Muscle tension, racing thoughts and nervousness are common symptoms of anxiety that make it difficult to relax. Although relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation can be effective, they may not work for everyone. Over-the-counter supplements are available to help alleviate anxiety. In more severe cases, you may require an anti-anxiety medication to get some relief. Consult your doctor before you take anything to treat your symptoms of anxiety.
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Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that regulates your sleeping and waking patterns. It is also available as a supplement and works as an antioxidant. Melatonin supplements are used to treat insomnia, a common symptom of anxiety. Anxiety can interfere with your ability to fall asleep or cause you to toss and turn throughout the night. According to a study published in the January 2011 issue of "Clinical Medical Research and Opinion," sleep latency, sleep quality and quality of life improved among participants aged 18 to 80 who took prolonged-release melatonin over a three-week period.
Alprazolam, brand name Xanax, is an anti-anxiety medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders as well as panic disorder, and may be prescribed for some cases of depression. It is a strong, habit-forming medication and is not prescribed to alleviate day-to-day anxiety or stress. The starting dosage is typically 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg per day and may be gradually increased up to 4 mg daily. The availability of alprazolam from sources outside of the United States has contributed to its abuse. Alprazolam obtained via the Internet may contain dangerous ingredients and can be harmful.
Some side effects of melatonin include stomach pain, headaches, dizziness and daytime drowsiness. Drowsiness may dissipate if the dosage is reduced. Nightmares are also a possible side effect of melatonin. The side effects of alprazolam are much more severe. Alprazolam is highly addictive and can cause harmful withdrawal symptoms if its use is discontinued abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms may include seizures, insomnia, depression, vomiting, nervousness and muscle twitching or cramps.
Melatonin can have negative side effects as a result of interaction with a number of other types of medication. For example, caution should be taken when taking melatonin along with psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or benzodiazpines, such as alprazolam. It can be dangerous when taken in combination with blood pressure medications or blood thinners. Alprazolam can interact with other psychotropic drugs, anticonvulsants and antihistaminics that also depress the central nervous system.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Melatonin
- "Current Medical Research and Opinion"; Prolonged Release Melatonin in the Treatment of Primary Insomnia: Evaluation of the Age Cut-off for Short- and Long-Term Response; A.G. Wade; January 2011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Possible Interactions with Melatonin
- RxList.com: Xanax