Anti-Anxiety meds (A comprehensive guide)

In this article, we will go through some of the most common anti-anxiety meds, why they get prescribed and some of the possible side effects.

Anti-Anxiety medication

There are many Anti-anxiety drugs out there in the market, however, the preferred ones used to treat anxiety symptoms are the ones known as benzodiazepines.

Within the most prescribed are alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam, and lorazepam (Ativan). Atarax and Buspar are also used for treating anxiety.

As effective as medicine can be to alleviate anxiety symptoms, it is important to be certain the symptoms are not manifesting due to another medical condition such as hyperthyroidism, high or low levels of calcium, low blood sugar or certain heart problems, among others.

When all other medical conditions have been ruled out by a professional, you may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and be directed to the proper treatment depending on your specific case.

It is important to be aware of the high risk of becoming addicted to this type of drugs or even needing higher and higher doses to achieve the intended effect, so they tend to be recommended for short periods of time.

The effectiveness of a medicine can be deduced by getting to know the time it takes for them to work.

Anxiety disorders: what are they?

Feeling anxious or worried is perfectly normal and it takes part in our daily lives, however, when it becomes debilitating and starts affecting your life don’t hesitate seeking professional help.

Psychology aims to understand and provide treatment for mental illnesses. As in any other mental disorder, anxiety disorders have their own category and diagnostic criteria.

Side Note: I grew this blog to over 500,000 monthly pageviews and it now finances our charitable missions. If you are looking to start a blog as a source of income or to help your community then view our how to start a blog guide.

Here we mention some of the most common:

  • Panic Disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Types of Anti-Anxiety medication

There are four major categories of drugs (bight colored) to treat anxiety disorders, but the truth is they are not an actual cure for anxiety. 

Benzodiazepines

This type of medication is recommended only for short periods of time.

It starts acting within minutes and it is well known for its sedative effect, helping to relax muscles and reduce tension.

Some of the known chemical components and their commercial names are listed as follows:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Even though they are usually prescribed by physicians to treat clinical depression, they are also recommended for the treatment of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Their main goal consists of stopping neurons from reabsorbing serotonin, which is the chemical that helps regulate mood, social behavior, memory, among important activities.

Some of the known chemical components and their commercial names are listed as follows:

  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Lexapro

It is of importance to know that this specific type of medication won’t work on everyone and can actually begin to take effect within 6 to 12 weeks.

Also, it should be noted that they are not usually addictive and don’t tend to create dependency.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

This particular type is also prescribed to treat anxiety, depression and in some cases of chronic pain.

Their main goal is to reduce the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurochemical responsible for alertness and energy levels). 

Some of the known chemical components and their commercial names are listed as follows:

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Even though they are as effective as the other types of antidepressants, they are considered among the earliest developed and have been replaced by other types due to causing numerous side effects. 

Some of the known chemical components and their commercial names are listed as follows:

  • Imipramine (Trofanil)
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

Other types of anti-anxiety meds

Buspirone (BuSpar)

This anti-anxiety drug acts as a mild tranquilizer and its relatively new compared to the other types.

Busperidone has an increasing effect on serotonin and decreasing dopamine, relieving anxiety symptoms.

When compared to benzodiazepines, the effect of buspirone takes longer to start working (about 2 weeks).

Even though it has a lower risk of dependence, has no known serious interactions with other drugs or substances, it only seems to work for people diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Side effects are similar to the ones mentioned above.

Beta-blockers

Under this category, we can find drugs such as propranolol (Inderal), atenolol (Tenormin) or Metoprolol, which are widely prescribed for high blood pressure, heart diseases and is prescribed off-label for anxiety. 

Beta-blockers acts by blocking the effects of norepinephrine (stress hormone) responsible for the flight-or-fight response.

Consequently, helps reducing rapid heart rate, sweating, dizziness, among other anxiety-related symptoms.

Apart from these synthetic medicines, natural drugs can also be used, for example Inositol.

Side effects of Anti-anxiety meds

Pharmacology is a subdivision within medical sciences responsible for studying drug or medication action in the human body, for those commercially accepted as well as recreational drugs.

Resulting side effects from the first group (benzodiazepines) can include the following symptoms:

  • Drowsiness: feeling lethargic or needing to sleep.
  • Blurred vision: lack of sharpness and inability to see the detail of figures.
  • Stomach upset: indigestion or dyspepsia when eating or drinking.
  • Poor balance or coordination: losing balance or experiencing difficulties walking or moving your arms or legs.
  • Troubles when concentrating: being unable to remember things that occurred recently, difficulty thinking clearly or frequently losing things.
  • Confusion: difficulty in thinking clearly.
  • Memory problems: memory loss even with the aid of mnemonic systems.
  • Headaches: continuous pain, localized or general, in the head.
  • Dizziness: feeling weak, about to faint, woozy or unsteady.

