Are you suffering from an Anxiety Disorder? It may be helpful to become knowledgeable about the treatment options that are available to you. Treatment for Anxiety Disorder mainly involves medication and/or therapy. The most common options are described in detail below.

Medication Options


Benzodiazepines have been successful in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. They are classified as sedatives as they produce a “calming effect” which in turn reduces anxiety.  However, if the medication is discontinued symptoms do reappear and these drugs can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Prescribed Benzodiazepines include:

Rivotril (Clonazepam)

Xanax (Alprazolam)

Ativan (lorazepam)

Side effects include:

  • Sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite


Antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety disorders and are usually the first medications prescribed because they are non-addictive and don’t show any long term affects. Nonetheless, antidepressants do have side effects. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Norepinephrine and Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (NSRIs).

SSRIs include:           

Prozac (Fluoxetine)

Luvox (Fluvoxamine)

Zoloft (Sertraline)

Paxil (Paroxetine)

Celexa (Citalopram)

Cipralex (Escitalopram)

 Side effects include:

  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia/sedation
  • Nightmares
  • Sexual inhibition
  • Gastrointestinal complaints

NSRIs Include:

Effexor (Venlakaxine)

Cymbalta (duloxetine)

Side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatique

Other types of antidepressants that are less commonly used but are also effective are Tricyclic and Tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs is a very effective medication for anxiety but is less often prescribed because this medication requires a diet low in tyramine (protein found in aged/fermented/high yeast foods) or it can cause severe high blood pressure.

TCAs Include:

Tofranil (Imipramine)

Norpramin (desipramine)

Anafranil (Clomipramine)

Side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sedation
  • Tremors
  • Constipation
  • blurred vision
  • heart rhythm abnormalities

 MAOIs Include:

Nordil (Phenelzine)

Parnate (Tranylcypromine)

Side effects include:

  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling
  • Change in blood pressure when moving from a sitting to a standing position

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are unregulated and have not been tested formally for effectiveness so keep this in mind. Herbal remedies that have been believed to reduce anxiety symptoms include; lemon balm, passion flower, German chamomile, hops, skullcap, kava kava and valerian.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Exposure therapy is a technique used in CBT wherein you are gradually exposed to your feared situation or object that triggered your anxiety. Since avoidance tends to heighten anxiety, exposing you to your fears allows you to learn through experience that your fears may be excessive and irrational. The hope is that with continued exposure your anxiety will decrease. This process is usually graduated—exposing you to situations/objects that cause minimal fears and gradually progressing to situations/objects that produce severe anxiety.

Another essential aspect of CBT is helping you to identify and correct your tendency to “catastrophize” danger. In other words, CBT helps you recognize that your beliefs, attitudes and thoughts can create and maintain your anxiety. CBT helps you identify your thought process around your fears, examine whether there is evidence that supports or refutes you fears and helps you develop more adaptive, less-threatening, alternative responses to your feared situation/object.

CBT has been proven to be successful in treating all anxiety disorders and is the first choice of psychotherapy.