Anti-Anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines) (2023)

Overview

Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks or extreme fear and worry. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines are a group of medications that can help reduce anxiety and make it easier to sleep. They are also used as a muscle relaxant, to induce sedation for surgery and other medical procedures, and in the treatment of seizures and alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are also called minor tranquillizers, sedatives or hypnotics. They are the most widely prescribed psychoactive drugs in the world.

The calming effects of benzodiazepines can often be achieved without drugs.

Various kinds of exercise, such as walking, running, yoga or tai chi can help, as can reducing the stress in your life and taking time for relaxing activities such as meditation, reading a book or having a warm bath. Talking with a trusted friend, family member or therapist and working out the problems that are troubling you can also help. Whenever possible, these approaches should be tried first, before benzodiazepines. However, when non-drug approaches are not possible or do not help, benzodiazepines can provide relief.

When used appropriately, benzodiazepines are safe and effective drugs. They do, however, have potential for abuse and can be addictive. For this reason, they are usually only recommended for short-term or occasional use.

Do I need this treatment?

A certain amount of anxiety or insomnia is a normal reaction to what is happening in your life. You may worry or feel stressed, and sometimes these feelings can keep you up at night. Most often, these feelings pass and are not a problem. However, these feelings can become a problem when they continue over a longer term, cause severe distress, make you feel physically ill and affect your behaviour. This kind of anxiety may be triggered by a challenging life event. It can also be a symptom of a mental health problem.

The ability to fall asleep and to sleep through the night can be affected by many types of health problems. These include physical conditions that cause pain or trouble breathing, as well as mental health problems. When sleep is disrupted, health can be further affected.

While each situation is unique and different treatment approaches may be called for, benzodiazepines can help to provide relief.

What does Anti-anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines) do?

Benzodiazepines enhance the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA—a chemical in the brain that helps you to feel calm. Their effect also produces drowsiness, making it easier to fall asleep and sleep through the night.

Side effects of Anti-anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines)

The side-effects of benzodiazepines are generally mild and may not be noticed when these drugs are used at low doses.

Common side-effects include:

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  • drowsiness
  • sedation
  • dizziness
  • loss of balance.

At higher doses, side-effects can include:

  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • amnesia
  • breathing difficulties
  • depression.

Other possible effects, which are extremely rare, include agitation, hallucinations and nightmares. Reducing the dose can help to reduce side-effects.

Benzodiazepines can make it harder to learn and remember new information and to do certain physical and mental tasks. These abilities return to normal once the effect of the drug wears off.

When used to help you get to sleep, benzodiazepines can have some “hangover” effects, such as morning and daytime drowsiness.

Types of Anti-anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines)

Many types of benzodiazepines are available in Canada. All benzodiazepines work the same way; however, the intensity and duration of their effects vary.

Benzodiazepines most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders are clonazepam (Rivotril)*, alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan). Also used are bromazepam (Lectopam), oxazepam (Serax), chlordiazepoxide (once marketed as Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene) and diazepam (Valium).

Benzodiazepines used for the treatment of insomnia include lorazepam (Ativan), nitrazepam (Mogadon), oxazepam (Serax), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion) and flurazepam (Dalmane).

Another drug used for insomnia is zopiclone (Imovane). This drug is similar to benzodiazepines and has similar side-effects. Zopiclone may have less abuse potential than some benzodiazepines; however, people can still become addicted to this drug.

Benzodiazepines are available in the form of tablets or capsules, which are taken by mouth. Some are also available as a sublingual tablet, which is dissolved under the tongue, or as a solution for injection.

* Medications are referred to in two ways: by their generic name and by their brand or trade names. Brand names available in Canada appear here in brackets. For example, alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan).

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I take benzodiazepines?

For most people, benzodiazepines are helpful only as a temporary measure, to be used only in the following ways:

  • on occasion, to help you sleep or when anxiety can’t be managed with non-drug approaches
  • daily, for up to a few weeks, to help re-establish sleep patterns or to reduce anxiety while waiting for an antidepressant or other treatment to take effect.

Some people may continue to use benzodiazepines for longer, even months or years. Some do so because they continue to find these drugs helpful and have agreed with their prescribing physician that the benefits of continuing to use them outweigh the risks. There are also those who continue to use benzodiazepines over a longer term because the prescribing doctor has not re-examined their continued use. In this instance, ask another doctor to review your prescription.

Are benzodiazepines addictive?

