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Anxiety Medications

Bipolar Disorder Medications Library

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Updated October 01, 2009

Anxiety medications, also called anti-anxiety medications or anxiolytics, are prescribed for anxiety disorders as well as for people who have anxiety along with bipolar disorder or major depression. Anxiety medications help to make people less anxious and also help to ease restlessness and worrying. Many of them also help people to sleep better. There are also some medications for depression that also are used to treat anxiety.

Research has found that more than half of people with bipolar disorder also have one or more anxiety disorders. Other people may not have enough anxiety symptoms to be formally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but still need medication to manage their symptoms. Anxiousness, worry, agitation and insomnia, for example, are often experienced during bipolar depression and mixed episodes. Anxiety symptoms such as restlessness, worry and irritability may occur during mania and hypomania. Thus, it's common for bipolar people to have anti-anxiety medications prescribed.

Most of the anti-anxiety medications that are primarily intended to treat anxiety are called benzodiazepines. Many of these anxiety medications are also prescribed for other conditions such as insomnia and agitation, and some, including Ativan (lorazepam) and Klonopin (clonazepam) are used to help prevent seizures as well. Serax may be used to treat alcohol withdrawal. Other benzodiazepines used for anxiety are Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam). Dalmane (flurazepam), Halcion (triazolam), and Restoril (temazepam) are also benzodiazepines but are used only as sedatives.

Other Anti-Anxiety Medications

BuSpar is one of very few anxiety medications not related to the benzodiazepines. Note: Unlike the benzodiazepines listed above, but like the antidepressants listed below, BuSpar should not be taken at the same time as an MAOI antidepressant.

Many SSRI and SNRI antidepressants have a beneficial effect on anxiety. Also, some of the SSRI antidepressants are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat various anxiety disorders with or without depression. These include:

If a bipolar person also has one or more anxiety disorders, it's likely that an appropriate anti-anxiety medication will be prescribed. And any of the above medications may be prescribed for someone with bipolar disorder who also suffers from anxiety, even if the anxiety is not from an actual anxiety disorder.

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