How Anti-anxiety Medication Works

All of us at one time, or another will experience feelings of not being able to cope whether this is due to the loss of a loved one, illness, or losing your job etc. they can all make you feel miserable, but as time goes on and things pick up we get ourselves back on track again.

As I have already commented a certain amount of stress is normal providing a stimulus to action. It becomes a problem when there is to much, to often. (fear, apprehension not caused by real danger) A doctor may tell you it is caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. These feeling of fear and apprehension stimulate the nervous system, this often triggers off physical symptoms such as palpitations, shaking, headache, breathlessness, pain in the chest, even digestive problems.

What they are used for

Anti-anxiety drugs are used to treat persistent feelings of nervousness and tension caused by stress, or some other psychological problem. These drugs do not correct the cause. Getting to the underlying problem is best done maybe, in counselling, or perhaps psychotherapy. These two options could bring the individual the best hope of a long term solution.

These kind of medicines come under a group of drugs known as Benzodiazepines and Beta Blockers. The latter are mainly used to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety such as shaking and palpitations and is most often used to help individuals who suffer excessively in certain situations. For example, speaking at a large public gathering, a job interview, beta blockers the likes of Atenolol block the action of noradrenaline in the body reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety, giving a calming effect to the mind, and are a safer medication as they do not produce drowsiness, as a buy product.

How they work

Benzodiazepines on the other-hand are the most widely used over short periods of time, and work by reducing feelings of restlessness and agitation, slowing mental activity. Most benzodiazepines have a strong sedative effect.

They work by promoting the action of a chemical called gamma-aminobutric acid which locks on to brain cells blocking the transmission of electrical impulses preventing excessive brain cell activity that causes anxiety. The side effects that come with this type of drug (benzodiazepines) include dizziness and forgetfulness and have a sedative effect on the system, making working with heavy machinery, or driving a serious health hazard. Benzodiazepines also have a relaxing effect on muscles, making them excellent when the anxiety comes with sleep problems, reducing the need for sleeping drugs.

Health Risks

Benzodiazepines are considered safe for most people. They reduce feelings of restlessness and agitation, slowing mental activity and may often cause drowsiness, but are not likely to be fatal in overdose. Because of their ability to relax muscles the motivation of the individual may suffer. The greatest risk is that people can become psychologically and physically dependant on them especially for those individual who need to rely on them over long periods, or when larger than average doses have be diagnosed. For this reason they’re normally prescribed over short periods of time. If they have been used for long periods of time then a slow withdrawal under medical supervision would be advised. The effects of benzodiazepines if they are withdrawn suddenly can result in nightmares, restlessness, and excessive anxiety.

If there is a history of alcohol or drug abuse, benzodiazepines because of their sedative effects would be prescribed with caution.

Below is listed a number of the most common medications used. Highlighted medicine will open in a new window.

Benzodiazepines Beta blockers Other non-benzodiazepines
Alprazolam Buspirone Atenolol
Chlordiazepoxide Meprobamate Oxprenolol
Diazepam Propranolol
Lorazepam
Oxazepam