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Medications for Anxiety

Other names: Anxiety States; Nerves; Nervousness

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, voice changes, or increased blood pressure. It may also be called nervousness.

Occasional anxiety concerning a stressful or uncomfortable event is normal. However, if a person feels disproportionate levels of anxiety or it is present almost continuously, it might be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. 

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety is part of our survival response and is the way our body responds to potentially harmful or worrying triggers.

Strong emotions or fear cause a surge of epinephrine (also called adrenaline) from our adrenal glands. This increases our heartbeat, increases our sensitivity to our surroundings, and prepares us for physical confrontation or to flee if we perceive any threats to our safety. This is often called the fight or flight response.

Anxieties today mostly revolve around family, friends, health, money, or work. People more at risk of anxiety disorders include those:

  • With relationship problems
  • Whose jobs involve long hours, high workloads, little support, or danger
  • With family members with anxiety disorders
  • With medical conditions that result in significant lifestyle adjustments, pain, or restricted movement
  • Who have experienced stressful or traumatic events
  • Withdrawing from alcohol, opioids, or other substances.

What are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder are usually out of proportion to the original trigger or stressor.

If these are accompanied by significant physical symptoms such as increased sweating or increased blood pressure then a person is more likely to have an anxiety disorder rather than stimulus-appropriate anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic, ongoing condition with excessive worry over normal life events, whether minor or major. These feelings are usually out of proportion to the trouble that you may encounter in your everyday life.

With GAD, feelings come on gradually and are present each day, not in one individual attack, and last for months, even years. Worry may be so excessive that it interferes with your daily life. GAD may also be accompanied by depression and substance abuse disorders.

Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Excessive and uncontrollable worry
  • Increased irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness or a feeling of being on edge
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive perspiration and sweating
  • Trembling, quivering
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Headaches, stomach upset
  • Avoidance of circumstances that might trigger severe anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties.

Other anxiety disorders include panic disorder, phobias, selective mutism, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.

How is Anxiety or an Anxiety Disorder Treated?

Treatment depends on the severity and type of anxiety disorder and if it is interfering with everyday life.

Treatments may include:

  • Stress management
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Mental imagery (replacing negative thoughts with positive ones)
  • Cognitive Behavioral therapy
  • Counseling
  • Support
  • Exercise
  • Medications.

Drugs Used to Treat Anxiety

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rx / OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol Reviews Rating Popularity
Xanax D 4 X 507 reviews
8.6

Generic name: alprazolam systemic

Drug class: benzodiazepines

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

clonazepam Off Label D 4 X 682 reviews
8.5

Generic name: clonazepam systemic

Drug class: benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

alprazolam D 4 X 753 reviews
8.7

Generic name: alprazolam systemic

Brand names:  Xanax, Alprazolam Intensol

Drug class: benzodiazepines

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

lorazepam D 4 X 586 reviews
8.1

Generic name: lorazepam systemic

Brand names:  Ativan, Lorazepam Intensol

Drug class: benzodiazepines, miscellaneous antiemetics, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Ativan D 4 X 305 reviews
8.1

Generic name: lorazepam systemic

Drug class: benzodiazepines, miscellaneous antiemetics, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

buspirone B N X 840 reviews
5.9

Generic name: buspirone systemic

Brand name:  BuSpar

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Lexapro C N X 727 reviews
7.5

Generic name: escitalopram systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

hydroxyzine N N X 701 reviews
5.6

Generic name: hydroxyzine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

BuSpar B N X 440 reviews
6.1

Generic name: buspirone systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Valium D 4 X 166 reviews
8.8

Generic name: diazepam systemic

Drug class: benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

diazepam D 4 X 382 reviews
8.4

Generic name: diazepam systemic

Brand names:  Valium, Diazepam Intensol

Drug class: benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

escitalopram C N X 1163 reviews
7.4

Generic name: escitalopram systemic

Brand name:  Lexapro

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

gabapentin Off Label C N X 387 reviews
7.9

Generic name: gabapentin systemic

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Cymbalta C N X 242 reviews
6.7

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Effexor XR C N X 197 reviews
7.1

Generic name: venlafaxine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

propranolol Off Label C N X 257 reviews
7.5

Generic name: propranolol systemic

Drug class: non-cardioselective beta blockers, group II antiarrhythmics

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

trazodone Off Label C N X 102 reviews
7.0

Generic name: trazodone systemic

Drug class: phenylpiperazine antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Paxil D N X 224 reviews
7.1

Generic name: paroxetine systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

bupropion Off Label C N X 131 reviews
6.1

Generic name: bupropion systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants, smoking cessation agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

clonidine Off Label C N X 55 reviews
7.1

Generic name: clonidine systemic

Drug class: antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

venlafaxine C N X 316 reviews
6.7

Generic name: venlafaxine systemic

Brand name:  Effexor XR

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

duloxetine C N X 294 reviews
6.5

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Brand name:  Cymbalta

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

paroxetine D N X 294 reviews
7.2

Generic name: paroxetine systemic

Brand names:  Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

mirtazapine Off Label C N X 365 reviews
6.7

Generic name: mirtazapine systemic

Drug class: tetracyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

lamotrigine Off Label C N X 60 reviews
6.8

Generic name: lamotrigine systemic

Drug class: triazine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off Label: Yes

Topics under Anxiety

Alternative treatments for Anxiety

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for Anxiety. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of Anxiety.

Legend

Rx Prescription Only
OTC Over the Counter
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter
Off Label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

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