Anxiety and Prescription Medicines in the U.S.

Anxiety and Prescription Medicines

What Is Anxiety?

Feeling nervous, worried, or afraid is common, but usually short-term. However, the feelings may last longer and get worse over time. Anxiety is also likely to create problems with relationships, work or school, or almost any activity.

What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety?

Our assessment has questions about anxiety symptoms including:

  • Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge

  • Not being able to stop or control worrying

  • Worrying too much about different things

  • Trouble relaxing

  • Being so restless it is hard to sit still

  • Becoming easily annoyed or irritable

  • Feeling afraid, as if something awful might happen

These symptoms have occurred at least several days over the past two weeks. And, they may make it difficult for you to do your work, take care of things at home, or get along with people.


If your symptoms are very severe or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, you should get help right away. 


U.S.988 or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders, meaning an actual diagnosis of anxiety, are quite common. For example, a national study of adults in the U.S. estimated close to 20% had an anxiety disorder in the previous year. The study determined that anxiety disorders were more common in women than men. And, over 30% of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes.

What Is The Treatment For Anxiety?

The treatment for anxiety is based on the individual, their specific diagnosis, and their symptoms. Treatment may include a combination of therapy, relaxation and stress reduction, prescription medicines, physical activity, lifestyle changes, and complementary treatments (e.g. nutritional supplements, mindfulness meditation, yoga, etc).

For most people, treatment consists of a combination of therapies. For example, you may establish a regular exercise routine, start seeing a therapist, begin taking anti-anxiety medicine, and try daily meditation.

What If I Need Prescription Medicines?

Depending on your symptoms, you may benefit from prescription medicines. At this time, Goodpath does not provide prescription medications but you can still participate in the rest of your Goodpath program.

Primary care doctors can prescribe these medications or they can refer you to a mental health doctor (psychiatrist) for anti-anxiety medicine. Before prescribing medicine, the doctor will explain the effects, the side effects, the costs, as well as your preferences.

You can still participate in the rest of your Goodpath mental health program.

Which Prescriptions Are Used To Treat Anxiety?

There are several types (classes) of medicines to treat anxiety. The way they are prescribed varies. It depends on many factors, such as the type of anxiety, a person’s medical history and symptoms, an individual’s response to the medicine, and possible side effects. When prescribing medicine for anxiety:

  • Combinations of medicines may be used.

  • Medicines may be added or changed.

  • Doses may be gradually increased.

  • They may be prescribed short- or long-term.

Prescription Medicines

Different groups (classes) of medicines may be used to treat anxiety. Note: Some antidepressant medicines are effective in the long-term treatment of anxiety.

The classes contain many different medicines. Their names and availability vary from country to country.

Antidepressant and Anti-anxiety Prescription Medicines

The most commonly prescribed antidepressant medicines for anxiety are in two groups. They are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription anti-anxiety medicines. Although they are commonly used, they are associated with risk of substance use disorder and overdose.

Common Antidepressant Medicines Used for Anxiety in the U.S.

  • SSRIs. Paroxetine (Paxil) and escitalopram (Lexapro).

  • SNRIs. Venlafaxine (Effexor XR) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin). Another type of antidepressant that is often used in the U.S.

Common Anti-anxiety Medicines in the U.S.

Benzodiazepines. Alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) and clonazepam (Klonopin), triazolam (Halcion), lorazepam (Ativan).

Buspirone is a non-benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medicine. It may take longer to take effect, but it has few side effects and does not lead to dependence.

Is Treatment Follow-up Needed?

Once you start taking medicine for anxiety, it is extremely important for you to follow up with your doctor.

Follow-up is necessary to monitor your response to the medicine and adjust the dose as needed. Your doctor can also help identify any side effects or safety issues.

As you improve, your doctor may suggest a plan to slowly taper the medicine. They will carefully monitor you for worsening symptoms. 

IMPORTANT! Do not stop taking your medicine without specific instructions from your doctor.

For More Information

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2022). For People With Mental Health Problems. Retrieved 7-28-2022 from

National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved 7-28-2022 from

National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Mental Health Medications. Retrieved 7-28-2022 from