Best non-addictive anxiety medication options

Best non-addictive anxiety medication options
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • Anxiety disorders are very prevalent, affecting millions across the world.
  • Traditional anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines are faster-acting but can be associated with potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms and side effects.
  • Fortunately, non-addictive anxiety medications are now available that effectively treat anxiety, including SSRIs, SNRIs, beta-blockers, Hydroxyzine, Buspirone, Gabapentin, and Pregabalin.

Overview

Anxiety disorders have a devastating effect on millions across the globe. Anxiety can have a drastic impact on every area of your life, with symptoms including panic attacks, trembling, rapid heart rate, and sweating; it can make it hard for an individual to function. However, there are treatment options available, including non-addictive anxiety medication, that can help prevent anxiety from ruining your life. Even though benzodiazepines are an effective option, due to substance abuse, you may be concerned about the risk of addiction. Choosing a non-narcotic anxiety medication may be the best option for you.

With the proper treatment, you can reclaim your life. If you are looking for a list of non-narcotic anxiety medications or want to explore the best non-addictive anxiety medication further, this article is precisely what you need. 

Non-Addictive Anxiety Medications

There are different ways by which anxiety medications work. Some medicines used to treat anxiety create a feeling of euphoria and excitement. Resultantly, this can lead to cravings, causing you to increase the dose of the drug over time to experience the same sense of fulfillment. Benzodiazepines, although effective, carry a high risk of dependence, tolerance buildup, and sedation. This carries a risk of addiction. The rule is that if the anxiety medication is non-addictive, it doesn’t flood your brain with dopamine, which is the chemical that causes intense happiness. Fortunately, presently, there are non-narcotic anxiety meds that do not have addictive potential and can be used effectively to manage anxiety. 

The most popular non-controlled anxiety medications belong to the group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Moreover, many forms of therapies do not involve any medication. Let us explore some options for non-addictive anxiety medication.

SSRIs

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a popular class that includes non-addictive antidepressants. However, proving its efficacy in managing anxiety it is now also considered the class that offers the safest anxiety medication as well. These drugs have a mood-lifting effect induced by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. These effectively help manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Although considered one of the best non-addictive anxiety medications, the major drawback is that SSRIs can take four to six weeks to work optimally and for positive effects to appear. Stopping them abruptly may lead to undesirable withdrawal effects such as nausea or vomiting, chills, vertigo, visual disturbances, or shock sensations.

Some of the commonly prescribed SSRIs include:

SNRIs

Another option for non-benzo anxiety meds is the class Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These are considered very effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. These are similar to SSRIs in boosting serotonin levels but also regulate norepinephrine. Norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter, is closely linked to alertness and concentration and has a robust, positive effect on mood.

SNRI side effects profile is similar to that of SSRIs. Additionally, they can cause loss of appetite, fatigue, and constipation. SNRIs can also cause withdrawal effects if stopped abruptly.

Commonly prescribed SNRIs include: 

Are you looking for the best medicine for anxiety? Connect with our doctor!

Hydroxyzine(Vistaril)

Hydroxyzine is considered a fast-acting anxiety med, but at the same time, it is a temporary anxiety medication or an option as an instant anxiety relief medication.

It is originally an antihistamine that exerts its effect by blocking the histamine receptor but is helpful in treating anxiety. It can cause sedation, but this effect eventually wears off with use. Hydroxyzine helps balance neurotransmitters in your brain involved in mood regulation, such as histamines and serotonin.

Buspirone (Buspar)

This non-addictive anxiety medication works similarly to SSRI drugs. Both increase chemical messengers involving serotonin, but Buspar targets only one specific subtype of the serotonin receptor, affecting one specific area of your brain. As SSRIs target multiple receptors, there are more chances of side effects. On the other hand, Buspar potentially has fewer side effects, including lightheadedness, nausea, sore throat, drowsiness, and sleep problems. Moreover, it takes the same amount of time to feel the full impact of this non-ssri anxiety meds.

Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers, non-habit-forming anxiety medication, temporarily aid in relieving anxiety symptoms, especially shaking/tremors and palpitations. This effect is achieved by blocking the effects of adrenaline/epinephrine. Epinephrine is a hormone that modulates fight-or-flight response. A beta-blocker doesn’t change the chemical balance of your brain, so it isn’t for long-term term use in the case of anxiety. Some Beta-blockers prescribed to combat anxiety include:

Gabapentin 

Gabapentin, available as Neurontin, is primarily used to control seizures. However, it has proved to be effective in treating anxiety disorders as well as it has an impact on neurotransmitters in the brain that play a role in anxiety.

As with other medications, this medication requires weeks of consistent use before noticeable effects are observed. As a plus point, Gabapentin is generally well-tolerated as it has a low side effect profile as compared to other anti-anxiety medications. Gabapentin is mainly prescribed in cases where anxiety disorders are primarily a result of substance use disorders. The drug does not cause withdrawal symptoms; hence, it proves effective in this scenario. 

Pregabalin 

Pregabalin, available as Lyrica, is a medication similar to Gabapentin, used to seizure disorders and treat anxiety. Pregabalin enhances the action of GABA(a neurotransmitter in the brain) that reduces stress; this contributes to its quick onset of action and higher potency when compared to Gabapentin.

Research has proven pregabalin’s effectiveness in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). An added benefit is that it has fewer side effects compared to other anti-anxiety medications, making it an ideal option for those who are experiencing side effects due to other non-addictive anxiety medications.

How do doctors determine if you need anxiety medication?

In accordance with the DSM-5(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), anxiety disorders can be subclassified into generalized anxiety, social anxiety, separation anxiety, panic disorder, specific phobias, etc.

A treatment plan is devised according to the symptoms and severity of your condition and is usually personalized. SSRIs and SNRIs are generally the first-line options for most anxiety types. However, not all cases of anxiety require medication. If symptoms are mild, temporary, and do not result in functional impairment, other forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) alone, can help manage them.

Medication is prescribed if symptoms are hard to manage or cause high levels of distress, suicidal thoughts, or depression. Medication can be used to counter:

  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • specific phobias 
  • panic disorders
  • social anxiety disorder

Seeking professional help for anxiety can help counter GAD, panic disorder, or social anxiety disorder effectively.

Are anti-anxiety meds worth it?

Non-addictive anti-anxiety meds or mild anxiety meds affect the brain differently. For example, SSRIs act on the serotonin system, while SRNIs modulate serotonin and norepinephrine hormones. Due to the safety profile, they can be used for the long term, whereas benzodiazepines’ effectiveness reduces over time.

If you live with anxiety, you don’t have to suffer constantly. If your anxiety symptoms are interfering with your routine and leading to distress, seeking treatment will definitely help you overcome anxiety. 

Do you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)? Connect with our doctor for the best treatment plan!

Consult a doctor

We have tried exploring some of the best anxiety medications above. Simply put, no medication is the best for everyone, as one shoe does not fit all. Therefore, to determine the right treatment for yourself that can significantly reduce your anxiety symptoms and improve your quality of life, connect with one of our doctors at Your Doctors Online.

FAQs about non-addictive anxiety medication

What is the success rate of anxiety medication?

Medications such as SSRIs are very effective in managing symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to studies, non-addictive medications can effectively treat anxiety as compared to those that can potentially lead to addiction. Non-addictive anxiety medications are now a popular choice to treat anxiety due to their lower risk of abuse and dependence.

What can I take for instant anxiety relief?

Benzodiazepines exert their effect within 30–60 minutes and are fast-acting drugs that combat anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks, muscle tension, and insomnia. Some benzodiazepines commony prescribed incude alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam, diazepam or lorazepam. An option amongst non-addictive anxiety medications includes Hydroxyzine, which is considered a fast-acting, temporary anxiety medication. 

What anxiety med has the least side effects?

Most antidepressants are generally safe, but (FDA) has strictly enforced that all antidepressants carry black box warnings. This is particularly because in some cases, children, teenagers and young adults under 25 may exhibit suicidal ideation or behaviour while taking antidepressants. Each person responds differently to different medications. There are options of anxiety medications that can be taken without side effects or have a low side effect profile; some of these include:
Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium)
Paroxetine (Paxil)
Citalopram (Celexa)
Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

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