Anxiolytics are a type of prescription medication used to
treat symptoms of acute anxiety.
These medications tend to work rather quickly. However, they
can be habit-forming and are usually prescribed for short-term use. Anxiolytics
are not recommended for people with a history of substance abuse.
See your doctor if you think you have an anxiety disorder.
He or she will check for underlying medical conditions that may be causing your
If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, your doctor
will discuss treatment options with you. Specific medications will be chosen
based on your symptoms and overall health.
Side effects from anxiolytic medication may include
drowsiness and dizziness. Be sure to follow dosage and usage instructions
carefully. Overdose can cause coma or death. Withdrawal symptoms may occur if
medication is stopped abruptly.
Your doctor may also refer you to a psychiatrist or other
Anxiolytics are also called anti-anxiety medications.
Purpose of Anxiolytics
Extreme worry or fear that lasts more than six months is
called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Social phobia is one type of anxiety disorder. This is when
someone is overly anxious in social situations. Social phobia can even cause
physical symptoms like profuse sweating and nausea.
Over time, this type of disorder can be paralyzing and lead
to social isolation.
Anxiolytics are used to treat symptoms of a variety of
anxiety disorders. They work by targeting key neurotransmitters in the brain and
decreasing abnormal excitability.
These medications are often combined with psychotherapy or
cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Together, they can help improve quality of
life for people with anxiety disorders.
Some anxiolytics come in liquid or dissolvable tablet form.
Most of the time, they are dispensed in pill form. A prescription from a doctor
or psychiatrist is required.
Some of the more frequently prescribed anxiolytics are
benzodiazepines. These include:
- alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- diazepam (Valium)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
Risks and Side Effects
These medications may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Other
side effects include lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, and problems
with memory. Long-term use can make side effects worse.
These drugs can be
habit-forming. People who take them for an extended period can develop a
tolerance. This requires dosage increases to achieve the same effectiveness. Tell
your doctor if you have a history of substance abuse.
Check with your
doctor before you stop taking these drugs. If you stop taking anti-anxiety
medications suddenly, you may develop withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.
Your doctor can help you taper off slowly and safely.
Anxiety may return when medication is discontinued.
Do not take more than
prescribed. Overdose can result in coma or death.
medications may interact with other medications. Be sure to tell your
doctor about all of your over-the-counter and prescription medication use. Ask
your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects. Request information
about drug interactions and foods or dietary supplements which must be avoided.
Do not share your
prescription medications. High doses of benzodiazepines can result in a
feeling of euphoria. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), abuse of these
drugs (one of the many street names: downers) is sometimes associated with teens
and young adults. Heroin and cocaine addicts are also known to abuse these