Over-The-Counter Anxiety Medication: What Are The Most Effective Options Over-The-Counter Anxiety Medication: What Are The Most Effective Options

Over-The-Counter Anxiety Medication: What Are The Most Effective Options


Anxiety affects everyone differently. Prescription medication is the best way to prevent this condition from controlling a person's life. Others may benefit from therapy, lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements. Despite this, not all OTC options are scientifically proven to treat anxiety. We reviewed the studies for you since they can be difficult to interpret.

This article will first explain why anxiety medications are only available by prescription. Then we'll discuss seven OTC options shown to relieve anxiety symptoms. As well as lifestyle changes that can help improve anxiety symptoms, we'll discuss when to see a doctor or mental health professional.

Why Anxiety Medication Is Prescription Only

The drug approval has approved several prescription drugs for the treatment of anxiety disorders, including:


  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)

  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

  • Buspirone (Buspar)

  • Benzodiazepines


The anti-anxiety medications affect neurotransmitters in the brain that can become unbalanced, leading to anxiety symptoms. In addition to causing severe side effects, they must be consumed under the supervision of a physician.

OTC Anxiety Medications

Some people prefer to try OTC anxiety medicines before switching to prescription medications.

Some evidence supports the effectiveness of the ones below, even if they may only work for some.

Consult your healthcare provider before taking OTC remedies, as these may interact with prescription medications, foods, or supplements. Moreover, supplements are not regulated by the drug approval and may not contain the ingredients, doses they advertise, or other unlisted ingredients.



Typically used to treat allergies, antihistamines cause drowsiness or sedation as a side effect.

Compared to anti-anxiety medications, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is not an effective anxiety treatment. Anxiety symptoms that interfere with sleep or are triggered by allergies may be treated with diphenhydramine or other antihistamines.

Diphenhydramine can cause dizziness or drowsiness in older adults, leading to falls, injury, or confusion. Diphenhydramine overdose can be fatal, so never exceed the recommended dose.

Taking hydroxyzine (Vistaril) as needed for anxiety is effective. You can ask your healthcare provider if that is a good treatment option.


5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

In the body, 5-HTP is also known as tryptophan. Several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, are made from it.  The brain recycles or increases serotonin levels with anti-anxiety medications.

Anxiety is thought to be relieved by 5-HTP because it provides the body with the materials it needs to make more serotonin. However, quality studies have not shown that it increases serotonin levels in the brain or positively affects mood.

5-HTP could interact with other medications that affect brain chemicals.

The following medications should not be taken with 5-HTP:


  • Antidepressants

  • Anti-anxiety medications

  • Stimulants

  • Sedatives

  • Muscle relaxers



The mineral magnesium is essential to many bodily functions, such as muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, blood sugar regulation, mood balance, and anxiety relief. Even though magnesium is found in many foods, nearly half of the U.S. population does not consume enough of it.

Age and biological sex determine the recommended daily intake of 310-420 milligrams (mg).

Magnesium from food poses no risks, but high magnesium supplements can cause diarrhoea and other side effects. Magnesium supplements should not exceed 350 milligrams.



Cannabis provides calming properties without being psychoactive, thanks to cannabidiol or CBD. More research is still needed to prove its safety and effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders.  In addition, CBD products are not regulated by drug approval for dosage consistency, purity, or safety.

The amounts of CBD in these products vary; some may contain psychoactive substances derived from marijuana or other sources. Make sure you buy CBD products from reputable brands. Medication can also interact with cannabidiol.


Cortisol levels may be balanced with Ashwagandha. Stress causes the body to produce this hormone. Ashwagandha has anti-anxiety properties, but more research is needed to determine whether this herbal remedy affects larger populations.


The root kava, sometimes called kava, is sold as a dietary supplement. A small study compared kava with a placebo and found it may help reduce anxiety symptoms.

It is essential to use caution when taking kava supplements, as they may cause liver damage that can be permanent or even fatal.


Sleep problems are commonly treated with Valerian root. According to one clinical trial, this supplement improved anxiety-related brain activity. However, not all studies have shown that valerian reduces anxiety, and if you stop taking it regularly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. In addition, it may increase the risk of liver damage.

Lifestyle Changes

Here are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce anxiety naturally:

  • Lavender essential oil is well-known for its relaxing properties. Make a linen spray to use in your sleeping space or on your shirt, or diffuse it in a room. You should never ingest essential oils or apply them directly to your skin.

  • Coupled with psychotherapy and other treatment methods, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices can help relieve anxiety symptoms.

  • Regular physical activity: Anxiety is believed to result from a hyperactive HPA axis (a network of three glands) that keeps the body in a "fight or flight" response for too long. By improving the function of the HPA axis, exercise can improve mood, reduce stress, and modulate anxiety. Anxiety can be relieved by yoga, in particular.


When To Consult A Doctor

Discuss lifestyle changes and OTC options with your healthcare provider if you experience anxiety symptoms. Consider your overall health and specific symptoms when recommending supplements and other treatments.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is There An Over-The-Counter Medication For Anxiety Or Stress?

Anxiety is the only condition for which drug approval requires a prescription. Nevertheless, some OTC medications and supplements may help alleviate anxiety symptoms. Find out what your best options are by talking to a healthcare provider.


How Strong Are Over-The-Counter Anti-Anxiety Medications?

While some dietary supplements (such as Ashwagandha, CBD, valerian root, kava, and magnesium) may ease anxiety, they are neither safe nor effective. Additionally, supplements are not drug approved and may not contain the ingredients or dosages advertised.


How Mobi Doctor Can Help

Do you need mental health support? Mobi Doctor offers anxiety medication. Within minutes, you will be connected to a doctor.



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