Published on 13 March 2023

Anxiety Medication: Complete Guidance From Experts

Valium (Diazepam) drugs-to-treat-anxiety-disorder
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Most people feel anxious at some point, and the feeling often disappears. However, an anxiety disorder is different. Anxiety can become abnormal or bothersome if it appears for no apparent reason or continues even after a stressful situation has passed.

The term anxiety brings about feelings of fear, worry, and uneasiness. According to several surveys, nearly 33.7% of people experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. If you've been diagnosed with any anxiety disorder, you may need help to manage anxiety.

While medicines do not cure anxiety, they can help manage your symptoms, so you can feel better and function well in your daily life.

Drugs Class That Help To Treat Anxiety Disorder

Various medications are available for the same. As every person is different, you and your doctor may have to try several medicines to find the right one for you.


Benzodiazepines include soothing properties, help reduce anxiety, relax the muscle, and treat seizures and alcohol withdrawal. These are recommended for short-term treatment of anxiety because of the risk of addiction. This also increases drowsiness and causes problems with balance and memory.

The common types of benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprazolam
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam

Work Mechanism Benzodiazepines

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter reduces the activity in the areas of the brain responsible for essential functions, such as breathing, memory, and reasoning.

Benzodiazepine increases the effects of GABA on your brain and body, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy, relaxes your muscles, and reduces your anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Once you start taking an antidepressant for your first depressive episode, you should stay on it for at least 4 or 5 months after your depression symptoms stop.
Doctors recommend Benzo drugs for only 2-4 weeks as they are highly addictive.
Alcohol should be avoided while taking Benzos as it can cause life-threatening effects. Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of alcohol, making you more drowsy, dizzy, or lightheaded.
A common side effect of antidepressants is sexual dysfunction. SSRIs can make it difficult to become and sustain arousal and reach orgasm.


Buspirone belongs to the anxiolytics class of medications, prescribed for the short-term to ease anxiety symptoms. The drug does not associate with other anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates.

Individuals need to take Buspirone for 34 weeks before they feel the benefits of it, and they should not discontinue taking the medication without consulting a professional.

Work Mechanism OfBuspirone

The exact mechanism of how Buspirone helps with anxiety is uncertain. It is not an antidepressant, but it may enhance the action of antidepressant medication. Buspirone shows its effect by altering the amount of certain natural substances in the brain. It decreases the amount and activities of a chemical known as serotonin in certain parts of the brain.

Specific severe side effects may sometimes be cause for concern. A person should check with their doctor if they experience such side effects.


Antidepressants are drugs that are effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. They are also helpful in treating generalized anxiety disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Work Mechanism Of Antidepression

Antidepressants alter the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as Noradrenaline and serotonin are linked with changes in mood and behavior. They also affect the nerve's pain signals, which may explain why some antidepressants can help relieve long-term pain.
Type of antidepressants includes- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclics, and MAOIs.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are the most widely prescribed and first-line treatment for depression. These drugs are usually preferred over other antidepressants because of their fewer side effects. An overdose is also less likely to be serious.

They increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that affects sleep, mood, sexual desire, memory, and appetite. SSRIs are typically started at a low dose that your doctor gradually increases. Some best-known SSRIs include:

  • Escitalopram
  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclics are the older antidepressants that work like SSRIs for most anxiety disorders, except obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). They're usually no longer recommended as the first treatment for depression because of the harmful effects of their overdose. Like SSRIs, tricyclics are started at a lower dose and then increased gradually.
Examples of tricyclics used for anxiety include:

  • Clomipramine
  • Imipramine

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are older antidepressant that is rarely used nowadays. Doctors do not prescribe MAOIs as a first-line treatment for depression because of the adverse effects and drug-drug interactions, but they are usually prescribed if SSRIs fail to work for depression. Examples of MAOIs used for anxiety include:

  • Isocarboxazid
  • Phenelzine
  • Selegiline
  • Tranylcypromine


Beta-blockers are the most common medications for heart conditions and high blood pressure. However, they're also used off-label to relieve anxiety symptoms, a primarily social anxiety disorder. Examples of beta-blockers include-

  • Acebutolol
  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Nebivolol (Bystolic)
  • Propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
  • Carvedilol

Work Mechanism Of Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers block the effects of the adrenaline (epinephrine) hormone. They reduce the heartbeat and cause it to beat more slowly, with less force, which lowers blood pressure. They also help open up blood vessels to improve blood flow.

Risks of Anxiety Medications

Whatever you consume, which includes medicinal components have its risks too. When it comes to risk, anxiety medication might trigger you. There are various risks associated with anxiety medication, but they will differ from one medicine to another. It will vary from the class of drugs you consume and the individual.

Suicidal Thoughts

Whenever you are on anxiety medications, you might go through the sensation or feeling/thoughts of suicide. This is a terrible decision one can take. According to various studies, it shows that 4% of children or adolescents get thoughts of suicide after starting the anxiety dosages.

People over 24 should be more careful because anxiety medication may lead to suicidal thoughts after consuming anxiety medications. They can also go through feelings of agitation, depression, and changes in their behavior.

Dependence and Tolerance

Benzos have more potential for dependence on the drug than other anti-anxiety medications. You might face tolerance or dependence if you consume the benzos for more than 10-12 weeks.

Tolerance denotes that your condition is not cured without a higher medicine dosage. Dependence on drugs can lead you to withdrawal symptoms after stopping the consumption of the medication.

Misuse or Abuse

There is a high possibility of anxiety medication being Misused or abused. The possible risk is through the benzo medicines such as Xanax (Alprazolam).

Research shows that 17% of the people consuming benzos have a chance of drug misuse. This might get the person to get high on the medication.

A study was conducted in 2014, wherein they found that Benzos have a 12 times more possibility of abusing the drug in teens.


If the person consumes a drug for a long time, there is a high chance of abusing or overdosing. If the medication is stopped abruptly, you are likely suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

You might suffer from anxiety, focusing issues, insomnia, headaches, and sweating. If you are severely suffering from these symptoms, contact your doctor.

To stop any anxiety medication, you should lower the dosage slowly. This will make the body gets used to lowering the dose.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Anxiety is a common disorder that affects many people during their lifetime, interferes with daily activities, and is difficult to control. Several medications are effective in treating anxiety, especially when combined with therapy.

People with anxiety disorder should speak with the concerned medical practitioner to find the best treatment plan per their requirements. Talk to your doctor if any side effect from their medication is bothersome.

A doctor may gradually adjust the dosage or recommend another medicine or therapy to alleviate the side effects.