Medications and treatments to manage anxiety

If your persistent anxiety repeatedly affects your life, your symptoms may be caused by anxiety. Generally, anxiety disorders can be treated with medications, counseling, and therapeutic techniques (such as cognitive behavioral therapy). You can also use a variety of lifestyles to reduce anxiety levels.

Anti-anxiety drugs

Anti-anxiety drugs have physiological effects on the brain and body and can help reduce anxiety symptoms such as worry, fear, and panic attacks. These drugs must be prescribed by a doctor, usually by a psychiatrist.

Anti-anxiety drugs cannot cure anxiety, but they can help control some symptoms.

There are many different anti-anxiety drugs available, and the one that is right for you depends on the type of anxiety you have and whether you have other health problems or take other drugs.


Benzodiazepines, such as Valium (Diazepam), Xanax (Alprazolam), Clonolpine (clonazepam), and Ativan (Lorazepam) are sometimes used to treat short-term anxiety. They are used for generalized anxiety disorder and can be used as a second-line treatment for panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. Antidepressants are the first-line choice.

Benzodiazepines can induce muscle relaxation and reduce other symptoms related to anxiety. These drugs are usually not used for a long time because they can cause addiction.

beta blockers

Beta blockers are used to control heart disease. They help lower heart rate and blood pressure by blocking the effects of adrenaline, a stimulant produced naturally by the body. Beta blockers can help control tremors, sweating, and other physical symptoms of anxiety.

When used for anxiety, it may be prescribed in a short period of time. Sectral (acebutolol), Tenormin (atenolol), Inderal LA (propranolol) are some beta blockers. Common side effects include weight gain, fatigue, and cold hands and feet. If you have asthma or diabetes, beta blockers are not recommended.

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BuSpar (Buspirone) can be used for the long-term treatment of chronic anxiety disorder, and it is considered a method for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. It increases the effect of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to improve mood and reduce anxiety.

Buspar takes one to two weeks to feel the initial effect, and it may take four to six weeks to feel the full effect. Therefore, it is not considered to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, and it must be taken consistently to have an effect on the symptoms.

Compared with many other commonly used anti-anxiety drugs, its sedative effect is weak, and it is not addictive, and the risk of overdose is lower. Possible side effects include dizziness, headache, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used as first-line treatments for anxiety disorders, including Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Lexapro (escitalopram), etc. drug. SSRIs are considered antidepressants. They increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve mood.

Side effects include headache, dry mouth, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction, loss of libido, and weight gain. Like many antidepressants, they increase the risk of suicidal ideation (considering or planning suicide), especially in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI)

Another common class of drugs used for anxiety disorders is serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), which are antidepressants, including Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), and Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) and other drugs. SNRIs increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine to help improve mood and are similar in effect to SSRIs. The side effects are similar to SSRIs.

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Tricyclic antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety disorders. Commonly used drugs in this category are Tofranil (imipramine), Elavil (amitriptyline), Pamelor (nortriptyline) and Anafranil (clomipramine). Side effects may include constipation, dry mouth, blurred vision, lowered blood pressure while standing, and urinary retention (decreased ability to urinate).

Use as directed

All anti-anxiety drugs have side effects, and if they are used excessively or improperly, serious adverse reactions may occur. Many of these can affect your heart rate, blood pressure, and alertness. When they are used in overdose with other drugs that interact with the central nervous system or alcohol or recreational drugs, they may cause loss of consciousness and even death. Many antidepressants used to treat anxiety can also induce suicidal ideation.

Lifestyle strategy

When taking anti-anxiety medications, it can also help change your lifestyle in ways that reduce anxiety. Here are some ways to solve the anxiety in your life.

Talk to professionals

A mental health professional can help you determine specific coping strategies and lifestyle changes that can help you manage your symptoms. Although this may be difficult, make sure to be as honest as possible about the symptoms and challenges you face. You and your mental health professional can work together to develop a customized coping strategy.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions the next time you see a doctor.

Daily example

In addition, some examples of strategies that professionals might encourage you to try might include:

  • chewing gum
  • clean
  • Coloring, painting or drawing
  • cooking
  • Dance
  • Make a crossword or sudoku
  • exercise
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life
  • walk
  • Addicted to your favorite food
  • Massage your temples for a few minutes
  • meditation
  • Plan to do nothing for a day and stick to it
  • Plan holidays and visualize the environment
  • Practice gratitude
  • Sit down for a few minutes
  • Spend time with friends
  • Spend time with your dog or cat
  • Spirituality
  • Reach out
  • Sleep for a while
  • Watch comedy or funny online video
  • Watch sunset or sunrise
  • Writing and diary
  • Write a poem or a song

Get advice from the VigorTip Mind podcast

Hosted by LCSW’s editor and therapist Amy Morin, this episode of “VigorTip Mind Podcast” shares how to recognize and relieve anxiety, hosted by neuroscientist Dr. Jud Brewer.

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If you have anxiety, medications can help, because medications used to treat anxiety can change the chemicals in your body and brain, reduce symptoms, and often help you calm down and focus on other things. Other ways to relieve symptoms, such as counseling and developing relaxation techniques, can also reduce your anxiety. Usually, multiple methods are needed to relieve your symptoms.