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. One of the most widely used therapeutic approaches is cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing maladaptive thought patterns related to the anxiety. Another potential treatment is exposure therapy, which involves confronting anxiety triggers in a safe, controlled way in order to break the cycle of fear around the trigger.

For advice on how to find a mental health professional, visit APA’s Help Center.

Thanks to psychologists Mary Alvord, PhD, and Raquel Halfond, PhD, who assisted with this article.


Why does anxiety medication work? - Psychology

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is form of cognitive behavioral therapy that combines mindfulness, ideas from Zen Buddhism, and behavioral principles to help people better ride out and regulate their own emotions. Although it was originally developed to treat individuals with personality disorders, it includes many concepts and tools that are also extremely useful to people suffering from anxiety disorders. In my practice at the Anxiety Treatment Center, I use many elements of DBT to enhance the more traditional exposure work that I do.

DBT includes four major sets of skills: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, and as needed, I draw on all of these skill sets in my work with anxious patients.

When people think of mindfulness, they imagine that it means practicing meditation, but in DBT, it actually means much more than this. An important component of it is training your “attentional muscle” so that you can better focus on what is going on in the present moment rather than living in the past or thinking ahead to the future. This is extremely relevant to many people with anxiety disorders who find themselves constantly worrying about what’s to come! Although my colleagues at ATC and I primarily take an exposure approach to treating worry (helping people sit with their worries until they no longer trigger anxiety or fear), I also introduce mindfulness to many of my patients to help them stay more present in their lives. Another important mindfulness concept that I like to introduce to patients is the idea of wise mind—acting and making decisions from a place that considers and balances both what is logical and one’s own emotions. For people who are anxious, this often means owning their fears and being sensitive to where they are at emotionally while at the same time pushing forward with their lives.

Emotion regulation skills largely focus on doing things to reduce your vulnerability to negative emotions and employing strategies to change negative emotions that arise. I work with patients to help them incorporate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and other healthful behaviors into their lives to reduce their emotional vulnerability. I also introduce many patients to an important DBT concept for changing negative emotions—acting opposite to emotions that are not justified by the present situation (even if they feel justified). The idea of acting opposite to fear and anxiety is very much in line with the way that we typically treat anxiety—by encouraging people to face thoughts, feelings, and situations that frighten them rather than going with their urges to avoid them. Acting opposite also means doing things like approaching people and being active instead of withdrawing and staying in bed when you’re depressed, and treating people with compassion or doing something nice for others when you’re angry. Many patients are surprised to find that when they act opposite to their negative emotions, their emotions actually change for the better!

Interpersonal effectiveness means being assertive, asking other people to make changes in their behavior or saying no to unwanted requests. It also means being able to gauge how strongly to commit to a position and knowing how to maintain your position in the face of challenging responses and reactions from others. This can be an important skill for individuals who are either socially anxious or who are simply stressed as a result of challenging interpersonal situations. I’ve personally found that DBT interpersonal effectiveness skills benefit a wide range of patient—from teens dealing with tough situations with friends to businessmen navigating high pressure situations at work.

Finally, distress tolerance skills involve doing things to ride out your emotions so that you don’t make the situation that you are in worse. They are not intended to make people feel better but are rather intended to help people refrain from acting in haste. In essence, they are distraction tools, and since sitting with and not distracting from their emotions is so important for anxious individuals, I introduce these skills to my anxious patients a bit more sparingly than other DBT skills. However, distress tolerance can be extremely useful to people with anxiety who tend to jump the gun because they can’t tolerate sitting with their own uncertainty about anxiety provoking situations.

In summary, the key components of DBT can be used to enhance traditional cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders. I tailor my use of them with patients to each patient’s individual needs and many of my patients have found these skills to be invaluable.

Alison Alden, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist with the Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago, with offices in Deerfield, Chicago, and Oakbrook. Dr. Alden is located in our Deerfield office and can be reached at 847-559-0001.


Anti-Anxiety Drugs (Anxiolytics) Side Effects, List of Names

Anxiolytics (also termed anti-anxiety or anti-panic drugs) are medications that are used to treat a health condition called anxiety. The type of anxiety that requires treatment is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This disorder causes excessive worry and anxiety, significant distress, and affects the ability for a person to function. Moreover, the symptoms of anxiety occur on most days for at least six months. Generalized anxiety disorder is treated with psychotherapy and medications.

How do anti-anxiety drugs and benzodiazepines work (mechanism of action)?