When used on occasion or daily for a few weeks, benzodiazepines have a low risk of addiction. This risk increases, however, when benzodiazepines are taken regularly for more than a few weeks, especially when they are taken in higher than normal doses. People with a history of substance abuse should avoid or minimize use of benzodiazepines as they are at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Signs of addiction include strong cravings for the effects of the drug, taking more of the drug than intended and continuing to use the drug despite the problems it may cause. Addiction may develop with or without physical dependence.

Physical dependence: When benzodiazepines are taken regularly over a long period of time, the body adapts to the presence of the drug. This is known as physical dependence. Physical dependence, on its own, is not the same as addiction. Signs of physical dependence include tolerance and withdrawal.

Tolerance: People are said to have developed tolerance to a drug when the same dose, taken over time, no longer has the desired effect. With benzodiazepines, it is known that:

  • Tolerance to the sleep-inducing effects may develop within a few weeks of regular use; however, tolerance does not usually develop with occasional use.
  • Tolerance to the anxiety-relieving effects is less likely to develop.
  • Tolerance to the effects of one type of benzodiazepine leads to tolerance to other benzodiazepines, and to other drugs with similar effects, including alcohol.

Some people who develop tolerance may take higher and higher doses to feel the same intensity of effect as when they started taking the drug. These people may find it difficult to stop using benzodiazepines.

Withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines may be similar to the reasons why the drugs were prescribed in the first place. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the type of benzodiazepine used, the amount used and length of time it is used, and on whether the drug is stopped abruptly. Symptoms can include headache, insomnia, anxiety, tension, sweating, difficulty concentrating, tremor, sensory disturbances, fatigue, stomach upset and loss of appetite. Severe withdrawal symptoms from regular use of benzodiazepines in high doses may include agitation, paranoia, delirium and seizures. Withdrawal symptoms generally begin within a few days after treatment is stopped, and they may continue for two to four weeks or longer.

How do I safely use benzodiazepines?

Take only as directed by your doctor; do not increase your dose.

Once you have slept well for two or three nights in a row, try to get to sleep without taking the medication.

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If you have been taking benzodiazepines regularly for a few weeks or more, check with your doctor before reducing or stopping your medication.

How do I cut down or stop taking benzodiazepines?

Most often, benzodiazepines are prescribed to help people get through stressful situations or to provide relief while waiting for other treatment to take effect. When used in this way, on occasion or daily for a few weeks, most people can stop taking them without difficulty or withdrawal effects.

Stopping use can, however, be hard for some people, even when the use is short term. Problems are most likely to occur when:

  • the issues that caused you to take these drugs in the first place have not yet been dealt with
  • no other medication or talk therapy has been started.

People who wish to stop using benzodiazepines after using them regularly over a longer term will need to cut back their use gradually over an extended period of time. This approach reduces withdrawal effects and helps ensure success in stopping. Because the ideal process for cutting down varies depending on the benzodiazepine you are taking, the dose and the length of time you have been taking it, ask your doctor to help you set up a schedule. If the long-term use has been at high doses, stopping use requires medical supervision.

Will benzodiazepines interact with other medications?

These drugs may interact with other medications. If your doctor or dentist prescribes any medication, inform him or her about the drug you are taking. Check with your pharmacist before using any over-the-counter medication, including herbal products, cold or allergy tablets, or cough syrups.

When taken on their own, the risk of overdose with benzodiazepines is low; however, combining these drugs with other sedatives, such as alcohol, or with medications containing codeine or other opioid drugs, can result in overdose and possible death. Symptoms of overdose include slurred speech, confusion, severe drowsiness, weakness and staggering, slow heartbeat, breathing problems and unconsciousness.

What if I drink alcohol or coffee while taking benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines can be dangerous when combined with alcohol. Benzodiazepines increase the effects of alcohol, making you more sleepy, dizzy or lightheaded. One danger of this is the increased risk of stumbling, falling and related injuries. Another is the increased risk of overdose. Both alcohol and benzodiazepines slow down the central nervous system, which controls breathing. In overdose, breathing can stop.

Drinking too many caffeinated beverages (i.e., more than four cups of coffee or six cups of tea daily) may counteract the anxiety-reducing effects of benzodiazepines.

What if I use street drugs while taking benzodiazepines?

If you are taking benzodiazepines to help reduce the distress of a mental health problem, chances are that you want to feel less anxious and get a good night’s sleep. Street drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, have effects that can worsen symptoms of anxiety and interfere with sleep—making you feel worse, rather than better.

