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Talking To Your Doctor About Anxiety Medication

November 6, 2014 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Anxiety can be overwhelming, impacting us in every way imaginable – physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially. It can range from mild to debilitating, and no matter to what degree we experience anxiety, it affects the quality of our lives. Happily, there are many things that can be done to treat anxiety. One way is through anxiety medication (but medication is not for everyone). There are so many different types of anxiety medication available; though, just contemplating whether or not to try antianxiety medication can itself be anxiety-provoking (list of anxiety medications). It's an individual decision that can only be made with a doctor. Here are some important things to consider as you talk to your doctor about anxiety medication.

The Decision to Begin or Change Anxiety Medication is Complicated

Anxiety medications are quite complex. There are a variety of classifications, and different people respond differently to each one. Something that works great for one person might not work at all, or may even worsen anxiety, for someone else.

When you talk to your doctor about anxiety medication, use this checklist to help make good antianxiety medication decisions.

Because anxiety medication is so complex, it’s important to discuss options openly with your doctor. Professional input is essential in the decision to begin or alter medication. At the same time, it’s equally important that you feel that you have a say in the decision; after all, it’s your brain and your body that are impacted by anxiety and anxiety medication.

When you take time to gather your thoughts and organize your experiences prior to an appointment, you can work alongside your doctor to make informed medication decisions.

Checklist for Talking to Your Doctor About Anxiety Medication

Knowing yourself, your anxiety, and what, specifically, you want to see happen if you begin medication treatment will help you and your doctor find the right medication for you. Use this checklist to help guide your discussion with your doctor:

1. What is going on with me right now?

2. How is my anxiety different from what it has recently been?

3. Are there events in my life that might be contributing to my anxiety symptoms?

4. What have I already tried?

  • Exercise
  • Relaxation
  • Nutrition (including drinking plenty of water)
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Engaging in pleasurable activities
  • Etc.

5. Scale it.

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how intense is my anxiety? What number do I need it to be in order to feel more in control?

6. What are you hoping, specifically, that medication might do?

7. What anxiety medication side effects are you worried about?

After completing this checklist, you will better understand your goals for medication, and you will be better equipped to have a thorough discussion with your doctor. Going into the conversation with insight will help you achieve results that satisfy you.

Connect with Tanya on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, her books, and her website.

APA Reference
NCC, T. (2014, November 6). Talking To Your Doctor About Anxiety Medication, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/11/talking-to-your-doctor-about-anxiety-medication



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Samuel Y. Montes Jr.
says:
August, 8 2018 at 11:06 pm
Hi, im a freshman college student from Philippines. This actually happened to me twice, first from December, and now this occurred again for the past three weeks. I experience nervousness always, sometimes sweating excessively, and all throughout the day many thoughts are running in my mind that I can't control, sometimes there are less anxieties, but there are times that there's too much that I'm always distracted and cannot focus. I sometimes loose interest in the things that I'm supposed to enjoy at. I'm afraid that this anxiety could take me a long time. Sometimes suicidal thoughts would rush into my head but I won't try to attempt either. I also try things that help me calm down with my anxiety like writing, reading books and articles about anxieties, documentaries. I opened this situation to my siblings, but my parents told me that I'm just being too nervous. My siblings actually help me a lot with my anxieties on how to cope with it, one of my sister encouraged me to try a psychologist once I get into college. Now I'm at college and trying to find a psychologist while studying, hopefully they'll help me with my situation, a therapy wold be much helpful. Hopefully I'll be able to recover once I have found a psychologist.
Niamh
says:
August, 3 2018 at 1:07 pm
Hi, I'm currently trying to get an appointment with my doctor. I have expierenced symptoms of anxiety and for the past few months it has gotten worse. It is very difficult to leave my house, I cant take phone calls. I have been to the doctor before for my mental health and I went to therapy for 10 weeks, it hasn't helped much as I still feel the same and worse at times. I spoke to a therapist a few days ago and they said that medication could be another idea, to get as much of it under control so I can leave the house and attend therapy sessions. I am just really worried about how to tell my doctor this and how I ask for them. I have put this off for a while to just see if it was school or any excuse I could find but now I'm finished school and have a job interview in 2 weeks which I just don't see myself going. I always say to myself that I need to go and I should go but when they day comes I panic and I cant go. Thank you..
Britany
says:
June, 16 2018 at 6:31 am
I have been experiencing panic attacks for quite some time now. I'm lying here awake now from waking up with I'm guessing a panic attack. I was only asleep for two hours and I wake up with my heart racing and hot flashes and feeling very nauseous. This has been going on for almost a whole week. I can be having the best day and a panic attack will emerge. I come from a family of heart problems which leads me to panic more because I always think it's something with my heart but I'm in debt over this stuff from cardiologists and emergency room visits. :( it's putting a strain on my work life, relationship and just life in general. I have cut out all caffeine, eat way better than what I used to, only drink water now, I've been prescribed antidepressants before for this and they just made me feel worse and that's with me toughing it out and letting it get in my system good. So I have anxiety and panic attacks about trying a new medication for my anxiety and panic attacks. :( I need to do something though...it has GOT to get better.
June, 20 2018 at 9:58 am
Hi Britany,
Anxiety and panic attacks are awful experiences (I'm not telling you anything new here!). I'm sorry that you're experiencing them. You've got a great start to beating them by changing your diet. Nutrition is very important to the brain and makes a big difference in anxiety and panic. It's not an instant fix, but it is definitely a crucial long-term component. It's good, too, that you've checked out medical conditions. That heart attack feeling is very common with anxiety. It's always good to check, especially when heart problems are in your family. Because you've been tested, you can remind yourself that the chest pain and other symptoms are truly related to panic and not your heart. Actively reminding yourself should help ease that worry. Hormonal fluctuations, such as what happens in menopause, can cause/intensify anxiety and panic. Menopause might not apply to you, but I thought I'd mention it just in case ("hot flashes" made me think of it, but there are many things other than menopause that cause hot flashes).

