When it comes to curing abnormal anxiety you have to keep your head on a swivel; always on the lookout for a permanent solution to your problem.
How you do this will vary but an important part of healing, regardless of the method, is managing the physical symptoms of anxiety.
The reality is that it’s difficult to make progress when your body is under constant assault by chest pain, palpitations and other symptoms.
Anxiety symptoms breed terror and ferocious mental unrest making it hard to do anything much less get better.
I always tell people and firmly believe that the key to stopping anxiety is confronting anxious thoughts.
But how are you supposed to confront your thoughts when you can’t even be sure that you’re going to survive?
If you are consumed with fear or lost in rumination you will remain immobilized and held hostage by rotten ideas and aimless worry.
Okay, cool, so anxiety symptoms are bad. What can you do about it?
One of the most effective ways to calm the body during a bout of acute anxiety is through the use of fast acting anxiety medication.
Now I don’t want you to think that medications are a flawless solution because they are not. They are, however, a powerful tool that should not be ignored.
Especially because certain medications can bring relief within 30 minutes preventing a downward spiral into a world of false beliefs and perturbed navel-gazing.
Remember that anxiety medications can be taken on an as needed basis which does not require a lifelong commitment to big pharma.
And although medication represents only one part of the recovery process it should always be considered when making an honest effort to get better.
Here’s the menu:
Benzodiazepines: A Swift Kick to Bad Nerves
Perhaps the most powerful, and tricky, type of fast acting anxiety medications are known as benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. These medications relax the body by slowing nerve impulses.
They work well but have been linked to a high incidence of dependence and abuse; especially when they are used for more than 6 months.
This means that if you select a benzo you should exercise caution by working closely with your doctor to prevent physical dependence.
There’s also a tendency for these drugs to cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them abruptly. However, if benzos are used only as needed you’re less likely to develop problems with withdrawal.
For all their drawbacks though benzos do have an upside. They offer a rapid means of stopping acute anxiety symptoms which is both practical and reassuring. Even the act of carrying these babies in your pocket could ward off a panic attack.
That matters because when people get locked into long battles with anxiety they tend to develop negative thinking patterns that dog them for years.
Benzos are not a panacea but they can stop unnecessary suffering while you seek a long-term solution.
Examples of Benzodiazepines:
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Klonipin (clonazepam)
- Valium (deazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Halcion (triazolam)
Beta-blockers are common medications with a variety of uses; chief among them is the control of high blood pressure, chest pain and migraine headaches.
Beta-blockers help to block epinephrine and norepinephrine at adrenergic receptor sites which are primarily located in the heart.
Translation: This stuff slows down the heart. They also decrease sweating and tremor.
These medications have been used for some time as a kind of performance enhancer by musicians, public speakers, and others that may encounter stage fright.
Of course, these medications also come with a set of drawbacks. Beta blockers may cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, cold hands, or vomiting. You may also experience rash, blurred vision or fatigue.
What’s nice about beta-blockers though is that they are not habit forming and effective at treating anxiety symptoms.
They can provide hours of relief and are safe for people that don’t have underlying health issues.
Examples of Beta-blockers:
- Inderal (propranolol)
- Sectral (acebutolol)
- Brevibloc (esmolol)
- Coreg (carvedilol)
- Tenormin (atenolol)
Antihistamines Are Not Just for Sniffles
When you think of antihistamines you probably think of stopping allergy or cold symptoms but they are also used to treat anxiety. They work by blocking histamine receptors in the central nervous system which produces a sedative effect.
Sedation may cause you to feel sleepy or develop a headache but otherwise these medications are well tolerated by most people.
One of the upsides to using antihistamines is that you can buy certain brands over the counter.
This can make anxiety management cheap and convenient. But I encourage you to not treat yourself with these medications long-term.
Besides, the more effective versions of these medications are prescription only and it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with a doctor about what you’re taking to manage your anxiety.
Examples of Antihistamines:
- Atarax/Vistaril (hydroxyzine)
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
It’s Not Just About Drugs
It’s important to understand that it is difficult to heal abnormal anxiety while experiencing intense physical symptoms. They make it hard for you to focus on solutions because they cause an OCD like obsession with well being.
However, through the use of fast acting anxiety medication you can calm your body and eventually your mind thereby limiting the amount of suffering that you have to endure before you get better.
Unfortunately, reducing your physical symptoms alone won’t be enough. Once you get your symptoms under control you still have to do the hard work of learning how to manage stress.
That means developing effective coping skills, taking care of your relationships, and addressing long-term problems that are contributing to your anxiety.
If I could do it all over again I would have at least tried a fast acting anxiety medication to deal with the intense symptoms that I experienced.
Maybe then I could have found my way out of the woods sooner.
What’s been your experience with these medications? Share your ideas with me in the comments section below.