Do you suffer from anxiety? If you’re one of millions of Americans taking prescription medications to control either acute or chronic anxiety, you may also be experiencing unwanted side effects, such as Dry Mouth. In fact, it is the most commonly reported side effect of psychiatric medications, with an average of 40% of patients complaining of Dry Mouth.
Prescription medication can be an important ally in treating anxiety. Unfortunately, any medication that’s taken systemically (i.e. swallowed and absorbed into the system) can affect your whole body – not just the part it’s meant for. Antianxiety medications are no exception. As someone who’s already anxious, the last thing you want to worry about is Dry Mouth symptoms like bad breath and difficulty speaking.
There are four major classes of medications that can be prescribed to treat anxiety – many of them antidepressants, which are known to have Dry Mouth as a potential side effect. Each class works slightly differently.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are antidepressants and mood enhancers, working by enabling more serotonin to be available to the brain. They are commonly prescribed for generalized anxiety. SSRIs can, however, still cause Dry Mouth. Anticholinergics are medications that would block actions of acetylcholine, which is a type of neurotransmitter. This would result in blockage of involuntary muscle movements and various bodily functions. An example of such are typically related to the production of saliva, digestion, urination or movements. SSRIs you might recognize include citalopram, fluoxetine and sertraline.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
SNRIs work in a similar fashion to SSRIs, with an increase in both serotonin and norepinephrine, in the brain. They may be prescribed as a longer-term treatment for anxiety and have been shown to cause Dry Mouth. SNRIs that are frequently prescribed for anxiety include venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine and duloxetine.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
TCAs are the oldest category of antidepressants, being the first kind to be developed, they are potent and closely linked to Dry Mouth . Perhaps luckily, they are less commonly prescribed for anxiety.
Benzodiazepines and antihistamines
These drugs have a relaxing effect and are prescribed for short-term treatment or longer-term management depending upon the circumstances, severity of symptoms or other medical conditions. Benzodiazepines include medications such as diazepam and alprazolam; antihistamines prescribed for anxiety include, but not limited to, hydroxyzine. They are all known to cause Dry Mouth.
Typically prescribed for heart conditions, beta blockers help stop the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This is characterized by a rapid heartbeat, pounding chest and cold sweat and will be familiar to those who suffer from panic attacks. Beta blockers are sometimes prescribed for people prone to social anxiety or panic attacks, because they stop the physical symptoms. Unfortunately, beta blockers, such as propranolol, are also one of the groups of medications most closely linked to Dry Mouth.
If you think your antianxiety or any medication may be causing Dry Mouth symptoms, have a word with your doctor. You should also refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol, which can make Dry Mouth worse. Finally, find some relief from Dry Mouth symptoms with the Biotène Oral Rinse, Oralbalance Gel, and Moisturizing Spray products.