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antianxiety drug,drug administered for the relief of anxietyanxiety,
anticipatory tension or vague dread persisting in the absence of a specific threat. In contrast to fear, which is a realistic reaction to actual danger, anxiety is generally related to an unconscious threat.
..... Click the link for more information. . Although their action is not fully understood, most antianxiety medications appear to affect the action of neurotransmitters in the brain (see serotoninserotonin
, organic compound that was first recognized as a powerful vasoconstrictor occurring in blood serum. It was partially purified, crystallized, and named in 1948, and its structure was deduced a year later.
..... Click the link for more information. and norepinephrinenorepinephrine
, a neurotransmitter in the catecholamine family that mediates chemical communication in the sympathetic nervous system, a branch of the autonomic nervous system.
..... Click the link for more information. ). They may work by affecting the limbic system, that part of the brain associated with emotion.
Antianxiety drugs frequently prescribed in the United States include the benzodiazepinesbenzodiazepine
, any of a class of drugs prescribed for their tranquilizing, antianxiety, sedative, and muscle-relaxing effects. Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for epilepsy and alcohol withdrawal.
..... Click the link for more information. alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Clonopin), most often prescribed for panic attacks and general anxiety. Long-term use is discouraged because of side effects (impaired alertness, sedation, interactions with alcohol and other drugs), potential for addiction, and withdrawal symptoms. Nonbenzodiazepine drugs that work by acting on benzodiazepine receptors include zolpidem (Ambien), which is widely prescribed as a sleeping pill. Beta-blockersbeta-blocker
or beta-adrenergic blocking agent
, drug that reduces the symptoms connected with hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, angina pectoris, migraine headaches, and other disorders related to the sympathetic nervous system.
..... Click the link for more information. , usually prescribed for hypertension, are sometimes used for people facing an anxiety-producing "crisis," such as performing on the stage or giving a speech. Buspirone (BuSpar), a drug chemically unrelated to the benzodiazepines or beta-blockers, is often preferred for cases of long-term anxiety because it has fewer side effects, less addictive potential, and no withdrawal symptoms.