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    Anxiety & Depression Medication List

    Anxiety medication and drugs for depression


    SSRIs | SNRIs | NRIs | SARIs | NaSSAs | NaSSAs | NDRIs | TCAs / TeCAs

    Sedatives, Anxiolytics, & Hypnotics:

    Benzodiazepines | Nonbenzodiazepines | Barbiturates | Herbal Sedatives


    Anticonvulsants | Azapirones | Beta Blockers | MAOIs | Lithium


    Can I benefit from medication?  

    Psychiatric medications (psychoactive drugs) can assist in relieving many symptoms of anxiety or depression, but they do not necessarily correct the underlying problem. It is recommended to continue other forms of therapy such as psychotherapy, counseling, self-help books or videos, and complimentary alternative medicine.


    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors / serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs):

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely regarded as the first choice in the pharmacological treatment of chronic depression. They may also be prescribed to treat anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, and other stress-related issues. When treating anxiety, these antidepressants are usually started at low doses. These drugs are also known to have fewer side effects than other psychiatric medications. SSRIs work by blocking the absorption of serotonin at the synapse, thus making more serotonin available in the brain.


    Commonly used SSRIs for depression:

    Escitalopram (Brand name: Lexapro)
    Fluvoxamine maleate (Brand name: Luvox)
    Paroxetine mesylate (Brand name: Pexeva)
    Paroxetine / Paroxetine mesylate (Brand names: Paxil, Pexeva)
    Desvenlafaxine (Brand name: Pristiq)
    Fluoxetine (Brand names: Prozac, Rapiflux, Sarafem, Selfemra)


    Commonly used SSRIs also used for anxiety:

    Citalopram (Brand name: Celexa)
    Fluoxetine (Brand names: Prozac, Rapiflux, Sarafem, Selfemra)
    Fluvoxamine maleate (Brand name: Luvox)
    Paroxetine / Paroxetine mesylate (Brand names: Paxil, Pexeva)
    Sertraline (Brand name: Zoloft)




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    Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors(SNRIs):

    Like SSRIs, SNRIs are among those most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications. They are used to treat depression symptoms, and are also used "off label" for anxiety. SNRIs work by blocking the absorption of serotonin and norepinephrine, and also affect other neurotransmitters, allowing the brain to have more access to them.


    Commonly used Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors:

    Venlafaxine (Brand name: Effexor / Efexor)

    Desvenlafaxine (Brand name: Pristiq)
    Duloxetine (Brand name: Cymbalta)
    Venlafaxine (Brand name: Effexor)




    Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs, NERIs):

    Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs, NERIs) or adrenergic reuptake inhibitors (ARIs) are antidepressants used in the treatment of depression. They are also used for conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy because of their stimulant effects. In addition, ARIs are used to speed up weight loss in obese adults. NRIs work by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline), keeping them available to the brain.



    Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs)

    Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs) are used as anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications), hypnotics (sleep agents), and antidepressants. They work by not only inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and/or dopamine, but also by antagonizing serotonin receptors.


    Commonly used SARIs:

    Nefazodone (Brand names: Serzone, Nefadar)
    Trazodone (Brand names: Desyrel, Oleptro)

    Mepiprazole (Psigodal)

    Lorpiprazole (Normarex)

    Etoperidone (Axiomin, Etonin)





    Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs):

    Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs) are a unique new class of antidepressants. They work to increase the amount of norepinephrine and serotonin by blocking specific receptors, but with fewer side-effects than other antidepressants. Research shows their effectiveness in the treatment of patients with moderate to severe major depression. There is not yet much research on the effectiveness of NaSSAs for anxiety. It is noted that NaSSAs work by blocking certain receptors, allowing the enhancement and release of norepinephrine and serotonin.


    Prescribed NaSSA:

    Mirtazapine (Brand name: Remeron)





    Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs):

    Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs) are a newer class of antidepressants used to treat certain types of depression by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine, keeping them available to the brain. As a result, mood is enhanced and depression decreases. The only FDA-approved NDRI is Wellbutirin (Buproprion).


    Commonly used NDRIs:

    Bupropion (Brand names: Wellbutrin, Zyban, Voxra, Budeprion, Aplenzin)




    Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and Tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs):

    Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are sometimes used to treat depression. These medications were commonly prescribed before Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were introduced. Tricyclics are named after the molecular structure, which contains three rings of atoms.TCAs work by inhibiting the reuptake of the serotonin and noradrenaline, thus raising the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. Tetracyclics are closely related to the tricyclic antidepressants.


