Anxiety Medications

There are several medication options available for treating anxiety and its various manifestations, such as panic attacks and social anxiety. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for most forms of anxiety, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder, as they are FDA approved for these conditions. Patients often question the use of antidepressants for anxiety when they are not experiencing depression.

Another main class of drugs used to treat anxiety is benzodiazepines, which are effective for a range of conditions including anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, and insomnia. While short-term use of benzodiazepines is generally safe and effective, long-term use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and cognitive impairment. Various types of benzodiazepines, such as long-acting and short-acting ones, exist, each with different applications and considerations.

Benzodiazepines include:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • temazepam (restoril)


Benzodiazepines exert their effects by enhancing the activity of the neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Neurotransmitters like GABA facilitate communication between brain cells, producing either stimulating or calming effects. GABA specifically has a calming effect on the body. When an individual experiences anxiety, the brain may become overstimulated. Benzodiazepines work by helping the brain counter this overstimulation, akin to extinguishing a fire with water.

Other Anxiety medications: Fortunately, there are various other medications available to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Propranolol, a beta blocker, targets the physical symptoms of anxiety such as palpitations. Hydroxyzine, an antihistamine, often produces a calming effect. Additionally, buspirone (Buspar) is FDA approved for the treatment of anxiety and provides relief from anxiety symptoms.


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