Taking benzodiazepines to enhance the effect of other sedative drugs, such as opioids, is dangerous and increases the risk of overdose and injury.

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Will benzodiazepines affect my ability to drive safely?

Benzodiazepines can affect your ability to drive a vehicle and increase the risk of a crash, especially if taken in combination with alcohol or other sedative drugs. The risk is highest when you first start taking benzodiazepines, before you are used to their effect. Avoid driving or operating other machinery if you feel drowsy or slowed down.

Will benzodiazepines affect my sex drive and function?

There is no clear evidence that benzodiazepines have any effect on sex drive or function.

Is it safe to take benzodiazepines while pregnant or breastfeeding?

The risk of birth defects from taking benzodiazepines while pregnant is not known, though it is thought to be very small. If benzodiazepines are used regularly close to the delivery date, the baby may be born drowsy or may have withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness and feeding problems.

Small quantities of benzodiazepines can be passed through breast milk from the mother to the baby. This may cause drowsiness in the baby.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of continuing or stopping benzodiazepines. If your doctor recommends that you stop taking benzodiazepines, he or she will help you to slowly reduce your dose over time, to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Can children and teens use benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are not recommended for use by children and teens, except to bring sedation prior to surgery or for brief medical procedures. Extra caution should be used when considering giving benzodiazepines to children as these drugs may cause children to become irritable rather than calm.

Can older adults use benzodiazepines?

Sensitivity to the effects of benzodiazepines increases with age. When older adults take these drugs, they may become confused and have reduced muscle co-ordination, putting them at greater risk of falls, hip fractures and motor vehicle crashes.

If an older person has been taking benzodiazepines regularly for a very long time, the process required to stop taking them may be long and difficult. In some cases, a doctor may decide to leave the older person on the medication, with regular assessment of daytime side-effects.

Copyright © 2009, 2012 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Related Programs & Services

  • Treatment at CAMH: Access CAMH
  • Help for families from CAMH
  • ConnexOntario

Additional Resources

  • For more information on medications, contact your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
  • Anxiety Disorders: An Information Guide (PDF)
  • A free tutorial on anxiety disorders is available on the Mental Health 101page.

FAQs

What is the best benzodiazepine for severe anxiety? ›

Clonazepam, the most potent benzodiazepine, is used to treat seizures and anxiety disorders. Xanax can be considered the most potent benzodiazepine to treat anxiety. Alprazolam is one of the strongest short-acting benzodiazepines and is often prescribed by doctors because its half-life is shorter than 26 hours.

How effective is benzodiazepines for anxiety? ›

Yes, and they usually work very well. In general, they are good for treatment of many types of anxiety problems over short (but not long) periods of time. Benzos are very helpful for treating panic attacks, at least for the first 1 to 2 months.

What is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine for anxiety? ›

Benzodiazepines most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders are clonazepam (Rivotril)*, alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan). Also used are bromazepam (Lectopam), oxazepam (Serax), chlordiazepoxide (once marketed as Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene) and diazepam (Valium).

Which drugs treat anxiety disorders most successfully? ›

SSRIs and SNRIs are often the first-line treatment for anxiety. Common SSRI brands are Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft, and common SNRI brands are Pristiq, Cymbalta, and Effexor XR. Pros: They are effective for a lot of people and they have a solid safety profile.

Can you take benzodiazepines for life? ›

Long-term use can be harmful.

Used for a few days, a week, or maybe a few months, benzos can be valuable, even lifesaving. But when used long-term, benzos can have adverse side effects, including impaired cognitive abilities, memory problems, and mood swings.

Why do doctors not prescribe benzodiazepines? ›

Clearly, benzodiazepines are harmful to some patients, they have side effects, can be difficult to stop because of withdrawal symptoms, and they carry the risk of addiction.

Do benzodiazepines help anxiety long term? ›

Although benzodiazepines are very effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety, they can't be used for long periods. This is because they can become addictive if used for longer than 4 weeks. Benzodiazepines also start to lose their effectiveness after this time.

Can benzodiazepines be used long term for anxiety? ›

Anxiety disorders. have strongly cautioned against the long-term use of benzodiazepines for anxiety disorders, commenting that these drugs only act acutely, lead to relapse after discontinuation, and are associated with dependency.

Can you take benzodiazepines long term? ›

As mentioned before, benzodiazepines are not meant to be used for long periods of time. By using benzodiazepines for an extended time, there is an increased risk of the development of certain health conditions.

