Mental Health Medication For Anxiety
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Mental Health Medication For Anxiety

Numerous individuals discover themselves moving to the rhythm of anxiety amidst the busy and harmonic composition of life. Anxiety is an omnipresent companion in the human experience, whether it manifests as the nerves before a big presentation or as a persistent concern about the future. Fortunately, there are drugs developed to assist us in finding balance within the broad spectrum of mental health treatment. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the drugs designed to calm the wild waves of anxiety and address some often voiced concerns over their use.



Table Of Contents

What Is Anxiety?

What Types of Medications Are Prescribed for Anxiety?

Who Prescribes Anxiety Medication?

What Does Being On Anxiety Medication Feel Like?

What Are the Common Side Effects of Anxiety Medication?




What Is Anxiety?


Fundamentally, anxiety is a normal reaction to stress or danger. The fight-or-flight reaction is the body’s method of preparing for a challenge by producing adrenaline. But worry turns from a useful ally into a dangerous enemy when it becomes overwhelming, persistent, and interferes with day-to-day functioning (Chand & Marwaha, 2023).



The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that around 19.1% of American adults suffer from an anxiety condition of some kind (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.). In addition, women experience anxiety at higher rates than men. As a result, specialists now support routine screening for anxiety disorders in girls 13 years of age and older as a necessary part of primary healthcare (Gregory et al., 2020).



Anxious people may have trouble focusing, feel tense and restless, and experience physical symptoms like tense muscles and disturbed sleep. While a certain amount of anxiety is acceptable, excessive and ongoing anxiety can harm a person’s quality of life (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; MedlinePlus, 2023; SAMHSA, 2023).




Anxious Woman

Photo by RDNE Stock project


What Types of Medications Are Prescribed for Anxiety?


There are various categories into which anxiety medications can be divided, and each has a unique mode of action. In order to treat anxiety holistically, therapy and lifestyle modifications are frequently added to medication, which is simply one component of the treatment.



Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Anxiety disorders of all kinds are frequently treated with SSRIs. These drugs, which include sertraline and fluoxetine, function by raising serotonin levels in the brain because the one neurotransmitter essential for mood modulation is serotonin (Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA, 2018; Locke et al., 2015).



Benzodiazepines: A neurotransmitter named gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is enhanced by these drugs, which include diazepam and alprazolam. GABA calms the brain, which aids in the rapid relief of anxiety symptoms (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, 2020). However, because of their potential for addiction and dependency, benzodiazepines are typically recommended for brief periods of time (Tibrewal et al., 2021).



Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs, such as duloxetine and venlafaxine, function by raising the concentrations of two neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (Strawn et al., 2018). They are frequently recommended for conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (Garakani et al., 2020).



Beta-Blockers: Although they are not conventional anxiety drugs, beta-blockers like propranolol are occasionally administered to treat the physiological signs of anxiety, like trembling and a fast heartbeat. They function by preventing the effects of epinephrine (Chand & Marwaha, 2023).




Who Prescribes Anxiety Medication?


Most often, mental health specialists in medical facilities write prescriptions for anxiety medications. Psychiatric nurse practitioners, general practitioners with experience in mental health, and psychiatrists are some of these experts. These medical professionals perform a thorough assessment to determine the type and intensity of anxiety symptoms before writing a prescription for any medication.


Open communication between patients and their healthcare practitioner is essential for those considering anxiety medication. This includes talking about any current health issues, prescription drugs, and any possible negative effects or concerns. The objective is to customize the treatment program to meet each patient’s specific needs.




What Does Being On Anxiety Medication Feel Like?


For many people, taking anxiety medication can be an event that alters their lives. It’s crucial to realize that each person may experience the impacts differently, as well as that there may be differences in the adjustment phase.



Gradual Improvement: The full benefits of anxiety medication may take weeks to manifest. People frequently report a progressive improvement in their symptoms over a few weeks. During this time, as the body and brain adjust to the medicine, patience is essential.



Increased Stability: Many people report feeling more emotionally stable and experiencing fewer, milder anxiety episodes less frequently. People may participate more completely in everyday activities and have a higher quality of life thanks to their newfound consistency.



Improved Concentration: People who take effective medicine frequently report an improvement in their ability to focus, which makes it simpler to handle everyday obligations and chores.



Enhanced Sleep: Sleep patterns are typically disturbed by anxiety, which can result in insomnia or restless nights. Certain anxiety drugs have a relaxing impact that might aid in controlling sleep patterns and produce tranquil nights.





What Are the Common Side Effects of Anxiety Medication?


Although anxiety drugs have many advantages, they may also have negative effects. People must be aware of these adverse effects and let their healthcare professional know if they have any concerns.


Nausea and Digestive Issues: When using anxiety medication, some people may feel nausea, upset stomach, or changes in their bowel movements. Usually, once the body adjusts, these symptoms disappear (Bet et al., 2013).



Drowsiness or Fatigue: Some drugs can make you tired or drowsy, particularly benzodiazepines (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, 2020). Until the body adjusts to the medicine, it is important to exercise caution when doing tasks that call for attentiveness, like driving.



Weight Changes: Weight gain or loss is a possible side effect of some drugs. Regular weight monitoring and communication with the healthcare physician about any notable changes in weight are vital.



Sexual Dysfunction: A reduced libido or trouble experiencing an orgasm are two examples of the sexual side effects that some antidepressants, especially SSRIs, might have. To address these issues and look into possible solutions, keep lines of communication open with the healthcare practitioner.



Dependency and Withdrawal: Long-term usage of benzodiazepines can result in dependency (Bernard et al., 2018). Withdrawal symptoms, such as heightened anxiety, sleeplessness, and irritability, may arise from quitting these drugs suddenly (Fluyau et al., 2018).
Gaining control over one’s life and improving general well-being are the ultimate goals of anxiety medications. However, the process of selecting the appropriate drug might involve a bit of trial and error.









Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (2020, May 26). SSRIs and Benzodiazepines for General Anxiety Disorders (GAD).


Bernard, M.-M. T., Luc, M., Carrier, J.-D., Fournier, L., Duhoux, A., Côté, E., Lessard, O., Gibeault, C., Bocti, C., & Roberge, P. (2018). Patterns of benzodiazepines use in primary care adults with anxiety disorders. Heliyon, 4(7).


Bet, P. M., Hugtenburg, J. G., Penninx, B. W. J. H., & Hoogendijk, W. J. G. (2013). Side effects of antidepressants during long-term use in a naturalistic setting. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 23(11), 1443–1451.


Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA. (2018). Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) Information. FDA.


Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, March 14). Depression and Anxiety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Chand, S. P., & Marwaha, R. (2023). Anxiety. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.


Fluyau, D., Revadigar, N., & Manobianco, B. E. (2018). Challenges of the pharmacological management of benzodiazepine withdrawal, dependence, and discontinuation. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 8(5), 147–168.


Garakani, A., Murrough, J. W., Freire, R. C., Thom, R. P., Larkin, K., Buono, F. D., & Iosifescu, D. V. (2020). Pharmacotherapy of Anxiety Disorders: Current and Emerging Treatment Options. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11.


Gregory, K. D., Chelmow, D., Nelson, H. D., Van Niel, M. S., Conry, J. A., Garcia, F., Kendig, S. M., O’Reilly, N., Qaseem, A., Ramos, D., Salganicoff, A., Son, S., Wood, J. K., & Zahn, C. (2020). Screening for Anxiety in Adolescent and Adult Women: A Recommendation From the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative. Annals of Internal Medicine, 173(1), 48–56.


Locke, A. B., Kirst, N., & Shultz, C. G. (2015). Diagnosis and Management of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder in Adults. American Family Physician, 91(9), 617–624.


MedlinePlus. (2023, October 17). Anxiety [Text]. Medline Plus; National Library of Medicine.


National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Any Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from


SAMHSA. (2023, February 8). Anxiety Disorders.


Strawn, J. R., Geracioti, L., Rajdev, N., Clemenza, K., & Levine, A. (2018). Pharmacotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder in adult and pediatric patients: An evidence-based treatment review. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 19(10), 1057–1070.


Tibrewal, P., Looi, J. C. L., Allison, S., & Bastiampillai, T. (2021). Benzodiazepines for the long-term treatment of anxiety disorders? The Lancet, 398(10295), 119–120.











Written By: Dr. Wasif MD

Edited by: Madison Vargas, BS

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 02/12/2024


Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Written and reviewed by

Madison Vargas

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