What Are the Top 10 Medications for Anxiety?

Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022

Top 10 medications to treat anxiety

anxiety medications
Here are the top 10 medications for anxiety, which aim to treat the associated symptoms rather than cure the disorder.

The top 10 medications for anxiety are summarized below:

  1. Benzodiazepines (also called tranquilizers)
    • How they work: The exact mechanism of action of benzodiazepines is not well understood. These drugs mainly act by increasing the levels of a chemical substance in the brain and spinal cord (neurotransmitter) called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. Raised GABA levels have a calming effect on nerve cells that relieve anxiety symptoms.
    • Examples: Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam)
    • Side effects: Confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, sleep disturbances, feeling disoriented, memory impairment, irritability, and aggression
  2. Beta-blockers (also called beta-adrenergic blockers)
  3. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) (also called selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SSNRIs)
  4. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  5. Tricyclic antidepressants
  6. Azospirodecanediones
    • How they work: The exact mechanism of action is not known, but it is thought to modulate serotonin levels in the brain. 
    • Examples: Buspar or Vanspar (buspirone)
    • Side effects: Headache, drowsiness, dizziness, disturbed sleep, nausea, nervousness, excitement, and allergic reactions in some people (seen as hives, rashes, swelling over the face, and difficulty breathing)
  7. Antipsychotic medications
  8. Antihistamines
    • How they work: They have a calming effect by blocking certain types of receptors in the brain. 
    • Examples: Atarax or Vistaril (hydroxyzine) and Sominex (diphenhydramine)
    • Side effects: Drowsiness, confusion, dry nose/mouth/throat, increased heart rate, nervousness, blurred vision, low blood pressure, appetite loss, and menstrual disturbances
  9. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
    • How they work: These drugs block the action of certain chemicals (enzymes) called monoamine oxidases (MAO) in the brain. MAO breaks down neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. By blocking MAO, levels of these neurotransmitters are increased in the brain, which relieves certain anxiety symptoms.
    • Examples: Marplan (isocarboxazid), Nardil (phenelzine), and Parnate (tranylcypromine)
    • Side effects: Dizziness, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, nausea, weight gain, muscle pain, fluid retention, pins and needles sensation, and sexual dysfunction
  10. Alpha-blockers (also called alpha-adrenergic antagonists)

How do medications treat anxiety?

Several medications are available for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Although medications do not cure anxiety, they help relieve the associated symptoms, such as increased heartbeat, restlessness, nervousness, fear, and uneasiness. Treatment mainly depends upon the type of anxiety and the severity of symptoms.

Besides medications, psychotherapy, and counseling also play a great role in managing anxiety.

What are the further complications of anxiety medication?

Anxiety medications may interact with certain medications that you may be taking. Hence, it is important to discuss with your doctor if you are taking any medications or have any underlying health conditions such as diabetes, kidney or liver diseases, and high blood pressure.

Although most side effects of these medications are mentioned above, you must report to your doctor if you notice any other adverse complications besides these. Never start or stop your anxiety medications or change their dosages without consulting your doctor.

Do not take any other drugs or supplements while on anxiety medications without consulting your doctor.


Panic attacks are repeated attacks of fear that can last for several minutes. See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images




https://adaa.org/find-help/treatment-help/medication-options - :~:text=Benzodiazepines%20%28alprazolam%2C%20clonazepam%2C%20diazepam,other%20physical%20symptoms%20of%20anxietyms%20of%20anxiety