Resulting side effects from the second group (SSRIs) can include the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision: lack of sharpness and inability to see the detail of figures.
  • Dizziness: feeling weak, about to faint, woozy or unsteady.
  • Dry mouth: salivary glands won’t produce sufficient saliva to keep your mouth wet.
  • Drowsiness: feeling lethargic or needing to sleep.
  • Weight gain: gaining weight even if you haven’t changed dietary habits or even if you exercise regularly.
  • Nausea: an unpleasant feeling of unease and discomfort with the urge to throw up.
  • Stomach upset: indigestion or dyspepsia when eating or drinking.
  • Having insomnia: having trouble to sleep.
  • Having a restlessness sensation or feeling agitated.
  • Headaches: continuous pain, localized or general, in the head.
  • Sexual dysfunction: sexual release disorders, erectile dysfunction or inhibited sexual desire.

Resulting side effects from the third group (SNRIs) can include the following symptoms:

  • Dry mouth: salivary glands won’t produce sufficient saliva to keep your mouth wet.
  • Headaches: continuous pain, localized or general, in the head.
  • Weight gain: gaining weight even if you haven’t changed dietary habits or even if you exercise regularly.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Nausea: an unpleasant feeling of unease and discomfort with the urge to throw up.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation: infrequent bowel movements accompanied by bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Dizziness: feeling weak, about to faint, woozy or unsteady.

Lastly, in the fourth group (TCAs), we can find the following side effects:

  • Constipation: infrequent bowel movements accompanied by bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Blurred vision: lack of sharpness and inability to see the detail of figures.
  • Difficulties while attempting to urinate.
  • Drowsiness: feeling lethargic or needing to sleep.
  • Dizziness: feeling weak, about to faint, woozy or unsteady.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Dry mouth: salivary glands won’t produce sufficient saliva to keep your mouth wet.
  • Tremors:
  • Weight gain or weight loss: gaining or losing weight even if you haven’t changed dietary habits or lifestyle.
  • Sexual dysfunction: sexual release disorders, erectile dysfunction or inhibited sexual desire.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Sweating more than you are used to.

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Which antidepressant is best for anxiety?

Some of the best and most effective antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds that have been shown effectivity when prescribed for anxiety are Prozac or Sarafem (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil, Paxeva, or Brisdelle (paroxetine) and Lexapro (escitalopram).

What are the names of anxiety meds?

Some of the most known names of anxiety meds in the market are:

– Citalopram (Celexa)

– Escitalopram (Lexapro)

– Fluoxetine (Prozac)

– Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

– Paroxetine (Paxil)

– Sertraline (Zoloft)

– Vilazodone (Viibryd)

Is Prozac good for anxiety?

Prozac is a  good antidepressant drug for anxiety treatment.

Besides its widely known effect in treating anxiety, it is also used for treating depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bulimia.

Some side effects in younger people can include an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Who can prescribe anti-anxiety medication?

Only psychiatrists can prescribe anti-anxiety medication.

Meanwhile, psychologists and social workers can be approached or consulted for additional treatment options.

How do you calm down anxiety?

You can calm down anxiety remembering to breathe slowly, recognizing you are feeling anxious or angry, challenging your thoughts, visualizing yourself as calm and relaxed, thinking clearly through the situation, listening to some instrumental music and changing the focus of the situation.

Why is the blog post about anti-anxiety meds important?

This blog is useful if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or know someone that has been diagnosed and is currently taking or will start taking anti-anxiety meds to treat their symptoms. 

You can find a comprehensive guide to describe the types of anti-anxiety meds prescribed to treat anxiety, their action in the brain, the most known names within the industry, risks and their possible side effects. 

We would like to hear from you, so please feel free to comment on the section below!

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Recommended reading

  1. Antianxiety Medications: History, Science, and Issues (The Story of a Drug
  2. TRAZODONE: The Effective Antidepressant Medication for Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Insomnia and Alcohol Dependence
  3. Medications for Anxiety & Depression: A no-nonsense, comprehensive guide to the most common (and not so common) antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs available
  4. Benzo Free: The World of Anti-Anxiety Drugs and the Reality of Withdrawal
  5. Mind.org.uk: Anxiety and panic attacks

References

Web MD: Drugs Used to Treat Mental Disorders.

Medical News Today: Leonard, J. (2018) Everything you need to know about anxiety medications.

NHS

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Reviewed by Anna Glezer, M.D. Last updated: November 2019.

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