Antidepressants reduce anxiety by increasing the concentration of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that the brain uses to communicate. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Buspirone may reduce anxiety by stimulating serotonin and dopamine receptors on nerves, thereby altering the chemical messages that nerves receive.

Benzodiazepines reduce symptoms of anxiety by increasing the action of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other and it reduces brain activity. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may lead to anxiety or other psychiatric disorders.

Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant. Like benzodiazepines, Pregabalin also increases the action of GABA, and this may be its main mechanism for reducing anxiety.

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that causes sedation. It helps treat insomnia caused by anxiety, and other medical conditions.

What are the medical uses for anti-anxiety drugs?

Anxiolytics are used to treat anxiety or symptoms caused by anxiety. Some types of anti-anxiety drugs are used for other health conditions such as:

What are the side effects of anti-anxiety drugs?

Some common side effects of anxiolytic drugs include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Dependence and withdrawal symptoms
  • Stomach upset
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abnormal heartbeat

What other types of drugs are used to treat anxiety?

  • Antidepressants
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs
    • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) (TCAs)]

    What natural/herbal products and supplements treat anxiety?

    Herbal medicines have been studied for the treatment of anxiety. Examples of herbal medications that have been used in clinical studies for treating anxiety include:

    • Passionflower
    • St. Johns&rsquos wort biloba
    • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) (Valeriana officinalis)
    • Theanine (found in green tea)
    • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) (Melissa officinalis)

    Some clinical studies suggest that some herbal medicines may reduce anxiety symptoms. However, many of these clinical studies are small, and there also are clinical studies that show that some herbs are not useful therapy for anxiety. Patients should consult their doctor and pharmacist before self-treating anxiety symptoms with herbal medications. Herbal medications are not a replacement for standard therapy for anxiety.

    Some nutritional supplements have shown beneficial effects in small clinical studies. Examples of supplements that may be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms include:

    • L-lysine
    • L-arginine
    • L-tyrosine
    • L-phenylalanine
    • Selenium
    • Magnesium

    Based on clinical studies, the effect of magnesium supplementation on anxiety symptoms may not be better than a sugar pill. Patients should consult their doctor and pharmacist before self-treating anxiety symptoms with nutritional supplements.

    Researchers have looked into the effect of Yoga on improving anxiety. Some of these small clinical studies suggest that Yoga may improve anxiety symptoms by improving the levels of GABA in the brain. Since Yoga and other types of exercise are beneficial for overall health, it may be a useful addition to standard medical therapy for anxiety.

    Which drugs or supplements interact with anti-anxiety drugs?

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) have many important drug interactions when they are used for the treatment of anxiety or other health conditions.

    Patients should not take anxiolytic drugs with any of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) class of antidepressants or other drugs that inhibit MAOIs such as linezolid [Zyvox] and intravenous methylene blue. Examples of MAOIs include:

    • isocarboxazid (Marplan)
    • phenelzine (Nardil)
    • tranylcypromine (Parnate) (Eldepryl)
    • procarbazine (Matulane)

    Patients that take such combinations may develop confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, hyperactivity, coma, and death. Patients may develop similar reactions if they combine SSRIs or SNRIs with other drugs that increase serotonin in the brain.

    Combining SSRIs or SNRIs with warfarin, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for ex-ample ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other drugs that affect bleeding may increase the likelihood of patients developing upper gastrointestinal bleeding when these drugs are used for the treatment of anxiety or other health conditions.


    Why does anxiety medication work? - Psychology

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is form of cognitive behavioral therapy that combines mindfulness, ideas from Zen Buddhism, and behavioral principles to help people better ride out and regulate their own emotions. Although it was originally developed to treat individuals with personality disorders, it includes many concepts and tools that are also extremely useful to people suffering from anxiety disorders. In my practice at the Anxiety Treatment Center, I use many elements of DBT to enhance the more traditional exposure work that I do.

    DBT includes four major sets of skills: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, and as needed, I draw on all of these skill sets in my work with anxious patients.

    When people think of mindfulness, they imagine that it means practicing meditation, but in DBT, it actually means much more than this. An important component of it is training your “attentional muscle” so that you can better focus on what is going on in the present moment rather than living in the past or thinking ahead to the future. This is extremely relevant to many people with anxiety disorders who find themselves constantly worrying about what’s to come! Although my colleagues at ATC and I primarily take an exposure approach to treating worry (helping people sit with their worries until they no longer trigger anxiety or fear), I also introduce mindfulness to many of my patients to help them stay more present in their lives. Another important mindfulness concept that I like to introduce to patients is the idea of wise mind—acting and making decisions from a place that considers and balances both what is logical and one’s own emotions. For people who are anxious, this often means owning their fears and being sensitive to where they are at emotionally while at the same time pushing forward with their lives.

