If you’ve recently been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or even just find yourself questioning if anxiety medication can potentially help you, it can be a stressful time, but a great first step in getting the support you need. Another important step is finding a licensed professional you trust. Researchers have found that the bond between you and your therapist is likely to have a big impact on your growth. Do your research, ask questions, and pay attention to what you need when it comes to the search for the therapist that’s right for you.
There are different routes in obtaining an anxiety diagnosis and an anxiety medication prescription, so we’ve created a guide in helping you obtain the support you need.
What Anxiety Medication is Right For You?
Asking for help can feel scary enough without all the healthcare and logistical roadblocks in the way. The answer to this question primarily depends on what type of anxiety disorder you have. The five main anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): entails chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension and often co-occurs with major depression. A diagnosis occurs when an individual finds it difficult to control their worries on more days than not for at least six months. Treatment often involves cognitive behavioral therapy paired with medication.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): entails compulsive or obsessive eating rituals, temper tantrums, the inability to make decisions, severe separation anxiety and more. Treatment is often exposure and response prevention in cognitive behavioral therapy paired with psychiatric medication.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): entails avoiding social interactions, intense fear of being judged, and a fear of rejection. Treatment is often psychotherapy. In extreme cases, medication can be prescribed.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): often occurs in response to a terrifying event (assault, disaster, combat, childhood abuse etc.). Treatment often starts with prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
- Panic Disorder (PD): entails spontaneous panic attacks and the fear of a recurring attack. Treatment is often psychotherapy or short-term benzodiazepines.
If you think you suffer from any of these disorders, it’s important to consult with a professional to help you determine the treatment plan that is right for you. If your anxiety is mild, comes in short spurts, and does not cause significant distress, many recommend therapy alone. However, anxiety that is more severe and affects a person’s daily functioning is better treated with both medication and therapy.
Antidepressants or buspirone are often prescribed for chronic anxiety, while benzodiazepines and beta blockers are usually prescribed for panic attacks and acute anxiety.
There’s a few different professionals you can reach out to to see which medication treatment is right for your symptoms.
Mental Health Professionals Who Can Prescribe Anxiety Medication
When it comes to prescribing anxiety medication, three types of providers are going to be of assistance:
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP): While this provider isn’t a medical doctor, they can prescribe medications for anxiety. They are nurses with advanced training in psychiatry. Depending on the laws and state where they work, they might need a physician’s supervision.
- Primary Care Physician (PCP): If you have mild anxiety, your primary care physician who is trained in general medicine can often prescribe you medication. They will likely recommend or refer you to a psychiatrist if you suffer from severe anxiety.
- Psychiatrist: Many people see a psychiatrist for both therapy and medication management. Psychiatrists have a medical degree and advanced training in psychiatry to offer you the best support for your mental health.
No matter which professional you go to, most require an in-person or tele-health visit to properly prescribe you medication. Fortunately, especially if you live far from a big city or lack health insurance, options for telemedicine care have vastly improved over the past few years. You have plenty of options when it comes to pursuing virtual psychiatry care.
Anxiety Medication Options
Below is a list of potential medications your psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or doctor may recommend trying:
- Buspirone: often used to treat GAD and chronic anxiety.
- Beta Blockers: often used to treat SAD and physical symptoms of anxiety (trembling, dizziness, rapid heart rate).
- Benzodiazepines: short-term treatment of anxiety that takes effect within 30 to 60 minutes. Examples are Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan).
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): used to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain to treat depression, anxiety and OCD. Examples are Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), and Sertraline (Zoloft).
Find Anxiety Support With The Couch
Getting the psychiatric care you need should be easy, stress-free, and uncomplicated. The Couch was created to ensure that happens. If you find yourself dealing with anxiety and you’re looking for a diagnosis, therapy, or help with medication management, The Couch can help match you with a psychiatrist, offer easy scheduling and work with your insurance and pharmacy of your choice, all electronically with our advanced telemedicine system.