Will My Anxiety Go Away Now That I Started Medication?

Anti-Anxiety Medication
A patient is holding having anxiety and looking at her medication bottle and the clock wondering when it will go away.

For many, anxiety will be a lifelong disorder. However, by focusing on proper medication and paying attention to lifestyle factors, you can manage anxiety and lead your best life.

Albert Hernandez

October 29, 2022
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 29, 2022
  5 min read

October 29, 2022
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 29, 2022
  5 min read


When my patients who have never been treated for anxiety before finally start their medication regimen, they often feel a huge sense of relief. They’re taking action to tackle the stress, worry, and frustration that can accompany their anxiety. As they begin their antidepressant treatment medication, many patients ask “Now that I’ve started medication, will my anxiety ever go away?” or “Is my anxiety gone for good now?” 

For most patients, anxiety will be a lifelong disorder that will require long-term treatment. Many patients will utilize both a maintenance antidepressant medication and an emergency anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication for symptom breakthrough. Medication adherence, which means taking your anxiety meds as prescribed, will be key to reducing anxiety’s disruptive symptoms. In addition, there are non-medication steps that adults with an anxiety disorder can also take to minimize anxiety’s impact on their life.

Symptoms of Anxiety

When new patients come to be treated for anxiety, it’s usually because they’ve noticed symptoms that are interfering with school, work, or relationships. It’s normal for people to experience situational anxiety in certain new circumstances, like going off to school for the first time, or flying or riding on a motorcycle when you've never done so before.

However, many patients who come to me for treatment have “not felt right” for as long as they can remember. For folks who have always felt “off” in this way, their anxiety is considered to be a lifelong medical condition. As I ask patients to help me understand what symptoms they are referring to, they more often than not describe:

  • Problems focusing/concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness and worrying
  • Insomnia and trouble falling asleep
  • Fast heart rate
  • Stomach problems

Over time, a person may notice that these symptoms are keeping them from living the life they want. Nervousness about crowds might make them struggle at their spouse’s work events or at their kid’s sports practice or games. The weight of trying to concentrate all day at work can lead to anger, irritability, or disconnectedness at home with their spouse or kids. Eventually, they come to seek treatment and when evaluated, they are found to be struggling with an anxiety disorder. Then, I review their medication options with them.

Medications For Anxiety

Patients who are being treated for anxiety are often started on an antidepressant, such as Zoloft or Paxil, and an anxiolytic medication for breakthrough symptoms. The antidepressant medication impacts serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain.

Disruption in the way serotonin helps your neurons (brain cells) talk to one another can cause signs of depression and/or anxiety in some people.

Therefore, an antidepressant in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class can help regulate mood and ease symptoms of anxiety for patients.

However, SSRIs take several weeks to reach their peak effectiveness in combating symptoms. In addition, life circumstances will sometimes cause increased symptoms of anxiety, even if you are adhering well to your medication regimen. Your menstrual period, stressful travel, tight deadlines at work, and many other factors could cause an increase in anxiety. Therefore, many patients with an anxiety disorder also have a prescription for an anxiolytic medication for breakthrough symptoms, and to provide relief as their antidepressant medication is becoming effective. Anxiolytics such as hydroxyzine, alprazolam, or clonazepam are not typically meant to be taken regularly the way your antidepressant is. Instead, they are available for when anxiety symptoms break through your normal mood and become disruptive.

Lifestyle Factors That May Impact Your Anxiety

Even with the correct medication regimen on board, for many patients, anxiety is managed but doesn’t completely disappear.

In addition to medication treatment, I remind my patients that avoiding their anxiety triggers is another important way to find relief from symptoms.

Get nervous in El Paso traffic? Take alternative routes or look for a job that has less of a commute. Hate flying or all the crowds at the El Paso International Airport?  Have an emergency medication close to you. I would recommend a medication necklace where you can keep your benzo or other breakthrough medication within arm’s reach. Does a busy gym overwhelm you? Consider a boutique gym or an online exercise course that you can do in the privacy of your own home.

Other factors can influence your anxiety, as well. Drinking enough water won’t cure anxiety, of course, but being dehydrated can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. So, try to make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day. Even 15 minutes of exercise can improve your mood, so try to fit in a walk through El Paso's Ascarate Park or another form of exercise on most days if possible.

A female patient is holding her head and struggling with anxiety.

Consider how alcohol and caffeine impact your anxiety, too. While having a few alcoholic drinks to “help you unwind” might feel good in the moment, alcohol can disrupt sleep. Caffeine can cause some people to either have trouble falling asleep or cause them to wake throughout the night. Poor sleep is both a possible symptom of anxiety and also a factor that can worsen anxiety. So, pay attention to how you feel after alcohol and caffeine intake.

Seeking treatment for a behavioral health condition shows both courage and a commitment to self-care. Understand that acknowledging that your anxiety disorder will likely require life-long treatment isn’t a weakness. Instead, being realistic about your triggers and the factors that can improve your mood and your anxiety will help you to stay in a healthier frame of mind.

If you’re ready to take control of your life and decrease the hold anxiety has on you, our Upper Valley Behavioral Health experts would love to discuss your treatment options. We help patients in El Paso, TX, and New Mexico. Fill out our short application for treatment today.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not replace instructions from your licensed prescriber. Please consult your healthcare provider for guidance on your specific medication regimen.

Tags: anxiety

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