    Emotion regulation skills largely focus on doing things to reduce your vulnerability to negative emotions and employing strategies to change negative emotions that arise. I work with patients to help them incorporate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and other healthful behaviors into their lives to reduce their emotional vulnerability. I also introduce many patients to an important DBT concept for changing negative emotions—acting opposite to emotions that are not justified by the present situation (even if they feel justified). The idea of acting opposite to fear and anxiety is very much in line with the way that we typically treat anxiety—by encouraging people to face thoughts, feelings, and situations that frighten them rather than going with their urges to avoid them. Acting opposite also means doing things like approaching people and being active instead of withdrawing and staying in bed when you’re depressed, and treating people with compassion or doing something nice for others when you’re angry. Many patients are surprised to find that when they act opposite to their negative emotions, their emotions actually change for the better!

    Interpersonal effectiveness means being assertive, asking other people to make changes in their behavior or saying no to unwanted requests. It also means being able to gauge how strongly to commit to a position and knowing how to maintain your position in the face of challenging responses and reactions from others. This can be an important skill for individuals who are either socially anxious or who are simply stressed as a result of challenging interpersonal situations. I’ve personally found that DBT interpersonal effectiveness skills benefit a wide range of patient—from teens dealing with tough situations with friends to businessmen navigating high pressure situations at work.

    Finally, distress tolerance skills involve doing things to ride out your emotions so that you don’t make the situation that you are in worse. They are not intended to make people feel better but are rather intended to help people refrain from acting in haste. In essence, they are distraction tools, and since sitting with and not distracting from their emotions is so important for anxious individuals, I introduce these skills to my anxious patients a bit more sparingly than other DBT skills. However, distress tolerance can be extremely useful to people with anxiety who tend to jump the gun because they can’t tolerate sitting with their own uncertainty about anxiety provoking situations.

    In summary, the key components of DBT can be used to enhance traditional cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders. I tailor my use of them with patients to each patient’s individual needs and many of my patients have found these skills to be invaluable.

    Alison Alden, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist with the Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago, with offices in Deerfield, Chicago, and Oakbrook. Dr. Alden is located in our Deerfield office and can be reached at 847-559-0001.


    What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

    Knowing the difference can ensure you get the help you need.

    There’s a fine line between stress and anxiety. Both are emotional responses, but stress is typically caused by an external trigger. The trigger can be short-term, such as a work deadline or a fight with a loved one or long-term, such as being unable to work, discrimination, or chronic illness. People under stress experience mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping.

    Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined by persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor. Anxiety leads to a nearly identical set of symptoms as stress: insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension, and irritability.

    Both mild stress and mild anxiety respond well to similar coping mechanisms. Physical activity, a nutritious and varied diet, and good sleep hygiene are a good starting point, but there are other coping mechanisms available.

    If your stress or anxiety does not respond to these management techniques, or if you feel that either stress or anxiety are affecting your day-to-day functioning or mood, consider talking to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you are experiencing and provide you additional coping tools. For example, a psychologist can help determine whether you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders differ from short-term feelings of anxiety in their severity and in how long they last: The anxiety typically persists for months and negatively affects mood and functioning. Some anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia (the fear of public or open spaces), may cause the person to avoid enjoyable activities or make it difficult to keep a job.

    Anxiety disorders are common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19% of Americans over the age of 18 had an anxiety disorder in the past year, and 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes.

    One of the most common anxiety disorders is generalized anxiety disorder. To identify if someone has generalized anxiety disorder, a clinician will look for symptoms such as excessive, hard-to-control worry occurring most days over six months. The worry may jump from topic to topic. Generalized anxiety disorder is also accompanied by the physical symptoms of anxiety.

    Another type of anxiety disorder is panic disorder, which is marked by sudden attacks of anxiety that may leave a person sweating, dizzy, and gasping for air. Anxiety may also manifest in the form of specific phobias (such as fear of flying) or as social anxiety, which is marked by a pervasive fear of social situations.

