Medication for Anxiety
I am trying to work out whether there is a stigma that surrounds anxiety medication. A fairly large percentage of the adult population take medication to ease anxiety. I suspect those who do not take any medication are unaware of the many people around them that do. Similarly, those that do take medication to help maintain a calm mind do not realise many around them do the same. Medication to manage mental health does not deserve a stigma. My personal belief is that we should question what is happening within society and our own lives to cause so many people to feel unbalanced. However, that is another blog, another day!
What can I take for anxiety?
When you present at the doctor with generalised anxiety disorder the first step your GP must take when following the NICE guidelines, is to educate you on anxiety. If your anxiety does not ease once you have a diagnosis of generalised anxiety your GP should offer you a choice of
- individual non-facilitated self-help
- individual guided self-help
- psychoeducational groups.
If your anxiety continues to cause you problems your GP should offer you either
- an individual high-intensity psychological intervention
- drug treatment
It is important to note that the NICE guidelines state that there is no evidence that either mode of treatment is better, this will depend on you and your preference.
When you choose the drug treatment the offer should be a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), with a consideration of sertraline because it is economical.
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SSRIs work by stopping the neurons from reabsorbing serotonin. This results in more serotonin in the brain to help the transmission of messages between neurons. In the UK doctors have permission to prescribe seven further SSRIs;
- citalopram (Cipramil)
- dapoxetine (Priligy)
- escitalopram (Cipralex)
- fluoxetine (Prozac or Oxactin)
- fluvoxamine (Faverin)
- paroxetine (Seroxat)
- vortioxetine (Brintellix)
Please read my blog here to learn more about serotonin and why you need it.
How long does sertraline take to work for anxiety?
This is a big question when you feel held back by anxiety. You want something that works right now. SSRIs can take up to four weeks to begin working, some people think longer. There are some reports of anxiety increasing at the beginning of treatment. I have seen recommendations that sertraline treatment should be for between six and eighteen months depending on the specific problem. However, many people continue to take sertraline indefinitely.
Propranolol is a beta blocker sometimes prescribed for anxiety to reduce the physical symptoms. Beta Blockers reduce blood pressure by blocking the effects of adrenaline. They do this by stopping the transmission of certain nerve impulses, in particular the beta-adrenergic receptors – those that are stimulated by adrenaline and noradrenaline. The blocking of adrenaline and noradrenaline slows and reduces the force of your heartbeat which lowers blood pressure, it also allows veins and arteries to open which improves blood flow. If you have read my previous blogs on anxiety you will be aware of the effect of adrenaline and noradrenaline, when beta blockers block the adrenaline they stop the effects of these two hormones. Thereby reducing the physical symptoms of the fight or flight response.
How quickly does propranolol work for anxiety?
After reading that sertraline takes weeks to take affect you might be asking yourself, how long do beta blockers take to work for anxiety? Propranolol works far quicker than sertraline, in fact you can expect the effects to begin within a few hours. Do remember though beta blockers take on the physical symptoms whilst SSRIs the emotional.
Propranolol for anxiety how long does it last?
The effects of propranolol last for around 24hrs, your GP will advise you how much and when to take your tablet. The recommendation is usually at the same time each day.
Pregabalin is an antiepileptic drug sometimes prescribed for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). It is not fully understood exactly how pregabalin works but there is the theory that it reduces the release of stimulating brain chemicals. The belief is that it does this by sticking to calcium channels found on nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain which reduces the release of neurotransmitters from these nerve cells. Specifically, glutamate, noradrenaline and substance P – three neurotransmitters that some believe play a role in GAD.
Pregabalin anxiety how long to work?
Like SSRIs it can take at least a few weeks for pregabalin to work. Your doctor will generally advise you to split the dose and take the medication 2-3 times a day.
Should I take medication for anxiety?
There is no doubt in my mind that a small dose of anxiety medication is preferable to substance abuse and other dissociative practices. Medication might also help you to manage therapy if you struggle without it. I subscribe to the belief that there is a way to heal through therapy providing you find the right therapist for you. Medications do have side effects and are not always the answer to everything. However, many people take anti-anxiety medicines and feel content, they have no desire to stop the medication neither do they wish for change. The one thing that is for certain, shame should not feature in taking medication for anxiety.
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Click here to scroll through further blogs on anxiety.