Medication can be very helpful for some people, and for others it can make anxiety much worse. It's okay if it didn't work for you. Here are a couple of articles that might give you some ideas for reducing anxiety and panic attacks. One mentions medication but only as one possibility. It's not pushing medication. Keep seeking info and trying new things. You're right -- it will get better!

Anxiety Attack Treatment: What To Do for Anxiety Attacks https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/anxiety-information/anxiety-attack-treatment-what-to-do-for-anxiety-attacks

Dealing with Anxiety Attacks: Getting Anxiety Relief https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/anxiety-information/dealing-with-anxiety-attacks-getting-anxiety-attack-relief
Anonymous please
says:
April, 3 2018 at 6:45 pm
Hello. For as long as I can remember I have been feeling nervous shaky and afraid of basically everything. I over think relationships , and future events until I cry and feel sick in my stomach. I lasted seven weeks with counselling in university. It is putting a scary strain on my beautiful relationship. I over think I presume and worst of all I LOSE my temper to the point of screaming and crying and then a big long headache. I'm sick of what is inside me . I have tried meditation I have tried counselling and therapy and exercise... Its in my head and I need it out.
I feel like I NEED MEDICAL help... Its all getting too much
I sleep with the light on for fear of panic attacks that happen in the night . I don't really know what to say but it is 01:45 of a work night and I need to talk .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 4 2018 at 6:17 pm
Hello anonymous,
Given what you've been experiencing and what you've been trying to do to overcome this, it makes perfect sense to seek medical help. You can start with a general practitioner/family doctor, or you can make an appointment with a psychiatrist right away. More than likely, you'll get in to see a general doctor much more quickly than you will be able to see a psychiatrist. Your general doctor can evaluate you and discuss options. He/she will even start treatment if you both agree that something is worth trying. Doctors see people for anxiety, panic, and depression quite frequently. It is very reasonable for you to see a doctor for help.
Danielle Rosett
says:
September, 18 2017 at 2:02 pm
I recently had a traumatic experience that resulted in constant anxiety. Thinking about the scenario over and over again. I went through a phase of depression where I didn't want to go outside and I would just cry all day and I couldn't be happy. Now I'm at a phase where I constantly go over scenarios in my head so much so that they cause random panick attacks, mostly when I'm about to go to bed or when I have a lot of time to think. This has caused me to develop anxiety over wondering when the next panick attack will happen. I would like to start some medication. I've tried everything from exercising, keeping myself busy, talking about my problems with my husband, crying and venting. I just need to feel like my old self again

