These medications definitely help many people and if you have anxiety attacks, they may be part of the treatment.
Before I tell you a bit more about medications for anxiety problems, I want to mention a bias of mine.
I believe these medications are best used as a short term measure to help while more permanent treatments have a chance to work.
The good news is that with proper therapy, the vast majority of people can free themselves from terror of anxiety attacks.
Classes of Medications These days, a physician will usually prescribe a medication for these problems that falls into one of two classes: * sedatives or * serotonin uptake inhibitors.
Sedatives Most of the sedatives recommended are Valium-type drugs.
The different specific drugs vary mostly on how quickly they start to work and how long their effects last.
Also, everyone reacts differently to a given medication.
A drug that works great for one person may cause significant side effects for another.
These drugs work quickly, so they are useful in "taking the edge off" if a person is going into a situation that they have had a panic attack before or if they feel one coming on.
Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors The other major class of drugs is serotonin uptake inhibitors.
Serotonin is a chemical that is released in the brain as part of the way one nerve cell (neuron) communicates with another.
Decreased serotonin levels are associated with depression and anxiety.
Serotonin uptake inhibitors raise the levels by slowing the reabsorption of the chemical after it has been released.
The drug in this class that most people have heard of is Prozac but there are many others today.
Each has its own characteristics of effects and side effects.
Sometimes finding the medication that works the best is a matter of trial and error.
One thing Prozac-type medications have in common is that they all take a while to work.
Usually, it takes at least one or two weeks to see a benefit.
Obviously with that type of time frame, these aren't drugs to take only when you feel an attack coming on.
There are a few other classes of drugs used, but only rarely.
These drugs either aren't as effective as the ones already mentioned or have way too many side effects for most people to tolerate.
Medications Are Only Part of the Answer Again I want to remind you that it is best practice to seek other ways of dealing with and anxiety disorder other than taking pills.
The medications definitely have their role, but they shouldn't take the place of learning other coping strategies.
Remember that medications can have side effects Another issue that can come up is what amounts to a psychological dependence.
Sometimes a person will take the medications while they pursue other therapy.
As they get better, they may tend to attribute all of their progress to the medication and not the other treatment they have been using.
This can make them nervous about coming off the medication for fear of the attacks returning.
This is where it's important for you to work with the prescribing physician.
It's a good idea to ask even before you start taking the medication what other types of treatment they recommend, how long they think you'll need the medications and how you'll go about stopping it.
Use medications for anxiety attacks wisely and they can be a great help.