Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Generalized anxiety disorder- GAD- and panic disorder are two among psychiatric disorders that have been identified as imposing a huge burden on patients, families, and the health care system.  The two are examples of anxiety disorders that tend to be undertreated as well as underrecognized (Bandelow, Michaelis & Wedekind, 2017). Both GAD and panic disorder are treated using pharmacotherapy, psychological therapy or both (Bandelow et al., 2017). Although the two are distinct conditions, they can be treated using similar pharmacological interventions. Precisely, both panic disorder and GAD can effectively be managed using selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors- SNRIs and SSRIs (Bandelow et al., 2017).

GAD is treated using drugs such as paroxetine, escitalopram, and duloxetine, which are all antidepressants. It can also be managed by use of benzodiazepines (Kavan, Elsasser & Barone, 2009). Panic disorder is also managed effectively using SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants (Bandelow et al., 2017). Specific medications that help in reducing symptoms arising from panic attacks include paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, fluoxetine, and benzodiazepines such as clonazepam and alprazolam (Mayo Clinic).

From the above comparison, SSRIs are considered more appropriate for managing anxiety disorders. For GAD, this class of drugs is labelled ‘first-line therapies’ primarily because they can be used over the long term without causing psychiatrists or families to worry about dependence or abuse (Zamorski & Albucher, 2002). In other words, SSRIs are more appropriate pharmacological interventions for GAD because they are not only effective but are also tolerable. These drugs work by regulating noradrenergic receptors (Zamorski & Albucher, 2002), suppressing anxious thoughts, and reducing physiological symptoms associated with anxiety (Gomez & Hofmann, 2020). They also act as antidepressants and are therefore suitable for persons suffering from GAD, a disorder that often co-occurs with major depression (Bandelow et al., 2017).

References

Bandelow, B., Michaelis, S., & Wedekind, D. (2017). Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience19(2), 93.

Kavan, M. G., Elsasser, G. N., & Barone, E. J. (2009). Generalized anxiety disorder: practical assessment and management. American Family Physician79(9), 785-791.

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Panic attacks and panic disorder. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/panic-attacks/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20376027

Zamorski, M. A., & Albucher, R. (2002). What to do when SSRIs fail: eight strategies for optimizing treatment of panic disorder. American Family Physician66(8), 1477.

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