Stress is a relatively new
psychological and biological term to describe the failure of an organism to
respond appropriately to a threat. Previous to this description stress was used
in mechanics to mean a strain. Both definitions are accurate to describe how
stress affects a human being. Stress can be an awful strain, exhausting, panic,
anxious, depressing, nerve-wracking feeling caused by something or someone
within our environment. There is no doubt that in today’s day in age we have
the most amount of stress especially with the horrible economy, skyrocketing
job losses, insurmountable debt, plummeting housing market, and record high
divorce rates. Not to mention the amount of crime, homicide, suicide rates
within the US.
It’s no wonder why prescription medication is becoming a popular treatment method for people who suffer from chronic stress, even though with a wide range of medications there is no specific drug for stress. That’s because even though chronic stress can cause serious health and mental problems, stress is not a disease. Therefore doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists are prescribing drugs that resolve related symptoms of stress such as anxiety, depression, headaches, blood pressure and sleeping problems. The thought is by treating the symptoms; you ultimately reduce the cause of those symptoms. Unfortunately, these types of medication can be highly addictive. Like with most prescription medications there is a risk of potential side effects, behavioral and health problems. Some prescription medications used for stress include anxiolytics (anti anxiety), anti depressants, sedatives and beta-blockers.
anxiety medications have been prescribed for patients who have anxiety brought
on by stress. Again the medication is not a prescription for the stress, but
rather the anxiety caused by stress. Sedatives, tranquilizers, benzodiazepines,
anti depressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), tricyclic
antidepressant, and monoamine oxidase inhibitor are all categories of anti anxiety
are used to treat stress that causes anxiety, nervousness and depression.
Sedatives depress the activity of the central nervous system (CNS). By slowing down the brain function a
person should feel a sense of calm and relaxation. Breathing slows and anxiety
and tension slip away. Unfortunately, there is a possibility with sedatives for
overdose, which can lead to death. Benzodiazepines are one group of
tranquilizers that are used frequently in the treatment of stress related anxiety.
are a psychoactive drug. It works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA. By
activating it, brain activity and function slows down which causes a sedative,
hypnotic (sleep inducing), anti anxiety, anti-convulsant, muscle relaxant, and
amnesic state. Benzodiazepines can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia,
agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are
safe for use in two categories short to intermediate or long term. Long-term
benzodiazepine prescriptions are normally used for treatment of anxiety,
however long-term use also has a higher occurrence to build up tolerance,
dependency, withdrawal and adverse psychological and physical effects. Examples
of benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Halcyon, Restoril, Libruim,
Buspar is used for stress-induced
anxiety. Buspar treats anxiety, body tension, dizziness and rapid heartbeat.
This medication is a psychoactive drug that should only be used for short-term
treatment. Buspar is non-addictive and takes effect within 1-3 weeks after
initial usage. This drug affects the serotonin and dopamine receptors within
the brain. This causes a change in mood.
Antidepressants are common
treatment for stress, anxiety, mood disorders and depression. There are three
categories of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI),
tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Of the three,
SSRI’s are the most popular. SSRI’s work on the neuronal level by slowing downs
the reuptake of serotonin. The belief is that by keeping serotonin in the
synapse between cells longer it alleviates anxiety, depression, and all the
other related symptoms. Although, antidepressants are not addictive they may
have side effects such as nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, sleep disturbance, and
sexual arousal problems. Common SSRI’s include Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft,
Beta-blockers were originally
prescribed to control high blood pressure and treat heart problems however,
more recently it has been prescribed for the treatment of stress. Chronic and
long-term stress have the ability to raise blood pressure and cause heart
problems therefore leading doctors to believe that by treating these symptoms
they can reduce the cause of stress. Beta-blockers act by blocking the actions
of neurotransmitters and norepinephrine in the arteries and in the heart. In
turn the arteries widen, slowing the heart rate and decreasing the force of the
contractions. Some common side effects include cold hands and feet, tiredness,
and sleep disturbance. Less common side effects can also include impotence,
dizziness, wheezing, digestive problems, skin rashes, and dry eyes.
Beta-blockers on the market today are Propranolo and Atenolol.
Even though stress can have a
serious effect on the body physically and the mind mentally, prescription
medications are normally only recommended after a change in diet, exercise and
environment. Stress management and relaxation techniques are preferred natural
ways to reduce stress before turning to medication.