Medications for Anxiety Treatment

Published: July 27, 2022
Marissa Brooks
By Marissa Brooks, PharmD, MBA

While it’s normal to experience some anxiety occasionally, an anxiety disorder presents with overwhelming persistent feelings of worry. Anxiety can cause you to fear social interaction or specific situations and can lead to intense feelings of nervousness and panic. Anxiety disorders can interfere with daily activities, be difficult to control, and be triggered by certain phobias and situations. Your pharmacist can help you find a treatment that is right for you.

 

How is anxiety treated?
There are two main treatments for anxiety disorders: psychotherapy and medications.

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, is a practice therapists use to help reduce anxiety symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective form of psychotherapy in which one addresses anxious thoughts, behaviors, and reactions to improve their symptoms. It can help teach coping strategies to manage anxiety on a daily basis.

What are the best medications for anxiety?
Medications for anxiety are taken daily to help balance certain chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. Each type of medication works in a slightly different way and may have different side effects. Examples of common medications include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

What medications do you take for acute anxiety or a panic attack?
Several medications can help control the symptoms of panic attacks including SSRIs and SNRIs. Benzodiazepines are a group of medications that are central nervous system depressants. However, they should be used short-term because they can be habit-forming.

What are the side effects of taking pills for anxiety?
Potential side effects of anti-anxiety medications are sleepiness, dry mouth, insomnia, and a decreased sex drive. More severe side effects include withdrawal symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

What can a pharmacist do to help with anxiety?
Your pharmacist can assist with anxiety disorders by providing information about your medications. Here are some questions you can ask your pharmacist about your anti-anxiety medication:

  • Is this medication safe to take with other medications?
  • Does this medication have any serious side effects or risks?
  • How soon does the medication start working?
  • What should I do if my medication isn’t working?
  • Are there vitamins or supplements that help treat anxiety?
  • Are there certain foods or drinks I should avoid with my medication?

Summary
People who experience anxiety have several options for treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider to identify the treatment that is right for you. Your pharmacist can be a very helpful resource for identifying side effects related to medications you're taking. Pharmacists can also provide you with mental health resources. If you believe you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder, seek additional support from a mental health specialist.

 

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