    Commonly prescribed TCAs:

    Amitriptyline (Elavil)
    Protriptyline (Vivactil)
    Desipramine (Norpramin)
    Nortriptyline (Aventyl or Pamelor)
    Trimipramine (Surmontil)
    Perphenazine (Triavil)

    Commonly prescribed TeCAs:

    Amoxapine (Asendin)
    Maprotiline (Deprilept, Ludiomil, Psymion)
    Mazindol (Mazanor, Sanorex)
    Mianserin (Bolvidon, Norval, Tolvon)
    Mirtazapine (Remeron, Avanza, Zispin)
    Setiptiline (Tecipul)




    • Sedatives / Anxiolytics/ Hypnotics (Soporifics) / Tranquilizers


    Sedative-hypnotic drugs are central nervous system 'depressants.'  They are called depressants because they depress (or slow down) certain activities of brain and spinal cord.  The term “sedative” and the term “hypnotic” tend to overlap.  These terms are used to describe specific effects.  A sedative will tend to produce a relaxing or calming effect.  A hypnotic can induce sleep (soporific), treat insomnia, and can be used as surgical anesthesia. Sedating medications tend to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.  Another term used to describe these medications is ‘tranquilizer’ because of the anxiolytic and anti-psychotic effects.  Some of these medications have all the characteristics of sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics. 



    1. Benzodiazepines
    2. Nonbenzodiazepine "Z-drugs" sedatives
    3. Barbiturates

    4. Herbal Sedatives






    Benzodiazepines are by far the most frequently prescribed sedative-hypnotics.  At a moderately low dosage, they are used to treat anxiety.  At a higher dosage, they have a hypnotic effect.  Aside from being used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, they are also used as muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants. Benzodiazepines work quicker than antidepressants but in most circumstances, they are only prescribed for 2-4 weeks and no more because of tolerance and abuse.  “Benzos” are highly abused and are classified as schedule IV controlled substance.


    Commonly used benzodiazepines:

    Alprazolam (Brand name: Xanax)
    Chlordiazepoxide (Brand names: Librium)
    Clonazepam (Brand name: Klonopin)
    Diazepam (Brand names: Valium)
    Estazolam (Brand name: Prosom)
    Flunitrazepam (Brand name: Rohypnol)
    Lorazepam (Brand name: Ativan)
    Midazolam (Brand name: Versed)
    Nitrazepam (Brand name: Mogadon)
    Oxazepam (Brand name: Serax)
    Triazolam (Brand name: Halcion)
    Temazepam (Brand names: Restoril, Normison, Planum, Tenox, and Temaze)





    Nonbenzodiazepines (benzodiazepine-like drugs)

    Nonbenzodiazepines are benzodiazepine-like drugs with different chemical structures than benzodiazepines, but having similar effects.


    Commonly used Nonbenzodiazepines ("Z-drugs"):

    Eszopiclone (Brand name: Lunesta)
    Zaleplon (Brand name: Sonata)
    Zolpidem (Brand name: Ambien)
    Zopiclone (Brand names: Imovane, Zimovane)


    Other Nonbenzodiazepines:


    Chloral Hydrate
    Alcohol (though no longer used medically, it is very popular among the public as a legal intoxicant)
    Opiates and Opioids





    Barbiturates (AKA Barbiturates)

    Barbiturates are in the same classification as benzodiazepines. Barbiturates are short acting sedative-hypnotics (good for calming and inducing sleep) that are used to reduce anxiety levels and help insomnia. They are also used to treat epilepsy, migraines, and to induce anesthesia during surgery. Similar to alcohol, barbiturates work by depressing the central nervous system, affecting GABA neurotransmitters, enhancing GABA's effects.


    There are four types of barbiturates:

    1. Ultra-short acting barbiturates
    2. Short-acting barbiturates
    3. Intermediate-acting barbiturates
    4. Long-acting barbiturates.


    Commonly used barbiturates:

    Amobarbital (Brand name: Amytal)
    Pentobarbital (Brand name: Nembutal)
    Phenobarbital (Brand name: Solfoton)
    Secobarbital (Brand name: Seconal Sodium)





    Herbal Sedatives

    Herbal sedatives are a potential alternative to medication. They can act an effective, gentle way to induce relaxation or sleep without the unwanted side-effects. However, too much of anything can cause side-effects. Like pharmaceutical medication, herbal sedatives are meant for short-term relief. Like any drug or supplement, ask your medical doctor before taking an herbal supplement. Herbal sedatives may potentiate the depressant effects of certain medications.


    Commonly used herbal sedatives:

    Duboisia hopwoodii
    Prostanthera striatiflora
    Kava (Piper methysticum)
    Cannabis (used medically in certain states, cities, and countries)
    Passiflora (passion flowers or passion)







    Although primarily used in the treatment of epilepsy, anticonvulsants have also been used in the treatment of depression, more specifically as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder. Researchers are currently studying the benefits of anticonvulsants as a treatment alternative for people with certain anxiety disorders. As of 2007, the drug Pregabalin (Brand name: Lyrica) had been found effective for generalized anxiety disorder. More clinical trials are needed to determine the effectiveness of anticonvulsants on anxiety. An anticonvulsant that has not been approved for use in anxiety or depression, but has been shown in certain studies to be effective will be considered an "off-label" use. Anticonvulsants work by reducing abnormal activity of specific nerves in the brain. Anticonvulsant medications work in various ways. There are 4 major categories of action: sodium channel inhibition, calcium channel inhibition, inhibition of excitatory amines, and GABA agonism (1).


