How to Ask Your Doctor For Anxiety Medication


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Whether it’s requesting PTO from your workaholic boss for that Palm Springs family vacay or finding the right moment to talk to your partner about their habit of leaving dirty dishes in the sink, speaking up about your needs can feel daunting.

But as nerve-wracking as it may be, these conversations are important, especially when they relate to your mental health. Easier said than done, though, right? 

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you’re already experiencing some anxiety. A certain level of anxiety is totally normal, but if your anxiety symptoms are more severe or debilitating at times, you may have an anxiety disorder

The first piece of good news is that you’re definitely not alone. Anxiety affects roughly 7 million adults per year in the U.S. alone. And here’s the second piece of good news: Anxiety disorders are very treatable with the help of medication. 

Cool, you might be thinking, but where do I even start? What options are available? Who do I ask? And once I figure that out, what am I supposed to say? 

If these questions are making your palms sweat, don’t worry — we’ve got you.

In this guide, we’ll go over how anti-anxiety medications work, who prescribes them and how to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan.

(Related: 5 Ways to Quiet Your Mind)

Doctors That Prescribe Anxiety Medication

Before we dive in, you should know that while there are multiple ways to get anxiety medication, a prescription is required. The two main types of healthcare providers who can do this are:

  • Primary healthcare providers

  • Psychiatrists 

Primary Healthcare Provider

Reaching out to your primary healthcare provider (sometimes called primary care physician or PCP) — yes, the same one who does your annual physical — is a great place to start because you already have a relationship with them. They have a record of your medical history, so it might feel less intimidating when opening up.


Psychiatrists are trained in treating mental disorders, be it generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder or social anxiety. Since they’re experts in a specific field, they can provide a more specialized treatment plan for your needs. 

Psychologists, on the other hand, share similar traits with psychiatrists but are actually different. One of the biggest differences is how they approach mental health. 

Psychologists tend to look at mental health through the lens of human behavior, whereas psychiatrists hone in more on the biological and chemical factors of mental health. Though psychiatrists are generally the ones known for prescribing medication, in certain states, some psychologists can as well if they have the training. 

So when should you see a psychiatrist? You might want to consider it if: 

  • You’re having trouble controlling your emotions

  • Your sleep patterns have shifted

  • You’re self-medicating with drugs or alcohol

  • Your work is struggling 

  • You’re less social than usual

  • Your anxiety is getting increasingly worse

Keep reading for guidance on what to do next.

Online Psychiatry Service

If you’re interested in speaking with a psychiatrist sooner rather than later, the Hers online psychiatry platform can connect you with a licensed provider — no doctor’s office waiting room required. (You can literally speak to someone while wearing your pajamas — how great is that?) 

At the end of the day, whether you choose to see a psychiatrist or your PCP, there’s no “correct” answer. The choice is up to you, so do whatever makes you feel comfortable. 

Regardless of who you end up speaking to, keep in mind they might suggest making lifestyle changes in addition to prescribing meditation to decrease your anxiety symptoms (i.e., cutting back on your alcohol intake or incorporating exercise into your routine).

(Related: Common Causes of Social Anxiety

How to Know If You Need Anxiety Medication

If you feel like your anxiety is interfering with your life, anxiety medication might be the right choice. Keep in mind there are many types of anxiety, and your symptoms may look different from your sibling’s or friend’s.

So as tempting as it is to ask Dr. Google to answer your medical queries (or even your friend who got a perfect score on their AP Biology exam back in high school), the internet cannot give you an accurate evaluation. Try to resist the urge to self-diagnose your anxiety and instead, make an appointment to speak with an actual healthcare professional.

How to Ask Your Doctor for Anxiety Medication

So you’ve made an appointment — phew. Now what? 

Talking to your healthcare provider about your anxiety can feel, well…anxiety-inducing. To ease your worries, it’s helpful to know what to expect during your appointment. 

Your provider will likely kick things off by asking you about common symptoms, which may include:

  • Feeling persistently sad, anxious or empty 

  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

  • Irritability

  • Lack of energy or fatigue

  • Feeling restless

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering information or making decisions 

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Physical aches and pains

They might ask you about certain lifestyle habits as well, like smoking or drinking. 

It’s also worth noting that there are things you can do ahead of your appointment to make it go as smoothly as possible. This includes: 

  • Making a list of questions ahead of time. It’s easy to forget to ask about certain things when you’re nervous, but writing your questions down ensures you don’t have to remember them.

  • Knowing your medications. Your provider will want to know what other medications you’re taking, so make sure to have the names and dosages ready.

  • Finding out about your family history. This doesn’t mean you need to go make a family tree, but many mental illnesses are genetic and can be passed down from family members. To make the best recommendation, it’s helpful for your provider to have as much context as possible. 

It’s normal to feel nervous when talking to your provider about anxiety or any mental health condition. But just remember: Their job is to help you, not judge you. Being honest about your symptoms of anxiety is the best thing you can do.  

Commonly Prescribed Anxiety Medications 

With an anxiety diagnosis often comes anxiety medication as a treatment option. But which anti-anxiety medication is right for you?

