Benzodiazepine Alternatives for Anxiety

Our last three articles took a look at the fast-acting anti-anxiety medications, benzodiazepines. Though these medications can be very helpful in the short term, or for use during an acute episode. However, when it comes to long-term treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, the risk of addiction and dependency that comes along with this class of medications can be a problem. 

Due to benzodiazepines being a controlled substance due to their potential for addiction and abuse, they are not a good option for someone that has any past or current issues with addiction. We also touched on the fact that these medications come with a toxicity risk and side effects that can be dangerous and when abused and abruptly stopped- even deadly.  

Fortunately, there are many other medications available to help treat panic and anxiety disorders that do not come with a risk of addiction and dependency.

Alternatives to benzodiazepines may include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, buspirone, antihypertensive agents, and the newer neuroleptic medications.

These medications include:

  • SSRIs (antidepressants)
    • Sertraline ( Zoloft )
    • Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR)
    • Citalopram (Celexa) ;
    • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
    • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
    • Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Luvox CR) 
  • SNRIs (antidepressants)
    • Effexor (venlafaxine)
    • Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)
    • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Beta-Blockers (blood pressure medications used to treat anxiety)
    • Propranolol (Inderal)
    • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Buspirone (anti-anxiety)
  • Hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril, a prescription antihistamine used to treat anxiety).

Over the next few weeks, we will dive deeper into each one of these types of medications and their effect on anxiety and panic disorders. We will take a look at how they work, what they do, and any adverse effects or side effects that can be associated with them.

Keep in mind that there is no single medication that works for everyone, as we are all different in how we metabolize the medicine as well as the efficacy of the medicine and the dosage. So when it comes to trying any of these medications, it’s important to be patient and work with your doctor to find the best medication for you.



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