• Sarah Samad

Anxiolytics


Anxiety is the most prevalent mental disorder in teenagers. Almost 10.5% of all teenagers now suffer from one or more of the many anxiety disorders, and roughly 33.7% of people experience anxiety in general. Since anxiety is also a feeling, the disorder is loosely used, this can lead to many negative effects, including real disorders going unnoticed, among others.


The most common treatment for anxiety disorders are anxiolytics, which are more commonly known as anti-anxiety medications. The other common treatment for anxiety is therapy, and it could be argued that it is the more effective form of treatment, but this varies from person to person. There are four main classes of anxiolytics, and this article will provide you with a brief overview of their effect, and how exactly they work.


1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used for anxiety, OCD and depression. In terms of anxiety, this medication is mainly used for generalized anxiety disorder. Unlike most anxiolytics, this medication isn't very addictive, but it still provides challenges in withdrawal.


How exactly does it work?

This medication stops the nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin - the mood regulation neurotransmitter. This reabsorption is called “reuptake” and this reduces the amount of serotonin present in the brain. The consumption of this medication will increase serotonin levels, which in turn, will increase the mood.


This medication is usually taken for 12 months before the dosage is reduced. A few side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Insomnia

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Blurred vision

  • Agitation


2. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are not as commonly consumed as SSRIs, but they are still effective. This medication, like SSRIs, is used for depression as well.


This medication works very similarly to SSRIs, but also inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine, which is a stress neurotransmitter. This medication helps regulate the amounts of norepinephrine present in the brain.


This medication takes weeks to go into effect, which is why it is not usually prescribed for panic disorders.


3. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)

Tricyclic antidepressants, as the name suggests, are mainly used for depression, but they can also be used to treat anxiety disorders. This medication is rarely used, but it does work better than other medications for some people.


4. Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers)

Benzodiazepines are most commonly used for panic disorders and other anxiety disorders with more physical symptoms. This medication reduces the physical symptoms of anxiety by calming down the nervous system. It works very fast and effectively, with the average time taken to reduce symptoms being about 30 mins to an hour.


Although this is a very effective medication, it is addictive. Due to this reason, it is not prescribed for long term or regular use. A very commonly known and used example of this is Xanax. A few side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Drowsiness

  • Dizziness

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Slurred speech


Source: https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html


Writer: Sarah Samad

Illustration: Rhea Rangarajan



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