To answer that question, it’s crucial to remember there’s no one-size-fits-all magic pill for treating anxiety. In fact, many medications — some similar, some quite different — are highly effective. Each has its own side effects, with some being more severe than others.

These are some of the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications:

  • Antidepressants

  • Benzodiazepines

  • Beta blockers

  • Buspirone 

  • Bupropion

Here’s what to know.


Antidepressants are frequently prescribed as first-line treatment for anxiety disorders, as they’re highly effective. How do antidepressants work? They target certain neurotransmitters in your brain, like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, to help boost your mood.

The two primary kinds of antidepressants are SSRIs and SNRIs. 

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work by increasing your serotonin levels. Fluoxetine (Prozac®), paroxetine (Paxil®), escitalopram (Lexapro®) and sertraline (Zoloft®) are among the most commonly prescribed SSRIs. 

SNRIs, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, work very similarly to SSRIs, except they also target norepinephrine. Venlafaxine (Effexor®) and duloxetine (Cymbalta®) are two of the most well-known SNRIs prescribed to patients. 

For more details on how these medications work, including their side effects, check out our full list of antidepressants


While antidepressants may take a few weeks for your body to fully feel its effects, benzodiazepines provide immediate relief. Not only do they work quickly, but they also come with a higher risk of dependency, so providers usually prescribe benzodiazepines for a shorter period.

2004 analysis shows that while there’s still uncertainty surrounding the potential for cognitive impairment for long-time benzodiazepine users, they can show recovery of function in certain areas after withdrawal.

Some of the most common benzodiazepines you might’ve heard of include alprazolam (Xanax®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), lorazepam (Ativan®) and diazepam (Valium®). 

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are a cardiac medication intended to slow your heart rate down. Though they’re primarily used to treat cardiovascular health conditions like hypertension, they can also be prescribed off-label to treat anxiety symptoms associated with disorders like social anxiety disorder or performance anxiety.

Propranolol (Inderal®) and atenolol (Tenormin®) are the most common off-label beta blockers.


If antidepressants or benzodiazepines aren’t doing the job, your provider might recommend buspirone (BuSpar®). Buspirone, which is an anxiolytic drug, was originally created as an antipsychotic though it can be used to treat disorders like GAD.

It may take longer for you to feel a difference in mood, but it can be a long-term treatment option. This medication also has fewer potential side effects than other anxiolytic treatments.


Lastly, bupropion (Wellbutrin XL®) can be effective in treating specific mental health conditions like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Bupropion can be found under an umbrella of medications called aminoketones, which work by elevating your dopamine and norepinephrine levels.

We’ve only scratched the sur

face when it comes to talking about medications (there’s a lot to unpack), but our anti-anxiety medication guide can help answer more in-depth questions you may have.

Asking Your Doctor for Anxiety Medication: Takeaways

Asking your healthcare provider about anti-anxiety medication can, no doubt, feel intimidating — but it doesn’t have to be. If you start to feel overwhelmed, remember that prioritizing your mental health is the most important thing you can do, and speaking to a mental health professional is a powerful first step in the right direction.

Of course, there are other steps you can take in the meantime to help reduce your anxiety, such as: 

  • Opening up to others. Talking to a friend or loved one about your struggles can make you feel less alone. The people in your life support you, and by letting them know how you’re actually doing, they can show up for you in the best way possible. The more we normalize mental illness — after all, literally millions of people experience it every day — the more empowered others will be to seek help.

  • Signing up for therapy. Like medication, there are many different kinds of therapy, be it psychotherapy (aka talk therapy), exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can also be effective when done in a group setting. And if doing therapy in-person isn’t your thing, online therapy is a great alternative.

  • Practicing self-care. Self-care is more than just some buzzword wellness influencers like to use. It’s about taking care of your mental health needs, which looks different for everyone. Maybe that’s setting boundaries in your 9-to-5 so you have more time for yourself. Maybe it’s journaling every morning or doing a yoga class with a friend. The best part is, you get to decide. 

Want more tools and tips for dealing with anxiety? Check out these mental health services for additional support.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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The most anxiety inducing movies of all time

The most anxiety inducing movies of all time

Movies have a way of making us feel things, right? One minute you’re laughing, the next you’re tearing up. But some films take it a step further—they make you feel uncomfortable, even downright anxious. And it’s not just about jump scares or gory scenes; these movies stir something deeper. They make your heart race, your palms sweat, and leave you questioning everything. If you’re up for that kind of emotional rollercoaster, this list is for you. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you. 


Directed by Adam McKay, this dark comedy/drama takes on an unsettling edge as it mirrors real-world apathy and bureaucratic inefficiency surrounding pressing issues like climate change. The anxiety factor in the starstudded film featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Strip and Jenifer Lawrence escalates as scientists try, in vain, to warn the world of an impending catastrophe. What makes this film particularly anxiety-inducing is how creepily similar some of its scenarios are to current events, creating a sense of disturbing realism that amplifies the tension.


