If you’re living with anxiety or think you might be, you’re likely eager to find relief. Anxiety can feel downright exhausting. Medications are one treatment option and, when used appropriately, they can be an effective tool to help you manage your symptoms. But navigating the mental healthcare system can feel intimidating and overwhelming. Where’s the best place to get treatment for anxiety? How do you even start?
Here we’ll talk about how to find a provider to treat your anxiety, and where to look if you are thinking about taking medications as part of your treatment plan.
Most people feel anxious from time to time. Worrying about an upcoming deadline at work, planning a wedding or vacation, taking care of sick family member, or just life in general can create stress that may leave your mind buzzing. So how can you tell if you have everyday anxiety or an anxiety disorder that should be treated?
Our psychiatrists say: If your anxiety or constant worry is starting to make it hard to go about your life, it’s time to seek help. An anxiety disorder occurs when your worries don’t go away even without a stressor present, are severe enough to impact relationships, work, school, or daily life, and are out of proportion to the stress at hand.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include:
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they’re negatively impacting your life, it’s time to talk to someone. A therapist or doctor like a psychiatrist or primary care provider can evaluate your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan so that you can start feeling better.
Medications used to treat anxiety disorders must be prescribed by a liscened healthcare provider. Not all healthcare providers are liscenced to prescribe medications and the ones that are will have varying levels of specialties and expertise.
So how do you know which doctor is right for you?
The following types of providers can prescribe medications:
Of these three medical providers, psychiatrists are the most specialized in treating mental health conditions through medication management. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to selecting a provider for mental health treatment and the most important thing is getting that first appointment in the books. Whether it’s with a therapist, primary care provider, psychiatrist, or nurse practitioner, your provider will be able to make recommendations for your care and this may include a referral to another doctor.
If you’re looking for more guidance on how to select a doctor that can prescribe anxiety medications check out: Who Can Prescribe Anxiety Medications
The first step to getting treatment for a mental health condition, like anxiety, is to make an appointment with a healthcare professional. They will evaluate your symptoms provide a diagnosis, and work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your needs.
Depending on your insurance plan, you may or may not need a referral from your primary care doctor to see a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. If you’re not sure if you need a referral, check with your insurance company.
Even if you don’t need a referral for insurance reasons, you may benefit from getting one from your primary care provider. Many healthcare organizations have internal networks of mental healthcare providers and you may be able to get an appointment quicker with one of their doctors than a doctor from another practice.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating complex mental health conditions. They specialize in treating mental health conditions through medication management, but many also use other techniques such as talk therapy as part of your treatment plan. Psychiatrist can also make recommendations for other types of therapies or treatments that may be appropriate for you.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety and are ready to find relief, a psychiatrist can be a great place to start. Talkiatry offers virtual anxiety treatment from psychaitrist who take insurance. You can start with our 10-minute assessment and see if Talkiatry is right for you.
If you see a psychiatrist or other healthcare provider for your anxiety symptoms, your first appointment will include an evaluation. Your clinician will take the time to get to know you, your current concerns, and your health and family history. They will likely take you through a list of questions that will help them provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
The types of questions they will ask will include things like:
It’s normal to be nervous about seeking mental healthcare for the first time. But remember, mental health providers, like psychiatrists, aren’t there to pass judgment on the information you share. Their goal is to help you get better.
Still unsure about seeking mental health treatment? Check out: 6 common reasons people avoid mental health treatment: a psychiatrist weighs in
Only a licensed healthcare provider can prescribe anxiety medication. These medications aren't one –size-fits-all and all have a risk of side effects. A licensed prescriber will be able to help you find the right medication for your needs.
You may find over-the-counter medications that claim to reduce or ease anxiety. Keep in mind these medications and supplements aren’t FDA-approved and some can come with side effects and may lack research supporting their use. If you’re considering taking a supplement or other over-the-counter medication for anxiety, chat with your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits.
Anxiety medications aren’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to work with a licensed physician who specializes in anxiety to find a medication that is right for you.
Here are some medications that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety.
