Best Over The Counter Medicine for Anxiety and Stress?[2022]

Anxiety can come in many forms. It can cause worry, unease, fear, or panic. We have put together a variety of (OTC) over the counter medicine for anxiety and stress that may provide some relief to you.

What to take for anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects around 6.8 million adults. Other anxiety disorders include panic disorders and phobias.

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But the main question is—are they safe? Do they work? What are the pros and cons?

See answers to questions you may have in choosing options of over the counter medicine for anxiety and stress.


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Benadryl contains antihistamines (the main active ingredient), which are used to manage allergic reactions. However, they can also cause sedation as a side effect. Benadryl is often used for anxiety due to the calming and sleep-inducing side effects that it can have.


Benadryl takes 15 to 30 minutes to start working and its peak effect happens around 2 to 4 hours. A typical adult dose to obtain sedating effects is between 25 and 50 milligrams.

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One of the biggest advantages of using Benadryl to treat anxiety and stress is that it is quick-acting and convenient. This can be helpful if you need instant anxiety relief medication. Since Benadryl causes many people to feel drowsy, it may also help you fall asleep.

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Herbal Remedies

natural remedies for stress and anxiety

There are several herbal remedies that have been shown to provide some relief of symptoms of anxiety and stress and are generally considered safe to use. Some of these remedies are as follows:

Herbal remedies are found in the form of teas, sprays, pills, or oils. The calming effects of herbal remedies are generally mild. Carefully review each remedy for the suggested dosage.

While these herbal remedies are not strong enough to effectively treat serious anxiety issues, they are best used to help you calm down or fall asleep.

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Cold Medicines and Painkillers

Certain painkillers may act on parts of the brain that control the experience of emotional pain.

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University of British Columbia researchers have found a new potential use for the over-the-counter pain drug Tylenol. Typically known to relieve physical pain, the study suggests the drug may also reduce the psychological effects of fear and anxiety over the human condition, or existential dread.

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Natural anxiety remedies

Anxiety may be managed in a number of ways. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a prominent treatment option that helps people manage anxiety when it happens.

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There are other drugs, such as antidepressants and sedatives, that attempt to balance brain chemistry and avoid anxiety attacks. They may even be able to prevent the most severe symptoms.

If you want to follow a more natural approach, there are both small and large methods you may assist manage anxiety.

Vitamins and Minerals

Most people know that vitamins and minerals are important for their overall well-being, but can they be used to reduce stress and anxiety?

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There are several vitamins and minerals used to reduce stress and anxiety that offer varying degrees of relief:

  • GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid and neurotransmitter located in the brain that is crucial to serotonin production. Since serotonin is one of the nervous system’s most powerful, “mood-enhancing” neurotransmitters, GABA plays a significant role in mood regulation and relaxation.
    • How to use it: Many vitamins improve anxiety by affecting GABA levels in the brain, GABA can also be consumed directly through supplements to reduce anxiety symptoms.
  • Licorice Root. People this of licorice root for its sweet taste and is traditionally used in many candies. However, this herb also carries many health benefits for people with anxiety because of the effects it has on the adrenal glands. Licorice root can also provide relief for gastrointestinal issues, which is a common symptom for many people with anxiety.
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How to use it: It’s best to consume licorice in an extracted, purified form. It is sold in capsule, powder, tea, and chewable tablet forms.

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Safety of Over The Counter Medicine for Anxiety and Stress

The overall safety of over-the-counter medications for anxiety and stress depends on what you are using and how the manner in which you are using them.

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Concerns to consider with over the counter medicine for anxiety and stress

Top safety concerns to consider include:

  • Drug interactions: Always consult with your physician about what OTC medications you are taking. There is always a risk of interaction between the supplements you just started taking and the medications you have already been prescribed or are taking.
  • Intended use: Most natural anxiety supplements you might take, which may be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe, may not be intended for treating the condition you are taking them for.
  • Long-term effects: The majority of OTC supplements are not intended to be taken long-term. In addition, there may be no research on long-term use.
  • Side effects: It is important to be aware of the potential side effects of any herbal supplements you take and to contact your physician if you experience any of these issues.

