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Author: Dr Muffazal RawalaConsultant Adult Psychiatrist

Medications, such as antidepressants, can be highly effective at helping reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders like GAD, social anxiety or PTSD.

35%
Of people with an anxiety disorder wait for over 10 years before seeking help


Finding the correct anxiety medication

Anxiety is commonly experienced along side other conditions such as depression or ADHD.

It’s also common for people with anxiety to turn to alcohol or drug usage as a way of coping with their feelings of anxiety. This is because the symptoms of anxiety, such as becoming socially withdrawn, feelings of panic and incessant worry, can be very hard to live with – resulting in people turning to substances to ‘help’ them feel better or as a coping mechanism.

Understanding what conditions may co-exist alongside the anxiety disorder is key to knowing which is the best treatment option for the individual.

  1. Because of complexities associated with anxiety, it is important to see a professional, experienced in treating anxiety, as the accompanying conditions (co-morbidities) may need to be treated first before the anxiety can be successfully dealt with.
  2. It is not uncommon for people prescribed medication to help with their anxiety disorder to have to try different medications to find the right one for them.
  3. The management of this process needs to be carried out by a clinician as withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and need to be managed carefully.

I was given an immediate diagnosis and the medication prescribed has made me feel well within just a few weeks. I feel like I have my life back.

Yi-Lin, Northampton


Types of anxiety medications used

Antidepressants – the most common medications for anxiety are SSRIs (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors).

The majority of people will experience fewer side effects whilst taking antidepressants than with other types of medications.

If SSRI’s do not work then there are other options including Benzodiazepines. These can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety but can become habit forming and people can develop a tolerance for them, making them less effective. Withdrawal symptoms are common, so the management of these drugs needs to be carefully supervised.

Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant medication that can start to work quickly to help ease anxiety symptoms. It can ease anxiety symptoms but is not suitable for all as there are implications for those with heart or kidney problems. There can also be withdrawal symptoms experienced so management of the drug needs to be closely supervised.

Patients usually start seeing an improvement in a few weeks and many comment on how they are better able to deal with stressful situations, feel calmer and sleep better. Many achieve things which previously they would have avoided.
MBBS, MSc, MRCPsych

Consultant Adult Psychiatrist
London

Dr Muffazal Rawala is an experienced NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, currently working for East London NHS Foundation Trust. He has a Medical Degree, a Masters in Transcultural Mental Health, has a postgraduate certificate in Psychopharmacology and is a...

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