medication for generalized anxiety disorder
Anti anxiety medication – An overview:
use of anti anxiety medication is the leading biological approach to
treating generalized anxiety disorder. Most people in our society are
very familiar with the words “tranquilizer,” “Valium,” and “Xanax.”
Other biological interventions include relaxation training, in which
people learn to relax their muscles, and biofeedback in which
individuals learn the voluntary control of underlying biological
processes that may contribute to their problems. The history of the
use of anti anxiety medication for generalized anxiety disorder goes
back several decades.
medication - History of use for anxiety disorders:
A family of drugs
labeled as barbiturates were the primary biological treatment
for anxiety disorders before the 1950’s. These anti anxiety
medications were used in low doses to calm people and help them to
sleep and were referred to as sedative- hypnotic drugs.
However, barbiturates were found to cause relatively serious problems
with people making them drowsy, were found to be deadly in high doses,
and eventually would lead to a physical dependence upon them.
In the late
1940’s, a pharmacologist by the name of Frank Berger who was trying to
make a more effective antibiotic medicine developed a compound called
meprobamate that relaxed muscles and reduced anxiety. It was
later released in the 1950’s as a new sedative- hypnotic medication
under the brand name of Milltown. While this new anti anxiety
medication still continued to cause great drowsiness, it was much less
dangerous and less addictive than barbiturates.
Then in the late
1950’s, a researcher by the name of Lowell Randall found that
chlordiazepoxide, a member of the drug family called
benzodiazepines, was able to tranquilize animals without making
them extremely tired. This drug was actually discovered in the 1930’s
but was set aside because it was believed to be relatively useless.
After Randall’s discovery however, this anti anxiety medication was
then marketed as a sedative- hypnotic drug under the brand name
Librium. Several years later another benzodiazepine medication was
developed and marketed under the name of diazepam or Valium. Most
doctors and patients considered these medications to be very safe for
use as sedative hypnotics and soon became the most widely prescribed
medications in the United States.
However, it was
actually many years later that investigators came to understand the
reasons for the effectiveness of these anti anxiety medications.
Researchers began to recognize that there were specific neurons (nerve
cells) in the brain that were affected by benzodiazepines and that
these same receptor sites also were able to receive and be affected by
the neurotransmitter GABA. Apparently, when benzodiazepines were
received by certain neurons in the brain (GABA-A receptors), they
actually increased the ability of GABA to bind to them which would
then improve GABA’s ability to stop the firing of neurons which would
then slow bodily arousal and reduce anxiety.
Abnormal Psychology by Ronald J. Comer
Additional information and webpage by
Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist)