Talking To Your Doctor About Anxiety Medication
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.
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?
- Cognitively (thoughts)
- With my relationships
- With general functioning
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?
- Nutrition (including drinking plenty of water)
- Deep breathing
- Engaging in pleasurable activities
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.
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
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
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!