4 Common Types of Anxiety Medications Doctors Prescribe



One-third of adults could also be affected by psychological well being issues, like nervousness, proper now. This is how nervousness medicine could assist.

Understanding nervousness problems

When you may have nervousness, you view the world via a destructive lens. Worries are amplified and, in some ways, really feel uncontrollable. Even when others may not fret about one thing, individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) could also be worrying inside.

In response to the Anxiety and Despair Affiliation of America (ADAA), 6.eight million adults have GAD. However that was earlier than Covid-19. The pandemic has precipitated a major soar in adults fighting psychological well being points. As of early final summer time, 31 % of adults at the moment are coping with signs of anxiety and/or depression, in line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC).

Different nervousness problems embrace obsessive-compulsive dysfunction, panic dysfunction, post-traumatic stress dysfunction, social nervousness dysfunction, and phobias. There are loads of therapy choices that always embrace anxiety medication.

Cropped Hands Of Doctor Prescribing Medicine To Patient On Desk

Audtakorn Sutarmjam / EyeEm/Getty Photographs

Utilizing medicine to handle nervousness

There are heaps of methods to handle nervousness, together with cognitive behavioral therapy—which focuses on discovering and altering destructive ideas—in addition to mindfulness and stress administration methods.

Your physician or psychiatrist may additionally advocate nervousness medicine. Virtually 12 % of adults within the U.S. take prescription medication for “issues with feelings, nerves, or psychological well being,” in line with a analysis letter printed in JAMA Inner Drugs in 2017. Ladies are twice as possible as males to take these meds.

There are 4 completely different classes of anti-anxiety medication: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), benzodiazepines, and tricyclic antidepressants.

As well as, different drugs are used off-label to deal with nervousness. This implies they aren’t authorized by the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) to deal with anxiety symptoms, however medical doctors could prescribe them anyway.

For instance, beta-blockers, that are medicine used to deal with hypertension and coronary heart situations, are typically prescribed to deal with nervousness.

Beta-blockers, akin to propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin), can block bodily nervousness signs, akin to a racing coronary heart or sweating. They’re typically prescribed to deal with short-term signs because of stage fright or social nervousness.

Listed below are the 4 major classes of anti-anxiety drugs:


  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

How they work:

SSRIs work by stopping the mood-regulating hormone and neurotransmitter serotonin from being reabsorbed by the mind. That makes extra serotonin out there to the mind to assist enhance your temper.

“We all know that SSRIs may be efficient for the administration of nervousness signs,” says Thea Gallagher, PsyD, an assistant professor with the Heart for the Remedy and Examine of Anxiety within the Perelman Faculty of Drugs on the College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Unintended effects embrace nausea, upset abdomen, headaches, and trouble sleeping, she provides, although these points ought to dissipate after a number of weeks of utilizing the drug. Nonetheless, it’s sensible to work together with your healthcare skilled to watch and learn to successfully handle these unwanted effects.

The proper alternative of SSRI differs amongst sufferers. “It’s trial and error,” says Gallagher. “Sufferers normally begin off with one thing that’s usually well-tolerated by quite a bit of individuals, like Prozac, Zoloft, or Lexapro.” When you expertise important unwanted effects from one drug, discuss to your physician. A special SSRI or one other class of nervousness medicine could also be higher suited to you.

Additionally value noting: Analysis, together with a big assessment of research printed in 2017 in BMJ, reveals that SSRIs could increase the risk of suicide in teenagers and younger adults who take the drug. That threat is extra possible initially of therapy or because the dose is elevated, notes the U.S. Nationwide Library of Drugs.


  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Venlafaxine is prescribed for GAD, social nervousness dysfunction, and panic disorder, and will take six to eight weeks to work. Duloxetine is prescribed for GAD, and might take one to 4 weeks to begin to be efficient.

How they work:

SNRIs work by stopping each serotonin and the stress hormone norepinephrine from being reabsorbed within the mind. This will increase the quantity of these substances in your mind to stability your psychological state and focus. These medicine carry the identical threat of suicide as SSRIs. Different potential unwanted effects embrace drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain, in line with a assessment of research printed in 2016 in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.


  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

How they work:

Benzodiazepines improve the extent of the neurotransmitter GABA within the mind. GABA is an amino acid that has a relaxing impact. Benzodiazepines can also scale back muscular rigidity, which usually promotes leisure. Nevertheless, “benzos,” as they’re recognized, can turn into addictive.

For that cause, these medicine are solely short-term options, says Gallagher. Ideally, you’d work with a therapist or psychologist to develop abilities and instruments to manage your anxiety. In case your nervousness signs are extreme, your psychiatrist could prescribe a benzodiazepine for a month or two whilst you wait on your antidepressant to work, says Steven L. Dubovsky, MD, professor and chair in psychiatry on the College at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.

Tricyclic antidepressants

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

How they work:

These are used to deal with nervousness problems, with the exception of social nervousness dysfunction, in line with the ADAA. (They carry the identical suicidal warning as SSRIs and SNRIs.) They work in the same manner as SNRIs, by rising the quantities of serotonin and norepinephrine within the mind to stability your temper. Nevertheless, SSRIs or SNRIs at the moment are extra generally prescribed, as they arrive with fewer unwanted effects. Common unwanted effects embrace blurred imaginative and prescient, constipation, dry mouth, drowsiness, and dizziness.

Non-drug options for nervousness

Utilizing a mixture of medicine and cognitive or stress-management methods could provide help to get nervousness below management. Studying about your triggers also can assist, says Gallagher.

Exercise, meditation, and yoga are all pure ways in which may assist ease your stress.

Publicity remedy also can assist. “Doing the issues you’re afraid to do—dealing with your fears—and studying to reside with uncertainty,” are efficient strategies in treating nervousness, she says. (You don’t have to do that alone. You are able to do this with a therapist.)

Anxiety normally includes worrying concerning the future, however knowledgeable also can provide help to lean into what you may management now, so you may let go of the nervousness of what is perhaps.

Taking inventory of how one can add issues to your life that make you are feeling good, whether or not that’s spending time on a puzzle, knitting, or enjoying together with your youngsters, and releasing the issues that add stress (like getting absorbed in a continuing destructive information cycle), are additionally vital that can assist you discover stability in your temper, provides Gallagher.

What to ask your physician earlier than taking nervousness medicine

In case you have nervousness, “it’s a good suggestion to inform your physician, as a result of nervousness is treatable,” says Dr. Dubovsky. In case your physician recommends a drugs, then ask the next questions, suggests the ADAA:

  • Will this medicine work together with any other medication, over-the-counter drug, or complement I’m taking?
  • What unwanted effects can I count on and what ought to I do if I discover them?
  • How ought to I take this medicine (e.g. timing, with or with out meals)?
  • How lengthy will it take to start out working?

Anxiety could be a persistent or acute drawback. “Continual nervousness typically requires long-term therapy,” says Dr. Dubovsky. “Acute nervousness is a response to emphasize, and as soon as that particular stress is over, then you definitely could possibly cease the medicine.”

Earlier than you try this, nonetheless, discuss to your physician earlier than stopping any medication. “Generally sufferers will say that they’re feeling higher, however perhaps the factor that was serving to them was the medicine,” says Gallagher.

When you or somebody you already know has had ideas of self-harm or suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), which gives 24/7, free, confidential assist for individuals in misery.


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