Anti anxiety medications are often prescribed by physicians in order to help patients who are dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. While those who experience milder forms of this mental condition may not need medication, individuals experiencing from moderate to high anxiety often need anti-anxiety medications in order to help them function normally. Anti-anxiety medications are available in a number of varieties. The most commonly prescribed forms include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and buspirone.
In addition to being used for depression, antidepressants are widely used as anti-anxiety medications. One class of antidepressant medication is Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which block the brain's reabsorption of serotonin. SSRIs such as Fluvoxamine, Sertraline, Fluoxetine, and Paroxetine have been approved to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other anxiety symptoms. Paroxetine is also effectively used in treating Social Anxiety Disorder.
Anti-anxiety medications in the benzodiazepines family have a tranquilizer affect on the brain and tend to work rather quickly. Common side effects include loss of coordination and drowsiness along with confusion and fatigue. As a result, patients taking benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. Additionally, when anxiety meds in this category are combined with alcohol consumption, the results can lead to serious injury or even death. The dosage of benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications needs to be monitored closely by a physician in order to ensure patients do not develop a dependence on these drugs.
Buspirone is in the azaspirodecanediones family of anti-anxiety medications. The advantages to buspirone anti-anxiety medications are that they are non-sedating and non-addictive. Buspirone is used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorders and as a supplement to SSRI treatment for depression.
However, anti-anxiety medications in the buspirone family must be used regularly for two weeks in order to see maximum effect. During these two weeks, patients are often co-treated with a benzodiazepine. Buspirone is also considered less effective than benzodiazepines so is not the treatment of choice for panic attacks.
Beta Blockers are typically used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions, but they can also be effective against stage fright. While such use has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this “off-label” anti-anxiety medication can be used to control performance anxiety as one prepares for an important meeting, presentation, or speech.
Herbs have been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat depression and anxiety. Herbs such as St. John's Wort have been found in modern clinical trials to be as or more effective than commonly prescribed medications with fewer side effects. Just because something is natural does not mean it is risk free - St. John's Wort can make other medications metabolize too quickly, so do check with your doctor.