Anxiety disorder is a very common illness which can affect
individuals at various stages of life. While anxiety disorders are
primarily associated with psychological causes, anxiety can also be a
side effect of medications used to treat other medical conditions -
and can even be exacerbated by the medications that are prescribed to
ease the anxiety itself. Therefore, it is important to examine the
medications your son is currently taking to determine if they are
actually contributing to his anxiety.
Two of the drugs your son has been prescribed are primarily used in
the treatment of hypertension and/or chest pain. Ironically, two of
the symptoms of extreme anxiety can be high blood pressure and pain or
pressure in the chest. Therefore, it is important that your son and
his physician determine whether these prescribed heart medications are
necessary for the treatment of actual heart disease - or have merely
been prescribed to ease a "symptom" of anxiety. In either case, both
of these medications can also contribute to anxiety and nervousness.
Norvasc is used primarily to treat high blood pressure and chest pain
- but one of the side effects can be anxiety. See the side effects on
the following site: http://www.healthsquare.com/newrx/nor1306.htm
Clonidine, another medication used to treat hypertension, may also
increase nervousness. See side effects -
The third medication, Lexapro, is commonly used to treat generalized
anxiety and depressive disorders. Please keep in mind that there are
many different medications that are useful in treating anxiety
disorder. If Lexapro is not successful, another one may work much
better. A good therapist will work with your son to find the right
medication and therapy for the particular type of anxiety he is
You might want to read more about how Lexapro works and the potential
side effects on the following websites:
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America provides some very good
background about the different types of anxiety as well as the various
courses of treatment. The website also provides a list of therapists
who specialize in the treatment of anxiety disorder. I have excerpted
some of the information below.
Symptoms of anxiety
"The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the brain sending
messages to parts of the body to prepare for the "fight or flight"
response. The heart, lungs and other parts of the body work faster.
The brain also releases stress hormones, including adrenaline. The
following symptoms can occur as a result:
rapid heartbeat or palpitations
tightness or pain in chest
shortness of breath
Psychological symptoms can include:
irritability or anger
inability to concentrate
fear of madness
feeling unreal and not in control of your actions (depersonalisation)
Types of Anxiety
According to the ADAA website anxiety disorders can be broken down
into the following categories:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
"GAD is characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six
months or more; in adults, the anxiety may focus on issues such as
health, money, or career. In addition to chronic worry, GAD symptoms
include trembling, muscular aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets,
dizziness, and irritability."
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
"In OCD, individuals are plagued by persistent, recurring thoughts
(obsessions) that reflect exaggerated anxiety or fears; typical
obsessions include worry about being contaminated or fears of behaving
improperly or acting violently. The obsessions may lead an individual
to perform a ritual or routine (compulsions)-such as washing hands,
repeating phrases or hoarding-to relieve the anxiety caused by the
"People with panic disorder suffer severe attacks of panic-which may
make them feel like they are having a heart attack or are going
crazy-for no apparent reason. Symptoms include heart palpitations,
chest pain or discomfort, sweating, trembling, tingling sensations,
feeling of choking, fear of dying, fear of losing control, and
feelings of unreality. Panic disorder often occurs with agoraphobia,
in which people are afraid of having a panic attack in a place from
which escape would be difficult, so they avoid these places."
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
"PTSD can follow an exposure to a traumatic event such as a sexual or
physical assault, witnessing a death, the unexpected death of a loved
one, or natural disaster. There are three main symptoms associated
with PTSD: "reliving" of the traumatic event (such as flashbacks and
nightmares); avoidance behaviors (such as avoiding places related to
the trauma) and emotional numbing (detachment from others); and
physiological arousal such difficulty sleeping, irritability or poor
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
"Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by extreme anxiety
about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause
embarrassment or ridicule. This intense anxiety may lead to avoidance
behavior. Physical symptoms associated with this disorder include
heart palpitations, faintness, blushing and profuse sweating."
"People with specific phobias suffer from an intense fear reaction to
a specific object or situation (such as spiders, dogs, or heights);
the level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation, and is
recognized by the sufferer as being irrational. This inordinate fear
can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations."
