A Basic Guide To Medication For Anxiety and Their Side Effects

Category: Healthy Living


Posted on January 23, 2020

Vanessa is a health writer and blogging expert. Her specialities are medicine, health and wellness. She is proud to call Vancouver, BC her home where she enjoys the ocean and mountains with her dog Mr. ChowChow.

medication to stop racing thoughts

Racing thoughts and anxiety can disrupt life, making it both challenging and scary at times. However, doctors can both diagnose and treat anxiety disorders. Receiving an anxiety diagnosis is both a relief and an anxiety trigger. If you’re looking for medication for anxiety and to stop racing thoughts, this guide is here to help.

A Guide for Medication for Anxiety and to Stop Racing Thoughts

Before undergoing any treatment, you should consult a qualified medical professional. Since there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the treatment of anxiety, they can help you find what works best for you. Also, they will be there to help if you experience any side effects.

Medical doctors and mental health professionals will work through a treatment plan with you. This includes any other treatment types such as therapy, counseling, and lifestyle changes. When discussing what medications are best for you, be sure to be upfront with your doctor. Tell them about any current drugs (both prescribed and over the counter), vitamins, and supplements you take. Several medications can have severe interactions, putting your health at risk.

Medication to stop racing thoughts and anxiety help manage the symptoms you are experiencing. While they are unable to cure anxiety disorders fully, it can at least reduce your symptoms. There are a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications available, depending on your health and needs.


Benzodiazepines are a group of medications meant for short-term period treatment. This group includes Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam). This medication is used for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Some doctors will sometimes prescribe it for panic and social anxiety disorders.

Along with the effects of the brain, Benzodiazepines also contains a muscle relaxer. This helps to alleviate some other anxiety symptoms

Side Effects

Benzodiazepines can be highly addictive, hence why they are only used for short-term treatments. Use these only under the guidance of a medical professional.


When mentioning beta-blockers, many think of their everyday use of treating heart disease. However, some doctors will also use it to help control some of the more physical anxiety symptoms, like sweating and trembling.

Beta-blockers include medications like Inderal LA (propranolol), Sectral (acebutolol), and Tenormin (atenolol). This class of medicine works by reducing the heart rate and lowing blood pressure. This is done by blocking the effects of a naturally occurring stimulant in your body- epinephrine.

Side Effects

The common side effects associated with beta-blockers include fatigue, weight gain, and cold hands and feed. If you have either asthma or diabetes, be sure to alert your doctor or mental health professional.


Buspar (buspirone) is used in the long-term treatment of anxiety,both chronic and generalized anxiety. Increasing action at serotonin receptors in your brain, it helps to improve your mood while reducing anxiety. When dealing with racing thoughts, this helps reduce the number of racing thoughts and makes you able to calm your mind easier.

Since Buspar is meant for the long-term treatment of anxiety and racing thoughts, you must take it consistently. It does take some time, sometimes up to two weeks, for any changes to begin to take effect. For the full effects to take place, it can take anywhere from four to six weeks of consistently taking the medication.

For many, Buspar is a preferred medication of choice as it is non-addictive and does not have any sedating side effects.

Side Effects

Patients taking buspirone have reported side effects like dizziness, trouble sleeping, and headaches.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are the original antidepressants. When other antidepressants fail, many will turn to MAOIs. This class of medicine includes Marplan (isocarboxazid) and Parnate (tranylcypromine).

MAOIs work by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase. This breaks down the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Side Effects

MAOIs have several side effects, including Insomnia, drowsiness, headaches, and dry mouth. With MAOIs, you also need to keep an eye on the foods you eat as they can interact with those containing higher levels of tyramine.

Tyramine, an amino acid regulating blood pressure, is found in aged cheeses, cured meats, draft beer, and fermented soy foods like miso and tofu. This interaction causes severely high blood pressure. Your doctor can provide a more comprehensive list for you.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a preferred treatment for anxiety disorders. Some of the more commonly known SSRIs include:

  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Paxil (paroxetine),
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

SSRIs are actually considered an antidepressant. Though, they can be useful in treating anxiety and racing thoughts by increasing serotonin in your brain, improving your mood.

Side Effects

Side effects with SSRIs include:

  • increased headaches
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • sexual dysfunction or diminished sexual drive
  • weight gain

Increased suicidal ideations have been reported with the use of SSRIs, especially in younger patients. Be sure to contact a doctor immediately if someone taking an SSRI is exhibiting any signs of having suicidal ideations.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are yet another commonly used category of medication to treat racing thoughts and anxiety. Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) are all SNRIs. SNRIs work by increasing both serotonin and norepinephrine levels, boosting your mood. In fact, SNRIs are very similar to SSRIs.

Side Effects

Side effects with SNRIs are the same as SSRIs:

  • increased headaches
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • sexual dysfunction or diminished sexual drive
  • weight gain
  • increased suicidal ideations

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic Antidepressants are a category in the treatment of anxiety and racing thoughts. Medications that block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine include:

  • Anafranil (clomipramine)
  • Elavil (amitriptyline)
  • Pamelor (nortriptyline)
  • Tofranil (imipramine)

These medications block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Side Effects

Side effects of tricyclic antidepressants include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Lowered blood pressure upon standing
  • Hives
  • Constipation
  • Increased heart rate

A Basic Guide to Medications for Anxiety and Their Side Effects

While SSRIs and SNRIs are the most common medication to stop racing thoughts and anxiety, only your doctor and mental health professionals can decide if they are right for you. With all of the medicines available, with time and a comprehensive treatment approach, you can find help for your racing thoughts and anxiety.

Need help finding the right medication for your condition? Contact us today so we can be of assistance.

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