Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, and benzodiazepines are the most common medications for anxiety and depression. It depends on the person’s symptoms, overall health, and treatment goals.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5 Trusted Source adults worldwide experience depression. In the United States, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults annually.

This article will cover medications a doctor can prescribe to treat depression and anxiety. This article will explore alternative treatment options for anxiety and depression and diagnostic procedures.

What is anxiety and depression?

Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions. They often co-occur, with around 45% of people worldwide with lifetime major depressive disorder experiencing one or more anxiety disorders.


Fear and anxiety are closely linked. It is characterized by a mood and behaviour oriented towards the future. The person will prepare for an event or situation they perceive as threatening.

It can interfere with your daily life. Different types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and fear.

The following are some of the ways to reduce your risk:

Depression is a form of mood disorder. It can cause symptoms like:

  • Persistent sadness
  • hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • concentrating, having difficulty sleeping.
  • Suicide thoughts

Depression can also interfere with daily activities.

Learn about the common symptoms and signs of depression.

Best medication for anxiety and depression

For people with anxiety or depression, doctors may prescribe medication and other treatments such as therapy.

The best treatment depends on the person’s symptoms, co-occurring disorders, and severity. Some medications treat both conditions, while others are better suited for treating anxiety or depression.

Antidepressant medication may help to improve depression symptoms. 70 to 80%TrustedSource of those with depression can experience significant improvement in their symptoms.

The medication for anxiety may not cure the condition, but it can help with symptoms such as extreme fear and panic attacks.

Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors

SSRIs are a group of drugs that doctors recommend as the first-line trusted Source of treatment for depression and anxietyTrusted Source.

SSRIsTrustedSource increases the level of Serotonin within the brain. Serotonin plays a vital role in the bodyTrusted Source. This includes regulating moods and behaviours.

Researchers (Trusted Source) believe that decreased serotonin levels may lead to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. SSRIs can help treat these conditions by increasing Serotonin.

It may take up to 6 weeksTrusted sources for SSRIs to positively affect a patient.

Includes trusted Source Examples of SSRIs prescribed by doctors in the U.S.

  • fluoxetine
  • sertraline
  • paroxetine
  • fluvoxamine
  • citalopram
  • escitalopram
  • vilazodone

Side effects

Side Effects of SSRIs include trusted Source

  • You can also find out more about
  • Restlessness
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • weight gain
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea
  • sweating
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Anorgasmia or difficulty orgasming

SSRIs can also increase the risk () of suicidal thoughts in people under 25.

some SSRIs, such as citalopram, can cause abnormal heartbeats.


SSRIs are taken orally. SSRIs are available in tablets, capsules and liquid suspensions.

Starting doses vary from drug to drug. Starting DoseTrusted Source For Citalopram, for example, is 20 milligrams per day, while it’s 5-10 mg for Escitalopram.

The doctor will adjust the dose based on how severe a patient’s anxiety is and their response to treatment.

Stopping medications

Some people may want to stop taking SSRIs for various reasons, such as side effects. Doctors will often recommend lowering the dosage gradually over months or weeks.

When discontinuing SSRIs, a person can experience withdrawal symptoms, such as low mood or irritability.

Learn more about the withdrawal symptoms of antidepressants.

Serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors

Serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another class of drugs doctors consider first-line trusted Source treatment for anxiety and depression.

SNRIsTrustedSource blocks serotonin reuptake and another chemical known as noradrenaline or norepinephrine. This increases the levels of chemicals in the brain.

They can also have a positive effect on emotions and mood. It may take up to 8 weeksTrustedSource for SNRIs to show a significant impact.

Examples of SNRIs include trusted Source

  • venlafaxine
  • desvenlafaxine
  • duloxetine
  • milnacipran
  • levomilnacipran

Side effects

Trusted Source includes common side effects of SNRIs.

  • nausea
  • insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased blood pressure
  • sexual dysfunction
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches

This medication is associated with a higher risk of falling and reduced bone mineral density. This can lead to fractures in the elderly.


The starting dose of SNRIs can also differ depending on the drug. Is the starting doseTrustedSource of milnacipran, which is 12.5mg per day. Venlafaxine’s starting dose is between 37.5 and 75mg per day.

Find out more about SSRIs & SNRIs.


Benzodiazepines are a type of antianxiety drug that can helpTrustedSource reduce anxiety symptoms.

These drugs work by increasingTrustedSource the activities of Gamma-aminobutyric Acid, an acid in the brain which has a suppressive effectTrustedSource on nerves and movements.

Research shows that benzodiazepines have a calming effect within 30-60 Minutes. These drugs can help relieve anxiety symptoms like panic attacks and insomnia.

Examples of benzodiazepines are:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • lorazepam

Side effects

A person may develop a tolerance to benzodiazepines. They need a higher dosage to achieve the same effects. Due to this, the person can become dependent. Doctors typically prescribe benzodiazepines only for short-term usage.

Learn more about drug dependence.

, such as may occur in a person who uses benzodiazepines.

  • Drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Loss of Balance

Find out more about withdrawal from benzodiazepines.


There is an increased risk that benzodiazepine users cannot remember or learn new information or perform specific cognitive and physical tasks. These side effects usually subside once the drug has cleared the body.

Trusted Source includes other risks associated with long-term benzodiazepine usage.

  • dementia or dementia-like illnesses
  • Motor function impairment
  • aggressive behaviour
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Addiction

Tricyclic antidepressants

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs), a trusted source, are medications doctors prescribe to treat depression. Some prescribe them to treat anxiety.

TCAs increase serotonin levels by blocking their reuptake.

TCA Examples include trusted Source

  • amitriptyline
  • imipramine
  • Nortriptyline

Side effects

TCAs include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • urinary retention
  • constipation
  • seizures
  • low blood pressure

Doctors do not prescribe TCAs to treat anxiety because they can have significant side effects.

Find out more about TCAs.


If you suffer from anxiety, your doctor may prescribe beta blockers.

The beta-blockers belong to a group of drugs that doctors use most often (Trusted Source) to treat conditions of the heart. They block the effects of adrenaline and other hormones in the fight-or-flight response.

As well, as Trusted Source can help improve anxiety symptoms.

  • a fast heart rate
  • a trembling voice
  • dizziness
  • Sweating
  • shaking hands

Propranolol and atenolol can be prescribed by a doctor to treat anxiety.

Side effects

This may have adverse effects include the Trusted Source

  • Dry mouth
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • dizziness

  • CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) focuses on identifying and changing unproductive behaviours in treating anxiety and depression. It can help individuals learn how to respond more effectively to certain situations.

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