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10 Best Options for Over the Counter Anxiety Medications

Many people in the United States struggle with anxiety, which is a common mental health condition. 

While prescription medications are often used to treat anxiety, many people prefer to try over-the-counter options first. 

In this article, we’ll explore 10 over-the-counter anxiety medications that you may find helpful.

Over the Counter Anxiety Medications

It is important to remember that even though these medications are available over the counter, you should consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medication, particularly if you have existing medical conditions or are on other medications.

Additionally, while these medications may be helpful for some people, they may not work for everyone. 

It’s important to approach any new treatment option with an open mind and realistic expectations.


1) L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in tea leaves. It is known for its calming effects on the brain and is often used as a natural remedy for anxiety.

When taken as a supplement, L-Theanine is believed to increase the production of alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with relaxation and reduced stress levels. 

It is believed to boost serotonin and dopamine levels, which help regulate mood.

Studies have shown that L-Theanine can be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, particularly in people with mild to moderate anxiety. 

It is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, with few reported side effects.

If you are considering using L-Theanine for anxiety, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider first. 

They can help you determine if it is safe for you to take and can provide guidance on the appropriate dosage.


2) Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, an herb utilized in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for many years, has a long history. 

It is believed to have anxiolytic properties, meaning it may help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Studies on ashwagandha for anxiety are limited, but some have shown positive results. 

One study found that ashwagandha extract reduced anxiety in people with generalized anxiety disorder. 

Another study demonstrated that a combination of ashwagandha and other herbs alleviated anxiety symptoms in individuals experiencing stress and anxiety.

Ashwagandha comes in different forms like capsules, powders, and teas. 

It is usually safe, but it can interact with medications or have side effects. Before taking ashwagandha or any supplement for anxiety, talk to your healthcare provider.

More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of ashwagandha for anxiety. 

However, it could be a natural alternative worth considering for those seeking different treatments.


3) Valerian Root

If you want a natural way to help with anxiety, you could try valerian root. 

Valerian root is a plant that has been used for a long time to help people relax. 

It works by increasing a chemical in the brain called GABA, which helps calm the brain. 

Valerian root is usually safe, but it can cause side effects like headaches and dizziness.

It can also interact with some medications, so talk to your doctor before taking it. 

Valerian root might be a good option for managing anxiety, but always check with your doctor first before trying any new supplement.


4) Passionflower

Passionflower is a plant that has been used for a long time to help with anxiety and sleep problems. 

It comes from North America but is now grown all over the world. 

You can find passionflower in capsules, teas, and tinctures.

Passionflower works by increasing a chemical in the brain called GABA, which helps to reduce anxiety and make you feel relaxed. 

It also has properties that can help you sleep better.

One good thing about passionflower is that it doesn’t have many side effects like some medicines do. 

It’s usually safe for most people if taken in the right amounts. 

But it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking it, especially if you’re already taking other medications.

In short, passionflower is a natural way to reduce anxiety and sleep better. It’s safe for most people and comes in different forms. 

Just make sure to check with your doctor before using it, especially if you’re on other medications.


5) Gabapentin

Gabapentin is a medicine used to treat anxiety, nerve pain, and seizures. It is an anticonvulsant drug that works by reducing certain brain chemicals. 

It is a safer alternative to addictive benzodiazepines, as it does not cause drowsiness or cognitive problems.

Gabapentin is taken in tablet form, with or without food, depending on the medical condition. 

Follow the dosage instructions from your healthcare provider. 

Common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea, which usually go away on their own. 

Seek medical help if you have severe side effects like difficulty breathing or facial swelling. 

Gabapentin is safe and effective for anxiety and other conditions, but consult your healthcare provider before taking it, especially if you have other medical conditions or take other medications.


6) Buspirone

Buspirone is a medication for anxiety that can be bought without a prescription. 

It helps with anxiety disorders like GAD by changing certain chemicals in the brain. 

Unlike benzodiazepines, it is a serotonin receptor agonist, which boosts serotonin activity in the brain.

You usually take Buspirone two to three times a day, with or without food. 

It might take a few weeks to start working, so it’s important to be patient and follow the instructions. 

Possible side effects of Buspirone include dizziness, nausea, and headaches. 

If you have any side effects, talk to your doctor.

Overall, Buspirone is a safe and effective over-the-counter option for anxiety treatment.

 But always consult your doctor before trying any new medication, including Buspirone.


7) Kava

Kava is a natural remedy for anxiety that comes from the root of the kava plant in the South Pacific. 

It helps to calm the nervous system by increasing GABA levels in the brain.

Kava can be found in different forms like capsules, tablets, tinctures, and teas.

Although kava is generally safe, it may cause side effects like dizziness, headaches, and upset stomach.

It can also interact with certain medications, so it’s important to consult with a doctor before using kava.

Kava contains kavalactones, which have calming effects. 

It can be a helpful over-the-counter anxiety treatment for some people, but it’s crucial to use it with the advice of a healthcare professional. 

It’s also important to be aware of any potential side effects and interactions that may occur.


8) Hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine is a medication used to treat anxiety by blocking natural substances that cause allergic symptoms. 

It can be bought over the counter or prescribed by a doctor. It’s important to follow dosage instructions, as it can cause drowsiness. 

It may also lead to dry mouth, dizziness, and blurred vision. If you have any side effects, talk to your doctor.

Hydroxyzine is generally safe, but not suitable for everyone. 

Speak to your doctor before taking it, especially if you have medical conditions or take other medications.

In summary, hydroxyzine is commonly used for anxiety. 

