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Everyone experiences some degree of anxiety. For most people, anxiety is connected to a specific concern or event such as buying a house or speaking in public. But for those who have an anxiety disorder, anxiety can become a constant factor that disrupts everyday life.
People who have one anxiety disorder may also be at higher risk for other psychological disorders including other anxiety disorders and depression. They may also be at higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse. Left untreated, anxiety disorders can create serious problems that can seem to take over a person’s life and can disrupt work, family, and basic activities needed to live.
People with anxiety disorders can often find relief through medical treatment. Common treatments include medications, certain kinds of psychotherapy, or a combination of both therapy and medication. Different types of anxiety disorders respond to different treatments, so it is important for each individual to be carefully evaluated and diagnosed with a specific disorder before treatment begins.
Medications for anxiety
Medications may not actually cure anxiety disorders. But they can help control symptoms of the condition to allow normal activities and to help with psychotherapy. These medications are commonly used to treat anxiety disorder.
• Antidepressants need to build up in the body in order to be fully effective. Although they begin to work on altering brain chemistry as soon as they are taken, it can take as long as four to six weeks before sufficient changes are accomplished to show significant improvement in symptoms.
Antidepressants that are effective against anxiety disorder include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclics, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
• Benzodiazepines can be initially effective but may require increasingly higher doses over time. This can make them less appropriate for long-term use because they may result in drug dependency.
• Beta-blockers can be used to treat specific physical symptoms of anxiety.