What medication is available for anxiety?
As part of your treatment, your doctor might offer to prescribe you some medication. There are four types of medication which can be helpful in managing anxiety: antidepressants, beta blockers, transquillisers (benzodiazepines), and pregabalin (an anticonvulsant drug).
Your doctor should also explain to you what the medication is for, and discuss any possible side effects.
Antidepressants might help you feel calmer and more able to benefit from another treatment such as a talking treatment. However, antidepressants can sometimes cause unwanted side effects, such as increasing your anxiety or causing problems with sleeping.
Beta-blockers, such as propranolol, can treat some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, including a rapid heartbeat, palpitations and a tremor (shaking). However, they are not psychiatric medication, so they won’t reduce any of your psychological symptoms. (See our web pages about Medication for more information.)
Beta-blockers could be helpful in situations where you have to face a particular phobia, such as going on an aeroplane (see page on phobias for more information on beta-blockers and the treatments available).
Your doctor might prescribe you tranquillisers (benzodiazepines) if your anxiety is very severe or disabling. Tranquillisers can’t tackle the cause of your problems, but they can bring some relief until you have another form of treatment in place.
Tranquillisers should only be a temporary measure, because it’s possible that you could become addicted to these drugs and have difficulty coming off them.
Pregabalin (an anticonvulsant drug)
In some cases, such as if you have a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), your doctor may decide to prescribe you a drug called pregabalin (Lyrica). This drug is an anticonvulsant medication which is normally used to treat epilepsy, but is also licensed to treat anxiety.