Over the years, we have seen an increasing trend in the use of anti-anxiety medicines. Living in a highly dynamic and ever-changing world has seen stress and pressure become an everyday part of life. Oftentimes, the use of medication provides an effective coping mechanism for many.
Developed countries rank amongst the highest, when it comes to the proportion of their general population who are using anti-anxiety medication. For example, 1 in 6 people in the US population are reported to be taking some kind of anti-anxiety treatment or other similar medication.
This is something that is not easily spoken about nor is it a topic that has generated sufficient awareness in the past. A likely reason for this is that sensitive topics such as the use of anxiety medication and mental disorders are still often not acknowledged by society.
Living in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, stress levels amongst ordinary people have heightened. Whether it be a student affected by campus closures or a breadwinner who has lost a job, anxiety has become more common among the general population. The pandemic has raised anxiety levels in various ways including:
- Dealing with the stress and anxiety of lost or reduced income
- Losing a loved one or the fear and anxiety associated with the idea thereof
- Coping with everyday stress and complying with COVID-19 prevention requirements
- Adjusting to lifestyle changes and new methods or ways of doing things
- Dealing with the uncertainty of the future
People can be too quick to frown upon the idea of using medications to treat anxiety. However, when taken correctly, using pharmaceutical treatments is generally a more harm-reduced approach to dealing with conditions like anxiety than abusing alcohol or other harmful substances.
Depending on how you look at it, anti-anxiety medications will continue to be an effective alternative to dealing with stress and anxiety. Pharmaceutical treatments might even be the first, or preferred, choice over the expensive cost of going to therapy or abusing alcohol and substances.
What Are Anti-Anxiety Medicines?
These are medicines that belong to a class of pharmaceuticals called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are used to relieve stress and treat a range of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures. These medications have a tranquilising effect that calms the brain and central nervous system. There are several anxiety disorders, which include:
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorders
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
Anti-Anxiety Medication for Managing Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
Anxiety is frequently related to insomnia as excess fear and worry can make it difficult for a person to achieve a full night’s sleep. Furthermore, anxiety and sleeping difficulties tend to play off each other and anxiety can make insomnia worse and vice versa. This is why benzodiazepines are often highly recommended for managing sleep disorders as they help relieve anxiety so restful sleep can be attained.
In clinical research, these medications have been proven to be very efficient in helping people fall asleep. In general, these medications improve the overall quality of sleep, especially when used as recommended. Benzodiazepines have also been shown to treat sleep problems such as night terrors and sleepwalking. These medications can, however, lead to dependence if they are not taken correctly so patients are advised to always adhere to administration guidelines.
What Kinds of anti-anxiety medication Are Available on the Market?
Some of the most commonly used pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety include lorazepam, clonazepam, alprazolam and diazepam to name a few. Below is a brief description of some of the anxiety medication brands available on the market and how they work:
Lorazepam: also known by the brand name Ativan, this medicine is primarily indicated in the treatment of anxiety disorders and acute episodes of anxiety. In addition, surgeons sometimes administer this medication before surgeries, to help apprehensive patients feel more at ease. This medication slows down the central nervous system and provides a tranquilising effect.
Clonazepam: this is the active ingredient in Klonopin, which is a tranquiliser that is used to reduce or prevent panic attacks and aid in stopping seizures. This medication is also used to treat akathisia which is a movement disorder. This medication comes in two tablets forms – an oral dissolving tablet and the common oral tablet which is swallowed whole.
Alprazolam: also marketed under the brand name Xanax, this is a medical treatment ideal for anxiety and sleep disorders such as insomnia. It is particularly effective for people who suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and is also useful in treating panic attacks.
Diazepam: this is the main ingredient in Valium, which is one of the most commonly used treatments for psychiatric conditions like anxiety. It has a sedative effect which makes it useful in relieving the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders. This benzodiazepine medication is, however, also used in the treatment of a number of other conditions including muscle spasms, seizures, alcohol withdrawal and insomnia.
These anxiety-reducing medications all belong to the benzodiazepine class which, once ingested, work in a similar way in the body. These medications work by boosting levels of a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Having larger amounts of this chemical present in the body ultimately leads to lower anxiety levels and improved sleep quality.
Can I Get Addicted To Anti-Anxiety Medication?
Most forms of anxiety are known to have adverse mental and physical effects on people’s lives. When used as advised, anxiety medication can effectively address the symptoms of anxiety disorders. With that said, the possible dangers of such medications should also be acknowledged, since most of these medications alter chemicals in the body to reduce anxiety.
Since these medications work by directly influencing the central nervous system, it means a patient may become dependent on the effects of these therapeutics. This is something that a person taking this medication would ideally want to avoid, especially at the end of treatment.
To significantly reduce the chance of tolerance and dependence to these medications, it is advisable that the lowest effective dose is used during treatment. It is also worth noting that these medications can be used on an as-needed basis instead of every day. This will significantly reduce the chance of becoming addicted to these medications. If you order anxiety medication online and decide to discontinue treatment, the dose should be slowly reduced to prevent withdrawal symptoms.