    Anxiety disorders can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. One of the most widely used therapeutic approaches is cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing maladaptive thought patterns related to the anxiety. Another potential treatment is exposure therapy, which involves confronting anxiety triggers in a safe, controlled way in order to break the cycle of fear around the trigger.

    For advice on how to find a mental health professional, visit APA’s Help Center.

    Thanks to psychologists Mary Alvord, PhD, and Raquel Halfond, PhD, who assisted with this article.


    The Use of Medication in Treatment

    Based on the medical model, mental illness should be treated, in part, as a medical condition. This treatment is typically the use of prescription medications.

    Medications for mental illness change brain chemistry. In most cases, these medications add or modify a chemical that is responsible for problems with mood, perception, anxiety, or other issues. In the correct dosage, medication can have a profoundly positive impact on functioning.  


    Treatments for anxiety

    Treating a person with anxiety depends on the nature of the anxiety disorder and individual preferences. Often, treatment will combine different types of therapy and medication.

    Alcohol dependence, depression, and other conditions can sometimes have such a strong link to anxiety in some people that treating an anxiety disorder must wait until an individual manages any underlying conditions.

    Recognizing the developing symptoms of anxious feelings and taking steps to manage the condition without medical assistance should be the first port of call.

    However, if this does not reduce the impact of anxiety symptoms, or if the onset is particularly sudden or severe, other treatments are available.

    Share on Pinterest Relaxation techniques can help to address anxious emotions before they develop into a disorder.

    In some cases, a person can manage anxiety at home without clinical supervision. However, this may be limited to shorter and less severe periods of anxiety.

    Doctors recommend several exercises and techniques to cope with brief or focused bouts of anxiety, including:

    • Stress management: Limit potential triggers by managing stress levels. Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines, organize daunting tasks in to-do lists, and take enough time off from professional or educational obligations.
    • Relaxation techniques: Certain measures can help reduce signs of anxiety, including deep-breathing exercises, long baths, meditation, yoga, and resting in the dark.
    • Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Write down a list of any negative thoughts, and make another list of positive thoughts to replace them. Picturing yourself successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if the anxiety symptoms link to a specific stressor.
    • Support network: Talk to a person who is supportive, such as a family member or friend. Avoid storing up and suppressing anxious feelings as this can worsen anxiety disorders.
    • Exercise: Physical exertion and an active lifestyle can improve self-image and trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that stimulate positive emotions.

    Standard treatment for anxiety involves psychological counseling and therapy.

    This might include psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a combination of therapy and counseling.

    CBT aims to recognize and alter the harmful thought patterns that can trigger an anxiety disorder and troublesome feelings, limit distorted thinking, and change the scale and intensity of reactions to stressors.

    This helps people manage the way their body and mind react to certain triggers.

    Psychotherapy is another treatment that involves talking with a trained mental health professional and working to the root of an anxiety disorder.

    Sessions might explore the triggers of anxiety and possible coping mechanisms.

    Several types of medication can support the treatment of an anxiety disorder.

    Other medicines might help control some of the physical and mental symptoms. These include:

    Tricyclics: This is a class of drugs that have demonstrated helpful effects on most anxiety disorders other than obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These drugs are known to cause side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and weight gain. Two examples of tricyclics are imipramine and clomipramine.

    Benzodiazepines: These are only available on prescription, but they can be highly addictive and would rarely be a first-line medication. Diazepam, or Valium, is an example of a common benzodiazepine for people with anxiety.

    Anti-depressants: While people most commonly use anti-depressants to manage depression, they also feature in the treatment of many anxiety disorders. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are one option, and they have fewer side effects than older anti-depressants. They are still likely to cause nausea and sexual dysfunction at the outset of treatment. Some types include fluoxetine and citalopram.

    Other medications that can reduce anxiety include:

    Stopping some medications, especially anti-depressants, can cause withdrawal symptoms, including brain zaps. These are painful jolts in the head that feel like shocks of electricity.

    An individual planning to adjust their approach to treating anxiety disorders after a long period of taking anti-depressants should consult their doctor about how best to move away from medications.

    If severe, adverse, or unexpected effects occur after taking any prescribed medications, be sure to update a physician.


    How to Use Stress Medicine

    It's important to remember that you should never take any anxiety drugs alone, and you should try to avoid them if possible.

