Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Chava CrequeEmail author
  • Stephanie A. Kolakowsky-Hayner
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1757


Anti-anxiety drugs; Anti-anxiety medications


Anxiolytics are prescription drugs used to reduce the severity and extent of symptoms due to anxiety-related disorders. The most commonly prescribed anxiolytic drugs are benzodiazepines, drugs used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, phobias, and other ongoing issues of excessive fear and dread. Medical illness often associated with high levels of anxiety also includes brain injury, heart disease, and COPD. There are six approved benzodiazepines in the USA today including the popular diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and alprazolam (Xanax). Anxiolytics are designed to impact neurotransmitters in the amygdala by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that diminishes the fear response. Other drugs with anxiolytic effects include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Neuropsychologists must be aware of the potential effects of anxiolytics on the physical,...

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References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Rehabilitation MedicineIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA