Is Medication The Best Way To Treat Anxiety?

Is Medication The Best Way To Treat Anxiety?

Some researchers estimate that chronic anxiety, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), interferes with everyday life for up to 10% of American adults. Because the body releases these chemicals when combating the ingrained fight-flight-freeze response, the anxious can often feel “trapped,” feel strong feelings of dread, or feel inexplicable nervousness and paranoia. Dread and entrapment can incur other emotional complications, like depression, or greater panic disorders.

Whether situational or chronic, frustration and depression may lead some people to seek medicinal options. Sometimes, patients feel like their therapies don’t work on their own—already anxious patients can feel disheartened and lost. But is medication use the best way to treat anxiety? For how long should one take medication? What are the effects of long-term use? Let’s look at some anxiety treatment options and assess their usefulness:

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Doctors actually prescribe SSRIs more often for depression. Coincidentally, serotonin cancels many of the same chemicals that cause both depressive and anxious symptoms. Serotonin helps you to feel happy and energized, first and foremost.

But prescription anxiety and depression medications come with many catch-all’s. A psychiatrist will prepare their patients for the duration of the medication use and common side effects. For example, many medications take four to six weeks to begin working. And then, medications are usually only prescribed for a few months, alongside cognitive behavioral therapy. SSRIs and other medications were never intended for long-term use, because serotonin can become addicting and habit-forming. Psychologists would rather patients learn the techniques necessary to reaffirm their thoughts and help the brain release its own sensory chemicals.

SSRI side effects include upset stomach, disrupted digestion, insomnia, and in some cases, even more anxiety. If the body cannot acclimate to the drug, the patient can instead feel even more anxious and depressed than before—often suicidal. Consult an emergency physician if you have suicidal thoughts, or feel as though you are experiencing moderate to severe side effects.

In short, SSRIs can only help some patients, for a short amount of time. If you begin a SSRI regime, be aware that the regime will not be permanent.


Most commonly referred to by its many names—Xanax, Valium, Klonopin and others—benzodiazepines disrupt or change nerve functions in the brain that can cause anxiety. These work in patients whose anxiety is caused by nerves and undue chemical discharge. Scientists theorize that benzodiazepines suppress the over-activity of brain neurotransmitters, while bolstering nerve-suppressing amino acids. As well as anxiety, these medications can treat those prone to insomnia, or seizures. Benzodiazepines act in part as a sedative.

But benzodiazepines must be taken on a strict schedule as prescribed, and only for the duration of the doctor’s prescription. Benzodiazepine users are often slowly weaned from the drug, to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The brain can become physically dependent on the drug itself. Withdrawal symptoms, or symptoms of long-term use, can include depression, anxiety, nausea, and physical seizures, among others.

The Results

These medications are only the most common anxiety medications on the market; tens of others exist today. Still, all medications use chemical compounds to either alter chemical imbalances, or change the face of chemical release in the brain entirely. SSRIs fill a lack, where benzodiazepines alter neurotransmitters. No natural remedy recorded can commit these changes, and offer this sort of relief, from anxiety.

But these changes come with a high price if misused, or if your body isn’t compatible to their chemical compounds. Both drugs can be addicting and can increase physical dependency, when they work. They cannot be taken for long-term relief and, ultimately, the patient will have to develop their own self-treatment tactics. Furthermore, the drugs’ proficiency and quantity do not guarantee that they will work for each and every patient. The cause of anxiety often determines the treatment for anxiety.

Alternative Methods

Many would rather avoid using medication at all, to prevent potentially developing an addition, or lasting side effects. Alternative methods have been studied for anxiety treatment and can also be used post-medication. They cannot forcibly change chemical compounds to the extent of medication, nor can they alter neurotransmitters, but they can replicate medicinal effects with their own chemical processes. Listed below are self-treatment remedies and foods that can supplement, or potentially replace, medication.

Trainer And Senior Customers Stretching On Fitness Balls
Exercise, or raise the core body temperature—Studies show that a higher core temperature lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles plagued with cortisol, and can even change neural circuits responsible for good moods. Warm temperatures cultivate vitamin production in the human system and help the brain to release calming chemicals, cancelling out many anxious chemicals altogether. While exercise may increase heart and breathing rates over again, exercise also forces the body to regulate those factors. The natural anxiety remedy forces the body to burn adrenaline faster. Once adrenaline leaves the body, the body can restore itself to chemical balance. Doctors will often recommend a regular, though mild, workout regime.
A fruit and nut ceral protein bars with honey and cornflakes
Consume high-tryptophan foods—Foods with serotonin exist, but the serotonin is digested through the body, not brought to the brain. In actuality, foods high in the sedative tryptophan—a precursor to serotonin—relax the muscles and regulate blood pressure. Many foods with tryptophan also contain pivotal vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that lower anxiety-inducing chemicals.
Patient hand squeezing physiotherapy ball
Seek sensory distractions—As the brain can be distracted by certain smells, so it can by tactile differences. Stress balls are a good example. The squeezing of a stress ball produces both a minimal adrenaline outlet and a repetitive task for the brain to manage. A fist contracting and releasing at regular intervals keeps the brain busy measuring time and the textile of the rubber.

Studies show that, while medicine paired with treatment and alternative remedies work for many people, medicines are not the only option. Alternative remedies can both suppress natural anxiety and supplement non-medicinal therapy, like behavior therapy, where the patient alters their frame of mind to combat anxious feelings. Can you think of any other ways to treat anxiousness?

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