Forget your typical jump scares, this indie horror flick ditches the traditional formula and instead offers a constant, creeping dread that sticks with you. The movie centers around a young woman named Jay who, after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, finds herself pursued by a shape-shifting entity that only she can see. The catch? It never stops following her, hence the name. The film taps into our deep-rooted fears of the unknown and the unstoppable. It’ll have you looking over your shoulder long after the credits roll, questioning every person who walks a little too slowly or too purposefully in your direction. It’s an inventive, unrelenting twist on the horror genre that will spike your anxiety in the best (or worst?) way possible.


Directed by Jordan Peele, this thriller-horror flick dives deep into social issues like racism and cultural appropriation, but it doesn’t stop at just making you think. Oh no, this movie is a full-on anxiety ride. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, who plays a young African-American man visiting his white girlfriend’s family estate, the film transforms a seemingly benign situation into an absolute nightmare. It’s like that awkward Thanksgiving dinner with your in-laws but dialed up to 1,000—with hypnosis and secret motives thrown in for good measure. It’ll have you questioning every social interaction you’ve ever had and induce a state of perpetual side-eye. A modern classic in the horror genre, ‘Get Out’ is brilliant but absolutely nerve-wracking.


If you’ve ever wondered how stressful life can get for a jeweler in New York’s Diamond District, this movie puts you squarely in those tension-filled shoes. Adam Sandler delivers a far cry from his usual comedic roles as Howard Ratner, a jeweler with a severe gambling addiction. The film is a high-stakes, pulse-pounding ride as Howard makes a series of increasingly poor choices that put him in hot water with some very dangerous people. Your anxiety levels might just match his as you watch him juggle a failing marriage, looming debts, and a relentless pursuit from loan sharks. The chaos is unending, and you’re left clutching your seat, almost begging for a moment of relief that never comes.


Directed by Susanne Bier and featuring an all-star cast led by Sandra Bullock, this post-apocalyptic thriller explores survival in a world overrun by mysterious creatures that cause people to commit suicide if they’re seen. Why is it anxiety-inducing, you ask? Imagine navigating rapids blindfolded with two kids in tow, or simply walking to the grocery store without the gift of sight—knowing that removing your blindfold could end your life. The film does a stellar job at plunging you into a world where even opening your eyes could be deadly. The tension is palpable, and the emotional stakes are sky-high, maki


Based on a Stephen King novel, this psychological thriller features James Caan as a famous novelist who becomes bedridden and finds himself in the care of his “number one fan,” played by Kathy Bates. Her obsession with him and his work goes from flattering to horrifying real quick. Let’s just say, you’ll never look at a sledgehammer the same way again. This film crafts a masterful, claustrophobic atmosphere that turns the anxiety dial up to eleven. Your heart will pound as you watch the novelist try to outwit his captor and escape her increasingly deranged plans. Misery delivers intense psychological horror that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you think twice about your fans—if you have any!


Directed by John Krasinski, who also stars alongside real-life spouse Emily Blunt, this horror-thriller forces you into a hauntingly silent world. The film follows a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic setting where vicious aliens with acute hearing have wiped out much of humanity. Say goodbye to casual conversation and hello to heart-pounding silence! The anxiety kicks in with every accidental noise—a dropped toy, a creaky floorboard—and you find yourself holding your breath along with the characters. The tension in ‘A Quiet Place’ is not just a feature; it’s a relentless force that grips you from start to finish.

Jonny Cournoyer – © 2018 Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Directed by Damien Chazelle, this movie dives deep into the world of a young, ambitious jazz drummer named Andrew, played by Miles Teller, and his highly demanding music instructor, Terence Fletcher, portrayed by J.K. Simmons in an Oscar-winning role. You’d think a film about jazz drumming would be smooth and melodic, right? Wrong. Every drum beat ratchets up the tension as Andrew strives for perfection, pushed to his physical and emotional limits by Fletcher’s harsh methods. The music isn’t just music; it becomes a battleground for excellence, passion, and a deep-rooted need for approval. The anxiety in ‘Whiplash’ builds through intense rehearsal scenes, rigorous tempo demands, and a relentless quest for perfection that turns the music conservatory into a high-stakes pressure cooker. It’s a psychological duel that will leave you feeling like you’ve been holding your breath for the entire runtime.


This South Korean masterpiece directed by Bong Joon-ho took home four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. On the surface, it’s a tale of a poor family scheming to infiltrate a wealthy family’s life by becoming their indispensable employees. But oh boy, the anxiety kicks in when they find a dark secret lurking in the wealthy family’s basement. The film’s tension doesn’t just ramp up; it skyrockets, turning from a dark comedy into a full-blown thriller. The meticulous planning needed to maintain the family’s deception is stressful enough, but when the unexpected happens, your heart will be pounding like a jackhammer. ‘Parasite’ taps into social anxieties around class and societal expectations, and it does so in a way that will leave you chewing your nails down to nubs.


Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who has a knack for crafting anxiety-inducing films like ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘The Lobster,’ this psychological thriller takes tension to a whole new level. The film features Colin Farrell as a cardiovascular surgeon whose life starts to unravel in terrifying ways after he befriends a mysterious teenager, played by Barry Keoghan. With its unsettling atmosphere, chilling performances, and a script that masterfully weaves elements of Greek tragedy into a modern-day horror story, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. 

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.



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