Question: If my family member or friend is on anxiety medication, what side effects should I look out for?
Answer: The side effects of anxiety medications relate to the specific group of medications that are being used. SSRIs for instance, may cause nausea, insomnia, headache, sexual dysfunction or weight gain -- and in some instances, people may report that they have an increase in nightmares or increased sweating. SNRIs may, on the other hand, cause dry mouth, constipation, difficulty with sleep, and also some specific side effects that may relate to specific SNRIs.
Effexor, for example, may increase the diastolic blood pressure, and so caution should be heeded when using Effexor in hypertensive patients. Cymbalta, on the other hand, may cause what we call orthostatic hypotension, which essentially means becoming dizzy when you stand up too quickly. Patients should be forewarned of these side effects and more serious side effects such as liver toxicity that may occur with Cybalta.
Other drug classes such as tricyclic antidepressants may cause dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention or constipation, and in more severe cases may increase the heart rate and cause arrhythmias. Drugs such as the benzodiazepines -- which include Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium -- may lead to an increase in sedation, breathing difficulties in extreme circumstances, and addiction.
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