Okay, so who isn’t anxious on some days? But is your anxiety beginning to affect your daily life? If you suspect that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, there is help available. In fact, more people are on anxiety medication than you might realize.
What’s more, you don’t need to see an expensive psychiatrist to get mental health support.
To help you along your mental health journey, here are some guidelines and things you should know about this particular type of medication.
Let’s start with the signs of anxiety.
Common Signs Of Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. It affects 40 million adults across the country, or 18.1% of the population each year. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of people suffering receive treatment.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and environmental factors. While everyone experiences anxiety differently, and not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience the same symptoms, there is some overlap. Also, these symptoms often intertwine with depression.
Mental symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- racing thoughts and uncontrollable overthinking
- difficulty concentrating
- heightened alertness
- feeling irritable or feelings of dread, panic, or ‘impending doom’
- experiencing a feeling of wanting to escape the situation you are in
- difficulty sleeping
- changes in appetite
Dissociation often causes you to feel like you are not connected to your own body, or like you are watching things happen around you, but not necessarily feeling it.
Physical symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- sweating, hot flushes, or blushing
- dry mouth
- heavy or fast breathing, as well as a racing heart
- dry mouth
- hair loss
- extreme fatigue or feeling like you have no energy
- dizziness or feeling faint
- stomach aches and feeling sick
Related Read: Everything You Need to Know About Extended Release Tablets
Getting Help: Where to Get Anxiety Medication
So, where can you get medication to help you control your anxiety? Unfortunately, you can’t get anything over the counter. Although there is no shortage of vitamins and supplements on the market that claim to help, there is little evidence to support it.
Only a general physician or psychiatrist is able to prescribe this type of medication.
However, you’ll need to see a doctor in person for meds that are classified as controlled substances. This means online doctors won’t be able to prescribe benzodiazepines like Xanax. With that being said, tele-doctors can prescribe antidepressants – this is the first line of treatment for anxiety disorders, and is highly effective. Also, these have fewer risk factors and side effects compared to benzodiazepines.
And while a GP can prescribe anxiety medication, you may want to consider getting an opinion from a psychiatrist too.
If there is specific medication you would like to try, feel free to discuss it with your doctor. However, your doctor will utlimately know which type is best for you after your consultation.
To understand more about the different types of anxiety medication and their side effects, we recommend this article by Choosing Therapy.
What to Expect During Your Consultation
Once you schedule a consultation with your doctor, you’re going to have to provide some information and answer a few questions before you can receive a prescription.
Information to Prepare
This information is crucial to helping your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. So no holding back.
- Make a list of your symptoms (when they began, when they occur, how they affect your life, and when they seem to be better or worse)
- Write down any significant stress factors in your life, including any traumas you’re endured – both in the past and at present
- Tell your doctor all of your health conditions – both mental and physical
- Make a list of all medication (including supplements) that you’re taking. As well as how much you take and how often.
- Be honest about any other substances you use or consume, like:
- Sugar – especially in large amounts
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
You’ve probably thought of a million to ask already. But they’re easy to forget – so write them down. This will help both you and your doctor and it saves time. Put the most important ones at the top and work your way down. Here are some questions you may want to ask.
- Do I have an anxiety disorder?
- Is there something else that could be causing my symptoms?
- Is there any treatment you recommend?
- Do I need to be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist?
- What medication do you think I should take? What are the side effects? What can I do to relive these side effects if I experience any?
- Is there a generic medication available that I can take?
- How long will I need to take the medication?
- When will I start to feel better?
Don’t hesitate to ask other questions during your consultation. This is why you’re having the appointment in the first place.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask You:
These are some questions that your doctor is likely to ask you.
- What are your symptoms? How severe are they?
- How long have you been experiencing these symptoms?
- When do you experience them? Is there a specific time? All the time? Sometimes?
- What makes your symptoms worse?
- What makes your symptoms better?
- Do you have any physical or mental medical conditions?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you smoke, consume caffeinated drinks, alcohol, or use drugs? How often and in what quantities?
- How stressful is your environment? Work, school, home, etc.
- How much do your symptoms affect your life – work, school, relationships, etc.
- Have you ever experienced any trauma?
- Is there a history of mental health conditions in your family?
Related Read: Are You Taking the Right Allergy Medication?
