There are dozens of medications to treat anxiety disorders.
You should see your general practitioner and he can evaluate your problem, determine if any physical problem could be to blame, and figure out what type of anxiety disorder you may have.
Basically there are two groups of medication
1) benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Rivotril/Klonopin (clonazepam). The advantage with these drugs are they work almost instantly (20-60 min), they don't have a lot of side effects, and the ones that most commonly occur are mild and normally dissipate quickly like sleepiness and dizziness. These drugs are often used short term or as needed since these drugs do have an abuse potential. If you have a personal history of substance abuse (particularly to alcohol or barbiturates) make sure to tell the doctor. Although they are typically used short term it can be appropriate to use them long term in some situations and they have been shown to be effective long term. However selective tolerance occurs so the sedation, possible hypnotic effects, and mild euphoria some people have tend to go away quickly. However they retain their anti-anxiety effects long term. Long term use can also cause physical dependency, this is not the same as addiction, it simply means that the body adapts to having the drug and stopping the drug cold turkey can cause physical withdrawal. But if the drug is stopped slowly withdrawal can almost always be avoided. 1/3- 1/2 of long term users develop some physical dependency. Depending on what anxiety disorder you have (probably generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)) would determine the best medication. For GAD Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are typically best. Xanax (alprazolam) is certainly a good option and I would avoid Klonopin (US brand name)/Rivotril (international brand name) (clonazepam) since it is the only drug I listed not actually approved for any anxiety disorder except panic disorder and there is a reason it not approved for other anxiety disorders. All of these drugs are dirt cheap.
2) Antidepressants, particularly SSRI class including Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), and Cipralex/Lexapro (escitalopram). These drugs are also used to treat depression so they are often better for people with depression and anxiety. A big downside is that it can take 4-6 weeks for these medications to start to work and they can worsen anxiety initially. Sometimes benzodiazepines are used until antidepressants start to work. Antidepressants tend to have more severe and more frequent side effects and since they must be taken daily they are not typically best for people who only need occasional medication. But they are not addictive however they can cause a type of physical dependency and the medications, when taken long term, needs to be stopped slowly. Zoloft and Cipralex (brand name in Canada, Europe) Lexapro (brand name in The US) are the best medications, they have the fewest side effects, risk of physical dependency is lower, and they are more effective. I would avoid Celexa (citalopram) and I would stay clear of Paxil (paroxetine). Cipralex/Lexapro is still brand name and VERY expensive, the rest are cheap. So, due to the price, Zoloft is normally the best initial option.
Very few studies have compared SSRI's with benzodiazepines, those that have been done almost always show that antidepressants and benzodiazepines are equally as effective.
I am a medical student (M.D., C.M.) at a university in Montréal, QC, Canada for psychiatry and internal medicine. I have a Hons. BSc in pharmacology and I have interned with two psychiatrists and one neurologist. I have also worked as a pharmacy assistant.
I have an anxiety disorder.