Can Advil Help Anxiety?


An anxiety disorder is a common mental health condition that can be treated through psychotherapy, medication or both. Traditionally centering on worrisome thoughts and distorted belief systems, anxiety also can cause pain in many patients in extreme cases. As a result, some patients choose to treat this pain and anxiety via the use of Advil or other ibuprofen-based medication; however, this may not be the best option for the treatment of anxiety itself.

Initial Diagnosis

If a patient believes he may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, a general practitioner may refer him to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist to seek therapeutic treatment. With a thorough initial assessment, the therapist will determine the severity of anxiety within the patient, including residual symptoms such as nausea, headaches or body pain. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) have long been used to treat cases of depression and anxiety. Advil is not used to treat anxiety but has been used by patients who experience pain related to their symptoms. Patients taking Advil to relieve pain should be weary of possible drug interactions with MAOIs, and an initial diagnosis and drug prescription by a qualified therapist is vital.

Side Effects of Ibuprofen

Drugs similar to ibuprofen-based Advil or Motrin are classified in the NSAID drug family, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. According to MedicineNet, a common side effect that may be of particular importance to anxiety-sufferers involves the increased probability of ulcer development within the stomach and intestinal wall when ibuprofen is taken in large dosages. Traditionally, chronic anxiety patients are more prone to developing ulcers due to increased gastric acid secretion during heightened episodes of stress and worry. The risk of ulcer can be magnified by the combination of anxiety and medications like Advil, thus putting the patient at a greater health risk.

Drug Interactions

As with many disorders requiring the use of medications similar to MAOIs, patients must monitor the intake of other over-the-counter medications similar to Advil in order to prevent the possibility of dangerous drug interactions. For example, NIMH says patients taking MAOIs for anxiety relief run the risk of heightened blood pressure when combined with the use of ibuprofen. This rise in blood pressure can add to the minimal risk of potential congestive heart failure within patients already taking large dosages of ibuprofen or Advil, making the communication between therapist and patient that much more critical in the treatment process. Overall, medications similar to Advil should not be used as the primary method of anxiety relief.

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