Since the early 1980s, Xanax has been prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication to patients around the world. Today, it remains that most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, with Forbes reporting that nearly 50 million prescriptions are written for the medication or its generic equivalent each year.
Also known as alprazolam, Xanax is a benzodiazepine available by prescription only. Doctors prescribe it for a number of reasons, such as for the treatment of depression, phobias, and even pre-menstrual syndrome. However, the primary use of this medication is as a short-term means of managing the symptoms of anxiety.
How Xanax Works
Xanax works by slowing down the chemical over-activity in the brain that is responsible for causing anxiety. Benzodiazepines bind to gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, releasing a calming effect into the body’s central nervous system. Within minutes of taking it, both the body and mind become more relaxed and calm. In fact, the National Institutes of Health found that the effects of Xanax generally begin as soon as 8 to 25 minutes after ingestion. From that time, the effects rapidly increase to achieve more than 90 percent of Xanax benefits within the hour. Peak effects of Xanax usually occur approximately 90 minutes after ingestion, after which time the benefits begin to wear off.
Doctors and researchers have found that Xanax is useful in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders, and other anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, which is the most prevalent type of mental illness in the U.S. Anxiety and panic disorders can incite sudden and often unexplained episodes of fear that impact the day-to-day lives of those who suffer with them.
Symptoms can range from:
People who take Xanax may be advised to do so sporadically and only as needed, or on a daily basis. It may be the sole form of treatment or prescribed in combination with anti-depressants or other medications. Under the supervision of a doctor, Xanax can provide significant short-term physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Many people with anxiety disorders are affected physically, mentally, professionally, and socially by their symptoms.
With Xanax, panic attacks may quickly subside, making it easier to carry out tasks and maintain relationships on a daily basis. However, the effects of Xanax are not long term and always wear off. Over time, patients may find that prescribed dosages are inadequate for alleviating anxiety symptoms.