I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder about a year ago. My anxiety only comes on when I feel time pressure such as wanting to leave to get to a place on time for rational and irrational events. Is there a medication or treatment that would help relieve these sudden onset symptoms?

The best medication for anxiety is exposure therapy. What will happen to you if you’re late and have an anxiety attack? Probably not much. Anxiety is scary, but not dangerous. So, practice facing your fears. If you’re afraid of being late, set your watch five minutes slow for two weeks. If you’re afraid of the physical feelings of anxiety, let yourself panic. And if you’re afraid of something else, like being embarrassed if others see you panic, practice feeling hot and uncomfortable (or at least pretending to) in the presence of others. Sometimes it’s possible to do these on your own, and other times it’s helpful to get support from a therapist who has experience with exposure therapy.

I have PTSD due to a traumatic event that occurred in my life three years ago. I am working with a trauma specialist and am on an anti depressant, which quite frankly is not helping me. The only thing that seems to help is Xanax. Is it true that this medication cannot be used long-term? It truly is the only medication that calms me enough so that I can function and participate in life.

There are some concerns with the long-term use of Xanax because of the potential of addiction to this medication as well as reports of association with changes in cognitive function if used for long periods of time. We do have some patients with a variety of anxiety disorders, including PTSD, that need to use these medications in the long-term and what we do is try to keep it in the lower dose possible and continuously monitor for any sign of addiction or cognitive changes. Addiction means both physical and psychological dependence to a medication in addition to having tolerance (need to increase the dose continuously to have the same effect) and not responding to the medication at the prescribed dose. If a patient with PTSD is on a medication at the same dose for a long period of time it is not considered addiction.