Anti-anxiety drugs are defined as medicines that calm and relax people with excessive anxiety, nervousness, or tension, or for short-term control of social phobia disorder or specific phobia disorder. Anti-anxiety medications are used to treat people with anxiety by bringing them to a calmer state of mind and allow their body to relax and respond in a more effective manner. Anti-anxiety medication needs a prescription in order to be taken by a person with anxiety, there aren’t any over the counter medications that will help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety nor will any good standing pharmacist hand out un-prescribed pills. Many different types of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines (typically prescribed for short-term use) and newer options like SSRI antidepressants (often recommended as a long-term anxiety solution). These drugs can provide temporary relief, but they also come with side effects and safety concerns. They are also not a cure. In fact, there are many questions about their long-term effectiveness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use. According to HelpGuide.org, benzodiazepines are the most widely prescribed type of medication for anxiety. Because they work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour, they’re very effective when taken during a panic attack or another overwhelming anxiety episode. However, they are physically addictive and not recommended for long-term treatment. Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the nervous system, helping you relax both physically and mentally, but it can also lead to unwanted side effects. The higher the dose, the more intense these side effects typically are. However, some people feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated even on low doses, which can cause problems with work, school, or everyday activities such as driving. The medication hangover can last into the next day. Common side effects of benzodiazepines are drowsiness, dizziness, poor balance or coordination, slurred speech, trouble concentrating, memory problems, confusion, stomach ache, headache, and blurred vision. Benzodiazepines, while their purpose is to reverse the effects of anxiety, sometimes end up doing the complete opposite causing mania, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, increased anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, agitation, and rage. Benzodiazepines are also highly addictive in that when taken regularly, but then stopped they may have detrimental effects on a person’s mental and physical health. A person may experience withdrawal symptoms such as confusion, stomach pain, restlessness, increased anxiety, shakiness, pounding heart, sweating, depression, panic attacks, insomnia, and in severe cases seizure. Individuals at higher risk of unpleasant reactions to benzodiazepines are people over 65, older adults are more sensitive to the sedating effects of benzodiazepines, even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that looks like dementia. Benzodiazepine use in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents. Long-term benzodiazepine use also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. People with a history of substance abuse because they’re physically addicting and on their own and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or former substance abuse problem should use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution. Finally, pregnant and breastfeeding women; benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the developing baby, with withdrawal following birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women need to have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of these medications with their prescribing doctor.