Antidepressants aren’t just helpful for treating symptoms of depression. Many antidepressants can also be used to treat anxiety disorders. SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRI’s (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are two types of commonly prescribed antidepressants that work by increasing the levels of specific mood-altering neurotransmitters (AKA chemical messengers) in your brain. Balancing these chemical messengers can help relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety, though it may take a few weeks to feel the full effects. Antidepressants are not addictive and don’t lead to dependency. You can safely wean off of them under the care of a licensed physician at any time.
Examples of antidepressants include:
Benzodiazepines (which are sometimes called anti-anxiety medication) are type of medication that works by enhancing the level of a calming neurotransmitter, called GABA, in your brain. These medications are typically only recommended for short-term use and for treating more acute instances of anxiety like panic attacks or panic disorder.
Some examples of benzodiazapines include:
Beta blockers are a type of medication typically used to treat high blood pressure or heart conditions, but they can also be helpful in reducing some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. They work by blocking adrenaline which is responsible for triggering anxiety symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, and jitters or trembling. Physical symptoms of anxiety can cause mental symptoms to worsen. For example, a racing heart can be an uncomfortable feeling that may cause a person to panic—worsening any anxiety they are already experiencing.
Beta blockers are most often used to treat panic disorder or social anxiety disorder in which physical symptoms of anxiety are prevalent and uncomfortablee.
Some examples of beta blockers include:
Medications can be effective in reducing the unpleasant symptoms of anxiety but not all medications will be appropriate for someone experiencing anxiety. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and beta blockers are medications that are typically prescribed to treat anxiety but all medications come with side effects. A licensed physician will work with you to determine which medication, if any, might be beneficial for you.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, you may be hesitant to seek professional help. You may worry that your anxiety is not ‘severe enough’ or will go away on it’s own. At Talkiatry, you’ll receive judgment-free care from an expert psychiatrist.
If you’re not sure if psychiatry is right for you, take our free 10-minute online assessment. We can let you know if virtual psychiatry is a good fit for you and match you with a psychiatrist that takes your insurance.
Learn more about how Talkiatry treats anxiety: Get Anxiety Relief from an Online Psychiatrist
Here’s what to expect in your first visit:
Evaluation: During your first visit with a Talkiatry psychiatrist, you’ll meet with your psychiatrist and answer questions about your current symptoms, personal history, medical history, and mental health goals. It's also a chance to ask any questions you have.
Diagnosis: Based on the information you’ve shared, your psychiatrist will be able to provide a diagnosis of your condition, if you have one. Getting a diagnosis can feel scary, but it can also feel validating to finally put a name to what you've been experiencing. Your psychiatrist will help you navigate any emotions that come up and work with you on a path to move forward.
Treatment plan: You’ll collaborate with your psychiatrist on the best way to manage your symptoms. If medication is appropriate, you’ll discuss your options, including the benefits and potential side effects of each medication. Your psychiatrist will provide supportive therapy throughout your session, and may also recommend working with one of our therapists. Our therapists partner with our psychiatrists to provide collaborative care.
To get started, take our free online assessment, to see if Talkiatry is right for you and get matched with a psychiatrist.
Talkiatry is a national psychiatry practice that provides in-network, virtual care. Co-founded by a patient and a triple-board-certified psychiatrist, Talkiatry has over 300 doctors, 60 insurance partners, and first visits available in days. We treat patients with a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and more. Get started with a short online assessment.
The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should never be substituted for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.
Dr. Satveet Khela is a board certified physician specializing in adult psychiatry. She has been practicing since 2021.
In addition to focusing on medication management, Dr. Khela's practice also prioritizes a whole person approach, incorporating aspects of nutrition, lifestyle, mindfulness, and supportive or brief cognitive behavioral therapy into the treatment plan. Occasionally, Dr. Khela may believe that additional therapy is also needed and ask that you see a separate therapist to provide the best outcome.
Dr. Khela received her undergraduate degree from University of California Berkeley and her medical degree from A.T. Still University. She completed her residency at University of California San Francisco Fresno, where she served as chief resident in her final year. After completing her training, Dr. Khela worked with medically ill patient's with co-morbid psychiatric illnesses. Throughout her career, Dr. Khela has worked with a diverse set of patient in various stages of their lives.
Dr. Khela focuses on treating patients with anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar, OCD, and other mental health issues. She believes in empowering her patients to be active players in their treatment plans to facilitate the best care possible.