Why Medication Is Not Enough To Treat Anxiety

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While we all wish that there was a magic word or some magical medicine or way that we could make anxiety stop instantly and disappear forever, this is sadly not reality. There may not be a magical medicine. However, medication in itself is still a very popular and effective way to 'treat' Anxiety Disorders. I say 'treat' because medication in itself does not actually cure Anxiety Disorder. In fact, it’s far from it, and it’s easy enough to get a doctor’s prescription for anxiety disorder, but when it comes it to actual treatment and recovery, it's really not as simple as that.

There are two reasons for this:

First, there is a fine line between taking a pill every day to mask symptoms, and then actually dealing with the root cause of what is causing the anxiety. However, dealing with the cause of a person’s anxiety in itself is an even bigger problem because experts have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of anxiety disorder - which begs the question - if we don't know what the exact cause of anxiety disorder is, then how do we properly treat it?

Second, and this is just my musings, but maybe the reason why we haven't been able to pinpoint the cause yet is that every person is different in what we feel, how we feel and of course in what triggers our anxiety.

So, what is the cause of anxiety disorder and what triggers a person's anxiety disorder?

Two fundamental questions: one which experts don't have an answer for and one in which the answer would be different for every anxiety sufferer out there, making Anxiety Disorders extremely complex to treat.

When it comes to anti-anxiety medication, there are four main types that are used to treat anxiety disorders:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs):These help prevent reabsorption of serotonin by the brain, which helps to increase a person’s mood.
Examples are Prozac and Zoloft.
Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): These also help to limit the amount of serotonin that is reabsorbed, but also an additional hormone: norepinephrine. 
An example would be Duloxetine.
Benzodiazepines: These tend to work quickly and are effective in helping to slow the nervous system down. They also help with muscle tension and have a calming effect. 
Examples of these would be Xanax and Valium.
Tricyclic Anti-Depressants: These also help the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, but also keep other cell receptors from reabsorbing. An example would be Desipramine.

Now let’s have a look at some of the positives aspects regarding medication:

First, medication is a quick and easy form of relief. Medication can reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety or in some cases even stop some symptoms. Also, with some medications, they can help to increase serotonin levels. 

However, there are negative points to medication as well. The most common known symptoms are the side effects. However, with a bit of trial and error, if the right medication is used, it is possible to have little or no side effects.

The other issue with medication is that when and if a person decides to withdraw from medication, withdraw symptoms can appear, making the person feel even worse than what they did before.

The third issue and one I have personally experienced is that medication won’t necessarily stop a relapse.

So, what is the best way to treat anxiety disorders? Everyone is different.

It is recommended that both medication and therapy are both invaluable when it comes to treating anxiety disorders. Medication can be used for quick and perhaps short-term relief, especially for people who are not keen on medication for the long haul. This is effective in helping a person to reduce their symptoms while working alongside a therapist that can teach them how to handle any relapses.

It is vital that a person knows how to control/manage their symptoms. Medication can help the person feel better in the short term while undergoing therapy, and if they decide to withdraw, they have the necessary tools needed to help manage the withdrawal process and ultimately their long-term mental health.

Although medication can help to ease the symptoms associated with anxiety disorder, it is of vital importance to understand that Diet, Environment, Career, and lifestyle ALL play a part in the recovery process, but the most important thing of all is the learning how to control your mind and not let it control you – this is something only therapy can teach and not medication.

So, in theory, I would tell people to use the best of both. If you wish, utilize medication to help ease the symptoms, but also get into a good therapy programme! Knowing these coping tools is essential, and there is nothing better than being able to stop an anxiety attack yourself!

Remember to explore ALL options, no matter if they are natural, conventional or alternative! Do what works for you!

Written by Mel Bonthuys