Risks vs Benefits of Psychoactive Drugs for Anxiety
by N J Howell
What is PTSD?
What is DBT?
The drugs of choice for mental health disorders involving anxiety, depression, OCD, phobias, etc. are psychoactive drugs, which work to correct what are called excitatory-inhibitory imbalances. The brain releases chemicals which communicate with the neurons in the body and either excite us or inhibit us at some level. As you might guess, these chemical reactions are rather complex. That is one reason a good mental health professional or doctor will closely monitor any new drug given for mood disorders, to make sure the neurons are communicating in a healthier way with the drug than without it. .
If you are prescribed a psychoactive drug for anxiety, depression, or some other mood disorder, insist on frequent check-ins if your doctor doesn't volunteer them. It's your health. It's your mind. Be proactive in your own mental health care. You are the only one who is with your body 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I encourage you not to let a doctor who sees you for five minutes once a month, decide whether your symptom is something that bears attention.
Those who know me also know I'm not a big fan of the prescription drug. I rarely ever take them and in my own circle of friends and family, as well as in any statistics I've read, prescription drugs often only maintain a false balance for the body which requires lifetime use. Over time, the body forgets to do what it is that the drug is doing for it and no true healing occurs. Also, over time, complications from the drugs themselves may outweigh any initial benefit. Specific to the subject of this article, I have friends and relatives who have had very adverse experiences in being treated for mood disorders with drugs. Two people I know, after having been put on medication for depression and anxiety, ended up having seizures as a side effect of the meds.
When you read the side effects of psychoactive drugs below, you will also see that some may CAUSE depression, anxiety, etc. In other words, they cause the same thing you are being treated for. In fact, the next time you watch one of those commercials with all the smiling people, advertising a drug for treating mood disorders, try closing your eyes and listening to the warnings instead. It is a sobering experience.
I definitely support selfcare and self-treatment for mood disorders, in addition to whatever mental health counseling or prescription drug treatments you choose. Anything you can do to reduce anxiety and stress and on your own, can help reduce the need for chemical intervention thru prescription drugs. Use the resources on this site to educate yourself. Meditation, biofeedback, massage, relaxing tapes, certain types of exercise and music, sound therapy and music therapy are some options to explore.
PSYCHOACTIVE DRUG CATEGORIES:
* SSRI's, which prevent the uptake of serotonin (an excitatory neurotransmitter)
* MAOIs, designed to act against monoamine oxidase (a substance that normally would break down norepinephrine and serotonin).
* (BZDs), which attack anxiety thru increasing GABA. Some well-known BZDs include Xanax, Librium and Valium.
* TCAs, which block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine (both neurotransmitters).
Common Side Effects: Dry mouth, constipation, gastric problems, circulatory and heart problems and anxiety. These are just the common side effects. To print the entire list, medicine by medicine, would take pages. I found one abstract on the subject. You have to pay for the full article so that's up to you but even the two paragraphs they give you for free are quite enough to support my concerns about taking psychoactive drugs to manage mood disorders. This particular abstact relates to the side effects of Clozapine in particular so, if you are on that drug, it might be worth your while to purchase the full report or to just ask your doctor about side effects that could be life-threatening.
Interesting side note: Did you know that cocaine and heroin are psychoactive drugs? Also cannabis, alcohol and tobacco.
Mental Health Disclaimer: The information on psychoactive drugs and their side effects is provided to help you make an informed decision on how you will treat your anxiety disorder or other mood disorder. It is not meant to replace professional evaluation of your mental state or any needed medical attention.