A Comprehensive Guide to Medications for Anxiety

treatment of anxiety

Many different medications can be used to treat anxiety. Talking with your doctor about which will be best for you is essential.

Anxiety is often treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Finding the right combination for you may take some trial and error.


Antidepressants help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as low mood and hopelessness. They can also help people who are having suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Antidepressant medications increase serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain. They are usually taken for about six weeks to see results.

Doctors use antidepressants for various conditions, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. The most common antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

If SSRIs don’t reduce your depression, your doctor may recommend an SNRI or another antidepressant for further treatment. Your doctor will also consider your other health problems and whether you have a family history of response to certain medicines.

Some antidepressants can have potentially serious side effects, such as muscle problems like twitching or involuntary contractions. They can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.


Sedatives are prescription drugs that slow down your brain’s activity and help you relax. They are a standard treatment of anxiety and sleep problems. They can also prevent seizures or relieve muscle spasms before medical procedures.

Benzodiazepines: These are the most common sedatives, and include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Halcion (triazolam), Serax (oxazepam) and Klonopin (clonazepam). They’re usually prescribed for short periods.

Barbiturates: These medications are combined with anaesthesia to reduce a patient’s anxiety and pain before a procedure. They are often used to prevent seizures or reduce the effects of anaesthesia.

Non-benzodiazepine sedatives: These are also called “z-drugs” and include zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien), and eszopiclone (Lunesta). They have a less long-lasting effect than benzodiazepines but may cause withdrawal symptoms if used too often or for a prolonged period.

Physical and psychological dependence: These medications can become addictive when you use them regularly for a long time, even at the recommended doses. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and in some cases, convulsions or death.

Problematic patients who misuse sedatives to cope with anxiety and depression symptoms are a common issue in medical practice. Physicians can address these behaviours by educating patients on the dangers of chemical coping and providing them with appropriate treatment for the underlying disorder.

Mood stabilizers

Mood stabilizers help regulate mood shifts in people with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and borderline personality disorder. These medications work by restoring the balance of chemicals in the brain.

Typically, mood stabilizers are taken with antidepressants, which boost serotonin and norepinephrine levels. However, some people may also use other medications to treat anxiety.

While prescription drugs like mood stabilizers effectively reduce symptoms, they can also cause severe side effects and addiction. That’s why it is essential to talk to your doctor about other options, including therapy and lifestyle changes.

One of the most common medication options for anxiety is an antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It can help reduce sadness and anxiety and improve your overall well-being.

Another class of antidepressants used for anxiety is serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI). These drugs increase the level of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which can reduce anxiety and make you feel more relaxed.

The dosage of mood stabilizers varies, depending on your age and health condition. Doctors often start with a low dose and work their way up. It’s important to follow your physician’s instructions on how to take the medication safely and effectively.


Antipsychotics are medications that affect the brain’s chemicals. They can treat many mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective, and bipolar disorder.

They can also be used to help stabilize moods. They can improve manic episodes quickly and reduce impulsiveness.

These drugs can be prescribed in tablet, liquid or long-lasting (depot) injection form. Some are taken as a one-off treatment, while others may be given every few weeks.

In some people, these drugs can have side effects, such as drowsiness and involuntary movement (tardive dyskinesia). These can be unpleasant or even distressing and can change how you feel.

Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of the medication if these side effects are too bothersome. They can also help you quit the drug if you stop taking it.

Many people on antipsychotics for a long time experience some side effects, including movement disorders. These effects can be more pronounced on 1st generation antipsychotics than on newer ones, but they can still happen.

This is why discussing these side effects with your doctor and finding a solution that works for you is essential.

Antipsychotics are the most common type of medication used for anxiety. They are practical and have a long history of research and use. They also have fewer side effects and less risk of withdrawal than benzodiazepines.

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