Drug treatments for anxiety disorders are controversial.

There are lots of reasons why people shy away from drug therapy. For example, they may be reluctant to carry the ongoing expenses of doctor’s visits and prescriptions. They may have heard horror stories about side effects and about addiction. They may think that the idea of using a medical remedy to Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms treat a psychological illness is preposterous.

There are lots of reasons why some people prefer drug therapy. For example, in the short run it can be much less expensive and time-consuming than psychologically-based therapies. Results usually come more quickly. Many drugs prescribed for anxiety disorders do not have troublesome side effects; many are not addictive. Drug therapy can be very helpful for people for whom psychologically-based therapies are ineffective. And — countering the argument about using a medical remedy against a psychological illness — much data suggest that biology plays an important role in anxiety disorders. Furthermore, because thoughts and feelings are neurobiological events, a good argument can be made that treating a psychological problem biologically is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

In fact, much evidence shows that the optimum treatment for the acute stages of anxiety disorders is a combination of drug treatments and psychologically-based treatments such as behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. Usually once the patient is “over the hump” and has made progress in a psychologically-based therapy, the drugs are discontinued. However, many people do stay with drug therapy indefinitely, and with excellent results.

If you are contemplating drug therapy — either by itself or as an adjunct to a psychologically-based therapy — you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

* Am I the kind of person who can take drug therapy responsibly? For example, what are the chances that I will rely too heavily on a sedative drug or that I will drink while using one? Will I adhere to any dietary or driving restrictions that might be necessary? Will I take the drug strictly in compliance with the doctor’s orders?

* Do I have a good relationship with my doctor or therapist? Will I feel comfortable complaining about side effects if I really feel bothered by them?

* What are my plans for helping myself if and when I discontinue drug therapy?

Of course, in your decision-making process, seriously consider the advice of your therapist or doctor, and remember to always leave the door open to getting a second opinion.

If you do decide to take a prescription drug for your anxiety symptoms, keep in mind that the anxiety or tension associated with the stress of everyday life usually does not require drug therapy. Make a point of asking your doctor or therapist about necessary precautions. Tell him or her if you are pregnant or nursing. Report any side effects. Ask whether the drug prescribed will interact dangerously with other prescription or over-the-counter medicines. And, because many of the drugs prescribed for anxiety disorders can make some medical problems worse, make sure the doctor or therapist prescribing the drug knows your medical history.


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