Anxiety and Prescription Medicine

What Is Anxiety?

Feeling nervous, worried, or afraid is common, but usually short-term. However, the feelings may last longer and get worse over time. Anxiety is also likely to create problems with relationships, work or school, or most any activity.

What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety?

Our assessment includes the following questions about anxiety symptoms:

  1. Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge

  2. Not being able to stop or control worrying

  3. Worrying too much about different things

  4. Trouble relaxing

  5. Being so restless it is hard to sit still

  6. Becoming easily annoyed or irritable

  7. Feeling afraid, as if something awful might happen

These symptoms occur at least several days over the past two weeks. And, they may make it difficult for you to do your work, take care of things at home, or get along with people.

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders, meaning an actual diagnosis of anxiety, are quite common. A national study of adults in the U.S. estimated close to 20% had an anxiety disorder in the previous year. The study determined that anxiety disorders were more common in women than men. And, over 30% of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes.

Should I Contact My Doctor?

The answer is “Yes.” In addition to the care that you are receiving through Goodpath, you may benefit from a discussion with your doctor about prescription medications for anxiety. It is advised that you contact your doctor to schedule an appointment. 

What Is The Treatment For Anxiety?

The treatment for anxiety is based on the individual, their specific diagnosis, and their symptoms. Treatment may include a combination of prescription medicines, counseling or therapy, relaxation and stress reduction, physical activity, lifestyle changes, and complementary treatments.

Which Prescriptions Are Used To Treat Anxiety?

Several classes or types of medicines may be prescribed for anxiety. The way they are prescribed varies. It depends on many factors, such as the type of anxiety, a person’s medical history and symptoms, an individual’s response to the medicine, and possible side effects.

  • Combinations of medicines may be used.

  • Medicines may be added or changed.

  • Doses may be gradually increased.

  • They may be prescribed short- or long-term.

Different classes of antidepressant and antianxiety medicines may be prescribed. Several other classes of medicines may also be used. Although antidepressant medicines are used to treat depression, they are effective in the long-term treatment of anxiety.

What Are Some Common Antidepressant Medicines?

Two types of antidepressant medicines are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Some common SSRIs are escitalopram and sertraline and some common SNRIs are duloxetine and venlafaxine, extended-release.

What Are Some Common Anti-anxiety Medicines?

A class of medicines used in the short-term relief of anxiety symptoms is the benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and clonazepam. They are often prescribed in combination with an antidepressant. Healthcare providers use them very cautiously due to their side effects (like drowsiness, memory problems, and weakness) and the possibility of withdrawal symptoms (dependence) when stopped.

A unique anti-anxiety medicine is buspirone. It may take longer to take effect, but it has few side effects and does not lead to dependence.

Is Treatment Follow-up Needed?

It is extremely important for a person who has been prescribed medication for anxiety to follow up with their healthcare provider. Follow-up is important for monitoring response to the medication and adjusting the dose as needed. It is also important for identifying any side effects or safety issues with the medication.

For More Information

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2022). For People With Mental Health Problems. Retrieved 7-28-2022 from https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/people-mental-health-problems

National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved 7-28-2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/

National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Mental Health Medications. Retrieved 7-28-2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.shtml#part_149856