Specific Drugs for Anxiety
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, are the oldest and least-prescribed class of antidepressant medications. MAOIs include:
- Isocarboxazid (Marplan®)
- Phenelzine (Nardil®)
- Rasagiline (Azilect®)
- Selegiline (Eldepryl®, Emsam®, Zelapar®)
- Tranylcypromine (Parnate®).
Not all MAOIs are approved for anxiety treatment. MAOIs seem to be particularly useful for treating social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
MAOIs are the least-prescribed antidepressants for very good reasons. People who take MAOIs are put on a restrictive diet because these medications can interact with some foods and beverages, including cheese and red wine, which contain a chemical called tyramine. MAOIs also interact with some other medications, including SSRIs. Interactions between MAOIs and other substances can cause dangerous elevations in blood pressure or other potentially life-threatening reactions.
A few different anti-anxiety medications can also be used to treat this condition. These include:
Benzodiazepines relieve symptoms quickly and have few side effects, although drowsiness can be a problem. Because people can develop a tolerance to them -- and would have to continue increasing the dosage to get the same effect -- benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for short-term use only.
One exception is panic disorder, for which benzodiazepines may be used for six months to a year. People who have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse are not usually good candidates for these medications, however, because these medications have a significant potential for abuse.
Some people experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking benzodiazepines, although reducing the dosage gradually can diminish those symptoms. In certain instances, the symptoms of anxiety can rebound after these medications are stopped. Potential problems with benzodiazepines have led some physicians to shy away from using them or to use them in inadequate doses, even when they are of potential benefit to the affected person.
Examples of benzodiazepine medications include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium®, Limbitrol®, Librax®)
- Clobazam (Onfi™)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Estazolam (ProSom®)
- Flurazepam (Dalmane®)
- Lorazepam (Ativan®)
- Midazolam (Versed®)
- Oxazepam (Serax®)
- Quazepam (Doral®)
- Temazepam (Restoril®)
- Triazolam (Halcion®).
Not all benzodiazepines are approved for anxiety treatment.