Anxiety – Illness and Medications
Anxiety is the both psychological and physiological generalized mood condition, characterized by unpleasant feelings, fears and worries. This condition doesn’t have any apparent cause, and the fear patients are experiencing seems (to them) as something they can’t avoid or resolve.
This condition is more easily treated if caught in early stages, and it usually includes psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications. There are several groups of drugs used to treat anxiety disorders, including SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), benzodiazepines, MAOIs (monoamine inhibitors), but sometimes also GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) analogues and antidepressant drugs.
All these groups of medications have certain side effects, affecting the person’s mind and body.
SSRIs are in most cases drugs of the first choice, but these medications haven’t been confirmed as safe to be used in pregnant women. Additionally, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has issued a caution for parents of children prescribed with SSRIs, because of the potential suicidal ideas.
MAO inhibitors, however, are associated with special diet. The consummation of the food containing amino acids tyramine and tryptophan should be restricted, since it may cause serious health problems, such as hypertensive crisis and serotonin syndrome. Overdose of MAOIs is also highly toxic for human organism.
Benzodiazepines are also the treatment for anxiety disorders. The most serious side effect come from the long term use of these drugs and this is dependency. Because of this, drug tolerance and potential abuse benzodiazepines are usually the last option for the treatment, when all other drugs fail to work.
Patients treated with anti-anxiety medications may experience nausea, dizziness and headaches, and these side effects appear to be quite common for all used drugs.
Some medications may cause excessive nervousness, general weakness, sweating and dry mouth. Certain anti-anxiety medications are known to cause poor appetite, while others increase body weight. There are some anxiety patients that refuse using these medications, once they gain some weight.
Anxiety drugs are known to affect the sexual life of an individual treated with them. They could lead to impotence or other sexual problems.
Other personality changes while using anti-anxiety medications include: depression, violence and raised aggressiveness. Common problems might also be some sleeping disturbances, nightmares and hallucinations, often associated with anxiety drugs.
Some patients also experienced various severe adverse effects, such as: unconsciousness, stiff muscles, kidney problems, fever and jaundice, all caused by anxiety drugs.
There are disagreements in the medical society whether the medications and psychotherapy complement each other or interfere. Recent studies show that behavioral therapy is more efficient in the long run then the medications, but the final decision about the treatment must be done considering every single patient’s condition individually.