The complicated relationship of stress – anxiety – depression is reflected in that fact that there is a large spectrum of conventional medicines that are used to treat stress. Deciding which medication is most appropriate is often difficult and depends on the relative amounts of anxiety or depression that the patient is dealing with. Some mediations have a greater effect on depression and others have effects such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)
Tricyclic antidepressants were first developed in the 1950s and are commonly used to treat depression but can also be used for certain anxiety disorders. Today they are not used as often as some other treatments.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant drug and they are also used for depression-anxiety disorders as well as some personality disorders. They increase the levels of serotonin by stopping it being taken up into certain cells in the nervous system. There is some controversy over their efficacy in mild and moderate depression.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)
SNRIs act in the same way as SSRIs but also increase the levels of norepinephrine. Most commonly used for depression, they can also be used for some anxiety disorders.
Beta blockers and alpha blockers are often used to treat anxiety, but their main indication is for high blood pressure.
Benzodiazepines act through a neurotransmitter and result in a sedative and anxiolytic effect. They are usually used to treat acute anxiety and insomnia.