Follow dosage instructions carefully and consult your doctor if you have any side effects.


9) St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is a popular herbal supplement used for mild to moderate depression and anxiety. 

It comes from the plant Hypericum perforatum and can be bought without a prescription in health food stores and pharmacies.

Some studies suggest that St. John’s Wort can help with anxiety symptoms like nervousness and tension. 

But more research is needed to be sure.

St. John’s Wort can interact with certain medications like antidepressants and birth control pills. 

Talk to your doctor before taking it if you are on any medications or have medical conditions.

Overall, St. John’s Wort may help with mild anxiety, but it’s important to be cautious and talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.


10) 5-HTP

If you need an anxiety medication that you can buy without a prescription, you might consider trying 5-HTP. 

5-HTP is a natural supplement that turns into serotonin in the brain. 

Serotonin is a chemical that helps control mood and behavior, and low levels of serotonin can lead to anxiety and depression.

Some studies suggest that 5-HTP could help reduce anxiety symptoms, but more research is needed to fully understand its effects and possible side effects.

It’s important to know that 5-HTP can interact with certain medications, like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. 

It’s not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with certain medical conditions.

Before taking 5-HTP, talk to your doctor. They can help decide if it’s safe for you and give advice on how much to take and what side effects to watch for.

5-HTP might be a good choice for some people with anxiety, but it’s important to be careful with any supplement or medication and always get advice from a healthcare professional.


What are Over The Counter Anxiety Medications?

Over-the-counter anxiety medications are drugs that can be bought without a prescription. They are used to help with mild to moderate anxiety. But remember, they are not a replacement for professional medical help.

How They Work?

These medications affect certain chemicals in the brain that control mood and anxiety. They are either sedatives or antihistamines. 

Sedatives like diphenhydramine and doxylamine slow down brain activity, causing drowsiness and relaxation.

Antihistamines like hydroxyzine and dimenhydrinate block histamine, a chemical released during allergies that can cause anxiety. 

These medications can have side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth.

 They can also interact with other drugs, so talk to a healthcare provider before taking them.

Common Ingredients

Over the counter anxiety medications contain a variety of active ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients include:

  • Diphenhydramine: This sedative is commonly found in sleep aids and allergy medications.
  • Doxylamine: This sedative is commonly found in sleep aids and is also used to treat nausea and vomiting.
  • Hydroxyzine: This antihistamine is commonly used to treat anxiety and itching.
  • Dimenhydrinate: This antihistamine is commonly used to treat motion sickness and nausea.

It is important to carefully read the labels of over the counter anxiety medications to ensure that you are not taking more than one medication that contains the same active ingredient. 

This can lead to an overdose and serious health complications.

Overall, over the counter anxiety medications can be a helpful tool in managing mild to moderate anxiety symptoms. 

However, it is important to use them responsibly and in consultation with a healthcare provider.


Potential Side Effects and Risks

Short-Term Side Effects

Over the counter anxiety medications can cause short-term side effects. These side effects may vary depending on the medication. Some common short-term side effects of anxiety medication include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth

If you experience any of these side effects, it is recommended that you stop taking the medication and consult with your healthcare provider.

Long-Term Risks

Long-term use of over the counter anxiety medications may have some risks. These risks may vary depending on the medication and the individual. Some potential long-term risks of anxiety medication include:

  • Dependence
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased risk of falls in older adults

It is important to follow the recommended dosage and duration of use for over the counter anxiety medications to avoid these long-term risks. It is also recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

Remember to always read the label and follow the instructions carefully when taking over the counter anxiety medications. If you experience any side effects or have any concerns, consult with your healthcare provider.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most effective natural remedies for anxiety?

L-Theanine, Ashwagandha, Valerian Root, Passionflower, and Gabapentin are some of the most effective natural remedies for anxiety. However, it is important to note that natural remedies may not work for everyone and it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

Which FDA approved over-the-counter medications are available for anxiety relief?

There are currently no FDA approved over-the-counter medications for anxiety relief. However, there are some over-the-counter medications that may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, such as antihistamines and certain herbal supplements.

What are the recommended anxiety medications for adults that do not require a prescription?

There are currently no recommended anxiety medications for adults that do not require a prescription. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication, including over-the-counter options.

What options exist for immediate relief from anxiety without a prescription?

Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are some techniques that may provide immediate relief from anxiety. Additionally, engaging in physical activity, such as exercise or yoga, may also help alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Are there any non-prescription medications that can also help with depression symptoms?

St. John’s Wort is a non-prescription medication that may help alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression. However, it is important to note that St. John’s Wort may interact with other medications and should not be taken without consulting with a healthcare professional.

How do over-the-counter anxiety treatments compare to prescription medications?

Over-the-counter anxiety treatments may provide temporary relief from symptoms of anxiety, but prescription medications are typically more effective in treating anxiety disorders. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment plan for your specific needs.


The Bottomline

In conclusion, while over-the-counter anxiety medications like L-Theanine, Ashwagandha, Valerian Root, Passionflower, Gabapentin, Buspirone, Kava, Hydroxyzine, St. John’s Wort, and 5-HTP offer potential benefits, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment. 

These options can be effective for some individuals, but they may not work for everyone and could interact with other medications or underlying health conditions.

Managing anxiety can be challenging, and finding the right treatment often requires professional guidance. 

At Hometown NP we are committed to providing personalized mental health support to help you achieve a balanced and fulfilling life.

Start improving your mental health today by scheduling an appointment with Hometown NP for your online prescription refill.


Disclaimer: This article offers educational information and is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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