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Common Anxiety Medications: What You Should Know

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

Updated on April 22nd, 2023

Save up to 88% on your medications

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, PharmD

Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause intense feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension, which can interfere with daily activities and reduce quality of life. Fortunately, there are several medications available to help manage the symptoms of anxiety. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common anxiety medications and how they work.

  1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) SSRIs are a class of medication commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, appetite, and other functions. SSRIs are considered safe and effective for most people and have few side effects, which include nausea, headache, and sexual dysfunction.

  2. Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines are another class of medication used to treat anxiety. They work by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits the activity of neurons in the brain. This leads to a calming effect, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. Benzodiazepines are fast-acting and effective, but they can be habit-forming and have a risk of dependence. They also cause drowsiness, confusion, and impaired coordination.

  3. Beta-blockers Beta-blockers are a type of medication used to treat physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and tremors. They work by blocking the effects of adrenaline, a hormone that causes these symptoms. Beta-blockers are not effective for treating psychological symptoms of anxiety, such as worry and fear. They are generally safe and well-tolerated, but can cause side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, and stomach upset.

  4. Buspirone Buspirone is a medication that is used to treat generalized anxiety disorder. It works by binding to serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain, which helps to regulate mood and reduce anxiety. Buspirone has few side effects, but it can take several weeks to start working, and it is not as effective as other anxiety medications.

  5. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) Tricyclic antidepressants are an older class of medication used to treat anxiety and depression. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which regulate mood, sleep, and other functions. TCAs are effective for treating anxiety, but they have more side effects than newer medications, including drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation.

Which anxiety medications are most effective?

There are several medications available to help manage the symptoms of anxiety. The choice of medication will depend on the severity of symptoms, the individual's medical history, and other factors. It is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the best medication and dose for you, and to monitor for any potential side effects or interactions with other medications.

Finding the best anxiety medication for you is typically done by trial and error. Your doctor will evaluate your response to a medication and determine whether it is working or if you need a different dose or to try another medication. With the right treatment and support, anxiety can be effectively managed, and individuals can live fulfilling lives.

Are generic anxiety medications as effective as a brand name?

Generics have comparable effectiveness to brand-name medications as the FDA requires the generic manufacturer to prove their products can substitute for brand name and offer the same benefits. Generics are the same as brand-name medications in quality, dosage, and strength. However, they may be different in shape, size, and color.

How much do anxiety medications cost?

The cost of anxiety medications depends on the one you are using and the quantity you need. You can use this RxLess resource to compare the cost of common anxiety medications.

How can I save on my anxiety medications?

There are many ways to save on your prescription, but the good news for those with anxiety is that anxiety medications have generics which are always cheaper. Switching to generic can save you hundreds of dollars but be sure to consult your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you to do so. If you must take brand-name medication, you can still get your medications up to 88% off the retail price when you use an RxLess prescription savings card. RxLess can help you save on your prescription whether you have insurance or not.

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