Why are antidepressants prescribed for anxiety

Release fear and calm down

When fear rules life (page 10/11)

Effects and side effects of drugs

Medicines can also be used to treat anxiety. It should be noted that the fear usually returns quickly after stopping the medication if psychotherapy is not taking place at the same time. Because only in therapy do those affected learn how to deal with fear differently. That is why drugs are usually prescribed in addition to psychotherapy.

If your doctor prescribes anti-anxiety medication, talk to them about whether they can be addictive.


Antidepressants, which have an anxiolytic and calming effect, are usually prescribed for anxiety disorders. Antidepressants from the group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) have proven to be the best. These aim to increase the concentration of the messenger substances serotonin and noradrenaline in the so-called synaptic gap between the nerve cells and thus compensate for the imbalance of these messenger substances in anxiety disorders. Drugs from the group of tricyclic antidepressants or so-called MAO inhibitors are used less often to treat anxiety. A special feature of all antidepressants is that their full effectiveness only sets in after two to three weeks - so they have to be taken long enough to be able to judge whether they are helpful or not.

With all antidepressants, side effects can occur, which are usually strongest in the first few weeks of use and then gradually decrease again. The most common side effects with SSRIs and SNRIs are gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and vomiting. Sleep disorders and sexual dysfunction can also occur. With SNRIs, headaches, an accelerated heartbeat and, in some cases, restlessness can occur at the beginning of use. However, the side effects of SSRIs and SNRIs are usually significantly less than those of tricyclic antidepressants. In addition to the side effects mentioned above, it can also lead to dry mouth, constipation, changes in heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue and weight gain.


Medicines that target the GABA neurotransmitter can relieve anxiety quickly and effectively. However, these so-called benzodiazepines quickly lead to dependence. Therefore, they should only be taken if absolutely necessary and only for a short time in precise consultation with the doctor. It is also important that benzodiazepines should not be stopped suddenly, but that the dose should be reduced gradually over the course of several weeks. Otherwise, severe withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, fear and even epileptic seizures can occur.

Beta blockers

Sometimes beta blockers are also prescribed for severe anxiety. However, these do not have a direct effect on fear. However, they reduce the effects of the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline on the body, especially the heart. In spite of stress or fear, the heart rate and blood pressure rise less sharply. This can help break the vicious circle between physical symptoms and anxiety.

Beta blockers do not lead to addiction. However, side effects can include tiredness, drowsiness, vivid dreams, and low mood. Beta blockers should not be used in asthma and certain heart diseases.