Anxiety Medication Side Effects & Dangers

Anxiety, a pervasive mental health concern, often requires medical intervention for effective management. While medication offers promising relief, it is crucial to examine the potential side effects and inherent risks associated with these treatments. This article aims to provide a comprehensive exploration of anxiety medication, shedding light on the less-discussed aspects of its usage. By gaining an informed understanding of the potential side effects and dangers, individuals can make educated decisions regarding their anxiety management, prioritizing their overall well-being.


What Are The Anxiety Medication Side Effects?

Anxiety medication, like any other medication, can have side effects that vary in frequency and intensity from person to person. While not everyone will experience side effects, being aware of potential risks is important. Some common side effects associated with anxiety medication may include:

  • Drowsiness or Fatigue: Many anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines or sedatives, can cause drowsiness or feelings of fatigue. This may affect your daily activities and ability to concentrate.
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Some individuals may experience dizziness or lightheadedness when taking anxiety medication. This can potentially lead to falls or accidents, especially in older adults.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Certain anxiety medications may affect cognitive function, leading to difficulties with memory, attention, or problem-solving skills. These cognitive impairments are usually temporary and resolve once the medication is discontinued.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea, upset stomach, or gastrointestinal disturbances are common side effects of anxiety medication. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to more severe digestive problems.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: In some cases, anxiety medication can cause sexual side effects such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, or difficulty achieving orgasm. It is important to discuss any concerns regarding sexual health with your healthcare provider.
  • Weight Changes: Certain anxiety medications may be associated with weight gain or loss. These changes can vary depending on the specific medication and individual factors.
  • Dependency and Withdrawal: Some anxiety medications, particularly benzodiazepines, have the potential for dependency and withdrawal symptoms when discontinued abruptly or without medical guidance. Following your healthcare provider’s instructions when tapering off or discontinuing these medications is crucial.

The side effects of anxiety medications mentioned above are not exhaustive; different medications may have unique side effect profiles. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized information and guidance regarding anxiety medication side effects. They can help weigh the benefits and risks to determine the most suitable treatment option for your needs.

Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

Your brain and behavior are both impacted by the condition of addiction. Substance addiction makes it unable to resist the impulse to use the drug, regardless of how harmful it may be. The sooner you receive treatment for drug addiction, the better your chances are of avoiding some of the disease’s more serious side effects.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating.

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling.

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aims to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

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Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% receive treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

10.3 %

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it America’s most common anxiety disorder.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


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Prolonged use of certain anxiety medications, particularly benzodiazepines, can lead to the development of tolerance.
Prolonged use of certain anxiety medications, particularly benzodiazepines, can lead to the development of tolerance.

Anxiety Medication Side Effects Long Term

Long-term use of anxiety medication may also be associated with certain side effects. While the specific effects can vary depending on the medication and individual factors, it is crucial to be mindful of potential risks.

  • Tolerance and Dependency: Prolonged use of certain anxiety medications, particularly benzodiazepines, can lead to the development of tolerance. Higher doses may be required over time to achieve the same therapeutic effect. Additionally, these medications have the potential for dependency, where discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Chronic use of anxiety medication has been linked to cognitive impairment, including difficulties with memory, attention, and cognitive processing speed. It is important to weigh the potential benefits of these long-term cognitive effects.
  • Emotional Blunting: Some individuals may experience a dampening of emotions or reduced emotional responsiveness due to long-term anxiety medication use. While this can be beneficial for managing anxiety symptoms, it may also impact the overall experience of emotions.
  • Increased Risk of Falls and Accidents: Long-term use of certain anxiety medications, particularly those with sedating effects, can increase the risk of falls and accidents, particularly in older adults. It is important to exercise caution and be aware of the potential for impaired coordination and balance.
  • Disruption of Sleep Patterns: Anxiety medications, especially those that induce drowsiness, can impact long-term sleep patterns. This may result in difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restorative sleep.
  • Medication Interactions: Prolonged use of anxiety medication can increase the risk of drug interactions, especially if other medications or substances are being taken concurrently. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, to minimize the risk of adverse interactions.
  • Diminished Efficacy Over Time: In some cases, the effectiveness of anxiety medication may diminish over prolonged use. This phenomenon, known as tachyphylaxis, can occur when the body becomes less responsive to the medication’s effects.

While anxiety medication can provide significant relief for many individuals, it is essential to evaluate the benefits and risks of long-term use regularly. Open communication with a healthcare provider is crucial to ensure the appropriate management of anxiety and minimize the potential for side effects associated with anxiety medication.

Anxiety Medication Side Effects Sexually

Anxiety medication can have various effects on sexual function, which may vary depending on the specific medication and individual factors. It is important to be aware of the potential sexual side effects associated with these medications.

  • Decreased Libido: Some individuals may experience decreased sexual desire or libido while taking anxiety medication. This can result in a reduced interest in sexual activities.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Anxiety medication, particularly certain antidepressants, may cause difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection in men. This condition, erectile dysfunction, can affect sexual performance and satisfaction.
  • Delayed Ejaculation or Anorgasmia: Certain anxiety medications can delay ejaculation or make it difficult to achieve orgasm. This can lead to frustration or dissatisfaction during sexual activity.
  • Vaginal Dryness: In women, anxiety medication can sometimes cause vaginal dryness, resulting in discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse.

