ASK THE ANXIETY SISTERS

I noticed you guys don’t really talk about medication too much on your website. Why is that? Are you against it?

We are definitely NOT against the use of medication in the treatment of anxiety. In fact, we both take medication daily and would not be willing to go off it! You may want to listen to the upcoming Episode 003 of our podcast (The Spin Cycle) which is entirely devoted to the subject of medication: its benefits and its pitfalls. But, since you asked, here is our general philosophy on the matter:

  • Anxiety is a medical condition and therefore often requires medical treatment, including drugs. No one should feel ashamed of taking medication to manage her anxiety.
  • Although many non-medication strategies and therapies have been very effective in treating anxiety, sufferers may require medication, at least initially, in order to be able to try those strategies.
  • Panic disorder is very difficult to treat without using medication, at least in the short term.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has a very high manageability rate with the use of medication.
  • It is not easy to find the right medication—sufferers must be willing to experiment (only under the supervision of a doctor) with different drugs and different dosages. Sometimes it can take months to get it right.
  • Anxiety meds are not “happy pills.”
  • There are a few classes of drugs used in the treatment of anxiety—it is important to understand the differences between them.
  • In general, we prefer psychiatrists (rather than internists) for prescribing anxiety medication, although we recognize that may be impractical or too expensive for some people. In either case, it is important to come prepared with a list of questions (see our Psychiatrist’s Checklist).
  • Every medication in existence causes side effects.
  • What works for one person may not work for another—each person’s body chemistry and metabolism is different. Two anxiety sisters can have opposite reactions to the same medication.
  • Long term anxiety medications (SSRIs and SNRIs) take a while to begin to work. Although some doctors will tell you 2 weeks, it often is more like 6-8 weeks before you experience real relief.

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