Anxiety is a type of mental health condition that makes you respond to certain things and situations with fear and dread. You may also experience physical signs of anxiety, such as a pounding heart and sweating.
It’s normal to have some anxiety. You may feel anxious or nervous if you have to tackle a problem at work, go to an interview, take a test, or make an important decision. And anxiety can even be beneficial. For example, anxiety helps us notice dangerous situations and focuses our attention, so we stay safe.
But an anxiety disorder goes beyond the regular nervousness and slight fear you may feel from time to time. An anxiety disorder happens when:
• Anxiety interferes with your ability to function.
• You often overreact when something triggers your emotions.
• You can’t control your responses to situations.
Anxiety disorders can make it difficult to get through the day. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for anxiety disorders.
What are Anti Anxiety Drugs?
Anti-anxiety drugs are medications used in the management of anxiety disorders. Several types of medication can treat the symptoms of anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the four major classes of drugs for anxiety disorders are as follows:
Benzodiazepines: These are the most common immediate relief anti-anxiety drugs. Benzodiazepines are sedatives that can help relax your muscles and calm your mind. They work by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that relay messages between your brain cells. Benzodiazepines help treat many kinds of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Examples of these drugs include:
• chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
• clonazepam (Klonopin)
• diazepam (Valium)
• lorazepam (Ativan)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drugs that are typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and other psychological conditions. 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 for anxiety include:
• citalopram (Celexa)
• escitalopram (Lexapro)
• fluoxetine (Prozac)
• fluvoxamine (Luvox)
• paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
• sertraline (Zoloft)
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors: Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a class of medications that are effective in treating depression. SNRIs are also sometimes used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety disorders and long-term (chronic) pain, especially nerve pain. These medications work by reducing the brain’s reabsorption of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine.
Examples of SNRIs for anxiety are:
• venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
Tricyclic antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants, also known now as cyclic antidepressants or TCAs, were introduced in the late 1950s. They were one of the first antidepressants, and they’re still considered effective for treating depression. These drugs are a good choice for some people whose depression is resistant to other drugs. Although cyclic antidepressants can be effective, some people find their side effects difficult to tolerate. That’s why these drugs are not often used as a first treatment.
Cyclic antidepressants ease depression by affecting chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to communicate between brain cells. Like most antidepressants, cyclic antidepressants work by ultimately effecting changes in brain chemistry and communication in brain nerve cell circuitry known to regulate mood, to help relieve depression. Examples include:
- Amitriptyline (Elavil). Amitriptyline is a type of tricyclic antidepressant originally developed to treat anxiety and depression, but when taken at a low dose they can reduce or stop pain. Amitriptyline works by increasing the amount of serotonin your brain makes.
- Desipramine (Norpramin). This drug has norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake-inhibition properties. One of the oldest agents available for the treatment of depression and has established efficacy in the treatment of panic disorder. Elderly and adolescent patients may need lower dosing or slower titration.
- Imipramine (Tofranil). This tricyclic antidepressant has norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake-inhibition properties. One of the oldest agents available for the treatment of depression and has established efficacy in the treatment of panic disorder. Elderly and adolescent patients may need lower dosing or slower titration.
- Doxepin (Sinequan). Increases concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine in the CNS by inhibiting their reuptake by presynaptic neuronal membrane. These effects are associated with a decrease in symptoms of depression.
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor). Has demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of chronic pain. By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and/or norepinephrine by the presynaptic neuronal membrane, this drug increases the synaptic concentration of these neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Pharmacodynamic effects such as the desensitization of adenyl cyclase and down-regulation of beta-adrenergic receptors and serotonin receptors also appear to play a role in its mechanisms of action.
- Protriptyline (Vivactil). Increases synaptic concentration of serotonin and/or norepinephrine in CNS by inhibiting their reuptake by the presynaptic neuronal membrane.
- Trimipramine (Surmontil). Inhibits reuptake of norepinephrine or serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) at presynaptic neuron. Elicits strong anticholinergic effects.