Read more on the ADAA website
A general overview of the types of treatment for anxiety disorder is
provided on the ADAA site:
"The goal of Behavior Therapy is to modify and gain control over
unwanted behavior. The individual learns to cope with difficult
situations, often through controlled exposure to them. This kind of
therapy gives the individual a sense of having control over their
"The goal of Cognitive Therapy is to change unproductive or harmful
thought patterns. The individual examines his feelings and learns to
separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts. As with Behavior
Therapy, the individual is actively involved in his own recovery and
has a sense of control."
Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT)
"Many therapists use a combination of Cognitive and Behavior
Therapies, this is often referred to as CBT. One of the benefits of
these types therapies is that the patient learns recovery skills that
are useful for a lifetime."
Relaxation Techniques help individuals develop the ability to more
effectively cope with the stresses that contribute to anxiety, as well
as with some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. The techniques
taught include breathing re-training and exercise.
"New meds for anxiety disorder and depression results from research
that indicates the engagement of a wide range of neuro-circuits. Two
key regulatory centers, called hippocampus and amygdala govern memory
storage and emotions amongst others.
* Benzodiazepines, antidepressants and buspirone are typically used to
treat anxiety disorder and depression. Benzodiazepines are medications
with anti-anxiety and sedative- hypnotic effects.
* Antidepressant medications have substantial anti-anxiety and
anti-panic effects. Monoamine oxidate inhibitors (MAOIs) are new meds
for anxiety disorder and depression that have significant
antiobsessional, antipanic and anxiolytic effects, however they are
seldom used unless simpler medication strategies have failed. The five
drugs within the SSRI class, are new meds for anxiety disorder and
depression and are the preferred type of antidepressant for treatment
of anxiety disorders.
* Buspirone, one of the new meds for anxiety disorder and depression
is not habit forming and has no abuse potential. It is comparable to
the SSRIs and is better tolerated than the TCAs. It is more useful in
the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety and depression frequently coexist, so that patients that
exhibit both conditions are the rule rather than the exception. Many
of the new meds for anxiety disorder and depression medications can be
used in isolation or concurrently for both disorders. New meds for
anxiety disorder and depression involves medications such as Paxil,
Toffranil or Norpramine and are effective in preventing future
attacks. Other new meds for anxiety disorder and depression such as
Ativan or Xanax may be given alone or in combination with other
From "Understanding Anxiety Disorders."
FINDING A THERAPIST OR TREATMENT CENTER
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America has a list of associated
therapists and support groups which can be searched by location.
Find a Therapist
Find a Support Group
Most major hospitals also have a Division of Psychiatry with
specialists devoted to the treatment of anxiety disorders. You should
not have to travel out of your home state unless you are wanting to
enroll your son in a very specialized program. If you want to divulge
your location, I can certainly try to do some additional research on
anxiety treatment centers in your area.
Specialized Treatment Centers
I have listed a few treatment centers from around the country which
specialize in anxiety disorders. Again - if you want to let me know
your son's location, I might be able to pinpoint a center closer to
The Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University
"The Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders has been researching and
treating anxiety in adults for over 20 years. We currently offer
treatment for a wide variety of anxiety disorders, as well as
treatment for depression. Because we are a research facility, we are
sometimes able to offer free treatment to those who qualify for one of
our research studies." http://www.bu.edu/anxiety/adult.html
Contact - 617 / 353 9610
Anxiety Disorders Center - The Institute for Living - Hartford Hospital
St Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute - Anxiety Disorders Center
Anxiety Phobia and Treatment Center - White Plains Hospital, N.Y.
The Ross Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders - Washington D.C.
Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety
University of Pennsylvania Health System - Philadelphia
Anxiety Treatment Center - Ohio
Anxiety and Panic Treatment Center - Portland, Oregon
The following sites provide additional useful information about
Anxiety Disorder which your son might find quite helpful.
National Mental Health Information Center - Anxiety Disorders
Mental Help Net
(Click on individual disorders and treatment)
Anxiety and Depression Solutions
Anxiety Panic Resource Center
I hope the information I have provided will help you to move forward
in assiting your son to seek the best treatment. Please be assured
that anxiety disorder can be overcome with the right combination of
Please don't hesitate to ask for additional clarification if
necessary and I will help in any way that I can.
I wish you and your son all the best.
Symptoms of anxiety
treatment centers for anxiety disorder