HomeHealth A-ZAnxiolytics Medications : Uses, Side Effects and Warnings

Anxiolytics Medications : Uses, Side Effects and Warnings

Overview

Anxiolytics are a type of medication that are used for the treatment of anxiety. This blog gives a comprehensive understanding of anxiolytics, their uses, possible risks, and various other natural anxiolytics.

What are anxiolytics?

Anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety drugs, are a category of drugs used to prevent anxiety and treat anxiety associated with many mental disorders. Anxiolytic medications are addictive, therefore the doctors only prescribed them for short-term use. These medications are not recommended for people with a history of substance misuse or addiction. There are various types of anxiety disorders. For certain types, the doctor may first recommend an antidepressant medication. If the antidepressants fail, the doctors may prescribe anxiolytics.

How does the anxiolytic medications work?

Various anxiolytic medications work in different ways. The following are some of the anxiolytics:

  1. Benzodiazepines – These medications are known as central nervous system depressants. It’s not entirely clear how they work, but they do raise levels of an amino acid in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which obstructs other activity of the brain. This helps people relax and may also make them drowsy. Examples of benzodiazepine anxiolytics are lorazepam, diazepam, alprazolam and clonazepam.
  2. Barbiturates – These anxiolytics work similar to benzodiazepines, but are much stronger. Low doses can relieve mild to moderate anxiety and make people feel calm and relaxed. These are best used as short-term medications because they are addictive. Examples of barbiturates include pentobarbital, phenobarbital, and amobarbital.
  3. Non-benzodiazepine drugs – they have a different structure than benzodiazepines but are also known to target GABA in the brain. Doctors prescribe non-benzodiazepines for short-term use. Some non-benzodiazepine drugs include zolpidem, zaleplon, zopiclon.
  4. Beta-blockers – While they are normally used for heart conditions, the doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker known as propranolol as an off-label anxiolytic. These beta-blockers help relieve anxiety symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and tremors. Beta-blockers may be prescribed if people have a phobia or overwhelming fear during difficult or traumatic situations.

What are the uses of anxiolytics?

Anxiolytics are primarily used to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. The symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder include severe anxiety or fear lasting more than six months. Social phobia is the deep fear of social situations, including meeting new people or speaking and performing in public. Social phobia can lead to physical symptoms such as profuse sweating and nausea. Over time, this disorder can demoralise people and cause social isolation.

Sometimes during a medical procedure, doctors use anxiolytics to calm the patient . Anxiolytics are frequently combined with psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy. Together, they help patients with anxiety disorder in improving their quality of life.

When should you consult the doctor?

The doctors evaluate the patient’s condition and review the medical history before prescribing the medications and outweighing the potential health risk. It is recommended that the patient inform the doctor about consuming any other medications, over the counter medications, herbs, or supplements. This is because these drugs can adversely interact with anxiolytics.

What are the side effects of anxiolytics?

Anxiolytics can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Other side effects include low blood pressure, irregular breathing, and memory loss. Long-term use can also cause side effects like mood swings, aggressive behaviour, vision problems, sleep problems, liver damage, sexual problems, and chronic fatigue.

What are the warnings for users of anxiolytics?

People must diligently follow the doctor’s instructions when using anxiolytics since the misuse of these drugs can lead to severe effects.

Addiction

When people regularly take these anxiolytics for a long period of time it could lead to addiction. Additionally, prolonged intake of the medication can also make the patient tolerant of the dose, meaning the patient may have to take a higher dose to have the same effect. This could be dangerous for their health.

Withdrawal

People must consult the doctor before stopping anxiolytics as sudden stoppage may lead to withdrawal symptoms like seizures, confusion, restlessness, and insomnia. Doctors can help people reduce the use of these drugs slowly and safely.

Overuse

Patients must only take the prescribed dosage,  as an overdose can result in coma or death.

What are the various natural anxiolytics?

Some of the natural remedies to treat anxiety include the following.

Chamomile

Chamomile is a common ingredient that is used in herbal tea. Some people drink chamomile tea because of the taste whereas others may find it helpful for soothing and calming the mind. Drinking chamomile tea is unlikely to have any side effects. However, it is important to note that chamomile tea, or extract, cannot be used as a replacement for traditional anti-anxiety medication.

Herbal remedies

There are several different herbs and herbal supplements that may help in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and help people feel relaxed and calm. Some of the well-known varieties include lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower, and kava among others.

Aromatherapy

It involves the use of essential oils for the improvement of health and overall well-being. Many scents can help boost the mood, assist people to relax, and reduce anxiety. Scents that are used for reducing anxiety include lavender, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, and clary sage among others.

Journaling

Doctors recommend patients to write down their thoughts to help people process their emotions and sort their thoughts. People may feel at ease during an overwhelming situation when they are writing or typing out their feelings.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices such as meditation can also help in alleviating stress and anxiety.

Exercise

While exercise is not similar to therapy, it can still play an important role in reducing anxiety. Exercises that increase the heart rate can help in relieving stress and encourage the brain to release serotonin which is considered a natural mood stabilizer.

It is important to note that the above mentioned remedies should not be taken as a replacement for traditional anti-anxiety medication. Therefore, people must consult the doctor if they are extremely anxious.

Conclusion

There are many types of anxiolytics that help prevent anxiety and treat conditions associated with anxiety. These drugs are normally meant for short-term use because long-term use can lead to severe health issues. Some anxiolytics can be addictive; therefore, people must consult a doctor to correctly assess the condition and prescribe the required treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the precautions people should take before people take benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are not recommended for pregnant women or breast feeding mothers. The doctor is unlikely to prescribe these drugs to people with a history of addiction.

How are anxiolytics stored?

Anxiolytics must be stored in places that are not too humid, and in a cool place. The storage of these types of medications can differ depending on the specific brand.

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