Updated on April 14, 2023
4 min read

Are There Any Over-the-Counter Anxiety Medications?

Key Takeaways

What Can I Take to Calm My Anxiety?

Anxiety is a common mental health condition. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options, including both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, to help you feel better.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults. That’s 3.1% of the United States population. While only 43.2% of those adults receive treatment for their anxiety, it exists.4

Treatment may vary depending on the type of anxiety you have. There are several types of anxiety disorders:

  • GAD
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Specific phobias
  • General stress-induced anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • More

Many people who live with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring condition. Some also have a co-occurring physical illness. These other disorders and illnesses can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

It’s important to get treatment for anxiety and other co-occurring disorders or illnesses. 


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Are There OTC Anxiety Medications?

There are some OTC medications available that can help you cope with your anxiety, depending on what your symptoms are. However, there are no OTC anxiety-specific medications.

Because anxiety medication alters your brain, it’s considered a controlled substance. A healthcare provider must prescribe your anxiety medication.

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Why Anxiety Medications are Prescription-Only

Anxiety medications are prescription only. Here’s why:

  • Some anxiety medications can be addictive.
  • Anxiety medications can have some serious side effects.

A healthcare provider will determine which specific medication and dose is best for you.

Alternative Treatments to OTC Anxiety Medications

If you can’t get a prescription for anxiety medication or don’t want to take prescription drugs, you can also consider alternative treatments for anxiety. Healthcare professionals also recommend starting therapy in addition to anxiety medications.


Therapy is an excellent tool for treating anxiety and depression (which often go hand in hand). A therapist can help you unpack your triggers and find healthy coping mechanisms to calm your anxiety.

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies might help soothe anxiety. Here are some vitamins and supplements that have been proven to help treat anxiety:1

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is associated with subjective stress, which can relieve symptoms.2
  • Eucalyptus: Studies show that essential oils containing ingredients like Eucalyptus can help you relax.
  • Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 supplementation has been shown to reduce self-reported anxiety and depression.5
  • Chamomile: Chamomile has been shown to have an anxiolytic and antidepressant effect.8
  • Lavender: Inhaling lavender can significantly reduce anxiety.3


Exercise has proven physical and mental health benefits. Because exercise releases feel-good endorphins and alleviates stress, it can help relax your anxiety.7

Plus, engaging in exercise not only keeps your mind busy. It also helps you decrease muscle tension that builds up with anxiety. Increasing your heart rate through exercise can also change your brain chemistry. It boosts your anti-anxiety neurochemicals like serotonin.7

Meditation and breathwork

Meditation and breathwork are two tried-and-true ways of alleviating anxiety. They’re both tied to mindfulness, helping you to stay in the present moment, which can take you away from your worries.6, 10

Meditation has been studied repeatedly and is associated with a massive reduction in anxiety.


Writing down your thoughts — positive, negative, and neutral — is another way to help let go of some anxiety. Journaling is scientifically proven to ease anxiety and depression.9

Emptying everything in your mind (and overwhelming you) down on paper can feel relieving. Plus, when you have it all in writing, you can unpack and better understand what’s giving you anxiety. Putting pen to paper can also help you to acknowledge, accept, and let go of your worries.

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When to Seek Anxiety Treatment

A lot of people struggle with anxiety. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

If any of the following statements resonate with you, you should seek professional help.

  1. I can’t stop thinking about potential adverse outcomes.
  2. I’m overwhelmed by the volume and/or pace of my thoughts.
  3. I have a hard time “turning off” or relaxing.
  4. I can’t sleep well at night or have trouble falling asleep.
  5. I sleep too much because I feel mentally fatigued.
  6. I notice physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat or sweating.


Anxiety is a common disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Most people don’t seek treatment for their anxiety symptoms as they’re too often overlooked, and anxiety is underdiagnosed.

There are various treatment options, including over-the-counter and prescription anxiety medication, that can help you ease your anxiety. Alternative therapies and self-care practices can also help you manage anxiety and decrease symptoms. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms, and be sure to treat any other physical or mental health issues that could be causing or contributing to your anxiety.

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Updated on April 14, 2023
10 sources cited
Updated on April 14, 2023
  1. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils: A Map of the Evidence.” Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration.
  2. Boyle, Neil Bernard, et al. “The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review.” Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  3. Donelli D; et al; “Effects of Lavender on Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Facts & Statistics: Anxiety and Depression.” Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression.
  5. High‐Dose Vitamin B6 Supplementation Reduces.” Wiley Online Library.
  6. Hoge, Elizabeth A, et al. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  7. John J. Ratey, MD. “Can Exercise Help Treat Anxiety?Harvard Health, 24 Oct. 2019.
  8. Mao, Jun J, et al. “Long-Term Chamomile Therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Study Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo- Controlled Trial.” Journal of Clinical Trials, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  9. Smyth, Joshua M, et al. “Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients with Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial.” JMIR Mental Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  10. Treatments for Anxiety: Meditation and Escitalopram.” Treatments for Anxiety: Meditation and Escitalopram - Full Text View - ClinicalTrials.gov.

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