It is important to note that not all individuals will experience these sexual side effects, and the severity can vary. Additionally, some medications may have a lower risk of sexual side effects than others. If you experience any sexual difficulties while taking anxiety medication, it is crucial to discuss these concerns openly with your healthcare provider. They can help explore potential strategies or adjustments to the treatment plan to alleviate these side effects while effectively managing anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety Medication Side Effects Weight

Weight-related side effects can occur with certain anxiety medications, although not everyone will experience them. When considering these medications, knowing the potential impact on weight is important. Here are some common weight-related side effects associated with anxiety medication:

  • Weight Gain: Some anxiety medications, particularly certain antidepressants and antipsychotics, have been linked to weight gain in certain individuals. The exact mechanisms behind this effect can vary, including increased appetite, metabolic changes, or fluid retention. It’s important to note that weight gain is not a universal side effect and may occur in some individuals, while others may not experience any weight changes.
  • Weight Loss: Conversely, some anxiety medications may lead to weight loss in certain individuals. This can occur due to decreased appetite, gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea or diarrhea, or changes in metabolism. Like weight gain, weight loss is not a guaranteed side effect and may not occur in everyone.
  • Fluctuations in Weight: In some cases, anxiety medications may cause fluctuations in weight, where individuals may experience both weight gain and weight loss at different times during their treatment. These fluctuations can be influenced by individual metabolism, medication dosage, and other individual-specific factors.

The impact on weight can vary significantly depending on the specific medication, individual response, dosage, and lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. If you have concerns about weight-related side effects, discussing them with your healthcare provider is recommended. They can provide personalized guidance, monitor your weight during treatment, and consider alternative medication options that may have a lower likelihood of affecting weight or help you manage any weight changes that may occur.

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What Is The Best Anxiety Medication With Less Side Effects?

Determining the “best” anxiety medication with fewer side effects can be subjective and depends on individual factors, such as the specific type of anxiety disorder, overall health, and personal response to medications.

However, several classes of medications are commonly prescribed for anxiety management, and some may have a relatively lower incidence of side effects than others. It is important to note that any medication can still have side effects, and individual responses may vary. Here are some classes of anxiety medications known for potentially having fewer side effects:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs, such as sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), and fluoxetine (Prozac), are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. While they can still cause side effects, many individuals tolerate them well.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs, such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta), are another class of antidepressants often used to treat anxiety disorders. Like SSRIs, they increase serotonin levels, but they also affect norepinephrine. SNRIs may have a lower incidence of certain side effects than other medications.
  • Buspirone: Buspirone (BuSpar) is an anti-anxiety medication that works differently from SSRIs and SNRIs. It is generally considered to have a lower risk of side effects such as sedation, cognitive impairment, and withdrawal symptoms. However, it may take several weeks for its full effects to be felt.
Determining the "best" anxiety medication with fewer side effects can be subjective and depends on individual factors, such as the specific type of anxiety disorder, overall health, and personal response to medications.
Determining the “best” anxiety medication with fewer side effects can be subjective and depends on individual factors, such as the specific type of anxiety disorder, overall health, and personal response to medications.
  • Hydroxyzine: Hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax) is an antihistamine with anti-anxiety properties. It can be used for short-term anxiety management and may have fewer side effects than other medications. However, it can cause drowsiness and should be used cautiously, especially when operating machinery or driving.

It is important to remember that individual medication responses can vary, and what works well for one person may not be as effective for another. The choice of medication should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional who can assess your situation and tailor the treatment plan to your needs. They will consider factors such as your medical history, current medications, and any potential drug interactions to help determine the most suitable anxiety medication with the least likelihood of side effects for you.

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  1. What Is The Best Anxiety Medication Without Sexual Side Effects?

    Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are often considered a good option for anxiety treatment with fewer sexual side effects. Medications such as sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), and fluoxetine (Prozac) belong to this class. While they can still potentially cause sexual side effects, they tend to have a lower incidence than other medications. However, it is important to note that individual responses can vary, and it is best to discuss your concerns with a healthcare professional who can recommend the most suitable medication for you.

  2. What Is The Most Effective Anxiety Medication?

    The effectiveness of anxiety medication can vary depending on the individual and the specific anxiety disorder being treated. However, several classes of medications have shown efficacy in managing anxiety symptoms. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), and paroxetine (Paxil), are commonly prescribed and have been proven effective for various anxiety disorders.

    Other medications like Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), benzodiazepines, and buspirone may also be considered depending on the specific circumstances. The most effective medication should be chosen in consultation with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your needs and medical history to determine the most appropriate treatment option.

Anxiety Disorder Facts & Treatment Programs That Can Help You Informative Video

Video Script

Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and impactful mental health conditions that affect a significant number of individuals. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 31.1% of Americans have experienced an anxiety disorder at some point. This highlights the widespread nature of these conditions and their significant burden on individuals and society.

Unlike normal anxiety responses to stress, individuals with anxiety disorders experience heightened and persistent levels of anxiety that go beyond what is typical or appropriate. They face excessive worry, fear, and nervousness, often related to everyday situations. These symptoms significantly disrupt daily life and impair functioning.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by chronic symptoms that last for months or even years, causing significant distress and impairment in various aspects of life. Additionally, these symptoms often extend beyond the actual threat level in a situation. This distorted perception of threat can be highly debilitating, affecting social interactions, career opportunities, and overall enjoyment of activities.

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Search We Level Up WA Anxiety Medication Side Effects Topics & Resources
Sources
  1. National Institute of Mental Health – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – “Mental Health – Anxiety and Depression” Link: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – “Coping With Stress and Anxiety” Link: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coping-with-stress-and-anxiety
  4. MedlinePlus – “Anxiety” Link: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.samhsa.gov/conditions/anxiety-disorders
  6. National Institute on Aging – “Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults” Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/anxiety-disorders-older-adults
  7. Office on Women’s Health – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/anxiety-disorders
  8. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – “Anxiety” Link: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/anxiety-at-a-glance
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/anxiety.asp
  10. National Library of Medicine – “Anxiety” Link: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html