Pros and cons of taking anxiety medication

The term “anxiety” applies to a broad range of mental disorders which involve a heightened sense of worry and stress. It can occur for various reasons, such as trauma or significant psychological distress. Anxiety can be treated with medications, but some form of therapy best complements the treatment. For example, if your anxiety disorder stems from childhood trauma, combining the best online trauma therapy with medications is ideal. However, before you consider taking anxiety medication, you may want to know its pros and cons. In this article, we will provide you with an overview of anxiety medications and their advantages and disadvantages.

An overview of anxiety medications

To start with, you will want to know what anxiety medications are available. The five types of anxiety medications are as follows:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressants
  • Beta-blockers
  • Antihistamines
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants
There is no shortage of options when it comes to taking anxiety medication.

There is no single medication type that is going to be effective in all situations. Depending on the nature of your anxiety disorder, your personal preferences, and various other factors, one class will work better than the other. Of course, you will want to complement any of these medications with therapy. Anxiety usually makes therapy sessions hard to attend, but you can always enroll in one of the best online CBT therapy for anxiety programs. Even though medications can provide short-term relief, the only way to tackle the underlying problems is by going through therapy. That said, let’s look at which medications are available to you.


For most people, benzodiazepines are the quintessential anxiety medications. Some popular options include Xanax, Valiums, Restoril, and Rohypnol. These medications have a sedative effect, which shuts down your neurotransmitters. This, in turn, helps reduce the feelings of tension and anxiety. Therefore, benzodiazepines are an excellent choice when you must regularly deal with panic attacks. Unlike other sedatives, however, benzodiazepines only work on the part of your body that involves thinking (worrying). They do not affect other bodily functions.

The pros of using benzodiazepines include short-term relief, immediate seizure prevention, and the fact that they are not dangerous to any critical bodily functions.

These drugs’ cons include addiction, potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and reduced brain function after long-term use. Therefore, you should only utilize these medications if your physician prescribed them.


Antidepressants are the other popular choice when it comes to anxiety medication. There are two types of antidepressants: SSRI and SNRI.

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) work through brain nerve cell enhancement. SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) affect neurotransmitters as messengers between the brain cells.

person pointing at a brain scan
Antidepressants influence the chemistry of your brain.

The most common SSRI medication include Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, and Celexa, whereas the most common SNRIs include Fetzima, Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq. Otherwise known as “Happy pills,” antidepressants enhance your mood by producing serotonin, the mood-regulating hormone. Antidepressants also have a much lower addiction chance than benzodiazepines, making them suitable for a broader range of patients. However, antidepressant treatment needs to be carefully administered, as there can be nasty side effects if it is not. These side effects include lethargy and nausea and can even induce anxiety on their own.

The pros of taking antidepressants include less potential for addiction, fewer disruptions to brain chemistry, and the fact that they can be used to help treat a wide variety of anxiety disorders. But, again, antidepressants are not likely to help you eliminate the underlying reasons for your anxiety disorder. You may want to look into some of the top CBT online therapy companies and find a program that suits your condition to make some real progress. Medications are just there to provide you with short-term relief, after all.

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The main issue with antidepressants is a certain period before they become effective. For most people, the period to adjust to antidepressants is around four to six weeks. Furthermore, combining antidepressants with other drugs, such as alcohol or anti-inflammatory medications, may also experience other health complications. Lastly, antidepressants usually reduce appetite.


Also known as Beta-Adrenergic Blocking Agents, beta-blockers help with anxiety symptoms by reducing your blood pressure and heart rate. They are not as commonly used in anxiety treatment as the previous two types, but they can be ideal for some patients.


Antihistamines are generally used to reduce swelling from allergies and induce lethargy. However, some physicians may prescribe antihistamines as a short-term solution instead of benzodiazepines and antidepressants due to their calming nature. The most common antihistamine on the market prescribed for anxiety treatment is Hydroxyzine.

person taking anxiety medication
Antihistamines help deal with allergies and anxiety at the same time.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

If none of the other options worked for you, your physician might prescribe tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs are considered the last resort due to the severe side effects that they may induce, such as motor function impairment. However, most side effects occur after a certain period, meaning they are an excellent choice for short-term anxiety. Thus, if you are looking for medications to help manage clinical depression, you might want to stay clear of tricyclic antidepressants. But if all you need is a short-term solution, they might be the answer you are looking for. Do note, however, that these medications are not suitable if you experience intense feelings of sudden panic.

