Treating Emotional Problems with Medication

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Some people think the right pill will cure anything, while others think medications (especially psychiatric drugs) should be avoided. The reality is somewhere in the middle. Medications for emotional disorders can provide considerable relief, but rarely provide a cure. Other actions are often needed, such as psychotherapy, exercise, sufficient sleep, stress reduction, and so forth. That said, medications for emotional problems can be lifesavers.

Just because medications for emotional problems are needed doesn't mean they're free of side effects. (Check out Chapter 10 for common side effects with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.)

Telling yourself to forget problems or smile through your tears isn't usually effective, unless the problem is a temporary bad mood. Antidepressant medications may help alleviate depression, and anti-anxiety drugs may help squelch anxiety.

You may need one or more drugs to combat emotional difficulties, and your doctor may try several medications (usually one at a time) before finding one that works. She'll probably start you on a low dose of one drug, to tell which drug is responsible if side effects occur. Check out Table 16-2 for a list of medications for depression and anxiety and common side effects.

Table 16-2 Common Medications for Depression and Anxiety

Medication

Generic Name

Prescribed For

Most Common Side Effects

Lexapro

Citalopram

Depression and anxiety

Loss of sexual desire

Zoloft

Sertraline

Depression

Loss of sexual desire

Valium

Diazepam

Anxiety

Sleepiness, physical dependence

Cymbalta

Duloxetine

Depression

Insomnia or sedation; loss of sexual desire in men and abnormal orgasm in women

(continued)

Table 16-2 (continued)

Medication

Generic Name

Prescribed For

Most Common Side Effects

Effexor

Venlafaxine

Depression

Nausea, increased blood pressure

Buspar

Buspirone

Anxiety

Dizziness

Paxil

Paroxetine

Depression and anxiety

Nausea, sleepiness

Xanax

Alprazolam

Anxiety

Sleepiness

Wellbutrin

Bupropion

Depression

Increased energy, poor sleep

Antidepressant medications may have extra benefits for people with FMS:

^^^^ 1 Depression increases the experience of pain, possibly from depletion of serotonin and/or norepinephrine. Even if you're not depressed, antidepressants can improve serotonin production and decrease pain.

Nonpsychiatrist physicians often prescribe low doses of antidepressants to patients with chronic pain. (Read more about antidepressants in Chapter 10.) But if you have depression and chronic pain, you may need a therapeutic dose to deal with both problems.

1 People with fibromyalgia often don't get enough restorative sleep. Anti-depressants or sleep remedies may help resolve this problem. (Read Chapter 14 on sleep problems and what to do about them.)

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Getting to Know Anxiety

Getting to Know Anxiety

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