Asking the question, “Do I Need Medication to Treat My Anxiety?” is very important. Realizing that you may have a problem with anxiety is a big step! Now, what do you do about it? Learning how to treat anxiety may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and knowledge, you can change your initial question into a statement: “I know how to treat my anxiety.”
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives. Some people experience it less than others, and some people feel debilitated by it. Being able to identify the type of anxiety you have is an important factor in whether or not medication is the best way to manage it.
MedlinePlus defines anxiety as, “a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness.” They also explain that it is the body’s way of responding to stress. “For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus.”
This type of anxiety is temporary and typically dissipates after the stressful event is over.
According to MedlinePlus, “Anxiety disorders are conditions in which you have anxiety that does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.”
While there are several types of anxiety disorders, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that the most common include:
The rule of thumb with anxiety is that it is usually considered chronic if it occurs consistently for at least six months. Diagnoses can only be made by licensed clinicians, so it’s important to talk to a professional, like the ones at Sage Recovery, if you think you need help. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger to themselves or someone else, please contact emergency services immediately.
While everyone will exhibit different symptoms based on their personality and the type of anxiety disorder they have, there are a few classic symptoms to look out for.
The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) reports that “GAD usually involves a persistent feeling of anxiety or dread, which can interfere with daily life. It is not the same as occasionally worrying about things or experiencing anxiety due to stressful life events.” They go on to explain that the following are classic symptoms of GAD:
Furthermore, NIMH also explains, “People with panic disorder have frequent and unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear, discomfort, or sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trigger.” The following symptoms may be experienced during panic attacks:
Anxiety is typically treated through therapy, medication, or a combination of both. The type of treatment needed will vary based on your needs, the type of anxiety you have, and your clinician’s expertise.
Psychotherapy is the most common form of therapy used to treat anxiety. Here at Sage Recovery, evidence-based practices such as:
Therapy is often used to help patients rewire their brains as they heal from anxiety. These types of therapies can help the patient to recognize unhealthy behavior and thought patterns and learn how to healthily cope and deal with them.
When treating anxiety, it’s important to try to get to the root of it. Your counselor may ask questions, like:
Getting to the root of the anxiety is an important factor in healing from it. Often, anxiety is a symptom of a deeper issue, such as unresolved trauma. If the issue remains unresolved, symptoms of anxiety can continue to get worse and can eventually develop into bigger health problems. NIH confirms, “Anxiety disorders can also raise your risk for other medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression.”
Knowing if it is time to go on medication is something that needs to be decided by you and your doctor. For some people, medicine helps them take control of their anxiety instead of the other way around. If you think that going on medication may help you, talk to your doctor about options.
NIMH explains, “Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve symptoms. Health care providers, such as a psychiatrist or primary care provider, can prescribe medication for anxiety.” NIMH further describes that the following are the most commonly used medications to treat anxiety:
It is extremely important to only take medication that is prescribed by your doctor. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can have harmful side effects if they are not used properly. Additionally, certain medications cannot be taken with anti-anxiety or antidepressants, so it’s vital to discuss your medical conditions with your doctor before adding any new prescriptions. This will ensure your safety and health as you work together to figure out a proper dosage and medication that will work for your specific needs.
Here at Sage Recovery, we know how difficult it can be to take the first step toward healing. If anxiety is something that you’ve struggled with, we want you to know that you’re not alone and healing is possible! Our master’s level clinicians are extensively trained in providing trauma-informed care and treating various types of mental disorders. This way, you can know that, no matter what you’ve been through, you will be treated with dignity and respect as you heal. We specialize in helping adults and adolescents healthily heal from the hard things they’ve been through. If you are ready to begin your healing journey, reach out to us at (512) 306-1394.