3 Common Anxiety Medications for Teens


Reading Time: 3 minutes

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can be hard to manage. As a teenager, experiencing anxiety from sources like school, parents and peers can start to feel overwhelming. Common symptoms you might experience range from hyperfocusing to panic attacks. When you are experiencing intense anxiety symptoms, finding a treatment that works is important. Medications are often prescribed to teens with anxiety. While medication can make it easier to manage your symptoms, it is typically a short-term solution. Learning more about anxiety medication and other effective forms of treatment for teens can help you get the care you need.

Common anxiety medications for teens

  • SSRIs — SSRIs are among the most common medications for addressing anxiety in teens. They are also frequently used to address depression and other mental health disorders. SSRI is short for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. The name describes what these medications do. They prevent your brain from reabsorbing serotonin (a natural mood-regulating chemical). SSRIs are designed to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. This can help stabilize your mood and reduce anxiety. Common SSRIs include sertraline, sometimes referred to by the brand name Zoloft. SSRIs can be effective anxiety medications for teens. While they can offer some benefits, they also come with the risk of negative side effects. Common side effects for sertraline and other SSRIs include nausea, dry mouth and appetite changes.
  • SNRIs — Like SSRIs, SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, but they also affect the reuptake of norepinephrine. This chemical is a hormone and neurotransmitter that affects mood and focus. Because of the role norepinephrine plays in the brain’s fight-or-flight response, SNRIs are often used specifically to address anxiety symptoms. One common SNRI is duloxetine (Cymbalta). Like SSRIs, SNRIs can have a range of side effects. Blurred vision, constipation and nausea are all potential side effects of taking SNRIs like duloxetine.
  • Benzodiazepines — Benzodiazepines are pretty different from SSRIs and SNRIs. They affect a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Because this chemical has a calming effect, it can help lessen anxiety symptoms. Benzodiazepines can provide rapid short-term relief, but their potential side effects include chemical dependency. They are typically prescribed for short-term use to limit the risk of addiction.

Benefits of process-based therapy as a partner for anxiety medications for teens

Medication can benefit teens with anxiety, but medication isn’t the only treatment option that can help. In fact, medication is often combined with other treatments, such as process-based therapy (PBT). PBT combines the strong points of other therapeutic methods. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). By drawing on the benefits of PBT, licensed clinical therapists can develop treatment plans optimized for the success of each individual client. Here are a few key benefits of PBT:

  • Holistic approach — With holistic treatment, you can address the processes underlying your mental health symptoms. The focus of PBT is understanding and changing your thought and behavior patterns. By addressing your anxiety at its core and taking your medication as prescribed, you may have an even easier time managing the symptoms of your anxiety.
  • Long-term skills — PBT emphasizes skill-building. You can work with your therapist to develop practical skills for coping with stress and anxiety in challenging situations. These skills are meant to improve your emotional resilience. For example, you may learn better ways to cope with your particular anxiety triggers. Avoiding and managing triggers can have a major impact on your condition. By building coping skills and learning to adapt to new situations, you can reduce your anxiety symptoms in the long term.
  • Personalized treatment — Licensed clinical experts who offer PBT understand that  personalized treatment is more likely to help you cope better with your anxiety. That’s why they’ll ensure that your comprehensive treatment plan is tailored to your specific circumstances. This can help make sure that you’re getting the greatest benefit from treatments like medication and the interventions involved in PBT.

Lightfully is ready to support you and work to help you address your anxiety

Looking for a team that can help you get the best from a combo of anxiety medications and other treatments? Lightfully Behavioral Health offers supportive and holistic treatments for people who are struggling with anxiety.

Our kind and compassionate clinical experts can use multiple treatment options and levels of care to help you through multiple phases of your anxiety treatment journey. We’ll work hard to make sure that your treatment is:

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the next step in addressing your anxiety, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take that step together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

Connect with Admissions