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Anxiety medications are drugs that are prescribed to help reduce an overwhelming feeling of stress or tension. They are typically used as needed to treat panic attacks or short-term bouts of anxiety.

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety because of their sedative effect.  If you are on a benzodiazepine daily, talk to your doctor before you lower the dose or stop this drug to avoid serious effects. 

Long-term anxiety and depression can be treated with other prescription medications that are designed to manage these conditions for an extended period of time.

Examples of anxiety medications include:


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It’s important to know that sharing anxiety medicine with someone else can cause harm. Prescribers take into account a person’s current medical condition, medical history, and the other drugs taken to help determine whether an anxiety medication should be prescribed.

What can happen when anxiety medications are taken inappropriately?

Taking more of an anxiety medication than directed can have several negative effects, including:

  • bizarre dreams
  • forgetfulness
  • lingering grogginess
  • slowed reflexes
  • confusion
  • addiction
  • death

Many anxiety medications can slow the rate of breathing.  Taking too many anxiety medications at one time or taking them with other sedatives like alcohol, sleep aids, or prescription pain medications can cause a person to stop breathing.

How can misuse of anxiety medications be prevented?


If you’re taking a prescription medication for anxiety, these steps can help prevent a medication poisoning:

  • Always follow the dosing directions prescribed by your doctor.
  • Be very cautious to avoid accidentally taking extra doses when you have already taken a dose.
  • Don’t share your medication with others.  Some drug interactions can be life threatening.
  • Make sure all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) are out of the reach of all children living in or visiting your home.

Call NC Poison Control, your doctor, or your pharmacy if you have questions about your anxiety medication and any possible drug interactions with other medications.  You don’t have to wait for a problem to arise before calling NC Poison Control.  You can call with questions, too.


What should you do if you or someone you know has taken anxiety medication incorrectly?


If the person is not breathing or unresponsive, call 911 immediately.  Otherwise, call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for further treatment advice. 


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Last Updated on 11/06/2023