Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Everyone finds themselves battling a bit of anxiety from time to time. In most cases this is brought on by life stressors and fades naturally without the need for medical intervention.

If, however, these episodes happen with too much regularity and are severe enough to disrupt your day-to-day life, you could be dealing with generalized anxiety disorder.

The symptoms are similar to those associated with other types of anxiety like panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, though they’re diagnosed and treated differently.

While certain lifestyle changes and general coping mechanisms can certainly help to manage the disruptive symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, typically medication is needed to get and stay on top of this debilitating disorder.

Antidepressants

Certain kinds of Antidepressants like Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are commonly prescribed to help control anxiety symptoms. They have fewer side effects and a decrease risk of dependence compared to other drug therapies.

The most common forms include:Lexapro

 

Side Effects of SSRIs

Sexual dysfunction such as decreased sex drive are common while taking SSRIs. However, more serious side effects include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • weight gain
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • trouble sleeping

Side Effects of SNRIs

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • sexual dysfunction
  • tiredness
  • constipation
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

Side Effects of TCAs

  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • blurred vision
  • urinary retention
  • dizziness
  • tachycardia
  • memory impairment
  • delirium
  • orthostatic hypotension,
  • weight gain
  • seizures
  • bone fractures
  • sexual dysfunction
  • increased sweating
  • fatigue

Serious Complications

In addition to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, TCAs have been known to induce more serious side effects such as low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and seizures. TCAs should never be used within a two-week (14 day) span of taking a Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).

Antihistamines

Though antihistamines are most commonly associated with the treatment of allergy symptoms, some versions such as hydroxyzine can also be used to treat certain forms of anxiety.

The most common forms include:

Side effects of Hydroxyzine

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness or moodiness (in some children)
  • Trouble urinating or not being able to urinate
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion

Beta Blockers

Beta-blockers like propranolol are commonly prescribed as a daily medication in cases of anxiety since they’re so great at blocking chemicals such as epinephrine that have a marked affect the on reducing the strain on your heart and blood vessels. It’s particularly effective for treating symptoms of performance anxiety and social anxiety disorder.

Side effects of Propranolol

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • blurred vision
  • tiredness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • unusual dreams
  • cold hands and feet (worsened by tobacco use)

Benzodiazepines

Fast-acting benzodiazepines are often prescribed for acute anxiety and panic attacks. These anti-anxiety medications are said to provide immediate relief, though they’re the most potentially addictive of the bunch. Still, they have slowly begun replacing barbiturates since they can be safely taken in larger doses.

The most common forms include:Ativan

  • Ativan
  • Valium
  • Librium
  • Xanax
  • Klonopin

 

Side effects of Benzodiazepines

  • drowsiness
  • irritability
  • dizziness,
  • memory and attention problems
  • physical dependence

Talk to your doctor to figure out which course of treatment is right for you and don’t be afraid to explore more natural methods to control your anxiety such as meditation and other relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes like exercise and certain kinds of talk therapy.