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Common Anxiety Medications, Types of Medication for Anxiety & Side Effects

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At We Level Up Florida Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. In addition, we work as an integrated team providing information about common anxiety medications and other aspects of treatment.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 25, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Common Anxiety Medications

The term anxiety encompasses feelings of worry, fear, and unease. Although it is normal to experience some level of anxiety at times, intense or persistent anxiety may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. According to several large surveys, up to 33.7 percent [1] of people experience some form of anxiety disorder during their lifetime. Common anxiety medications are available to treat anxiety disorders. Doctors may prescribe a good medication for anxiety and depression alone or in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or another kind of therapy.

Learn more by taking the “Do I have Anxiety Disorder Quiz”. Find out more about anxiety disorder signs & symptoms. Learn if these anxiety attributes are applicable to your personal situation. Please make sure to always seek the advice of a healthcare professional in diagnosing mental health issues like anxiety.

In the follow-up “Do I have Anxiety Disorder Quiz”, the more times you answered yes on the anxiety disorder quiz, the more likely it is you may suffer from an anxiety disorder. The anxiety quiz questions are designed to indicate an anxiety disorder. But an additional screening for conditions that may complicate anxiety disorders such as depression or substance use may be warranted.

If you believe you suffer from an anxiety disorder, consult your primary care doctor for an exam. The examination can first rule out physical or environmental causes with traits similar to anxiety. Other ailments like ulcers, asthma, or an overactive thyroid, as well as the overuse of substances that can cause anxiety symptoms, especially caffeine, diet pills, or decongestants, should be part of an overall anxiety diagnosis review.

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Do I have Anxiety Disorder Quiz

Take the quiz below to learn more about your personal anxiety case. If your anxiety questions responses score 50 points or more, reach out to one of our specialists for further support.

1. Do you feel very anxious or worry about a lot of things?

 
 

2. Do you think you worry excessively?

 
 

3. Do you worry virtually every day?

 
 

4. Have you been worrying like this for 6 months or longer?

 
 

5. Do you find it difficult to stop worrying?

 
 

6. Are you experiencing physical symptoms like restlessness, feeling tired, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or trouble sleeping?

 
 

7. Does worrying negatively impact you at school, work, with friends & family, or in other areas of your life?

 
 

What is the best medication for anxiety and depression? Medications for anxiety and depression may help people suffering from intense episodes.
What is the best medication for anxiety and depression? Medications for anxiety and depression may help people suffering from intense episodes.

Learn more:

What is the Best Medication for Anxiety and Depression?

What medication is good for anxiety and depression? Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health diagnoses. For some, they occur as comorbidities, meaning an individual has both at the same time. Many of the same medications treat both conditions, though dosages may differ.

Depression happens when a person experiences changes in motivation, eating, working, and sleeping habits, and symptoms of low mood, for at least 2 weeks. The individual may feel hopeless, sad, despairing, and possibly irritable, among other symptoms. There are several types of depression.

Anxiety disorders develop when anxiety does not lessen as expected, and symptoms may interfere with a person’s daily life. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders. Symptoms can include mental distress as well as physical sensations of discomfort. 

What medication is used for anxiety and depression? Confused about the choice of the best medication for depression and anxiety? With persistence, you and your healthcare provider can find one that works so that you can enjoy life more fully again. There are many types of medications for depression and anxiety available that work in slightly different ways and have different side effects.

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interferes with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


What is the best medication for anxiety and depression? There are many medications that can be used to treat mood disorders. But finding the right one can be a lengthy process, and the choice can be more complicated than you might imagine.
What is the best medication for anxiety and depression? There are many medications that can be used to treat mood disorders. But finding the right one can be a lengthy process, and the choice can be more complicated than you might imagine.

Common Medications for Depression and Anxiety List

The “list of medication for anxiety and depression names” may include the following. Several types of medication can treat the symptoms of anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)[2], the four major classes of drugs for anxiety disorders are as follows:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of antidepressant, doctors commonly prescribe them to people with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to one article[3], doctors consider SSRIs to be the first-line drug treatment for anxiety. SSRIs work by stopping nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, which is a chemical that plays a vital role in mood regulation.

Examples of SSRIs as a medication for severe anxiety and depression may include:

  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

These common anxiety medications typically begin to take effect within 2 to 6 weeks[4], but they do not work for everyone. People usually take SSRIs for up to 12 months[5] to treat anxiety, then gradually reduce the dosage. These drugs are not habit-forming, meaning that they do not usually lead to dependence. People should consult their doctor or physician before they start reducing or stopping their medications for anxiety and depression.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another class of antidepressant that treats depression and anxiety. Doctors may also prescribe them to treat some chronic pain conditions. These common anxiety medications work by reducing the brain’s reabsorption of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine.

