Antianxiety drugs are used to reduce and control the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Antianxiety drugs, sometimes known as anxiolytics or minor tranquillizers, are used to treat anxiety disorders, in which feelings of foreboding and fear may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as palpitations and tremor. The underlying cause of the anxiety may also need to be treated at the same time, possibly using one or more psychological therapies. Some drugs are used specifically to relieve the physical symptoms of anxiety. For example, they may be prescribed to calm a person who is anxious before an operation.
|Benzodiazepines: Chlordiazepoxide, Diazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam||Beta-blocker drugs: Oxprenolol, Propranolol|
|Antidepressant drugs:||): Other antianxiety drugs, Buspirone|
What are the types of antianxiety drugs?
Several types of drug are used in the treatment of anxiety. Benzodiazepines are the drugs most commonly prescribed for the short-term treatment of psychological symptoms of anxiety.
Where physical symptoms, such as muscle tremor, are the main problem, beta-blocker drugs may be used instead. Buspirone is sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety because it is less sedating than benzodiazepines. Some antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, may also be used to treat anxiety, as well as post-traumatic stress, phobias, and certain other psychological problems.
These drugs may be used for the treatment of severe anxiety. They reduce agitation and make you feel relaxed. However, doctors only prescribe short courses of benzodiazepines to avoid causing dependence.
Benzodiazepines slow mental activity by reducing the signals between brain cells. They are also used as sleeping drugs because they often cause drowsiness. You should not drink alcohol while taking the drugs because it increases the sedative effect. These drugs can also cause confusion, dizziness, lethargy, and poor coordination. They should not be taken for more than 1-2 weeks. If taken for longer, stopping the treatment may cause withdrawal symptoms such as excessive anxiety and insomnia.
Physical symptoms that can occur together with anxiety may be reduced with beta-blockers. These drugs should only be used occasionally and are not suitable for long-term treatment.
The drugs block the actions of two hormones, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), that produce the physical symptoms of anxiety. Beta-blockers reduce heart rate, may prevent palpitations, and can also help to reduce muscle tremor. If you take a beta-blocker, you may find that your sleep is disturbed and that your hands and feet feel cold. People who have respiratory disorders such as asthma should not take these drugs, because they may exacerbate breathing difficulties.
Other antianxiety drugs
The most common of the other drugs used to reduce anxiety is buspirone, which is less addictive than the benzodiazepines and has a less sedative effect. Buspirone can take up to 2 weeks to become fully effective and is therefore not used when immediate relief from stress or anxiety is needed. The drug may cause side effects, such as nervousness, headache, and dizziness. It may also affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.
Benzodiazepine drugs often cause drowsiness and may affect your ability to drive vehicles or operate machinery.
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