Benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety have become an increasingly common treatment method. The benefits of benzodiazepines for anxiety are significant because they are fast-acting and effective for most people.
While taking benzodiazepines for anxiety may be effective, there are potential disadvantages that cannot be ignored. When determining whether this is a viable treatment option for anxiety, someone must examine the potential risks for developing a substance use disorder.
Do Benzos Help with Anxiety?
Benzodiazepines are effective for many people and provide quick relief of anxiety symptoms. Benzodiazepines work by influencing brain chemicals to slow the central nervous system and as a result, produce a state of relaxation. Benzodiazepines work far better at reducing anxiety than medications used prior to their development, including barbiturates.
Common Benzodiazepines for Anxiety
Nearly all of the common benzodiazepines for anxiety will produce equitable effects, though the duration of effects may differ. The side effects of each benzodiazepine may be the primary cause for the differences.
Some of the most common benzodiazepines for anxiety include:
Anxiety and Xanax
Taking Xanax for anxiety is one of the most common benzodiazepine treatment methods. Xanax may provide quick results due to the way it affects the body. Xanax may be used for a variety of anxiety disorders including:
The Xanax dosage for anxiety may vary based on the type of anxiety disorder being treated. Xanax typically produces relaxing effects for as long as 11 to 20 hours. However, a major concern with the use of Xanax for anxiety is the possibility of developing dependence even when used as prescribed. Xanax is recommended only for short term use but is often prescribed for longer.
Anxiety and Valium
Another common medication for anxiety treatment is Valium. Valium produces longer lasting effects than Xanax and may provide anxiety relief for as long as 1 to 3 days. Valium dosage for anxiety may be based on the anxiety disorder being treated. In addition to treating anxiety, valium has become commonly used to treat insomnia. Valium poses many of the same risks as Xanax including developing dependence and addiction.
Anxiety and Ativan
Ativan is used for the treatment of anxiety and before medical procedures because of its calming effects. Ativan is also commonly used to treat sleeping difficulties. Ativan and anxiety are focuses of concern because of the potential for developing dependence. Major factors for whether someone will develop dependence include the Ativan dosage for anxiety and the duration of treatment using Ativan. The longer someone uses Ativan and the higher the dosage, the more likely they are to develop a dependence.
Anxiety and Klonopin
Klonopin has been used for several of the same anxiety disorders as other benzodiazepines and has also been prescribed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Klonopin for anxiety is effective but not without serious risks. Klonopin dosage for anxiety is one of the main predictors of whether dependence will develop.
Alternatives to Benzodiazepines for Anxiety
Using medication for the treatment of anxiety typically involves prescription benzodiazepines despite the serious risks involved. It is possible to find a safe alternative to benzodiazepines for anxiety. Non-benzodiazepines for anxiety may include antidepressants, over-the-counter supplements, and antihistamines.
Antidepressants have been found to have significant benefits for people experiencing anxiety without the negative risks of dependence caused by benzodiazepines. Antidepressant medications including Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Lexapro need to be taken daily for several weeks before the full effects are experienced. For this reason, many people with anxiety can become frustrated and discontinue this treatment option. However, if used consistently antidepressant medications for anxiety may have longer-lasting effects with less risk of dependence than benzodiazepines.
Over-the-counter medications require additional research but have shown some potential for reducing anxiety. Research has shown potential benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for reducing anxiety symptoms. L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has also been shown to provide relief of anxiety symptoms. L-theanine has shown moderate efficacy with relatively quick results.
If someone is considering taking over-the-counter supplements to treat anxiety it is important to discuss with a doctor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements so caution should be used by consumers. Antihistamines including Vistaril and Atarax, have been approved for the treatment for anxiety and do not carry the risk of dependence. These medications can provide relief quickly and are often used in conjunction with antidepressant treatment.
Can Benzos Cause Anxiety?
One of the most concerning side-effects of benzodiazepine use may be the potential to cause and increase pre-existing anxiety. Misuse and over-prescribing of benzos may be the culprit for benzodiazepine-induced anxiety. Someone who takes benzodiazepines frequently may lower their tolerance for distress and anxiety. When benzodiazepines are not ingested, seemingly benign factors may experience severe anxiety. Chronic use of benzodiazepines increases someone’s sensitivity to anxiety.
Treating Benzo Addiction and Anxiety
Benzodiazepine withdrawal should occur in a medical facility like a hospital or treatment center due to severe health risks. Benzodiazepines are one of two substances—alcohol being the other—that have the risk of death from withdrawal. Someone detoxing from benzodiazepines will usually be monitored while the drug is naturally cleared by the body but in some cases, medical interventions are needed.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is characterized by difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, panic attacks, and other symptoms that may cause a person to feel they need to continue taking benzodiazepines. Learning to manage anxiety may be one of the largest predictors of recovery in treating benzodiazepine addiction.
Key Points: Benzos and Anxiety
While taking benzodiazepines may be effective for treating anxiety, they do not come without serious risks. If you or a loved one struggles with benzodiazepine addiction and co-occurring anxiety, help is available at professional centers across the country. The Recovery Village offers comprehensive treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders like anxiety. For more information about our treatment options, reach out to a representative today.
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