Examples of SNRIs for anxiety are:

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

As with SSRIs, SNRIs can take several weeks to have an effect.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are an older class of antidepressant drugs. Although they may be “effective medication used for anxiety and depression”, doctors often prescribe SSRIs instead, as they cause fewer side effects. However, TCAs may be useful for some people, especially if other medications do not provide relief.

Examples of TCAs for anxiety include:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines carry a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous [8].

FDA Warnings
  • Taking benzodiazepines with opioid drugs increases your risk for severe sleepiness, respiratory depression, coma, and even death. Alprazolam shouldn’t be taken with an opioid unless there are no other available treatment options.
  • Using benzodiazepines, even as prescribed, can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if you stop taking the drug suddenly. Withdrawal can be life-threatening.
  • Taking benzodiazepines can also lead to misuse and addiction. Misuse of [drug name] increases your risk of overdose and death.
  • Only take benzodiazepines as your doctor prescribes. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about safely taking this drug.

Benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Although they are highly effective for short-term issues, doctors rarely prescribe benzodiazepines because they become less effective over time and can be addictive. Due to these risks, experts suggest that doctors do not prescribe the continuous use of benzodiazepines for more than 1 month [6]. Some people may take benzodiazepines to manage short-term anxiety. For example, people with a fear of flying may take them before a flight. At times, people may take a benzodiazepine alongside an SSRI for a few weeks until the SSRI takes effect.

What is the best medication for anxiety and depression? Anxiety treatment often includes common anxiety medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and/or psychotherapy, both of which are highly effective.
What is the best medication for anxiety and depression? Anxiety treatment often includes common anxiety medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and/or psychotherapy, both of which are highly effective.
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Other Medication for Severe Depression and Anxiety

Many other medicines may help treat anxiety, although doctors usually only prescribe them if SSRIs or similar drugs do not work. Other medications for anxiety include:

  • Beta-Blockers: Beta-blockers are a common medication for people with high blood pressure and heart conditions. However, doctors may prescribe them off-label for anxiety in certain situations. Beta-blockers reduce the effects of norepinephrine, meaning that they can relieve some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. Examples of beta-blockers include atenolol (Tenormin) and propranolol (Inderal).
  • Buspirone: These medications for anxiety and depression may treat short- or long-term anxiety symptoms. Buspirone (BuSpar) works much more slowly than benzodiazepines and may not treat all types of anxiety disorders, but it causes fewer side effects and has a lower risk of dependency.
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are one of the earliest types of antidepressants. Doctors may prescribe them off-label to treat the symptoms of panic disorder and social phobia. Types of MAOI include:
    • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
    • Phenelzine (Nardil)
    • Selegiline (Emsam)
    • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
What are the medications for anxiety and depression? Common anxiety medications often have side effects that should not be taken lightly and must be professionally supervised.
What are the medications for anxiety and depression? Common anxiety medications often have side effects that should not be taken lightly and must be professionally supervised.

Side Effects of Common Medications for Anxiety and Depression

Medications for anxiety and depression list mentioned above have the potential to cause side effects in some people. Even the best medication for severe anxiety and depression can cause side effects. These often resolve after a few weeks, but it is crucial to see a doctor if they are intolerable or do not subside. Some doctors may recommend taking some common anxiety medications with food to minimize side effects, or taking them before bed, as long as the drug does not interfere with sleep. The side effects that a person experiences may vary depending on the type of medication used for anxiety and depression.

SSRIs Side Effects

The side effects of SSRIs can include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling agitated or restless
  • Gaining weight
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sexual problems or erectile dysfunction
  • Sleep problems
  • An upset stomach

SNRIs Side Effects

The side effects of SNRIs are similar to those of SSRIs and include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sexual problems or erectile dysfunction
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating more than usual
  • An upset stomach

TCAs Side Effects

Side effects vary among TCAs, as they work in different ways. Possible side effects include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Increase in appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure after standing up
  • Sexual problems or erectile dysfunction
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss or gain

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Benzodiazepines Side Effects

This medication for major depression and anxiety can cause several side effects, such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Problems with balance, coordination, or speech
  • An upset stomach

Benzodiazepines also carry certain risks. For example, they can cause physical dependence, even after a short period of use. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may lead to:

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating
  • Seizures

More severe risks of benzodiazepines when used as a medication for depression and anxiety may include:

  • Addiction
  • Cognitive decline
  • Hip fractures
  • Motor vehicle accidents, as can affect a person’s ability to drive
  • Overdose, especially in combination with opioid drugs or alcohol

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Beta-Blockers Side Effects

Possible side effects of beta-blockers, when used as a medication for anxiety and depression, may include:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Depression
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain

People with asthma should avoid beta-blockers. People with diabetes should take them with caution and speak to a doctor about the possible risks.

