Xanax, also known by the generic name Alprazolam, has been licensed in the USA to treat anxiety and panic attacks since 1981. It is used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, panic disorder and, in some cases, depression. It is a member of a family of drugs known as Benzodiazepines. It is a mild tranquilizer.
Many people who have experienced drugs like Valium may be aware of how Benzodiazepines can make you feel doped and sleepy. Xanax is not like this for many people. In my own personal experience Xanax didn’t make me feel very different at all, just much much calmer. I didn’t get any of the side effects listed, and in an ad hoc experiment to see how my reaction times were effected I actually found my reactions to be almost exactly as good as when I wasn’t on Xanax.
Some people do suffer from side effects, sleepiness, dizziness and vertigo, nausea. But these drugs are rather well-tolerated.
In terms of dose, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. I personally worked my way up from the 0.25mg dose which is the lowest available and now take 1.5mg on an as needed basis.
Initially I took a tiny amount of one Xanax tablet to see how I tolerated it. As I was fine I took the rest. Some people who suffer from anxiety may have a psychosomatic side effect of feeling a sudden onset of anxiety or panic whenever they try something new. This can mean that at first a Benzodiazepine has a paradoxical effect. If I were you I would persevere, as for the short term relief of temporary anxiety and panic attacks this drug is very useful and very effective.
A word of caution. Like all Benzodiazepines, Xanax can be habit forming. If you take it for too long you may need to taper off slowly to avoid withdrawal effects. Also, if you take it often you may find you need to take more to get the same effect. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this.
I don’t recommend you buy from online pharmacies without prescription, you don’t know what you are getting or how safe it is, or even if it will arrive or not!
Xanax for travel anxiety.
There is lots of medication for anxiety available on the market. Almost all of it is only available on prescription from a doctor.
Normally, Patients presenting with anxiety are offered Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI for short). This family of medication is considered suitable if the anxiety disorder is ongoing, as SSRI’s are not suitable for short term use. They tend to take at least four weeks to start working (although some people claim to feel better in as little as two days) and aren’t thought to be fully effective until they have been taken for 6 weeks to two months. The common SSRI’s are:
- citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil, Celepram, Emocal, Sepram, Seropram)
- escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex, Esertia, Esipram)
- fluoxetine (Prozac, Fontex, Seromex, Seronil, Sarafem, Fluctin [EUR])
- paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat, Aropax, Deroxat, Paroxat)
- sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral, Serlain)
- venlafaxine (Effexor) (SNRI)
- duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- dapoxetine (Priligy)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox, Faverin, Favoxil)
Other drugs which might also be prescribed and are similar to SSRI’s are SNRI’s or Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. The most commonly prescribed SNRI is Venlafaxine (Effexor). SNRI’s are newer than SSRI’s and tend to be slightly better tolerated with fewer side effects. They were designed to treat depression but are also a medication for anxiety. Likewise they are prescribed for long term use, normally six months or more and sometimes years.
Also read this post on Anxiety Medication Over The Counter.
If a medication for anxiety which is short term is needed then there are various other options. In times of extreme grief or pain, or when panic attacks are severe, a short acting anxiolytic might be used. The normal choice would be one of the Benzodiazepine family:
- Xanax, alprazolam:
- Lexotan, bromazepam:
- Librium, chlordiazepoxide:
- Klonopin, clonazepam:
- Tranxene, clorazepate:
- Valium, diazepam:
- Rohypnol, flunitrazepam:
- ProSom, estazolam:
- Dalmane, flurazepam:
- Paxipam, halazepam:
- Dormonoct, loprazolam:
- Ativan, lorazepam:
- Versed (Hypnovel, Dormicum), midazolam:
- Mogadon, nitrazepam:
- Serax, oxazepam:
- Doral, quazepam:
- Restoril, temazepam:
- Halcion, triazolam:
Benzodiazepines are good because they work quickly (less than an hour even) and are very good at what they do – stopping anxiety and panic. In a way they are the ultimate medication for anxiety. The problem is that if they are taken for too long they become less effective and can become addictive. Constant use for more then three weeks is rarely advised. For a personal experience of Valium click here.
Another drug that is not a Benzodiazepine is Buspirone, which is said to be as good as a Benzodiazipine for reducing anxiety but non-addictive and non-sedating. It has a better side-effect profile but can not be taken on an as needed basis. It has to be taken daily and takes two or three weeks to take effect. As it is non-addictive it is much better suited to long-term use Benzodiazepines.
Treatment for Panic Attacks in mainstream medicine revolves around two things: medication and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).
Medication tends to fall into two categories: SSRI’s and Benzodiazepines.
The SSRI’s, like prozac, celexa, zoloft etc have pros and cons. They are clinically proven to be effective (although all data from big pharma companies has been called in question at sometime or other). Unfortunately they do have side-effects of which weight gain, nausea (normally temporarily) and sexual dysfunction/loss of libido (normally temporary) are the most severe and commonly reported. SSRI’s normally take 4-6 weeks to start working and may need to be tapered off slowly at the end of treatment.
Benzodiazepines, like Xanax alprazolam and valium also have pros and cons. They are fast working, normally taking considerably less than an hour to kick in, and are extremely effective. On the downside they can be highly addictive and therefore are not best suited to long term use (although they are prescribed long term sometimes). They also can effect concentration and alertness so hinder the consumer’s ability to drive for example.
On the CBT front, over ten or twelve sessions a trained therapist will help you see panic attacks for what they are (harmless natural responses which appear nasty), will show you how to rationalize out the faulty and extreme negative thinking which causes panic attacks, and show you some physical techniques to calm your breathing and relax your mind and body.
Some people argue that CBT doesn’t really get to the heart of the problem, that you need some kind of psychotherapy to do that. Others argue psychotherapy is a pointless and long-winded waste of money.
Often a combination of therapy and drugs work best.
There are other potential treatments for panic attacks involving herbs and supplements like 5-htp which many people swear by. It should be noted that the effects of long term use of these other therapies has not bee fully studied.