Anxiolytics: Anti-Anxiety Medications

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

Listed below is a list of the most popular anti-anxiety medications (also known as anxiolytics) grouped by category:

Antidepressants. These drugs, particularly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are most frequently prescribed by health care practitioners for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, because they are not known to be addictive. For additional information and facts about these medications and drugs, please see our articles on antidepressants.

Antihistamines. Brand names: Atarax, Benadryl. These mild sedatives can be used to calm periodic anxiety. They are used off label when used in this way.

Azaspirones. Brand name: BuSpar. This medication is utilized in the therapy of generalized anxiety disorder. It reportedly has fewer negative effects than the benzodiazepines and will not worsen the effects of alcohol. It works steadily for the duration of a period of two to four weeks and it should be stopped gradually and steadily.

Benzodiazepines. Brand names: Ativan, Centrax, Dalmane, Klonopin, Librium, Paxipam, Restoril, Serax, Tranxene, Valium, Xanax. These medications are used to treat panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,and social phobia. They’re quite habit-forming, thus, long-term use is not encouraged, because of the addiction tendencies, which can result in dependency and withdrawal reactions when stopped. You should never suddenly stop taking these medications if you have been taking them for more than two weeks; It is suggested that you always taper off slowly and gradually. These medications preferably should be taken with appropriate supervision by a health-related professional. Side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, and nausea. Don’t mix along with other medication without talking about potential hazards together with your health care provider. Be careful when operating machinery or heavy equipment if you are taking these prescriptions.

Beta blockers. Brand names: Inderal, Tenormin. These cardiac drugs counteract the effect of adrenaline and alleviate certain anxiety symptoms,such as shaking, palpitations, and sweating. These medications should only be used under direct medical supervision, as they reduce blood pressure and slow the heartbeat. Beta blockers are non-habit forming but should not be taken with other pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes, vascular diseases, hyperthyroidism, and angina). They are meant to be used for a short term for anxiety and they are not approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to treat anxiety, however they are sometimes prescribed for that purpose.

For additional info on slight to moderate anxiety, as well as on natural techniques to alleviate both severe and generalized anxiety, read our other articles about this topic.