Anxiolytic: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An anxiolytic (also antipanic or antianxiety agent[1]) is a drug used for the treatment of symptoms of anxiety. Anxiolytics have been shown to be useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Though not anxiolytics, beta-receptor blockers such as propranolol and oxprenolol can be used to combat the somatic symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiolytics are also known as "minor tranquilizers",[2] though their use and effects are by no means minor; this term is less common in modern texts.


Types of anxiolytics


Benzodiazepines are prescribed for short-term relief of severe and disabling anxiety. Benzodiazepines may also be indicated to cover the latent periods associated with the medications prescribed to treat an underlying anxiety disorder. They are used to treat a wide variety of conditions and symptoms and are usually a first choice when short-term CNS sedation is needed. Longer-term uses include treatment for severe anxiety. There is a risk of a benzodiazepine withdrawal and rebound syndrome after continuous usage for longer than two weeks. There is also the added problem of the accumulation of drug metabolites and adverse effects.[3] Benzodiazepines include:

Benzodiazepines exert their anxiolytic properties at moderate dosage. At higher dosage hypnotic properties occur.[4]


Azapirones are a class of 5-HT1A receptor agonists. They lack the sedation and the dependence associated with benzodiazepines and causes much less cognitive impairment. They may be less effective than benzodiazepines in patients who have been previously treated with benzodiazepines as they do not provide the sedation that these patients may expect or equate with anxiety relief. Currently approved azapirones include buspirone (Buspar) and tandospirone (Sediel). Gepirone (Ariza, Variza) is also in clinical development.


Barbiturates exert an anxiolytic effect linked to the sedation they cause. The risk of abuse and addiction is high. Many experts consider these drugs obsolete for treating anxiety but valuable for the short-term treatment of severe insomnia, though only after benzodiazepines or non-benzodiazepines have failed. They are rarely prescribed anymore.


Hydroxyzine (Atarax) is an old antihistamine originally approved for clinical use by the FDA in 1956. It possesses anxiolytic properties in addition to its antihistamine properties and is also licensed for the treatment of anxiety and tension. It is also used for its sedative properties as a premed before anesthesia or to induce sedation after anesthesia.[5] It has been shown to be as effective as benzodiazepines in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder while producing fewer side effects.[6]

Herbal treatments

Certain herbs are reputed to have anxiolytic properties, including the following:

Of these, only Kava and Brahmi have shown anxiolytic effects in randomized clinical trials, and only Kava's effect has been independently replicated.[7]

A team from Brazil found cannabidiol (a constituent of cannabis; also called CBD) to be an effective anti-psychotic and anxiolytic [8]. "CBD induced a clear anxiolytic effect and a pattern of cerebral activity compatible with anxiolytic activity. Therefore, similar to the data obtained in animal models, results from studies on healthy volunteers have strongly suggested an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD."

Pineapple sage, or salvia elegans, is used as a treatment for anxiety in traditional Mexican medicine, and a preliminary study on mice has yielded some support for both anxiolytic and antidepressant properties.[9]


Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are reported to have mild anxiolytic properties (off-label use). These drugs are approved by the FDA for allergies, rhinitis, and urticaria.

Alternatives to medication

Psychotherapy (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)) is often useful as an adjunct to medication or as an alternative to medication. Research has demonstrated better long-term results for anxiety when treated with psychotherapy as opposed to pharmacotherapy alone.

Meditation is also known for its tendency to reduce anxiety.

See also


  1. ^ antianxiety agent at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ "WordNet Search - 3.0". Retrieved 2009-01-01.  
  3. ^ Lader M, Tylee A, Donoghue J (2009). "Withdrawing benzodiazepines in primary care". CNS Drugs 23 (1): 19–34. doi:10.2165/0023210-200923010-00002. PMID 19062773.  
  4. ^ Montenegro M, Veiga H, Deslandes A (June 2005). "[Neuromodulatory effects of caffeine and bromazepam on visual event-related potential (P300): a comparative study."]. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 63 (2B): 410–5. doi:/S0004-282X2005000300009 (inactive 2009-11-14). PMID 16059590.  
  5. ^ medicine net. "hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax)". Retrieved 17 May 2008.  
  6. ^ Llorca PM, Spadone C, Sol O (November 2002). "Efficacy and safety of hydroxyzine in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a 3-month double-blind study". J Clin Psychiatry 63 (11): 1020–7. PMID 12444816.  
  7. ^ Ernst E (February 2006). "Herbal remedies for anxiety - a systematic review of controlled clinical trials". Phytomedicine 13 (3): 205–8. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2004.11.006. PMID 16428031.  
  8. ^ Zuardi, A.W; Crippa, JA; Hallak, JE; Moreira, FA; Guimarães, FS (2006). "Cannabidiol as an antipsychotic drug" (PDF). Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 39 (4): 421–429. doi:/S0100-879X2006000400001 (inactive 2009-11-14). ISSN 0100-879X ISSN 0100-879X. PMID 16612464.  
  9. ^ [1] Maribel Herrera-Ruiza, Yolanda García-Beltrána, Sergio Morab, Gabriela Díaz-Vélizb, Glauce S.B. Vianac, Jaime Tortorielloa, Guillermo Ramíreza, "Antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of hydroalcoholic extract from Salvia elegans", Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol. 107, No. 1, pp. 53-58 (Aug. 2006)

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