Anxiety Drugs and Their Side Effects

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Medication is often used as a treatment for anxiety.  For some people, though, the use of anxiety drugs brings unwanted side effects.  The following explains some of the more commonly used anxiety drugs and the side effects that may result from them.  If you are taking any of the medications listed below and suffers from serious side effects you should speak with your doctor about getting your treatment changed.


Azaspirones is sold most often under the brand name BuSpar.  It is used mostly as an anxiety treatment only.  It should not be used by pregnant or nursing women.  It can not be used in patients with hepatic or renal impairment or by patients taking an MAO inhibitor.

There are no serious known side effects listed for azapirones.


Benzodiazepines are used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social phobia, which are all anxiety disorders.

Common side effects of benzodiazepines are episodes of violent or aggressive behavior, depression, personality changes, hallucinations, fatigue and impairment of memory and cognitive function.

There is a possibility of dependency with benxodiazepines.  Stopping this medication can cause withdrawal symptoms.  Long term use may cause other side effects such as phobias, development of other anxiety disorders, depression and tinnitus.  Long term use may also cause amnesia.


Beta-blockers are used as a treatment for a range of medical problems and disorders.  Beta-blockers are used to treat hypertension, angina, IHSS, arrhythmias, migraines, management of cognitive heart failure, essential tremor, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, panic disorder and to ease withdraw symptoms from alcohol. Beta-blockers should not be used by women who are breastfeeding unless under the care of a doctor.

Patients who have congestive heart failure, bradycardia, cardiogenic shock, pulmonary edema, sever hyperactive airway disease, Raynaud’s disease, peripheral  vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, asthma and hypotension should use beta-blocker with care.

Beta-blockers can cause bradycardia, depression, decreased sexual ability, congestive heart failure, reduced peripheral circulation, confusion, hallucinations, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, skin rash, diarrhea, nausea, weakness in muscles and wheezing.

An overdose of beat-blockers can cause heart problems, breathing difficulties, convulsions, coma and death.


Ticyclics are used mostly to treat anxiety disorders.  People who have heart problems or drink alcohol regularly should not take this medication.

The common side effects include increased anxiety, problems concentrating, fever, increased perspiration, problems sleeping, trembling, blurred vision, constipation, dilation of pupils, dry eyes, heart palpitations, sensitivity to light, urinary problems, sexual problems and weight gain.


MAOs are used to treat anxiety disorders.  People on MAOs require strict diets and must monitor other drugs due to severe complications that can occur from drug interactions.

Common side effects include dry mouth, lightheadedness, dizziness, low blood pressure, headache, sleep problems, weakness, twitching, blurred vision, weight gain, decreased urination, decreased sex drive and increased appetite.


SRIs are basically used to treat anxiety disorders, mainly OCD.  There are no generic forms of SRIs.  They can not be taken with alcohol.

Common side effects are nausea, sexual dysfunction, headaches, excessive sweating, stomach trouble, diarrhea, problems sleeping and tremors.

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