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The Truth About
Anxiety Medication Side Effects

Drug commercials are so annoying aren't they?  You know the ones I mean.

These ads reference successful clinical trials and studies to prove the effectiveness of their drug.  But by the end of the commercial, some fast-talking narrator rattles off a list of least 5-10 side effects.

This makes me wonder. Is the cure worse than the disease?


The Truth About Anxiety Medication Side Effects
The Truth About Anxiety Medication Side Effects

Image Credit: Pixabay


Anxiety Medication Side Effects:
SSRI Antidepressant Medication for Treating Anxiety 

Believe it or not, anti-depressant medications are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders.  The most popular are serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

SSRIs can take anywhere between four weeks to six weeks to take effect.  

The type of SSRIs most commonly used for anxiety are:

-Celexa

-Lexapro

-Paxil

-Prozac

-Zoloft

SSRIs are most commonly used the following types of anxiety disorders: 

-Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

-Panic disorder

-Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)

-Social anxiety disorder 

-Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Surprising fact: According to new research analysis, SSRIs(serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are no more effective than a placebo for relieving anxiety.  Source: JAMA Psychiatry

Common SSRI side effects: 

-Drowsiness

-Fatigue

-Nausea

-Increased sweating

-Headaches

-Agitation

-Drowsiness

-Weight gain

-Diarrhea

-Insomnia

-Sexual dysfunction

-Nervousness

-Headaches

-Dry mouth

Anxiety Medication Side Effect Warning: SSRI Withdrawal and Anti-depressant Medication Suicide Risk

For some people, antidepressant medication can increase the possibility of suicide and hostility. These risks are especially high among children and young adults.

For this reason, monitoring is essential, especially if dosage has recently changed or if it's a person's first time taking depression medication.  

If medication is making things worse these signs and symptoms would be the things to look out for:  

-Hostility

-Insomnia

-Restlessness

-Extreme agitation

-Anxiety

-Panic attacks

If you see any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor or call emergency services right away.

Suicide is particularly high during the first couple of months after starting antidepressant meds.

Suicide Prevention Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Outside the U.S. help for suicide: IASP or Suicide.org

Suicide Prevention- Provides information on warning signs, suicide risks, and advice on what to do in a crisis.

Anxiety Medication Side Effects:
Benzodiazepines for Treating Anxiety

Benzodiazepines is a class of drug that works by relaxing the nervous system, thus helping you to calm down.  

This medication often works fast to soothe panic attacks, usually within 30-60 minutes, which can be useful in case of an emergency.

Benzodiazepines often go by the following names:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam) 
  • Valium (diazepam) 
  • Xanax (alprazolam) 

Common Side-effects include:

  • Sleepiness 
  • Feeling uncoordinated 
  • Feeling groggy 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Headaches

Anxiety Medication Side Effect Warning Sometimes, instead of calming the nervous system this drug may have the opposite effect. 


-Mania: A type of behavior categorized by hallucinations, impulsive behavior, and elevated and shifting mood swings

-Increased anxiety: Agitation, rage, and irritability

Children, individuals with developmental disabilities and senior citizens should take caution when using benzodiazepines.

Surprising fact: The anti-anxiety drug, benzodiazepine can lose a therapeutic effect after only four to six weeks of regular usage.  

But this drug is also a powerful tranquilizer that can wreak havoc with your powers of concentration.  So doing anything that requires a focused mind will be difficult. 

A couple things you might want to avoid doing while taking benzodiazepines are operating heavy machinery and driving. 

It's OK to take benzodiazepines in small doses and only occasionally.

Unfortunately, this drug can be  addictive and should not be taken as a long-term treatment option. Physical dependence can happen very quickly- usually within a few weeks to a few months after starting the medication.

Also, suddenly stopping the medication can lead to nasty withdrawal symptoms.

-Increased anxiety

-Restlessness

-Shaking

-Insomnia

-Nausea

-Stomach pain

-Depression

-Panic attacks

-Racing heart

-Sweating

-Seizures in some cases

Anxiety Medication Side Effect: 

Use caution when making the decision to stop using this medication it's best to taper off slowly to minimize nasty withdrawal symptoms. 


Other precautions to take when using benzodiazepines:

-Drinking alcohol while taking this drug can lead to a fatal overdose.

-Avoid taking antihistamines. Because of their sedating effects mixing antihistamines it with benzodiazepines will lead to oversedation. 

-Be especially careful when combining benzodiazepines with antidepressants such as SSRIs. Always consult your doctor before combining the two medications.

-Never, ever mix benzodiazepine with prescription painkillers or sleeping pills. This can lead to a fatal overdose.

Other Types of Anti-Anxiety Medication:

Buspirone (BuSpar)

Buspirone a.k.a. BuSpar is a drug that acts as a mild tranquilizer. But unlike benzodiazepines, another type of tranquilizer,buspirone can take up to 2 weeks to take effect.

Buspar wouldn't cause drowsiness and doesn't impair memory or coordination, plus the side effects from withdrawal are minimal.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are a type of medication commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems.

Interestingly enough, these drugs are also used to treat anxiety.  They work by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, the stress hormone that drives the fight or flight response.

Blocking this stress hormone helps to control many of the physical symptoms of anxiety such as sweating and rapid heart rate.

Beta blockers are useful for treating phobias, social anxiety, and performance anxiety.

Common side effects include:

-Dizziness

-Nausea

-Constipation

-Headache

All of this information is a lot to take in and can be a little discouraging if you're suffering from anxiety and want relief...right now.

Anti-anxiety meds may still be a viable course of action for managing your symptoms.  You ought to explore medication as a possible short-term treatment option if:

-You suffer from debilitating anxiety that interferes with your life.

-Your anxiety keeps you from functioning and completing daily activities.   

But I'm here to tell you that there are other ways to manage your anxiety.

Plus, even though medications offer relief from symptoms they wouldn't get to the root cause of your anxiety.  

Here are some effective drug free ways for treating anxiety.

Try them all!

Use mindfulness meditation to calm mental chatter and worry which can feed anxiety.    

While you're mediating use a few drops of essential oils to soothe those nerves.

Use powerful therapy techniques to relieve anxiety symptoms.

Here's a few more anxiety busting self-help tips.

I hope this article helps you on your own journey to better mental health.

Bright Skies Are Ahead,




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Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!




Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!