Pros and cons of taking anxiety medication

As you have seen, there are a lot of options when it comes to anxiety medication. And all of these options have their pros and cons. While anxiety medication can be an excellent way to manage your symptoms, you must be very careful in its application. Therefore, your choice should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor, and you will also want to do some research on your own. To help you with the latter, we’ve compiled some of the most influential pros and cons of taking anxiety medication.

Pro #1 of taking anxiety medication – Effective symptom relief

For most people, anxiety itself is not the primary concern. Instead, it is the symptoms of anxiety that really “get to them.” Anxiety medications present a very effective symptom relief, meaning you can continue living your life as normally as possible. The sheer effectiveness of drugs is one of the primary reasons why people avoid starting therapy. However, even though you may need to wait a few weeks before anxiety medication “kicks in” in full, the results are usually well worth it.

Con #1 – The cost

However, these results usually come with a hefty financial cost. Even though anxiety medication is part of the generic prescription program and is covered partly by insurance, many people struggle with its price. Depending on where you live, it may so happen that you need to devote a large part of your monthly budget just to pay for your anxiety medication. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to check in with your doctor and see if any options are more affordable.

person counting money they need for taking anxiety medication
Anxiety medication usually does not come cheap.

Pro #2 – Anxiety medication is safe to use

All anxiety medications were thoroughly tested and approved by the US FDA. This guarantees they are safe to use and you follow the guidelines. In addition, each medication on the market had undergone clinical trials and heavy testing before it was approved. However, that does not mean you may not encounter any side effects. Therefore, you might prepare yourself in advance, as that is the next con of taking anxiety medication. 

Con #2 – Side effects

Every single anxiety medication comes with a long list of possible side effects. These side effects include nausea, headache, dry mouth, fatigue…the list goes on and on. Do note that these are potential side effects; you are most likely not going to experience all of them. Chances are that you are not going to experience any at all. Furthermore, most minor side effects will vanish within a few weeks as your body accustoms to the medication. However, if the side effects persist for a long time, you will want to talk to your doctor and see about changing your treatment plan.

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Pro #3 – Improved quality of life

All anxiety medications have one thing in common. They provide you with an improved mood and the ability to react to things more calmly. This, in turn, leads to an enhanced quality of life. Furthermore, many patients report that, since taking their anxiety medication, they can concentrate better while also being able to examine things in a more balanced way. There’s no denying that careful usage of anxiety medication can change your life for the better. However, you don’t get to retain any benefits after you stop using them, unlike the benefits of emotion-focused therapy, for example. Even though you may think that anxiety medication is all you need, they do nothing to cure the underlying symptoms.

Con #3 – You can’t abruptly stop taking medications

Almost every anxiety medication has withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly stop using it. This means that you can’t simply decide that you will not continue with your prescription and call it a day. Instead, what you need to do, if you want to avoid the heavy withdrawal symptoms is to talk with your doctor. Most of the time, you must get onto a tapering plan or switch medications throughout the process.

person holding a hand in front of her
It is not easy to abruptly stop taking anxiety medication.

Con #4 of taking anxiety medication – It can be hard to find the ideal solution

With so many anxiety medications on the market, you cannot be sure which one will help you the most. Every person is unique, and finding the ideal medication for your particular situation may be quite troublesome. It is possible, even quite likely, that you may need to switch several medicines before finding the best one for your system. And that means that you may need to deal with the possible side effects of each option and go through the adaptation period over and over again.

Con #5 – Medications can affect your weight and your sleep

Another downside of taking anxiety medication is that it may interfere with your sleep schedule, as well as have you to gain weight. While the potential for weight gain is not something you will want to fuss over, it is still something to consider. After all, your weight gain can be attributed to an improved mood or partaking in more activities that include food. But the sleep issue is a bit more critical. Anxiety medication has the potential to normalize your sleep schedule, but that also means it has the potential to destabilize it as well.

Depending on the dosage, the type of medication you are using, and when you take your meds, you may fall asleep too quickly or have difficulty sleeping. This is particularly important for people with sleep disorders, as anxiety medication may further influence them. If you figure out that taking your anxiety medication interferes with sleep, you should immediately consult your doctor. There are so many available options that you should not contend with those that “mess up” your sleep schedule.

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There are numerous ways to manage your symptoms

Anxiety medication is an excellent way to manage your symptoms, but you must be careful with its usage. There is no “miracle pill” that you can take and do away with anxiety. Even if taking anxiety medication is all you need to get through the day, the best option is to undergo therapy and get rid of the underlying issues.

If you decide that attending therapy sessions is in your best interest, you can consult the Consumer Opinion Guide to find the best options. In addition, our knowledge database covers everything from CBT to EFT and information about all of the best online therapy companies.


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