What Non-Addictive Anxiety Drugs Can I Take?

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 10:29 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: What medications can be used for anxiety that don’t pose an addiction risk?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
There are many medications that can be used to alleviate anxiety. But first it's important to identify and address the causes of your anxiety, and this is where non-pharmaceutical management may be preferable, if possible. 
 
There are circumstances when short-term minor tranquillizers (such as Valium or Xanax) can be used temporarily to alleviate agitation and concerns associated with anxiety. But tranquillizers are not always needed, and they can carry an addiction risk when used inappropriately or in excess over long periods of time. 
 
There is such thing as an addiction-prone individual, and these people often have a family history of substance abuse. It is important for such individuals to avoid using tranquilizers.
 
Many times, depression and personality disorders can masquerade as anxiety, and the stigma associated with mental health disorders can lead to denial about depression or other major psychological disorders.
 
These factors can result in the wrong medications being used for some patients, which leaves them suffering. This is particularly prominent in those with major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizo-affective disorders, which may require mood-stabilizing medications such as Depakote, Risperdal, Geodon, or Lithium, combined with an SSRI medication such as Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, or Cymbalta.
 
Improper medication use not only promotes addiction but can also increase the risk for suicide, homicidal behavior, and social isolation.
 
I would recommend that you find a doctor who listens to you and will work with you to address your anxiety, as well as a therapist to achieve goals that are realistic.
 
Yes, there are many medications used for anxiety that are not addicting, but you first need a proper evaluation to determine if various alternative therapies are suitable for you. Self-diagnosis is ineffective and dangerous. You need only to watch the news to see bad choices made by sadly suffering individuals with mental health disorders that were poorly managed or who never had appropriate therapy.
 
If you ever feel someone you know is suffering, be sure to tell your physician who can help you direct care to them in a timely fashion.
 
Finally, do not overlook relaxation and stress management therapies such as massage, improving your sleep habits and diet, and group and individual therapy. Above all, always question whether some of your feeling may be related to an underlying medical disorder (such as hyperthyroidism) or a side effect from too much caffeine, alcohol, or drug use.

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