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The Side Effects and Dangers of Anxiety Medication

Side effects of anti anxiety medications
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.

Anxiety medications help calm the nervous system or improve the activity of certain neurotransmitters, and as a result, can reduce the symptoms of anxiety. However, while they provide relief, they may also cause side effects or interact with other medicines. Understanding the possible consequences is essential, and sometimes, it may take time to choose a suitable anti-anxiety medicine.

From this post, you will learn more about the different types of anti-anxiety medications, their potential side effects, and how to reduce or avoid them. If you are aware of risk factors and possible effects, you can better inform your healthcare provider about the specifics of your health history and ask important questions.

Consult a healthcare provider today to discuss the right prescription and path toward a more balanced life.

Types of Anxiety Medications

A wide range of medication options is available for those seeking relief from ongoing anxiety. Each type of anti-anxiety medication can help to reestablish balance and tranquility but functions differently. Here is a quick summary of some commonly prescribed categories:

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): SSRIs are frequently recommended for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) due to their efficacy in elevating serotonin levels to elevate mood. Sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Lexapro) are a few examples.
  • SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors): SNRIs increase both norepinephrine and serotonin, providing dual relief. Examples include venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
  • TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants): These are older antidepressants [1*] influencing serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Examples are amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline.
  • Benzodiazepines: Can be prescribed for anxiety relief [2*] , these medications enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which reduces the activity of the nervous system. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).
  • Beta-blockers: These medicines aid in managing physical anxiety [3*] symptoms like rapid heart rate. Examples include propranolol (Inderal), atenolol, and metoprolol.
  • Buspirone (BuSpar): It is a non-benzodiazepine [4*] option that interacts with serotonin receptors.
  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors): These are older antidepressants [5*] that raise neurotransmitter levels, used less due to dietary restrictions. The most commonly prescribed medication from this category is phenelzine (Nardil).

Common Side Effects of Anxiety Medications

While taking an anxiety medication may help you feel more relaxed, it may also bring some unwanted side effects. The following are some typical adverse effects linked to anxiety tablets:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue.
  • Nausea or upset stomach.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Weight changes (either gain or loss).
  • Sexual side effects like impact on sexual desire, performance, or satisfaction.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Irritability or mood swings.
  • Headache.
  • Difficulty sleeping.

Reach out for help today and embark on your journey towards a calmer, brighter tomorrow.

Dangerous Side Effects of Anxiety Medications

Many people tolerate anxiety medications well or experience only mild side effects. However, the possibility of dangerous effects does exist as well, and being vigilant and informed about these risks is essential.

  • Suicidal thoughts: Some people may have a rise in suicidal thoughts, [6*] especially at the beginning of treatment. In younger people, this downside of anxiety pills is more prevalent.
  • Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions to drugs might include everything from skin rashes to respiratory problems. If you experience swelling, hives, or breathing difficulties, get assistance.
  • Serotonin syndrome: This potentially fatal disorder is brought on by having too much serotonin in your body. Symptoms include agitation, high fever, rapid heartbeat, and muscle rigidity.
  • Extreme dizziness or fainting: If you experience extreme dizziness or fainting, it may be an indication of a serious drop in blood pressure that has to be treated right away.
  • Irregular heartbeat: Some drugs might make your heart pulse irregularly, causing palpitations, chest pain, or fainting.
  • Seizures: Particularly in people with a history of epilepsy, some anti-anxiety medications may lower the seizure threshold, which may lead to seizures.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising: Some drugs may prevent blood from clotting properly, which can lead to unusual bleeding or excessive bruising.
  • Liver or kidney problems: Rarely, but anti-anxiety drugs can have an adverse effect on the liver or kidneys [7*] , causing symptoms including dark urine, abdominal pain, or skin discoloration.
  • Severe agitation or aggression: Even though it’s rare, some people may display extremely agitated, hostile, or aggressive behavior.
  • Unexplained muscle pain: Severe muscle pain or weakness may indicate an uncommon but serious disorder that causes major muscle breakdown.

Always be open with your healthcare professional and get help right away if you experience any strange or severe negative effects of anxiety medication. The path to controlling anxiety must prioritize your safety and well-being.

Long-Term Side Effects of Anti-anxiety Medications

Long-term implications of anxiety medication can vary depending on the specific medication and individual response. When considering long-term use, balancing the benefits of anxiety treatment with potential risks is crucial. Here are a few ways in which side effects of anti-anxiety medications can impact people in the long term:

