What are depressants and what are they used to treat?
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Are you experiencing the symptoms of anxiety? The overwhelming stress that often comes with anxiety can make it hard to focus on the things that matter in life. If anxiety has you constantly worrying about school, relationships and other aspects of your life, you may benefit from tailored treatment. Anxiety is commonly addressed through medication, including a type of medication called depressants. Contrary to what the name suggests, these medications are not about making you feel sad or down. In fact, they are designed to improve your mood by calming down those anxious thoughts. Are depressants the right option for you? To find out, it can be helpful to chat with a licensed clinical therapist. Learning more about what these medications are and how they treat anxiety can also help point you in the right direction.

Understanding depressants

In the world of medications, depressants are a class of drugs that slow down the activity of the central nervous system. They do this by affecting the levels of certain brain chemicals. You can think of these meds as a way to “chill out” your brain’s electric currents. Depressants are meant to have a relaxing effect on the body and mind. They can help reduce feelings of anxiety and panic, in addition to other uses. Most depressants interact with a brain chemical called GABA. One of GABA’s main roles in the brain is reducing neuronal excitability. Boosting the effects of GABA in the brain can help improve calm feelings.

What depressants are used to treat


  • Insomnia — Do you ever have trouble sleeping? If this is a recurring issue, you might have insomnia. While insomnia and anxiety do not always go hand in hand, feeling anxious does sometimes make it difficult to get consistent rest. Depressants can help slow down the racing thoughts that might be keeping you from restful sleep. There are a lot of medications that belong to the category of depressants. This does not mean all of these medications will help with anxiety. Many of the medications that are used primarily to treat insomnia are not specifically meant for anxiety. To ensure that you receive treatment that meets your needs, it is essential to get a prescription from a licensed mental health expert.

  • Muscle spasms — Medications are often made with multiple purposes in mind. In the category of sedatives, the uses can be very broad. In some cases, the same kind of medications used to help with muscle spasms can also work for insomnia. This is because the medications target the central nervous system, which is responsible for all kinds of things throughout the body. Muscle spasms are typically not connected to mental health concerns, but they are still part of the range of issues that can be addressed with depressants.

  • Anxiety — Anxiety can feel like a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. Your mind may feel as if it’s racing all the time. This is where depressants can help. These medications are designed to help slow down certain brain signals. Remember how we mentioned their interactions with GABA? Well, GABA acts like a kind of traffic light for your brain’s electrical impulses. By increasing the effects of GABA, a sedative medication can slow down signals to create a sense of calmness. This can also help you manage the physical symptoms that can come with anxiety like sweaty palms and shallow breathing.

Treating anxiety with more than medication

Anxiety is a broad term. It can reflect aspects of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental health disorders. These issues do not often exist in a vacuum. While medication can help manage certain symptoms, it can have serious limitations. Medications can also come with downsides like negative side effects. When you look for treatment, finding a provider who looks beyond simple diagnoses is essential. The onset of anxiety can be tied to many factors, and looking at these root causes is just one part of what a holistic treatment approach can offer. An effective data-based approach should integrate many different strategies. This can enable a licensed clinical therapist to offer multidimensional treatment that is personalized for each individual. 

Find top-tier anxiety treatment at Lightfully

Ready to find treatment that effectively addresses the symptoms of your anxiety? At Lightfully Behavioral Health, we are here to help you learn. Our licensed clinical experts are equipped with the skills and tools to address the core processes at the foundation of your anxiety. With the help of our guidance and process-based therapy (PBT), you can take control of your life and develop a more integrated self.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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