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There are many different types of anxiety medications, and it’s important to find the one that’s right for you. At Brightside, we’re here to help. Our providers are knowledgeable about each type of medication for anxiety and specialize in finding the best fit for your individual needs. As part of your treatment, your provider may recommend an antihistamine called hydroxyzine to help you feel better.
Hydroxyzine is a commonly used medication for symptoms of anxiety and tension. It also is used to treat allergic reactions. Below, we offer some helpful information about hydroxyzine so you can work with your provider to determine if it’s right for you and make an informed decision about your care.
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Hydroxyzine, commonly sold under the brand name Vistaril, is a prescription antihistamine. It works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms. It also has an effect on serotonin, a chemical that affects your mood. If you have feelings of anxiety, hydroxyzine can make you feel more relaxed and possibly even sleepy. It’s an oral medication that is taken either as a capsule, tablet, or liquid.
If you have a panic attack or are feeling overwhelming anxiety about relationships, a job situation, or the state of your life, or the world in general, you can take hydroxyzine to relieve anxiety and allow you to move forward with your daily activities.
It’s not a medicine that has to build up in your system to be effective. It takes about 30 minutes to start working and will have its maximum effect about two hours after you take it.
At Brightside, our psychiatric providers specialize in personalizing treatment for each person. We give you personal attention and expert advice you can count on—we explain all your options and use our expertise to find the medication that’s right for you. We make sure you understand how medications work and what to expect so that your treatment is worry-free.
If your Brightside provider prescribes hydroxyzine, they will explain how it’s used as a short-term treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. It’s safe for both adults and children.
Other uses for hydroxyzine in adults are to relieve itching caused by allergic skin reactions or as a sedative for adults before and after surgery.
If you have generalized anxiety disorder, hydroxyzine can help relieve feelings of persistent and excessive worry about a number of things. You may be overly concerned with relationships, your health, money, or your career. Just the thought of getting through your day can consume you with anxiety.
If you have frequent episodes of feeling you cannot function because of overwhelming stress or anxiety, hydroxyzine can help almost immediately with these symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder:
Making sense of different medications, their uses, benefits, and side effects can be challenging. That’s where we can help. Brightside providers have an in-depth knowledge of the strengths and drawbacks of each medication. You’ll get all the information you need to make an informed choice about your treatment.
At Brightside, we can help you in finding the right treatment to help you feel better. Many different factors influence how you respond to medication. We understand that you may have questions about taking a new medication and whether it will help you. You’re not alone—many patients have similar questions.
With hydroxyzine, you’ll know in a relatively short time if it is working for you. The medication generally starts to take effect in about 30 minutes, and you’ll feel its full effect in about two hours.
Before starting a new medication like hydroxyzine, it’s important to get a comprehensive health assessment from a provider who understands your health history. You should only take hydroxyzine if a physician or other qualified psychiatric provider prescribed it for you.
Before you start taking hydroxyzine, you may have some questions about how long you’ll need to take this medication. The length of time you need to take hydroxyzine will depend on your diagnosis and specific symptoms. Your provider may prescribe this medication for four months or less. You might take it alongside a long-term anxiety medication, perhaps while you are waiting for a new medication to take effect.
Your Brightside provider will work with you to determine what course of treatment is best for your specific needs. Most importantly, we recommend that you keep taking your medication until your provider says it’s time to stop—even after you start to feel better.
Hydroxyzine has been shown to be effective and safe in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in a double-blind study. A review of multiple studies concluded that hydroxyzine has a small to moderate beneficial effect in treating generalized anxiety disorder symptoms.
One study published in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders showed that hydroxyzine benefited a 25-year-old man with panic disorder, providing him with an alternative to potentially addictive benzodiazepines.
We understand that you may have some questions about how hydroxyzine affects you, but you don’t have to worry about it changing your personality. The goal of this treatment is to help restore you to your best self—feeling calmer and less worried.
Keep taking your medication as prescribed, and talk to us if you have any questions or concerns.
Hydroxyzine is generally a safe medication, but it’s important to talk with your Brightside provider about potential side effects of this treatment. Most of these effects are mild and go away as you get used to your medication.
Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you. Some common side effects include:
If you drink alcohol while taking hydroxyzine, it can make your side effects worse.
In rare cases, you may experience serious side effects, including an allergic reaction causing difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling of your lips, tongue, or face. Hydroxyzine can also cause an increased or irregular heart rate, confusion, or hallucinations. In some men, hydroxyzine may cause an erection that lasts for more than four hours.
With any serious side effects, contact your physician immediately, or call 911 if you feel the reaction is life-threatening.
At Brightside, your health and safety are our highest priorities. We make sure you get individual attention and guidance to address any side effects and make sure you feel your best.
Hydroxyzine does not cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. It’s still important to take it exactly as your provider directs. If you are supposed to take it on a regular schedule and miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule.
If you would like to stop taking hydroxyzine, make sure to talk to your provider or Brightside team first.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, make sure to talk to your provider before making any changes to your medication. At Brightside, we can also help you weigh the pros and cons of continuing your medication while pregnant.
Some studies of hydroxyzine given to pregnant laboratory animals found an increased risk of birth defects in their babies. For humans, providers generally recommend against using hydroxyzine in the first trimester of pregnancy because the risk to humans is unclear.
Hydroxyzine can be used in the second and third trimesters but not immediately before or during labor. Using it during labor may increase your baby’s risk of seizure and dropping heart rate. Side effects may increase if combined with narcotics.
Because hydroxyzine can pass into breast milk, it’s generally not recommended for women who are breastfeeding. Other antihistamines are known to lower breast milk production and cause the baby to be drowsy, irritable, or unusually excited. Talk to your provider so you can develop a plan together to manage your symptoms and feed your baby safely.
Hydroxyzine is not a controlled substance, and it is not addictive like other medications used to treat anxiety. If you have concerns about your dependence on this medication, don’t hesitate to talk to your Brightside provider.
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