What are the long term effects of taking benzodiazepines? ›

Benzodiazepines increase the risk of addiction, withdrawal, cognitive decline, motor vehicle crashes, and hip fracture. The risk of overdose is particularly great when combined with sedative drugs such as opioids or alcohol.

What are the top 5 medications for anxiety? ›

The most prominent of anti-anxiety drugs for the purpose of immediate relief are those known as benzodiazepines; among them are alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

What is the latest treatment for anxiety? ›

MM-120. The FDA has approved a phase 2b study of an optimized form of LSD for the treatment of anxiety. The drug, called MM-120, is being developed by MindMed and is intended to treat generalized anxiety disorders and other mental conditions. MindMed is expected to begin clinical trials in 2022.

How can I cure anxiety permanently? ›

10 natural remedies for anxiety
  1. Stay active. ...
  2. Steer clear of alcohol. ...
  3. Consider quitting smoking cigarettes. ...
  4. Limit caffeine intake. ...
  5. Prioritize getting a good night's rest. ...
  6. Meditate and practice mindfulness. ...
  7. Eat a balanced diet. ...
  8. Practice deep breathing.
15 Dec 2021

What helps severe anxiety? ›

Here's what you can do:
  1. Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you're physically active most days of the week. ...
  2. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  3. Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  4. Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  5. Make sleep a priority. ...
  6. Eat healthy.

Does your brain go back to normal after benzodiazepines? ›

When benzodiazepine users cease long-term benzodiazepine therapy, their cognitive function improves in the first six months, although deficits may be permanent or take longer than six months to return to baseline.

What is the most addictive benzodiazepine? ›

All benzodiazepines have a great risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction, but Klonopin is among the most addictive.

What is the least addictive benzodiazepine? ›

Although clonazepam is perceived as “safe,” addiction medicine specialists have found that it is also frequently abused as a street drug. On the other hand, oxazepam (Serax), clorazepate (Tranxene) and chlordiazepoxide appear to have lower reinforcing effects than other benzodiazepines.

When will a psychiatrist prescribe benzodiazepines? ›

Benzodiazepines should only be prescribed in the lowest effective dose for the short-term relief (maximum of 2–4 weeks) of severe anxiety or panic disorder, usually in an acute crisis situation. Benzodiazepines are never appropriate for the treatment of short-term mild anxiety.

Do psychiatrists still prescribe Xanax? ›

Although the need for a Xanax prescription can only be determined by licensed mental health professionals; it is commonly prescribed to treat the following complications of anxiety; Repeated anxiety episodes. Panic disorder. Panic attacks.

How long should benzos be prescribed? ›

You should only be prescribed benzodiazepines for the shortest amount of time possible. Taking benzodiazepines regularly for a few weeks or more can lead to addiction. Doctors recommend that you only take them for 2-4 weeks. Intermittent use may help to avoid addiction.

How I healed my anxiety without drugs? ›

Anxiety Treatment Without Medication: 7 Holistic Ways to Cope
  1. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. ...
  2. Avoid Stimulants. ...
  3. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  4. Just Breathe. ...
  5. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Do What You Enjoy. ...
  8. Where to Get Help.
6 Dec 2017

Is anxiety a mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

How do you replace benzodiazepines? ›

Some non-addictive alternatives to benzodiazepines for anxiety available by prescription include:
  1. SSRIs (antidepressants)
  2. SNRIs (antidepressants)
  3. Beta-Blockers (blood pressure medications)
  4. Buspirone (anti-anxiety)
  5. Hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril, a prescription antihistamine).
27 May 2021

Why are benzodiazepines most widely used today? ›

Because they have a lower tendency to cause a potentially fatal CNS depression compared to earlier drugs such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines are widely used in medicine for the treatment of anxiety (anxiolytics) and insomnia (sedative/hypnotics), as well as other psychological conditions such as panic attacks and ...

Does benzodiazepines cause memory loss? ›

Benzodiazepines, shown to affect memory, can produce anterograde amnesia (i.e., a loss of memory for events occurring forward in time). Following the ingestion of a benzodiazepine, short-term memory is not affected, but long-term memory is impaired.

How do benzos affect the brain? ›

Benzodiazepines function to increase the levels of gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which works as a kind of naturally occurring tranquilizer, calming down nerve firings related to stress and the stress reaction.

