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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Drug Alternatives for Stress

03/20/2007

Question:

I have always had anxiety, all day my arms and hands tingle, always feeling nervous about leaving home, and being in social situations. Now I am beginning to have frequent panic attacks at my job where my hands shake, I begin to sweat, can`t really look at people, it is so unbareable and I am forced to leave. This is affecting my job and social life and it does not seem to be getting any better. I do not have insurance so I was wondering some natural ways in aiding this problem. If I am forced to be on medication what is the best way to seek that out?

Answer:

Your anxiety disorder does seem to be interfering with your life.  I am glad that you are interested in pursuing treatment.  However, no over the counter, herbal or homeopathic remedies have been shown (with good evidence) to have a significant effect on treating moderate or severe anxiety disorder.

I encourage you to look into low cost, sliding scale and free mental health clinics that may exist in your area.  The best treatments for anxiety are medications (like the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like fluoxetine and sertaline) and therapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy.  It can be hard to find these low cost and sliding scale clinics, as there may not be one central clearing house for the information in your community, and you may have to make several phone calls.  Start with the phone book, social service agencies, hospitals and physicians offices.  Be persistent - this care is available to people who are willing to call, make appointments and be patient!!  Its a sad situation that mental health care is so difficult to access, but true.  Some pharmacies in the US are offering generic drugs at $4 or $5 for a months supply -- and the lists include medications for anxiety and depression.  This may help you afford the medication. 

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati