Anxiety can be treated with a single drug or a combination of different types of medications. To calm the mind, antidepressants are frequently recommended for people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tetracyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitors, monomaine oxidase inhibitors, dopaminergic drugs and some of the older tricyclic antidepressants are used for treating anxiety.
However, it takes a few weeks to realize the benefits of these drugs. For faster relief, doctors frequently prescribe anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines.
Medications for Treating Anxiety
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. They are taken orally in the form of tablet or liquid. Since an imbalance in the brain chemical serotonin is believed to trigger anxiety, by boosting the serotonin level in the brain, these medications alleviate anxiety disorders.
The antidepressants are usually taken once a day, preferably in the morning with a snack or after breakfast. Diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, agitation, constipation, difficulty in sleeping, poor appetite and weight changes are some of the side effects of selective SSRIs. SSRIs commonly used in anxiety treatment include sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, citalopram and escitalopram.
Venlafaxine is a class of antidepressant medication known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It helps to alleviate social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder by balancing the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Venlafaxine is taken orally, usually two to three times a day with food. Side effects of the medication include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, nightmares, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, heartburn, urination problems, tinnitus and poor sex drive.
Bupropion is an antidepressant that helps to reduce anxiety by boosting the levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. It belongs to the class of drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor.
Just as the other antidepressants used in anxiety treatment, low doses of bupropion is prescribed initially and the dose is increased gradually. It usually takes four weeks to notice the effect of the drug. Side effects of the medication include dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, excess perspiration, tremor, constipation and weight loss.
Tricyclic antidepressants used for treating anxiety disorders include imipramine, clomipramine and desipramine. You might experience dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, constipation and weight gain following intake of tricyclic antidepressants. These antidepressants work by reducing absorptions of the mood regulating brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain.
Monomaine Oxidase Inhibitors
Monomaine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are occasionally prescribed for treating anxiety disorders. MAOIs usually recommended for treatment include isocarboxazid, phenelzine and tranylcypromine. By inhibiting the activities of the enzyme monoamine oxidase associated with removal of mood regulating neurotransmitters from the brain, MAOIs help to increase the levels of these brain chemicals.
Drowsiness, dry mouth, low blood pressure, nervousness, urination difficulties, weight gain and poor sex drive are some of the side effects of the drug. People on MAOIs should limit consumption of foods containing high levels of the amino acid tyramine such as pickled food, cheese, wine, beer and certain meats.
Anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines provide quick relief from anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorders are primarily treated with the benzodiazepines alprazolam, diazepam and clonazepam. Social anxiety disorders frequently respond to the drug clonazepam. Buspirone is another benzodiazepine used as an anti-anxiety drug. However, unlike the other benzodiazepines, this anti-anxiety drug works slowly.
The patient has to wait for at least two weeks to experience its benefits. Common side effects of benzodiazepines include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, confusion, nightmare, blurred vision and stomach upset. Prolonged intake of benzodiazepines increases the risk of addiction to the drug. To prevent dependence on the anti-anxiety medications, they should be taken under the close supervision of the doctor.
The risk of dependence is greater in the case of short-acting benzodiazepines such as alprazolam and lorazepam. Duration of treatment with these anti-anxiety drugs should not be more than four weeks. Owing to its fewer side effects, the newer anti-anxiety drug buspirone is considered a safer alternative to the potent medications. However, it is not as effective as the other benzodiazepines.
The physical symptoms of anxiety such as excessive perspiration and trembling can be treated with beta-blockers. These medications, primarily used for lowering high blood pressure, help to reduce anxiety during stressful situations. They are especially effective in treating social anxiety disorders, commonly known as social phobias.
Inderal is a beta-blocker commonly used for treating social phobia. This drug should be taken only for a short time. Fatigue, dizziness and cold hands are common side effects of the drug. It should be avoided by diabetics and asthma patients.