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 4 2018 at 6:25 pm
Hi Danielle,
You've been trying many things (that's a good thing). It makes a lot of sense to see a doctor now. There might be medication to help, you might learn specific things to do, or both. Your doctor will be able to evaluate you for the right treatment, too. What you're describing (whether it's panic disorder, a different anxiety disorder, PTSD, or something else) doesn't have to last. You can get back to your old self again.
Effy
says:
August, 7 2017 at 6:28 pm
I am 17 years old and have been suffering from anxiety for many years. I am hoping to talk to my doctor about my anxiety but I am afraid I won't be taken seriously by my parents. When I have tried to speak to them about the issue they simple tell me that "I worry to much" and I should "just calm down." My anxiety sends me into attacks over simple things like choosing an outfit or deciding on a restaurant, I over think situations to the point where I must plan out every detail, I feel I am a constant burden to those around me and I tend to be irritable towards those around me when I get into such states. Is this in my head or is this something to consult a doctor about?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 8 2017 at 4:40 am
Hi Effy,
What you describe fits anxiety and is absolutely something to consult a doctor about. That's a good first step in getting the right treatment (depending on the person and on his/her specific anxiety, medication, therapy, or a combination of both may be recommended). Hearing that you worry too much or should just calm down, especially from parents or partners, can be frustrating and feel dismissive. Often, such comments come from misunderstanding. Sometimes, using the above list of questions, a list of symptoms (there's a link in the above article) from a reputable source, and/or a printout of an online anxiety test can help you communicate. If your parents see an official description of anxiety, they might begin to understand. Do keep pursuing treatment. With proper help, anxiety can drastically improve and doesn't have to rule your life.
Anonymous
says:
January, 14 2016 at 7:06 pm
I'm looking for next steps to take to attempt to control my anxiety. I'm 17 years old and my anxiety is getting so overwhelming. I've tried things such as counselling, medication, self help websites and just generally trying to relax but nothing seems to be working. For 7 years i rarely left the house and would only go to school or if i felt i needed to get away i'd wait till it was dark to avoid being see or having to speak to people. Recently everybody's been telling me that its part of life and there things everybody just has to do so i decided to try and get a job. I passed the phone interview and the face to face interview but when it came to going to the training days i started taking a panic attack. This lead to me leaving the train station and resulted in me losing the job. Its nearly time for me to apply to college but i don't know i am going to be able to cope. I sleep very little due to worries and pass out often because i am panicking. I'm just looking for an ideas on what you think i could do to improve my anxiety. Any advice you have would be much appreciated thanks.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 18 2016 at 8:48 pm
Hello Anonymous,
First, I want to let you know that you are already on your way to beating your anxiety, even though it probably doesn't feel like it. The fact that you are being so proactive and engaged in figuring out what's going on and how to treat it is a strong indicator that you are going to beat it. You're showing motivation and initiative and a willingness to participate in treatment activities. So great news -- you're on your way.

Beating anxiety and panic is very possible. It's a process rather than a single, quick fix, but it involves progress. I certainly can't diagnose people online because there's so much more to you than what you can share in a comment. Your comment, though, tells quite a bit about what you're experiencing. Again, this isn't a diagnosis, but I think it could be worthwhile for you to investigate some information about panic disorder with agoraphobia. You might find that some of your symptoms fit with this anxiety disorder. Then, you can have some specific information to talk with your doctor or a new counselor. Therapy is very helpful for anxiety disorders. There are many different therapists and treatment approaches, so if counseling didn't work before, don't give up. Find someone new, and you might discover someone who can help you.

Good luck to you. I truly am confident that you are going to beat this and go off to college. Here are three links to articles about panic disorder with agoraphobia:

http://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/panic-disorder/panic-disorder-with-agoraphobia-panic-disorder-to-the-max/

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000923.htm

http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder-agoraphobia
Merryn
says:
November, 17 2014 at 6:06 am
This is was very interesting to read as my husband suffers from this and it has a huge impact on his life and also mine. I was thinking of taking him to see the doctor about medications for his anxiety and hoping it will improve his life. Thanks Doctor for the information.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 17 2014 at 11:39 am
Hi Merryn,
Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad this will be helpful as you move forward. Good luck to both you and your husband! Anxiety can really get in the way, but it absolutely can get better.
Greg Terry
says:
November, 5 2014 at 10:00 pm
I thank you for this information. As a nursing student I find this information very useful. The checklist is especially useful, it covers just about all the questions one should be asking.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 7 2014 at 8:09 pm
Hi Greg,
Thank you so much for your input. Hearing from a future nurse that the checklist/info are useful is great -- and will be helpful for other readers, too. Best of luck to you in your studies!

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