Anxiety Disorders

Medications

Anxiety disorders are treatable, and most disorders can be treated with medication or psychotherapy. For some people, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be the best treatment approach. Treatment choices depend on the type of disorder, the person’s preference, and the expertise of the doctor.

(Watch the video to learn more about treatments for anxiety disorders. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Who Can Prescribe Medication

Medication typically must be prescribed by a doctor. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in mental disorders. Many psychiatrists offer psychotherapy themselves or work as a team with psychologists, social workers, or counselors who provide psychotherapy.

Types of Medications

The main medications used for anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers. Medication does not necessarily cure anxiety disorders, but it often reduces the symptoms. Be aware that some medications are effective only if they are taken regularly and that symptoms may recur if the medication is stopped.

(Please note that any information on this website regarding medications for anxiety disorders is provided for educational purposes only and may be outdated. Information about medications changes frequently.)

Choosing Medications

Choosing the right medication, medication dose, and treatment plan should be based on a person's individual needs and medical situation, and done under an expert’s care. Only an expert clinician can help you decide whether the medicine’s ability to help is worth the risk of a side effect. Your doctor may try several medicines before finding the right one.

You and your doctor should discuss the following.

  • How well medicines are working or might work to improve your symptoms.
  • Benefits and side effects of each medicine.
  • Risk for a serious side effects based on your medical history.
  • How likely the medicines will require lifestyle changes.
  • Costs of each medicine.
  • Other alternative therapies, medicines, vitamins, and supplements you are taking and how these may affect your treatment.
  • How the medication should be stopped. Some drugs can’t be stopped abruptly but must be tapered off slowly under a doctor’s supervision.

Get More Information

For more information on medications, see Mental Health Medications from the National Institute of Mental Health.

For the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications, visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.

Learn more about treatments for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Learn more about treatments for panic disorder.

Learn more about treatments for social phobia.

Health Insurance Coverage

Most insurance plans, including health maintenance organizations (HMOs), will cover treatment for anxiety disorders. Check with your insurance company and find out. If you don’t have insurance, the Health and Human Services division of your county government may offer mental health care at a public mental health center that charges people according to how much they are able to pay. If you are on public assistance, you may be able to get care through your state Medicaid plan.

To learn about more mental health resources, see Help for Mental Illness, from the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH.