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Student Health Services

Anxiety and Panic

What is Anxiety? What are Panic Attacks?

Anxiety is a common disorder that gives the sensation of tightness in the chest, heart palpitations, sweaty palms, a feeling of fearfulness, difficulty concentrating and frightening thoughts. Panic attacks are sudden episodes of anxiety and intense fear that rapidly peak within 10 minutes and resolve in about 20 minutes.

Most individuals can separate anxiety into its two major components; the mental (cognitive) and physical (somatic) disturbances.

Anti Anxiety Medications

There are a number of drugs that are used to help combat the symptoms of anxiety. These drugs should not be substituted for dealing with the basic problem causing the anxiety.

These medicines include Valium, Librium, Xanax, and many others and generally belong to the benzodiazepine family of medicines. They should be used for the shortest time possible to help with the most severe symptoms while the problem is being resolved. If a patient becomes depressed, then these medications may aggravate the depression.

Any anti-anxiety medication may make you sleepy, therefore care must be used not to take them with alcohol, before or during driving or performing any dangerous tasks, or take them with other sedative medicines (pain medications, etc.). Always be sure that your clinician knows ALL of the medications that you take.

Anti-anxiety medicines may also impair your short-term memory. This may interfere with your ability to study and retain information. These medicines should not be taken without careful supervision by your health care provider.

You should expect a slow improvement in your symptoms over a period of several days. If you are worsening, or if an allergic (rash, swelling, itching) or other problems develop, be sure to notify your doctor at the Student Health and Wellness Center right away.