    Commonly used anticonvulsants:

    Carbamazepine Carbamazepine (Brand names: Carbatrol, Epitol, Equetro, Tegretol)
    Divalproex sodium (Brand names: Depakote, Alti-Vaproic)
    Felbamate (Brand name: Felbatol)
    Gabapentin (Brand names: Fanatrex, Gabarone, Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)
    Lamotrigine (Brand name: Lamictal)
    Oxcarbazepine (Brand name: Trileptal)
    Topiramate (Brand names: Topamax, Topiragen)
    Tiagabine (Brand name: Gabitril)





    Azapirones (AZPs) are a group of drugs that are used as anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) and antipsychotics (anti-psychosis medications). They can be used on their own, or along with another drug (such as an antidepressant). Azapirones have been marketed for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. In 1996, the azapirone medication, buspirone, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.
    Azapirones work on serotonin receptors called 5-HT(1A) and act similar to benzodiazepines because they reduce anxiety symptoms relatively fast. Unlike Benzodiazepines, they have a very low potential for abuse, are not addictive, and do not induce tolerance. This may be particularly useful for anxiety sufferers with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Azapirones can take up to several weeks to become fully effective and are not recommended for people with severe anxiety or panic.

    Commonly used azapirones:

    Buspirone (Brand names: Buspar, Vanspar)
    Currently, buspirone is the only azapirone medication indicated for the treatment of anxiety.






    Beta-blockers are generally used to treat heart conditions and high blood pressure, but are sometimes prescribed for the physical symptoms of anxiety. Beta-blockers affect beta-receptors and help block the peripheral effects of norepinephrine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and other stress hormones, thus affecting the fight-or-flight response. Although beta-blockers are not approved for the treatment of anxiety, they have been prescribed to calm some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, as in the short-term treatment of social anxiety or performance anxiety. Beta-blockers have also shown some success in the treatment of PTSD. Beta blockers are non-habit forming but should not be taken if there are other medical conditions present (such as asthma, heart problems, angina, diabetes, and other conditions).


    Commonly used beta-blockers:

    Propranolol (Brand names: Inderal, Inderal LA, InnoPran XL, Avlocardyl, Deralin, Dociton, Sumial, Anaprilinum, Bedranol SR)
    Atenolol (Brand names: Senormin, Tenormin, Tenoretic)
    Nadolol (Brand names: Corgard, Anabet, Solgol, Corzide, Alti-Nadolol, Apo-Nadol, Novo-Nadolol)





    Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs):

    Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are among the oldest class of antidepressants used to treat anxiety and depression. They are believed to block the activity of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase, preventing the breakdown of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (adrenaline). This leads to greater levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. Due to the many dietary restrictions and dangerous drug-interactions, MAOIs are rarely prescribed for anxiety or depression. MAOIs are, however, prescribed for cases in which other treatments have been ineffective.


    Commonly prescribed MAOIs:

    Isocarboxazid (Brand name: Marplan)
    Phenelzine (Brand name: Nardil)
    Selegiline (Brand name: Emsam)
    Tranylcypromine (Brand name: Parnate)

    RIMA antidepressants (Reversible Inhibitor of Monoamine oxidase-A):

    Because of the dangerous interactions of MAOIs with food and other substances, a newer type of MAOI called moclobemide was developed. Moclobemide is a reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase type A (RIMA). It is considered to be a safer alternative than older MAOIs because it has fewer interactions and requires fewer dietary restrictions. It has not yet been approved for use in the United States.





    Lithium is a natural occurring substance that has been used as a mood-stabilizer, primarily in the treatment of bipolar disorder, where it has the ability to stabilize mood and prevent mania. Other uses include using lithium for a mild antidepressant effect. Additionally, lithium is used to potentiate the effects of other antidepressants in patients who have only partially responded. It's not clear how exactly lithium affects the nervous system, but it has been thought to restore balances of neurotransmitters or enzymes in the central nervous system. Lithium may regulate epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, and may also affect receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate.

    Common brand names for Lithium:







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    Warning: Never discontinue use of a medication until consulting with a medical doctor. If you miss a dose, ask your pharmacist when you should take it.  Most Anxiety and depression medications potentiate the effect of alcohol. They may cause drowsiness, mental slowing, and impair driving. Many prescribed medications interact with other ones, and cause complications. At worst, drug interactions can be fatal. Therefore, consult your physician and let them know which medications or non-prescribed drugs you are currently using.  Withdrawal from antidepressants, sleeping pills, or anxiety medications can cause many symptoms (such as brain "zaps"). Tell your doctor all your symptoms.


    Page Disclaimer

    The anti anxiety, depression, and antidepressant medication information on this site has not been evaluated nor has it been written by a physician or medical doctor. Information About Medication, Herbs, Botanicals and Other Products — is for general information only. The information on this site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this site should not rely on information provided for their health problems. Any questions about your own health should be addressed to your physician or other health-care provider.


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