Do benzos affect your heart? ›

Benzodiazepines like Xanax affect your heart by slowing down the heart rate and blood pressure. When GABA levels increase in the brain, communication between nerves is reduced, which impacts functions like breathing and heart rate. Thus, heart failure and permanent heart damage are common risks of Xanax abuse.

Do benzos make anxiety worse? ›

If they have been maintained on a stable dosage regimen for a prolonged period, benzodiazepines may be doing nothing for their anxiety or actually increasing it. Further, benzos can be the cause of the anxiety being experienced.

What happens when benzodiazepines are abruptly stopped? ›

If you experience withdrawal problems from benzodiazepines, you may have some of the following symptoms: abdominal cramps. agoraphobia (fear of situations which feel difficult to escape) anxiety, including physical symptoms such as muscle tension, tight chest, fast heartbeat, sweating, trembling or shaking.

Can benzodiazepines cause dementia? ›

This meta-analysis pooled ten studies and found that BDZ significantly increases the risk of dementia in the elderly population. This effect was greater in patients using BDZ with a longer half-life (>20 hours half-life) and taking BDZ for a longer duration (>3 years).

Do benzodiazepines cause blood clots? ›

Injecting benzodiazepines can be dangerous as the pills do not dissolve well and can block blood vessels if injected causing scarring and bruising, and may lead to blood clots or the loss of a limb. There is also the risk of infections and blood borne virus transmission such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

Are benzodiazepine side effects reversible? ›

Many of these short-term and long-term adverse effects are unpleasant rather than severe, and most are reversible.

What is the least addictive anxiety medication? ›

Buspirone – This is a non-narcotic and non-addictive medication that works similarly to an SSRI, though it only affects one subtype of serotonin receptor within the brain, ultimately leading to fewer side effects. This is an ideal medication for those who are struggling with mild to moderate anxiety.

What is high functioning anxiety? ›

Instead, high-functioning anxiety typically refers to someone who experiences anxiety while still managing daily life quite well. Generally, a person with high-functioning anxiety may appear put together and well- accomplished on the outside, yet experience worry, stress or have obsessive thoughts on the inside.

What anti anxiety medication is not addictive? ›

Fortunately, some effective anxiety medications have no addictive potential because they don't create euphoria.
...
Non-Addictive Anxiety Medications
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro®)
  • Citalopram (Celexa®)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil®)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft®)
15 May 2022

Is anxiety a disability? ›

Is Anxiety Considered a Disability? Anxiety disorders, such as OCD, panic disorders, phobias or PTSD are considered a disability and can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Those with anxiety can qualify for disability if they are able to prove their anxiety makes it impossible to work.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

How do I know if I need anxiety medication? ›

If you feel edgy almost every day, it's a good idea to seek help. Talk therapy will sometimes do the trick. However, if you often feel like you're standing at the edge of a cliff—heart racing, palms sweating, feeling like you might faint—you could be having panic attacks.

What is a good vitamin for anxiety? ›

B-complex, vitamin E, vitamin C, GABA, and 5-HTP are 5 vitamins commonly used to help with anxiety and stress.

What deficiencies cause anxiety? ›

Key Nutrient Deficiencies That May Contribute To Anxiety
  • Magnesium. Magnesium supports you in bringing more calm into your life, by nurturing your brain's ability to release stress hormones. ...
  • Vitamin D. ...
  • B6. ...
  • Iron. ...
  • Omega 3 fish oil. ...
  • Zinc. ...
  • Antioxidants. ...
  • Selenium.

Why can't they cure anxiety? ›

Scientific studies have helped healthcare providers sort out which ones work best for most people. The reason that anxiety can't be cured is that a person's tendency towards anxiety is part of their genetic makeup — something no treatment can change. That's why we say anxiety can't be completely cured.

What is the first drug of choice for anxiety? ›

SSRIs and SNRIs are often the first-line treatment for anxiety. Common SSRI brands are Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft, and common SNRI brands are Pristiq, Cymbalta, and Effexor XR.

Does anxiety worsen with age? ›

Anxiety disorders don't necessarily get worse with age, but the number of people suffering from anxiety changes across the lifespan. Anxiety becomes more common with older age and is most common among middle-aged adults.

