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Medication is often used to manage the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Antidepressants, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety) and beta blocker medications are given most often, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). However, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), other medications, like anticonvulsants, are also given to anxiety disorder patients.
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Antidepressants, which alter the levels of in the brain, are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. Four types of antidepressants can be prescribed, according to the ADAA. The first type of antidepressant, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), increases the amount serotonin to be used by preventing reuptake by the presynaptic cleft. Brand name SSRIs that are used for anxiety include Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Luvox CR, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft; generic SSRIs include citalopram, escitalopram, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline. Another antidepressant option is tricyclic antidepressants, which alter levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine. Examples of brand name tricyclic antidepressants are Adapin, Anafranil, Aventyl, Elavil, Ludiomil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Sinequan, Surmontil, Tofranil and Vivacil. Examples of generic brands include doxepin, clomipramine, nortriptyline, amitriptyline, maprotiline, desipramine, trimipramine, imipramine and protriptyline. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are antidepressant medications that also affect levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. Marplan, Nardil and Parnate are types of brand name MAOIs. Isocarboxazid, phenelzine and tranylcypromine are the generic alternatives. Additional brand name antidepressants for anxiety include Cymbalta, Desyrel, Effexor, Remeron and Wellbutrin. Generic equivalents include duloxetine, trazodone, venlafaxine and mirtazapine.
Anxiolytics are medications targeted for treating anxiety symptoms. Anxiety patients who use anxiolytics have three different options available, according to the ADAA. Azapirones, like the brand name BuSpar and generic alternative buspirone, alter serotonin levels. Another medication, benzodiazepines, act on the GABA receptor; however, benzodiazepines can be addictive, since it acts on the same receptor as alcohol. Brand name benzodiazepines include Ativan, Dalmane, Klonopin, Halcion, Librium, Restoril, Serax, Tranxene, Valium and Xanax. Generic options include lorazepam, flurazepam, clonazepam, triazolam, chlordiazepoxide, temazepam, oxazepam, clorazepate, diazepam and alprazolam. The last type of anxiolytic, antihistamines, block histamine receptors and result in a calming effect. Brand name antihistamines for anxiety include Atarax and Vistaril, with the generic option hydroxyzine.
Another medication option for treating anxiety is anticonvulsants, which act either on the GABA receptor or block sodium channels, according to the ADAA. Gabitril, Neurontin, Depakote, Lamictal and Topamax are the brand name options. The generic versions of anticonvulsants for anxiety are tiagabine, gabapentin, valproate, lamotrigine and topiramate.
Anxiety patients can also use noradrenergic agents, like beta blockers and alpha blockers, to manage symptoms. Noradrenergic agents work by treating the physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate. Inderal and Tenormin are the brand name beta blockers. Propranolol, atenolol and prazosin are the generic beta blockers. Minipress, Catapres and Tenex are the brand name alpha blockers. Prazosin, clonidine and guanfacine are the generic alpha blockers.
The last type of medication that can be used for anxiety is atypical antipsychotics, a medication that alters the levels of serotonin in the brain, according to the ADAA. Brand name options for atypical antipsychotics include Abilify, Geodon, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa. Aripiprazole, ziprasidone, risperidone, quetiapine and olanzapine are the generic options.
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