Anxiety Medications And The Human Brain

Anxiety Medications And The Human Brain

Anxiety Medications And The Human Brain

We all get normal bouts of anxiety from time to time, which often come in the form of fear, panic attacks, phobia, or social anxiety when we are going through a stressful situation. While there is the difference between anxiety disorders and normal anxiety isn’t always clear, you will know that your everyday anxiety has crossed the line into a disorder that has taken over your life when you experience the following symptoms on a regular basis, and you may need to seek immediate medical advice;

  • Having persistent anxious thoughts that last more than 6 months
  • Being incredibly restless and irritable
  • Finding yourself lying awake, worried or agitated about specific problems
  • Having an irrational, overwhelming, or disruptive fear attached to a specific situation or thing such as crowds, flying, or animals
  • Near-constant muscle tension
  • Chronic digestive problems such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Experiencing a sudden, gripping feeling of fear and helplessness that can last for several minutes, accompanied by scary physical symptoms such as breathing problems, heart palpitations, sweating or flushing
  • Persistent self-doubt and second-guessing yourself and much more

We are all vulnerable to mild anxiety, which can be a tad disconcerting, but severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating. There is a range of coping mechanisms and approaches to alleviate this disorder. Aside from relaxation techniques, second-line treatment, anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, Zoloft, or Valium are effective in relieving symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry.

However, it is not uncommon for people to build up a tolerance to Xanax if they are taken over a long period of time or even become dependent on them and when use is discontinued abruptly, people will show withdrawal symptoms, such as high blood pressure, shaking, intense anxiety, which in severe cases may lead to death.

This because while these medications are approved for the treatment of anxiety disorders, they fall into the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) category of medications known to increase serotonin in the brain and regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and digestion.

And while this is generally great for reducing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, prolonged usage of antidepressants has been shown to result in changes in the structure of neurons and cause destructive outcomes such as a reduced blood clotting capacity, a worsening of anxiety symptoms, treatment-induced sexual dysfunction, drowsiness, insomnia, long-term weight gain, as well as increased suicidal behavior in both children and young adults.

Additionally, patients taking SSRIs have been shown to develop insomnia, joint and muscle pain, headaches, skin rashes, nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea.

Prescription anti-anxiety medications may have a calming effect on individuals with anxiety and many people report feeling a great deal of improvement from them, but medications that are designed to have an impact on the neurotransmitter activity of the brain will often times lead to drug abuse or dependence. It is, therefore, important to discuss with your doctor about the potential problems and side effects of these drugs.

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