    Medications are not evil - certainly not as evil as many people will tell you. But mental health medications have downsides. It's more than just side effects. Medications can actually harm your ability to cope with stress in the future, because of:

    • Physiological Dependence That's when the body requires the medicine because it's adapted to the effects. Your brain starts to depend on it, to the point where your natural stress coping ability gets even worse. If you stop taking the medication, you'll suffer from intense side effects. You have to wean off it slowly, and you have to take it every day even if you're not feeling anxious that day.
    • Psychological Dependence Perhaps more troubling is psychological dependence. This is when you depend so much on the medicine that you don't do anything else to cure your anxiety. When you stop taking the medication and experience some stress, you're going to want to go immediately back to medication, and this type of behavior can make it much harder to cope with anxiety.

    It's important to keep that in mind. You need to make sure that you're only choosing a medicine as a last resort because of these risks, and even if you do choose a stress medicine and feel better, make sure that you're still learning proper coping strategies so that your anxiety doesn't come back when you stop taking the medicine.


    Generic Counseling for Non-Anxiety Disorders

    Not everyone suffering from anxiety and stress has an anxiety disorder. That's why there is also counseling available for those that simply want someone to talk to. This type of counseling is extremely valuable, because it can help those that are suffering from anxiety get help before it develops into a harder to cure anxiety disorder.

    Also, living with anxiety and stress is always difficult and hurts your quality of life. Counseling is an effective way to ensure that your life isn't damaged by living with anxiety, whether you have an anxiety disorder or not.


    Psychotherapy is effective and here’s why

    Answering just what makes it work is complex, said Wampold, a professor of counseling psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, but relationships and customized treatments play key roles.

    So what makes a good therapist? According to research presented by Wampold, a good therapist:

    • Has a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills.
    • Builds trust, understanding and belief from the client.
    • Has an alliance with client.
    • Has an acceptable and adaptive explanation of the client's condition.
    • Has a treatment plan and allows it to be flexible.
    • Is influential, persuasive and convincing.
    • Monitors patient progress.
    • Offers hope and optimism (realistic optimism, not Pollyanna-ish).
    • Is aware of a client's characteristics in context.
    • Is reflective.
    • Relies on best research evidence.
    • Continually improves through professional development.

    With an effective therapist, science shows that psychotherapy even works better in the long-term and is more enduring than medication. In fact, not only is it more cost-effective, but psychotherapy leads to fewer relapses of anxiety and mild to moderate depression than medication use alone—so much so that Norwegian Health Authorities have issued new guidelines concerning treatment of mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stating that psychological interventions, not medications, should be applied first.

    So what's stopping psychotherapy for being the go-to treatment for nonpsychotic conditions? For one thing, major pharmaceutical companies heavily market their medications directly to the public and health professionals, said speaker Steven Hollon, PhD. While therapy is getting sharper, more effective, and more enduring, it is continuing to lose market share to medication.

    But it doesn't have to be this way, said APA officials. There is an increased effort by psychologists and APA to change attitudes and make psychotherapy a first-line treatment. With evidence-based treatment guidelines under development, and the move for an official statement by APA on psychotherapy's effectiveness, one day medication may lose its market share to psychotherapy.


    EMDR Treatment for Anxiety: How it Works

    EMDR treatment works by directing eye movements while imagining distressing scenarios and shifting your attention toward more positive thoughts, causing anxiety to dissipate.

    While EMDR treatment is rising in popularity within the mental health community, it has not risen to the level of prominence enjoyed by modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and, thus, remains a mystery to many. So how does EMDR work? Arkowitz and Lilienfeld explain:

    EMDR therapists ask their clients to hold the memories of anxiety-provoking stimuli—for example, the painful memories of a frightening accident—in their minds. While doing so, clients track the therapist’s back-and-forth movements with their eyes, much like a person in an old Hollywood movie following a hypnotist’s swinging pocket watch.

    During this process, the therapist asks the client to notice the sensations, images, and emotions that they experience and slowly begin to shift attention away from negative thoughts toward more positive ones. In doing so, anxiety begins to lift and the client is able to regain control over their emotional state. Indeed, Shapiro herself notes that dozens of randomized controlled trials have found EMDR to be an effective treatment that produces “rapid decreases in negative emotions and/or vividness of disturbing images. Numerous other evaluations document that EMDR therapy provides relief from a variety of somatic complaints” associated with anxiety disorders.

    One of the benefits of EMDR treatment is that you don’t necessarily have to talk about painful memories, making the therapy particularly inviting for those who have trouble verbalizing their experiences or for whom those experiences remain too painful to talk about. Rather, using EMDR for anxiety can be a largely internal process during which you are gently guided by a compassionate therapist who seeks to lead you out of a place of anxiety toward one of safety and inner tranquility. This process can allow you to access parts of yourself that traditional talk therapy may not be able to reach.