  • Physical health: Some anti-anxiety medications may cause physical side effects that might have an influence on long-term health. For example, some medicines may cause weight gain, which may raise the risk of conditions associated with obesity including diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, over time, some medications may impact liver function, cholesterol levels, or blood pressure.
  • Psychological effects: While anxiety medications aim to reduce symptoms, prolonged use may negatively affect mental health. Some people may be concerned about becoming dependent on pharmacological treatment, which could start a cycle of worry over the process itself.
  • Cognitive function: In some people, long-term use of anxiety medications, particularly benzodiazepines, has been linked [8*] to cognitive impairment. Concentration problems, disorientation, and memory issues have all been noted. Remember that these effects might differ significantly from person to person and may not be experienced by everyone.
  • Dependence and withdrawal: If taken for a lengthy period of time, anxiety medications, particularly benzodiazepines and some antidepressants, can cause physical and psychological dependence. Stopping them abruptly might cause withdrawal symptoms such as increased anxiety, sleeplessness, and, in extreme situations, seizures.
  • Tolerance: Some people could become tolerant of the effects of anxiety medicines after frequent use. This implies that the same dose may lose its potency with time, necessitating greater doses to provide the intended results. This can raise the chance of adverse consequences and dependence.

How to Reduce or Avoid Side Effects: Using Anti-anxiety Medication Safely

The specific directions for using anxiety medication can vary depending on the type of medication prescribed and your individual circumstances. However, some common directions include the following:

  • Take the medication exactly as directed by your doctor. This includes the precise amount (milligrams) and frequency (such as once or twice daily).
  • Some medications are more effective when taken at a certain time of day. Follow your doctor’s instructions on when to take the medication, whether with or without food.
  • Aim to take the medication at the same time each day to maintain a consistent level in your system.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can have unfavorable interactions with some anti-anxiety medications. As directed by your doctor, stay away from anything that could reduce the effectiveness of your treatment or cause unfavorable side effects.
  • Take the medication as prescribed by your doctor for the entire advised time. Anxiety symptoms may reappear or withdrawal symptoms may occur if you stop it suddenly.
  • Be mindful of any side effects and talk to your doctor about any worries. Not everyone experiences side effects, and if you do, your healthcare provider can advise you on how to handle them.
  • Attend routine follow-up sessions with your healthcare provider to evaluate the medication’s efficacy and discuss any issues.

Anxiety treatment is most effective when personalized to your individual needs. Click here for a personalized treatment plan.

Self-help Techniques for Anxiety Management

A multimodal strategy can be useful for anxiety treatment. One strategy is supplementing medications with psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Talk therapy enables you to recognize and reframe harmful thought patterns that fuel worry. A few self-help techniques may be beneficial too:

  • Deep breathing exercises and other mindfulness techniques can help build a state of calm. By systematically focusing on the present and doing grounding techniques, you can eventually lessen physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Regular physical activity, such as yoga [9*] or aerobics, has been demonstrated to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
  • A nutritious, well-balanced diet, especially one high in omega-3 fatty acids [10*] , can help improve mental and emotional health.
  • Developing sound sleep habits is essential because sleep deprivation [11*] can make anxiety worse.
  • You can lessen stress by using relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualization, or aromatherapy.
  • Building a strong support system including your loved ones and close friends or visiting support groups can provide you with a sense of community and emotional validation.

While these methods can be helpful, it’s essential to speak with a mental health expert to receive a holistic plan that works for your particular needs and circumstances. A healthcare provider can assist you in putting these ideas into practice and track your progress over time.

To Conclude

Despite the fact that people with anxiety disorders might find relief when taking anti-anxiety medications, it’s important to be aware of potential adverse effects. Even while not everyone experiences negative consequences, it’s important to be alert and knowledgeable and strike a balance between the advantages and potential disadvantages of medicine. Reach out to MEDvidi if it becomes difficult for you to control the symptoms of anxiety and you need professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Anti-anxiety medications can have a variety of effects, depending on the medicine type and individual specifics. Generally, anti-anxiety medicines help reduce excessive worry, restlessness, and panic attacks. These medications might lessen the intensity of anxious thoughts, promote calm and relaxation, and make it simple to handle daily activities.

Only a healthcare provider can determine the necessity for anxiety medication. During the appointment, they will evaluate your symptoms and health history, go over the potential advantages and disadvantages of different interventions, and choose the best course of action.

Anti-anxiety medications can have a wide range of long-term effects depending on the medication, dosage, and patient reaction. Some people might see their symptoms lessen and their quality of life improve with fewer side effects. However, prolonged use of some anxiety medications may result in dependence, tolerance, or other negative effects.

Your mood may improve in several weeks as a result of taking anxiety medications. However, these adjustments are intended to aid you in regaining your sense of emotional balance and normal functionality. Medication is not intended to substantially change personality or identity.

The choice to take an anxiety medication is a personal one that should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Anxiety medication has the potential to considerably enhance well-being and daily functioning. It’s important to weigh the potential benefits and risks beforehand and trust your healthcare provider with their professional recommendations.


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  4. Buspirone. (2023)
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  5. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors. (2023)
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  6. Suicide and Antidepressants: What Current Evidence Indicates. (2012)
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  7. Psychotropic drugs and liver disease: A critical review of pharmacokinetics and liver toxicity. (2017)
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  9. Yoga in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders: A review. (2009)
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  10. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms. (2018)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

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This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.