Treating anxiety effectively
It’s perfectly normal for your heart rate to quicken before an important meeting. Being completely paralyzed by anxiety and incapable of attending that meeting is not. Anxiety disorder refers to an anxiety level that is disproportionate to the situation, that doesn’t go away even when the situation returns to normal, and that causes such a high degree of distress that the person has trouble functioning normally.
If you suffer from anxiety disorder, your pharmacist can help you get the most out of your treatment.
Treatment for anxiety disorder can include psychotherapy, medication, or both. The goal of psychotherapy is to provide you with tools to better identify and manage anxiety-inducing situations.
Since anxiety disorder is associated with a chemical imbalance in the brain similar to that occurring in cases of depression, it may be treated using an antidepressant. Your doctor may also prescribe an anxiolytic to help temporarily relieve the physical manifestations of anxiety.
When taking antidepressants, patience and perseverance are key
Antidepressants act slowly. It can take several weeks before you feel the full effect. At the beginning of the treatment you will likely start out on a reduced dose that will be gradually increased to the optimal dose. This helps reduce the risk of adverse side effects, which tend to appear in the early days of treatment before the beneficial effects are felt. Your pharmacist will provide you precise instructions on how to proceed.
Consult your pharmacist without delay if you experience an adverse side effect. He or she will give you advice on how to mitigate such symptoms. If the adverse side effect is very bothersome or doesn’t improve over time, you may need to switch to another treatment, in which case your pharmacist will talk with your doctor to find a more suitable option for you.
Throughout your treatment, your pharmacist will monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms do not improve enough, he or she may recommend making adjustments to your treatment, in collaboration with your doctor.
Treatment duration varies from one person to another, and can depend on the severity of their symptoms and their response to treatment. For some people, treatment may be stopped after a certain time while others may need to continue for the long term. Your doctor and pharmacist will work with you on a treatment plan best suited for you.
Anxiolytics: caution required
Anxiolytic drugs can be useful in some circumstances, but they are also associated with a risk of substance abuse and addiction. As a result, they must be taken at the lowest possible dose and for short periods only, for example, in the early days of antidepressant treatment, before the medication begins to take effect.
If your doctor prescribes you an anxiolytic, it is essential that you don’t take it in a higher dose or more frequently than he or she recommends. You must also follow the instructions related to anxiolytics, such as avoiding alcohol and avoiding driving until you know how the medication affects you. Your pharmacist is there to help you take your medication safely. Ask for advice whenever you feel unsure.
Your pharmacist is looking out for you
Antidepressants and anxiolytics can interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as with certain natural products. Your pharmacist will ensure that all your medications (prescription and otherwise) are compatible.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.