How to Start Taking Anxiety Medication
First, get a valid prescription.
You will need a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional to access anxiety medication. Each medication prescribed for anxiety has different benefits and possible side effects.
Discuss side effects and lifestyle changes.
Risks vary from medication to medication but make sure you ask your doctor about potential drug reactions or interactions with other medications or supplements you take. In addition, it’s not recommended to drink alcohol while taking any kind of anxiety medication, so be prepared to implement these lifestyle changes to ensure your medication has a chance to work properly.
Always take your medication as prescribed.
It’s always recommended to take your anxiety medication as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you don’t feel immediate improvements. When starting any new medication, it’s extremely important to follow the prescription and your doctor’s instructions, including making sure you don’t miss a dose.
Patient outcomes on various medications vary. Sometimes it takes trying several different types of medications or combinations of medications, in addition to therapy, before a patient experiences the desired treatment outcome. It’s important when starting a new medication to take notice of your feelings and behaviors, so you can let your healthcare professional know how you’re doing, if there are any improvements, and whether your meds need to be changed.
Give your medication time to work.
Anxiety medications like antidepressants and SSRIs may take up to 2-8 weeks to start working. This time frame can vary since each person’s body metabolizes medicine differently. In contrast, benzodiazepines work quickly – often within hours or less. The important thing is that no matter the medication you’ve been prescribed, you shouldn’t get discouraged if you don’t get the results, you want right away. Be patient and stay in touch with your healthcare providers to discuss how you’re adjusting to your medication and managing side effects.
Signs It’s Time to Switch Your Medication
But what if your anxiety medication isn’t working?
If you’re not having a positive experience with one medication, you may have to try another or several others before you find one that’s right for you. Sometimes, healthcare providers may give you two medications that work differently if you have anxiety. You may also get switched to a new medication if you don’t experience any improvements within 6 weeks or if symptoms don’t go away within 12 weeks.
One serious side effect of anxiety medications is they can sometimes worsen anxiety symptoms. So, it’s important to be aware of this and keep communicating with your healthcare provider.
Some signs that it’s time to switch your medication include:
You have severe side effects.
As with any kind of medication, anxiety medication and other psychiatric drugs can cause unwanted side effects. For many people, side effects only last a few weeks and are relatively mild. But some people can experience side effects that are severe and don’t subside. In these cases, you need to contact your doctor to discuss whether adjusting your medication is necessary. Some of the most common side effects of anxiety medications include:
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Dry mouth
Your symptoms worsen.
While many patients do find relief with anxiety medication, some require more than one try to get it right. If you notice that your previous mental health symptoms get worse or you start developing new symptoms, then it might be a sign to change your medication.
You feel numb all the time.
It’s important to know that the goal of being on anxiety medication – or any other psychiatric medication – isn’t to numb a person of all feelings. It’s about helping patients find balance. So, if you constantly feel apathetic or numb, it could be a sign your medication isn’t working properly. You might need a lower dose or entirely different medications.
You have completely new symptoms.
If your mental health medication is working well for you, but you suddenly start experiencing symptoms from another disorder, it could indicate that you have a comorbid mental health condition. This means that people with one mental health condition may be more likely to develop related conditions that have different symptoms and treatment options. For instance, someone with depression may be more likely to develop anxiety as well. So if you start noticing new symptoms, you need to let your doctor know and see if switching meds is an option.
The medication only helps a bit.
If your anxiety medication helps take the edge off of some of the symptoms but doesn’t do enough to curb your symptoms, then it might be a sign that you need a higher dose of medication or an additional medication added to your plan.
The Next Steps
It’s perfectly fine to take some time to research a medication before you start taking it. Don’t feel like it has to be today.
Remember, mental health medicines aren’t the same as antibiotics or other medications. This isn’t a situation where the doctor prescribes the meds, you take them for a specific amount of time, and then everything is fine and you never discuss it again.
You need to stay in touch with your doctor, and let them know how your symptoms are affected, and if you’re experiencing any side effects. Your doctor might want to adjust the dosage of your medicine or switch you over to something else, depending on your results and side effects.
It’s important that you and your doctor are able to work together to treat your anxiety. Before you google “doctors that treat anxiety near me” try using the Air Doctor app to find a qualified medical professional near you.