What is the best natural anxiety medication? ›

What are the best natural remedies for anxiety?
  • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) This may not look familiar to you, but you have lots of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) floating around in your body. ...
  • Magnesium. ...
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) ...
  • Kava kava. ...
  • Valerian root. ...
  • Holy basil. ...
  • Ashwagandha. ...
  • Prescription medications.
20 Oct 2022

When does anxiety become too much? ›

If your anxiety, or the anxiety of a loved one, starts to cause problems in everyday life—such as at school, at work, or with friends and family—it's time to seek professional help. Talk to a health care provider about your mental health.

What does extreme anxiety feel like? ›

Feeling nervous, restless or tense. Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom. Having an increased heart rate. Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)

What is crippling anxiety? ›

While not a formal diagnosis, crippling anxiety is another way to describe severe anxiety or feeling overwhelmed by an anxiety disorder. Examples of different anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

What are the top 5 medications for anxiety? ›

The most prominent of anti-anxiety drugs for the purpose of immediate relief are those known as benzodiazepines; among them are alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

What can I take instead of diazepam for anxiety? ›

  • Alprazolam.
  • Lorazepam.
  • Buspirone.
  • Ativan.
  • Hydroxyzine.
  • Lexapro.

What is the fastest acting benzodiazepine? ›

The two quickest acting benzodiazepines are Valium and Tranxene, the brand names for the medications diazepam and clorazepate. These medications begin working within the first 30 minutes to an hour of oral ingestion.

Is lorazepam stronger than diazepam? ›

Abstract. Diazepam and lorazepam differ in potency and in the time-course of their action. As a sedative, diazepam 10 mg is equivalent to lorazepam 2-2.5 mg. Diazepam is better absorbed after oral than after i.m. administrations but this does not apply to lorazepam.

What is the safest anxiety med? ›

But anxiety medicines can cause two distinct types of side effects: Physical.
...
As of this writing, some of the anxiety medications with the fewest reported side effects and least risk of side effects include:
  • Most Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Citalopram (Celexa - SSRI)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil - SSRI)

What is the least addictive anxiety medication? ›

Buspirone – This is a non-narcotic and non-addictive medication that works similarly to an SSRI, though it only affects one subtype of serotonin receptor within the brain, ultimately leading to fewer side effects. This is an ideal medication for those who are struggling with mild to moderate anxiety.

Is anxiety a mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

Why do doctors not prescribe diazepam? ›

They have short term bad effects on memory, co-ordination, concentration and reaction times, and are addictive if used for a long time, with withdrawal leading to fits, hallucinations, agitation and confusion. They have also become widely used drugs of abuse since they first came on the market.

What is a natural Benzo? ›

Naturally occurring benzodiazepines (BZDs) were first detected in mammalian tissues in 1986. They comprise a variety of 1,4-benzodiazepines corresponding to drugs commercially available for the treatment of anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances and epileptic seizures.

What is considered long term benzo use? ›

By using benzodiazepines for an extended time, there is an increased risk of the development of certain health conditions. The amount of time considered “long-term” in regard to benzodiazepine abuse is around three to six months.

What is the most addictive benzodiazepine? ›

All benzodiazepines have a great risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction, but Klonopin is among the most addictive.

What is the least addictive benzodiazepine? ›

Although clonazepam is perceived as “safe,” addiction medicine specialists have found that it is also frequently abused as a street drug. On the other hand, oxazepam (Serax), clorazepate (Tranxene) and chlordiazepoxide appear to have lower reinforcing effects than other benzodiazepines.

How long does it take for benzodiazepines to start working? ›

Benzodiazepines (like Xanax) are taken for anxiety and panic attacks as needed. They work rapidly (30-60 minutes) and wear off after several hours. Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming and should not be taken daily. Some antihistamines can be taken for anxiety and panic in the short term, as needed, and work rapidly.

What's the best benzodiazepine for sleep? ›

Benzodiazepines that have been approved by the FDA for treating chronic insomnia include estazolam, flurazepam (Dalmane), temazepam (Restoril), quazepam (Doral), and triazolam (Halcion). Rapidly acting drugs with shorter half-lives (i.e., estazolam, triazolam, and temazepam) are preferred.

What's better for anxiety lorazepam or diazepam? ›

Randomized, controlled clinical trials have largely shown that lorazepam and diazepam are comparable in effectiveness for treating anxiety. One double-blind clinical trial comparing lorazepam and diazepam in 134 anxious patients over four weeks found that both drugs were more effective than placebo.

What is better than Ativan for anxiety? ›

Xanax is a better option when fast-acting anxiety relief is needed, while Ativan (lorazepam) is best suited for people who need several hours of sedation. However, neither drug should be used for long-term treatment.

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