Anxiety Medications: Side Effects

anxiety medication side effects

In 21st century more and more people suffers from anxiety and stress. Some of us cope with it better, but some are too exposed and more sensitive. All of this causes us to search for any kind of a relief. It is the fact that there are many different drugs out there available to us with (or without) prescription, but still many are frightened to use them due to belief in their harmful effect. Of course, every medication doesn’t necessarily help and side effects are always possible. However, it is proven that some drugs do benefit to people’s anxiety and stress relief, especially if they are prescribed from a specialist, with some kind of a therapy.

As mentioned, all medications do have their issues and some of the side effects are possibly very strong and severe. This is why we wanted to tell you more about those side effects that are possible result of some anxiety medication use.


Table of Contents

Why Should You Avoid Anxiety Medications?

Yes, they are helpful, but one thing crucial for keeping away of these drugs is not some side effect. It is the fact that you could become dependent (physiologically and psychologically), like on any other drug. This happens when your body and mind starts to need meds to cope with anxiety. Following this, it will be much harder for you to cure the anxiety without using medications later on.


Modern Anxiety Meds and Their Side Effect

Every anxiety drug has different side effect – some are stronger and some have more side effects than others. For example, Benzodiazepines can have stronger side effects, while Buspirone generally has fewer, but is also much weaker. That is why all doctors prefer prescribing the Benzodiazepines.

The most common side effects of anxiety medicines are following:

For Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.):

  • Low blood pressure (Hypotension)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Nausea
  • Lack of coordination
  • Depression
  • Unusual emotional dysfunction (including anger and violence)
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulties in thinking
  • Decreased IQ

For Antidepressants (SSRIs, SNRIs):

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Headache
  • Dizziness/drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss/gain

Apart from the listed, both of the categories could cause so called “paradoxical effects”, which means that in some cases the person can experience not improvement, but deterioration. It could be either more anxiety or severe suicidal ideation and possibly even action, which is uncommon, but still a serious concern.


Are there any deadly effects possible?

Yes. This “paradoxical effect” of suicidal ideation and increased anxiety is not the only deadly side effect. It is extremely rare, but not impossible, that taking of the anxiety medications causes following dangerous problems:

  • Heart problems, especially in those with possible cardiovascular disease,
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension (possibly fatal lung disease),
  • Increased bleeding risk,
  • Interactions with other medications.

Most of these are related to SSRIs. Benzodiazepines can also cause dependency about which we talked previously. That happens when the body adapts to the anxiety drug, causing two issues: person becoming tolerant (meds won’t have any effect) and severe withdrawal symptoms led by weaning off the drug incorrectly. By withdrawal symptoms we mean increased anxiety, depression, psychosis, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, seizures, hypersensitivity and possibly suicide. For this reason, weaning off the Benzodiazepines has to be done slowly over time.

Long-term consequences

After all this it seems like there is nothing good in these medications, but still we believe they have been given worse reputation than they deserve. If they were useless, they wouldn’t be on the market for this long. Generally, they are well tolerated by many, causing mild symptoms and not those severe. But, side effect, dependence risk and disability to cope with the stress in the future all combined make us recommend you to use them as a last resort. In case you decide on taking the drug, keep in mind this: never use them on your own. Ask your doctor for advice on long-term anxiety reduction and prescription. This way you can be sure of not making any bad decisions for you health.

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