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Boggio Family of Pharmacies

Boggios: A healthy choice for your whole life

Anxiety disorders affect about 10% to 30% of the population sometime in their lifetime.  With proper management most people can learn how to handle their anxiety

There are a number of natural and pharmaceutical options people can take for their anxiety.  However, sometimes the best first approach is an old fashioned remedy.

Routine exercise and fresh air can make a huge difference in a patient’s outlook.  Natural endorphins released during exercise, and sunlight exposure, have been shown to improve mood and help with anxiety.  Talking to someone about worries and concerns can be comforting.  It is not always necessary to consult a psychiatrist, some family practitioners offer counseling and there are psychologists that can help with many issues.  Ask your family practitioner for a referral or contact a therapist on your own.  Sometimes there are help groups available as well where people who share your problems get together to help each other.

If you would like to try a pharmaceutical product in addition to the above mentioned strategies there are a number available.  Currently a number of antidepressants are being used to also help with anxiety.  The most commonly used medications belong to a class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  These medications help to increase serotonin levels in the brain.  Commonly used medications in this class are Celexa, Cipralex, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.

The next most commonly used agent is Effexor XR.  This medication is part of a different class called SNRIs.  There are other antidepressants that can be tried if these first line agents are ineffective.  Typically it takes about 2 to 4 weeks to see some symptom relief and it may take about 12 or more weeks to see a full response.

Sometimes it is recommended that a patient try an anxiolytic such as Ativan, or clonazepam, until the other medications take full effect.  These agents provide rapid onset and can be used for acute anxiety symptoms.  Unfortunately these medications can also cause dependence, sedation, and memory impairment.  They are really best used on a short-term basis.

Often it is a matter of trial and error to find what agent works best for the individual.  Patients often get frustrated with this process, unfortunately there is often no easy solution.

There are a number of natural products on the market that people can try.  There is some evidence for products like St. John’s Wart and kava being effective.  Other agents include 5-HTP, L-tryptophan and Passionflower.  Kava is not currently available in Canada because of concerns with liver toxicity.  St. John’s Wart is available and does increase levels of serotonin.  However, it should be treated like any other medication.  You should consult your doctor before taking it and ask the pharmacist about drug interactions.  As for the other products there is still a lack of evidence of safety and efficacy.

Research has shown that people who take a medication and participate in some type of talking therapy do best in overcoming their anxiety.  Talk over your options with your practitioner and have some patience as you work through your issues.  In time most people are able to overcome their anxiety and find a way to deal with their problems.

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