The majority of people find that their prescription drug use increases with age. Usage tends to reach almost 90% among adults over 60.
Whether you are taking medication for anxiety for the first time or updating your prescription, you might wonder what the proper drug dosage is.
Below are some common mistakes to avoid when taking medication for anxiety. We discuss when to take medications, as well as ways to eliminate stressful side effects.
1. Assuming You’ve Received the Correct Prescription
You could be making the biggest mistake before even taking your prescription: assuming it’s the correct one.
Of course, even trustworthy pros can make mistakes. Out of every 20 prescriptions filled at your local pharmacy, one of those is filled incorrectly.
The mistake could be small, like putting an anxiety medication’s generic equivalent in the bag. The mistake could be big, though, as in giving you a stimulant instead of anxiety medicine.
If you take medication without checking it with the pharmacist, you can’t guarantee it will do the right thing to your body. You may be putting yourself at risk for a medical emergency.
Fortunately, the solution is simple! Have the pharmacy attendant read the drug label to you when they bag your prescription. Then open and check it before you drive off.
When buying online, check the delivered order before taking the medication.
2. Taking More Than You Need
Many people think of illegal drugs or pain medication when they think about the harmful effects of taking too much medication.
While that can be true, there is also risk involved with taking too much of a legal or prescribed drug. There are no dumb questions when it comes to personal safety!
Some drugs become less effective if you take too much. Others can cause stomach bleeding if they include blood thinners. Some medications can damage your heart if you take them too often.
One common over-the-counter culprit? Taking a daily aspirin alongside your prescription.
Some people can handle a daily aspirin just fine. Others find that taking it daily causes stomach bleeding and general discomfort. More still find that their body is resistant to aspirin’s anti-clotting qualities.
Doctors typically recommend daily aspirin to patients who need it. If you aren’t sure, you can always give your doctor a quick call.
3. Stopping Medication for Anxiety
When you get a prescription, you typically receive instructions on how often to take the drug. The label won’t always tell you how long to take it for, though.
Most doctors will set appointments to see how your anxiety medication is doing. That’s when they typically decide whether to continue prescribing the drug or not.
Those taking antidepressants or medication for anxiety are often tempted to quit cold-turkey. If you have a particularly good day, then you don’t need to take the medication, right?
Wrong! Unless you have serious side effects that are caused by that medication (something a health professional can help you determine), don’t quit the drug abruptly.
Ask your doctor how you can gradually taper off the dose. Let them know any unusual symptoms you notice while taking the medication. Your body will quickly let you know if medications are making you sick.
Even low-risk medications like allergy meds and over-the-counter pain meds may need to be tapered. Many anxiety medications work best when taken regularly. Pain meds may be less effective if you wait until the pain worsens to take them.
4. Taking Medication At the Ideal Time
Wondering when to take medications for anxiety?
If you take multiple medications, it can be easy to forget exactly when you last took it. If you think you already took it in the morning, but aren’t sure, have someone watch you take your meds.
If you did already take something and forgot, you could end up overdosing (again, this is more likely with some medications than others). Either way, taking meds too close together can cause adverse effects or reactions.
One helpful tip: take your medications at the same time each day. The benefits of anxiety medication grow when taken consistently.
If a medication says to take it in between meals, try to have those meals at a regular time. Check the label to see if it’s best to take your medications with food. Some medications can make you feel nauseated if taken on an empty stomach.
If you have a hard time tracking your anxiety medication, try organizing your medications into a pill planner. Most organizers allow you to label and organize by dose (like morning and evening doses).
If all else fails, try a reminder system. Set alarms or have a family member call when it’s time to take important medication. Cross it off on a checklist if you have to.
5. Taking Natural Supplements Without Consulting Doctor
The more prescriptions you have, the more important it is to consult your doctor about possible drug interactions. Certain over-the-counter meds or natural supplements can interact with prescription drugs.
Opioids and insomnia drugs tend to interact with benzodiazepines, a common anti-anxiety drug.
Some supplements may enhance the effects of a prescription. This includes supplements claiming to be all-natural or herbal. Any drug or supplement has the potential to chemically alter the effects of another drug.
Medications aren’t the only thing that can cause adverse reactions. Caffeine is a stimulant that may strengthen the effects of your medication.
Conversely, alcohol mixed with anxiety medications (or any medication, for that matter) can make operating a vehicle or other machinery incredibly dangerous. Combining drugs and alcohol can also cause major liver damage over time.
6. Taking Age-Inappropriate Medication
As we age, our bodies react to drugs differently. Children and seniors alike may experience different sensitivity levels to certain medications. With that come unexpected effects.
Don’t forget to read medication labels for dosage recommendations.
Your doctor or pharmacist can help determine which dosage level is best based on your age group. They may also suggest starting with a lower dose to see how your body does initially.
Older populations should proceed with caution when starting medications. They may have a higher risk of developing side effects or interactions. Ask a health professional which drugs should be on your “proceed with caution” list.
We’re Here to Help
Checking your prescription may seem like a silly step to take, but it goes a long way in avoiding mishaps! The whole point of taking medication for anxiety is to help reduce daily worries, right?
Contact us with any questions or concerns you have about a new prescription. We’ll help you find the safest way to treat your health concerns!