Types of anxiety medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), benzodiazepines, beta-blockers, and more.

People with persistent anxiety may benefit from anxiety medications to help manage symptoms. A doctor can help decide on the most suitable option.

This article discusses the main types of anxiety medication and lists their risks and side effects.

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Several types of medication can treat the symptoms of anxiety. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes there are of drugs for anxiety disorders.

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Although SSRIs are a type of antidepressant, doctors can prescribe them to people with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

According to a 2022 article, doctors consider SSRIs to be the first-line drug treatment for general anxiety disorder.

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:

These medications typically begin to take effect within 2–6 weeks, but they may not work for everyone. People usually take SSRIs for 6–12 months to treat anxiety and then gradually reduce the dosage.

These drugs are not habit-forming, meaning that they do not usually lead to dependence.

People should consult a doctor or physician before they start reducing or stopping their medication.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs are another class of antidepressants that can treat depression and anxiety. Doctors may also prescribe them to treat some chronic pain conditions.

The ADAA notes that medical professionals also consider SNRIs to be the first-line treatment for anxiety. However, they are not as effective in treating OCD.

These medications work by reducing the brain’s reabsorption of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine.

Examples of SNRIs for anxiety are:

As with SSRIs, SNRIs can take several weeks to have an effect.

Learn more about SNRIs.

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

TCAs are an older class of antidepressant. Although they may be effective for the treatment of depression and anxiety, doctors often prescribe SSRIs instead as they cause fewer adverse side effects.

However, TCAs may be useful for some people, especially if other medications do not provide relief.

These medications work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. This increases the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain.

Examples of TCAs for anxiety include:

Learn more about TCAs.