Buspirone Side Effects

The side effects of buspirone may include:

  • Muscle pains
  • Nausea
  • Poor concentration
  • Restlessness or nervousness
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

MAOIs Side Effects

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) were the first type of antidepressant developed. They’re effective as a medication for anxiety and depression, but they’ve generally been replaced by antidepressants that are safer and cause fewer side effects. Potential side effects of MAOIs when used as a medication for anxiety and depression include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating
  • Weight gain
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches

These medications for anxiety and depression also interact with several other drugs as well as some foods and drinks. Anyone taking MAOIs should ask their doctor for a complete list of the medicines, foods, and drinks that they need to avoid.

Suicide Risks of Common Anxiety Medications

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires [7] all antidepressants to carry a black-box warning relating to the risk of suicide in adults. People under 25 years of age may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors while taking these common anxiety medications or antidepressants, particularly within the first few weeks of use.

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We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions. However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse.

Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success.  A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. 

We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

At We Level Up Florida Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. In addition, we work as an integrated team providing information about common anxiety medications and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

Common anxiety medications are often the cause of co-occurring disorders with addiction. Seek professional help for anxiety medications and safety.
What are the medications for anxiety and depression? Common anxiety medications are often the cause of co-occurring disorders with addiction. Seek professional help for anxiety medications and safety.
Sources

[1] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610617/

[2] Adaa.org – https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/what-medications-are-used-treat-anxiety-disorders

[3] Aafp.org – https://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0501/p617.html

[4] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279594/

[5] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279594/

[6] Aafp.org – https://www.aafp.org/afp/2013/0815/p224.html

[7] NIMH – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/child-and-adolescent-mental-health/antidepressant-medications-for-children-and-adolescents-information-for-parents-and-caregivers.shtml

[8] FDA – FDA requires Boxed Warning updated to improve the safe use of benzodiazepine drug class. (2020).
https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-requiring-boxed-warning-updated-improve-safe-use-benzodiazepine-drug-class

[9] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5614930/


[10] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5609714/

10 Common Anxiety Medications FAQs

  1. What is the best ADHD medication for adults with anxiety and depression?

    The best medication for anxiety depression and ADHD for adults according to a 2021 study: patients could switch from a stimulant to atomoxetine because of its proven ability to manage and decrease ADHD and anxiety symptoms in people with both conditions.

  2. What is the best medication for bipolar depression and anxiety?

    What medication for anxiety and depression is most effective for people with co-occurring bipolar disorder? Research has found that anxiety is common in people with bipolar disorder. Thus, it’s common for bipolar people to have anti-anxiety medications prescribed.

  3. What is the alternative medication for depression and anxiety?

    For some people, certain herbal and dietary supplements seem to help with depression and anxiety, but more studies are needed on their effectiveness and side effects.

  4. Can you get your medical card for depression and anxiety?

    Are you asking “can I get a medical card for depression and anxiety?” Some common medical conditions that may qualify for a medical card are anxiety disorders, depression, chronic pain, seizures, loss of appetite, insomnia, migraines, inflammatory conditions, and arthritis.

  5. What is the common medication for teenage anxiety and depression?

    Antidepressant drugs are often an effective way to treat depression and anxiety in teenagers.  However, antidepressant use in teens must be monitored carefully, as rarely there can be severe side effects.

  6. What is the best medication for social anxiety and depression?

    Though several types of medications are available, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first type of drug tried for persistent symptoms of social anxiety. 

  7. What are the top 10 medications for anxiety and depression?

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drugs that doctors consider first-line treatments for depression and anxiety.

  8. Can I get medical weed for anxiety and depression?

    Does depression and anxiety qualify for medical marijuanas? Medical marijuana does not help with anxiety and depression. It can double the risk of addiction, a study says.  A recent study found that medical marijuana fails to improve symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression and effectively doubles the risk of developing addictive symptoms and cannabis use disorder (CUD).

  9. What new medication for depression and anxiety is available now?

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved two new antidepressant medications that represent new approaches to treating depression: brexanolone and esketamine.

  10. What is the best medication for postpartum depression and anxiety?

    SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most widely used and researched medication for postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. SSRIs work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.

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