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Pros and Cons of OTC Medicines for Anxiety

While there are some advantages to taking OTC remedies for anxiety, there are also a number of potential drawbacks to consider.

What to know about anxiety over the counter meds

Before you take any kind of OTC medication for your anxiety, be sure to talk to your doctor to help avoid adverse effects and medication interactions.


  • May aid sleep and relaxation
  • Easy to obtain, affordable
  • May be useful for short-term bouts of anxiety and stress


  • May cause drowsiness
  • Not effective for severe episodes of stress and anxiety
  • Not approved by FDA for treating anxiety
  • Carries potential side effects

Medicine for anxiety

If you suffer a panic attack, you will most likely need to take an anti-anxiety medication as well.

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The most well-known anti-anxiety medications for rapid relief are benzodiazepines, which include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

They have several disadvantages: Drowsiness, irritability, dizziness, memory and focus issues, and physical dependency are among the side effects of benzodiazepines.

Nonetheless, they have mainly supplanted barbiturates in recent decades since they are safer in big doses. (source – WedMD)

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Dangers of anti anxiety medication

Because most kinds of anxiety have a significant physical impact, anti-anxiety drugs aim to alleviate those symptoms.

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These, however, highlight the hazards of anti-anxiety drugs in general. The majority of these medicines are tranquilizers and sedatives.

They have a powerful effect on the central nervous system by reducing its overactivity. As the central nervous system slows down, this process produces an overall calm sense.

Antidepressants may be administered to aid sleep or to relax muscles. Although they are generally used to treat depression, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications such as Prozac or Zoloft are sometimes used to relieve anxiety.

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When taking these drugs, a large majority of patients gain at least 10 pounds.

Benzodiazepines do not often cause weight gain and are more helpful at combating anxiety.

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Facts About Benzodiazepines

Within 30 minutes of ingestion, all of these drugs have an effect on the brain. If a person is experiencing an anxiety episode, such as a pain attack, this can assist them fast.

Prescriptions for benzodiazepines are common in the United States since they have been shown to be effective.

However, there are certain disadvantages. The withdrawal symptoms of benzo addiction, as well as the effect they have on the brain, can lead to addiction.

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Over the counter anxiety medication for adults

Anxiety is a difficult condition to deal with. Many people seek fast relief when they are experiencing severe anxiety.

Medication is the only item that can give rapid relief for severe anxiety, but unfortunately, these treatments are usually only available with a prescription.

That is why many individuals ask if there are any over-the-counter drugs for anxiety that might provide them with the immediate comfort they require.

How to naturally treat anxiety

Unfortunately, there are no authorized over-the-counter anxiety drugs available at this time.

However, there are a few items you may take without a prescription that may give you comfort that, although not drugs, have comparable effects or have the ability to replicate the advantages of anxiety meds.

CBD treatment for anxiety

Because CBD is becoming more popular, a lot of research has looked at it as a therapy for anxiety. CBD was found to lower anxiety and discomfort during public speaking in patients with social anxiety disorder in recently conducted research.

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Another study discovered that CBD decreased anxiety symptoms in persons suffering from social anxiety disorder.

A study in 2019 used CBD to treat people who were struggling with anxiety and sleep. Almost 80% of people’s anxiety improved, and almost 70% reported improved sleep in the first month, but the results for sleep varied over time. (source – GoodRx)

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That might be a question you have if you are living with anxiety and don’t like traditional medications or have not yet visited your doctor. Beyond Benadryl, there are also other over-the-counter (OTC) medications that you might consider using for anxiety.

Most people purchasing over-the-counter natural anxiety medication would probably benefit from professional help in the form of talk therapy or prescribed medication. Alternatives to anxiety medications may offer relief for mild cases and provide relaxation at bedtime.


Be sure to discuss your symptoms with your physician and get their guidance for using any OTC medications and herbal supplements.

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Last update on 2022-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API