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Anxiety Medication: How to Make the Medication Decision

Anxiety has many different treatment approaches, including medication for anxiety. In theory, this is a good thing. It means that you have a lot of different options to choose from for treating anxiety. However, it can also feel overwhelming to be faced with so many choices. Deciding whether to take anxiety medication can also be intimidating. While this post, of course, can't advise you on whether to take medication for anxiety (that's a very personal decision to be made with input from your doctor), it can help you with the decision-making process.  

Anxiety Makes the Medication Decision Difficult

The very nature of anxiety disorders complicates any type of decision. When it comes to a complex issue like whether to take medication, anxiety can be almost paralyzing. There's a great deal of uncertainty regarding anxiety medication, and uncertainty contributes to more anxiety

Simply listing the pros and cons of taking medication isn't so simple when anxiety interferes with every thought, feeling, and action. Worries, what-ifs, and worst-case scenarios disrupt the thought process. Anxiety can create caveats or yes-buts to any straightforward list of medication advantages, and it can do the same to the disadvantages. 

You can break out of the decision-making loop that anxiety has you trapped in by understanding what, exactly, is happening under the surface of all those medication worries and fears. Anxiety is all about judgment. It makes us evaluate almost everything we encounter around us and within us. Will medication be good? Bad? Helpful? Harmful? What if it doesn't help? What if it helps, but the side-effects are intolerable? What will people think? Am I weak for needing medication? Am I strong because I'm doing something about anxiety? 

Everyone has their own unique concerns about anxiety medication. The common theme, though, is anxiety's habit of making us judge everything we do or don't do or might or might not do. 

How to Approach the Anxiety Medication Decision Without Judgement

Because evaluating and judging things is an inherent part of anxiety, merely saying, "Don't think of yourself or your decision about anxiety medication as good or bad," probably isn't very helpful. This is the ultimate goal, of course, because it will free you to make the decision that's right for you. The tricky part is how to drop the judgments. Try these approaches to making a non-judgmental decision about taking medication. 

Start as a neutral observer. Also known as adopting a beginner's mind, being a neutral observer helps you step just a little bit outside of fear to consider the possibilities with open curiosity. A beginner has no preconceived notions upon which to draw. A neutral observer doesn't have an emotional attachment to a decision. Beginners and neutral observers are unclouded by opinions or past experiences as they take everything in. Regardless of any past experience with medication or stories about medication from other people you know, this current decision is brand-new to you. Gather information and consider it only in the neutral context of this medication decision knowing that whatever it is, your decision doesn't have to be permanent. 

Depersonalize it. Keep your focus on whether or not anxiety medication might help reduce your anxiety. After all, this is the simple purpose of any anxiety treatment approach or management tool. Your decision isn't about your worth as a human being. 

Draw on your strengths. This is about approaching the anxiety medication decision in a way that works for you. It goes beyond listing the pros and cons, and it makes the decision more meaningful and perhaps a little more natural. This means reflecting on who you are at your core and how you approach life. For example, are you:

  • Trusting? Consult with others whom you respect to get their input (remembering, of course, that the decision is ultimately your own).
  • Curious and have a love of learning? Do some research before making your decision. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for pamphlets about some anxiety medications and search for reputable articles online to help with your decision. 
  • Courageous? Perhaps you want to jump in and give medication a try. See how it works for you, and then make changes if necessary.
  • Cautious? Maybe it would be helpful for you to chart your symptoms for a while as you try other anxiety management strategies. If you're unhappy with the results, then you might give medication a try. 

Anxiety medication can be helpful in treating anxiety, but it isn't for everyone. That's okay--like your own personal decision, it's neither good nor bad. Approach your anxiety medication decision with non-judgment using the above tips and know that your choice is neither good nor bad. It simply is what it is. It is your unique way of handling your anxiety.  

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, June 3). Anxiety Medication: How to Make the Medication Decision, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, October 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2021/6/anxiety-medication-how-to-make-the-medication-decision



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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