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Anxiety Treatments

October 25, 2012

Throughout our lectures we have focused on the issue of medicalization versus therapy for mental health disorders. This article addresses this issue specifically for anxiety disorders. The whole article pertained to topics covered in class. However, there were a few specific aspects of the article that I wanted to point out. First of all, the beginning of the article introduces a woman who claimed to have “always been an anxious person” until after a panic attack, triggered by the 9/11 horror, was “quickly diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.” This small, but important, part of the article immediately stuck out to me. We have talked a lot about the question of whether or not mental health disorders are always “disorders” or are sometimes natural reactions to incidences in life. More specifically, if a woman’s husband dies and she feels depressed, is this because she is clinically depressed or is this because being sad is a natural reaction to the loss of a loved one. This same idea is clear in the article; does this woman really have generalized anxiety disorder, or did she feel particularly anxious and suffer from a panic attack due to the tragic happenings of 9/11?

The article continues on, using this woman as an example, to discuss the question of whether medicalization, therapy, or a combination of both is the answer to curing generalized anxiety disorder. This is a valid question, and one that relates to a lot of what we talk about in class; sometimes people really do benefit from medicine, sometimes therapy is all that is needed, or sometimes a combination of both is helpful. However, it is later on in the article where another idea caught my attention. The article discusses how serotonin and norepinephrine are examples of genes that are likely to be linked to anxiety. It then goes on to say that, “though doctors are fuzzy on the precise cause, they know that an array of medications can help with the disorder.” Before moving onto the rest, it is important to highlight this specific quote. The article is blatantly stating that while doctors do not really know which genes, if any, cause generalized anxiety disorder, they still promote the use of medications. And with that, it discusses the use of Benzodiazepines and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, making sure to the mention common side effects, “such as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, sedation and gastrointestinal issues.” The authors of the article do a good job of bringing up the widespread use of drugs along with the very vital fact that “there is a fairly sizable population that gets partial or no benefit from them.”

I found myself really connecting with the end of the article when it discusses how important therapy is in the fight against generalized anxiety disorder. Included is a quote from another woman suffering from generalized anxiety disorder; “What the medication did was level out my [emotional] roller coaster, but it didn’t solve any problems. And that is where therapy came in… Recovery for me wouldn’t have been possible without both.” I thought this argument uplifting and accurate. It directly relates to discussions we have in class. In my opinion, I ultimately believe what this article is promoting; drugs are not the only way to help mental health problems. Therapy is extremely important and, depending on the patient, if drugs are necessary, the combination of drugs and therapy is the way to go.

Sarah McGee

LA Times:,0,6363663.story?page=1

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 26, 2012 6:48 pm

    A very close friend of mine has suffered from anxiety for the last couple of years and she just got up the courage to go to the doctor and talk about it, hoping to be prescribed some meds for her symptoms. She was prescribed meds and has been taking them for about a week now. I am curious to see if they begin to help or if her attitude becomes a bigger issue (sometimes these things back fire) and if maybe what would be best is talk therapy. I am a huge proponent of talk therapy, I have been going to a therapist off and on since I was a child. Sometimes an outside opinion can help bring a whole new perspective to a situation before thinking that drugs can be the solution.

    Anya McCall

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