Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/26/2022
Whether it shows in consistent panic attacks or the occasional flare-up, anxiety can be a beast for anyone it afflicts. Fortunately there are lots of ways to treat anxiety, including talk therapy. It’s also helpful to know who can prescribe anxiety medication.
Read on to find out — and learn more about what type of treatment for anxiety might be right for you.
It’s never easy to open yourself up to getting the mental health help you need and deserve.
Unfortunately, there exists a bonafide stigma, especially toward men, when it comes to seeking out mental healthcare.
Making matters more challenging, anxiety — or simply anxiety symptoms — can come in many forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia and bipolar disorder.
Once you decide to start the process of acquiring prescription care for these mental health conditions, it’s important to know what resources are available to you.
Here’s a rundown of healthcare professionals who can prescribe you anxiety medication.
A psychiatrist is someone with a medical degree who practices the treatment of all types of mental health illnesses, challenges and disorders.
The overarching difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is a psychiatrist can prescribe medication.
Psychiatrists don’t necessarily see their job as a means by which they can completely cure their patients’ mental health challenges. Instead, psychiatrists look at their work through a palliative lens.
They have a medical school degree and are able to prescribe well-researched medications to help patients manage anxiety and depression.
A psychiatrist can also help you determine which medication might be right not just for your anxiety disorder but for you. And if you experience a problem or any side effects, they’ll be able to adjust your dose or change your anxiety medication.
There’s good news: Your everyday family doctor, otherwise known as a general practitioner (GP) has the authority to prescribe anxiety medication.
While both men and women consult psychiatrists instead of physicians for mental health challenges, physicians are still an excellent, acceptable resource to begin tackling anxiety.
So, if need be, you can always call up your doctor to discuss your mental health concerns.
In fact, millions of Americans choose to visit their general practitioner instead of a psychiatrist when it comes to finding a prescription medication for their mental health challenges.
After a thorough conversation, your healthcare provider can then offer a prescription remedy to the anxiety you’ve been experiencing.
A nurse practitioner (NP) is someone with a graduate degree in the advanced practice of nursing. There are two common acronyms associated with a nurse practitioner: ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) and APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse).
The ability of a nurse practitioner to prescribe medications depends on the state in which you are receiving care.
Some states offer nurse practitioners ‘full practice authority,’ which gives them the ability to prescribe medication — in this case, anxiety medication.
In other cases, however, states only allow a ‘reduced’ or ‘restricted’ practice, which regulates the scope of a nurse practitioner’s tools with which to assist a patient.
Let’s say you’re comfortable with the idea of taking medication for your anxiety. You’ve consulted with mental health professionals, and a prescription for anti-anxiety medication seems right.
Here are some of the medications you can expect your therapist, doctor or nurse practitioner to recommend:
Buspirone: Buspirone may be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder. After staring this medication, it usually takes a few weeks to start feeling better. It can be a better option for individuals with chronic anxiety, as it is less addicting than benzodiazepines.
Beta Blockers: Beta Blockers can help control some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, including trembling, sweaty hands, rapid heart rate and dizziness.
Those with social anxiety disorders may take beta blockers to help control the anxiety stemming from being in a crowd.
Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are used for short-term treatment of anxiety disorders. They typically take effect within 30 to 60 minutes of administration, and have been a reliable source of anxiety medication for quite some time.
Common benzodiazepines include alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam and lorazepam.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRIs): Commonly used anti-anxiety medication, SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. SSRIs have been thoroughly studied and researched, and they’ve been proven to deliver improvements for those who take them.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRIs): SNRIs have been known to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as well as depression. Their effectiveness parallels that of SSRIs. SNRIs work by affecting the brain’s neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers.
Racing thoughts, sweaty palms and an elevated heartbeat. These symptoms might be normal before a first date or giant presentation, but if you regularly feel these symptoms, you may be experiencing anxiety.
The following are common anxiety symptoms:
Physical tension, specifically in your muscles
Difficulty sleeping, whether it’s staying asleep or falling asleep
The above mentioned symptoms all fall under the umbrella of generalized anxiety disorder.
These symptoms are the most common manifestations of anxiety, and if they show up in your life, their acuity and frequency should be carefully monitored.
Anxiety is a broad term, and understanding what types exist might dictate the type of medication you might be prescribed.
Here are some types of anxiety you could experience:
Separation Anxiety Disorder: Typically afflicting someone older than would be considered normal to fear separation from another, separation anxiety disorder manifests in one’s fear of bodily harm, death or generalized panic when separated from another.
Social Anxiety Disorder: This type of anxiety manifests in one’s fear of judgment, embarrassment or scrutiny in social situations.
Panic Disorder: This type of anxiety typically shows up as panic attacks. These can come on without notice or provocation, and the experience of these panic attacks can be both crippling and befuddling. The feelings associated with a panic disorder can be an overwhelming sense of doom, and there can be physical anxiety symptoms of sweating, racing heart and dizziness, too.
Selective Mutism: Often associated with kids under the age of five, selective mutism often manifests in one’s inability to talk in social scenarios. It can be associated with fear of embarrassment, extreme shyness and temper tantrums.
Assorted Phobias: Assorted phobias are other fears, like that of flying, emotional humiliation, bodily harm, creatures (bugs or dogs, for example) can trigger anxiety.
There is an unlimited array of tools to assist you in combating anxiety. In fact, if you forgo prescription medication, there are still plenty of resources available to combat your anxiety.
You can try online therapy with licensed psychologists who can assist you in helping you help yourself.
Support groups give communal acknowledgment to help you begin your journey in healing from your anxiety challenges.
Regardless of the severity or kind of anxiety you experience, there’s always a way to take care of the anxiety itself.
It’s importantto understand that if you have anxiety, there’s nothing wrong with you.
The best thing to do is to seek out the advice, care and counsel you deserve.
With all the research and tools available to you today it’s possible to treat anxiety with prescription anxiety medications and/or therapy, and heal for good.