What You Need to Know About Anxiety Medication03/10/2023
Almost 20 percent of Americans struggle with an anxiety disorder. While medication is often prescribed to help cope with the symptoms of anxiety, it is good to know about the different types of medication and what the differences are. To learn more about anxiety medication, read on below.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 19.1 percent of the U.S. adult population has an anxiety disorder. If you have experienced this, you are likely aware of the importance of appropriate treatment to address your symptoms.
Anxiety symptoms can be managed with the help of therapy and, in many cases, anxiety medication. Prescription drugs such as SSRIs and SNRIs may reduce the psychological symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, feelings of worry and dread, and physical symptoms, like fatigue and lack of sleep.
Discover commonly prescribed anxiety medication and what doctors consider before helping you decide on the best medicine for anxiety for you in this article.
Commonly Prescribed Anxiety Medication
It’s normal for people to feel anxious in stressful situations, such as during a job interview, moving to a different place and dealing with relationship challenges. However, in people with anxiety disorder, anxiety does not go away. Left untreated, it can worsen and severely impact their quality of life.
Anxiety medication helps reduce the severity of anxiety symptoms, calming your mind enough for you to do your daily activities, such as going to work, attending classes and spending time with loved ones. What’s more, anxiety medication “quiets” your brain, allowing you to engage in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness and other wellness approaches that provide relief from anxious thoughts.
If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may be prescribed one or more of the following types of drugs.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
These are a class of medication that is typically prescribed to treat depression. However, SSRIs are also prescribed to patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Experts believe they work by delaying or stopping serotonin from being reabsorbed by the body, which in turn helps raise serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter believed to regulate emotions, mood and sleep.
Some examples of SSRIs are as follows: | Generic Name | Brand Name | |:---------------------------------: |:-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------: | | Citalopram | Celexa® | | Escitalopram | Lexapro® | | Fluoxetine | Prozac® | | Paroxetine | Paxil®, Brisdelle®, Pexeva® | | Sertraline | Zoloft® |
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
While primarily an antidepressant, SNRIs are often prescribed to people with anxiety disorders. SNRIs differ from SSRIs in that they affect not just serotonin levels but also norepinephrine levels.
Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that is released into the body in times of stress. It’s also important for regulating mood, sleep, memory and focus. Too little of it can make you feel anxious and affect the quality of your sleep as well as your ability to sleep.
SNRIs work by blocking the reabsorption of norepinephrine, resulting in higher levels of the hormone.
The following are some SNRIs that may be prescribed to treat anxiety disorders:
|Generic Name||Brand Name|
|Duloxetine||Cymbalta®, Drizalma Sprinkle®|
Benzodiazepines fall under the sedative class. More research is needed to find out their exact mechanism of action, but it is thought that they help calm anxiety by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for short-term treatment of anxiety as well as other conditions, such as seizures and insomnia. However, it is important to take it only at the dosage and for the duration prescribed by your doctor, as dependence on benzodiazepines can develop very quickly.
The following are some examples of benzodiazepines:
|Generic Name||Brand Name|
|Alprazolam||Xanax®, Xanax® XR](/drugs/xanax-xr)|
|Diazepam||Valium®, Diazepam Intensol®|
|Lorazepam, Lorazepam Intensol||Ativan®|
This is an antihistamine that is prescribed alone or with other medications to address a variety of conditions beyond allergies, such as anxiety disorders. It is sometimes used as an alternative to benzodiazepines for panic attacks and anxiety disorders.
This is because hydroxyzine interacts with serotonin, helping reduce symptoms of anxiety. It also makes you sleepy, which could result in a calming effect.
Buspirone (Generic) This anxiety medication belongs to the drug class azapirones. It is typically prescribed with an SSRI or SNRI to help provide short-term relief from anxiety symptoms. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone carries minimal risk of drug dependence and does not have sedative or muscle relaxant effects.
Meprobamate (Generic) Belonging to the drug class anxiolytics or antianxiety agents, meprobamate is used for the short-term management of anxiety disorders. However, it is no longer as commonly prescribed due to the development of drugs with similar benefits but fewer side effects.
What Is the Best Medicine for Anxiety?
All types of anxiety medication are effective. However, you might be wondering which one in particular is the best medicine for anxiety, taking into account your particular diagnosis and situation. The answer depends on several factors, but generally, the “best” medicine for anxiety is one that delivers the most benefits and has the least number of side effects.
Doctors also typically consider the following when prescribing anxiety medicine:
- The type of anxiety disorder you have
- Whether you need short-term/as-needed relief from anxiety or long-term treatment
- Your height, weight, age and sex
- Other medical condition/s you may have
- Drugs and supplements you’re currently taking
- Any allergies to medication you may have
If the cost of medication is something you feel you’ll have trouble with, be sure to let your doctor know. They may prescribe lower-cost generic medication or prescribe more affordable alternatives.
Inside Rx: Another Way to Save
Inside Rx is a free medication discount card that may help users save up to 80 percent off the retail price of brand and generic prescription medication, including anxiety medication.
To find the lowest prices on your medication, just type your medication name in the “Search Prices” bar on the Inside Rx website. Enter the zip code of your location, and compare prices of your anxiety medication at pharmacies near you. Inside Rx has more than 60,000 partner pharmacies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
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