    Anti-Anxiety Drugs (Anxiolytics) Side Effects, List of Names

    Anxiolytics (also termed anti-anxiety or anti-panic drugs) are medications that are used to treat a health condition called anxiety. The type of anxiety that requires treatment is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This disorder causes excessive worry and anxiety, significant distress, and affects the ability for a person to function. Moreover, the symptoms of anxiety occur on most days for at least six months. Generalized anxiety disorder is treated with psychotherapy and medications.

    How do anti-anxiety drugs and benzodiazepines work (mechanism of action)?

    Antidepressants reduce anxiety by increasing the concentration of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that the brain uses to communicate. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

    Buspirone may reduce anxiety by stimulating serotonin and dopamine receptors on nerves, thereby altering the chemical messages that nerves receive.

    Benzodiazepines reduce symptoms of anxiety by increasing the action of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other and it reduces brain activity. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may lead to anxiety or other psychiatric disorders.

    Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant. Like benzodiazepines, Pregabalin also increases the action of GABA, and this may be its main mechanism for reducing anxiety.

    Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that causes sedation. It helps treat insomnia caused by anxiety, and other medical conditions.

    What are the medical uses for anti-anxiety drugs?

    Anxiolytics are used to treat anxiety or symptoms caused by anxiety. Some types of anti-anxiety drugs are used for other health conditions such as:

    What are the side effects of anti-anxiety drugs?

    Some common side effects of anxiolytic drugs include:

    • Drowsiness
    • Sedation
    • Dependence and withdrawal symptoms
    • Stomach upset
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Increased heart rate
    • Abnormal heartbeat

    What other types of drugs are used to treat anxiety?

    • Antidepressants
      • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs
      • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) (TCAs)]

      What natural/herbal products and supplements treat anxiety?

      Herbal medicines have been studied for the treatment of anxiety. Examples of herbal medications that have been used in clinical studies for treating anxiety include:

      • Passionflower
      • St. Johns&rsquos wort biloba
      • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) (Valeriana officinalis)
      • Theanine (found in green tea)
      • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) (Melissa officinalis)

      Some clinical studies suggest that some herbal medicines may reduce anxiety symptoms. However, many of these clinical studies are small, and there also are clinical studies that show that some herbs are not useful therapy for anxiety. Patients should consult their doctor and pharmacist before self-treating anxiety symptoms with herbal medications. Herbal medications are not a replacement for standard therapy for anxiety.

      Some nutritional supplements have shown beneficial effects in small clinical studies. Examples of supplements that may be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms include:

      • L-lysine
      • L-arginine
      • L-tyrosine
      • L-phenylalanine
      • Selenium
      • Magnesium

      Based on clinical studies, the effect of magnesium supplementation on anxiety symptoms may not be better than a sugar pill. Patients should consult their doctor and pharmacist before self-treating anxiety symptoms with nutritional supplements.

      Researchers have looked into the effect of Yoga on improving anxiety. Some of these small clinical studies suggest that Yoga may improve anxiety symptoms by improving the levels of GABA in the brain. Since Yoga and other types of exercise are beneficial for overall health, it may be a useful addition to standard medical therapy for anxiety.

      Which drugs or supplements interact with anti-anxiety drugs?

      Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

      Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) have many important drug interactions when they are used for the treatment of anxiety or other health conditions.

      Patients should not take anxiolytic drugs with any of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) class of antidepressants or other drugs that inhibit MAOIs such as linezolid [Zyvox] and intravenous methylene blue. Examples of MAOIs include:

      • isocarboxazid (Marplan)
      • phenelzine (Nardil)
      • tranylcypromine (Parnate) (Eldepryl)
      • procarbazine (Matulane)

      Patients that take such combinations may develop confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, hyperactivity, coma, and death. Patients may develop similar reactions if they combine SSRIs or SNRIs with other drugs that increase serotonin in the brain.

      Combining SSRIs or SNRIs with warfarin, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for ex-ample ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other drugs that affect bleeding may increase the likelihood of patients developing upper gastrointestinal bleeding when these drugs are used for the treatment of anxiety or other health conditions.


      Watch the video: 10. DÍL: ANXIOLYTIKA NEJPOUŽÍVANĚJŠÍ LÉKY PROTI ÚZKOSTI (May 2022).


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