How fast do anxiety meds work?

It depends on what type of medication you are prescribed. There are many different types of anxiety medications, and they all work differently.


Drugs in this category (like Prozac or Zoloft) are taken daily and typically take 4 to 6 weeks for people to notice a difference. There are many different types of antidepressants, and they all work a little differently. Some work better for anxiety than others.


Benzodiazepines (like Xanax) are taken for anxiety and panic attacks as needed. They work rapidly (30-60 minutes). Benzodiazepines are associated with risk for abuse and dependence.


Antihistamines can be taken for anxiety and panic in the short term, as needed, and works rapidly. They are typically used in the treatment of allergies. Vistaril is an example of an antihistamine used for anxiety.  


Beta-blockers, which treat high blood pressure and heart conditions, have been used help address physical symptoms of anxiety (like sweating and heart racing). They’re not associated with the risks for dependence and abuse seen in benzodiazepines. They are used off-label, which means they’re not approved for anxiety by the FDA.

Other medications sometimes used to treat anxiety – buspirone, atypical antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants – are also taken daily and typically take 4 to 6 weeks for an individual to notice a difference.

Whatever medication you are prescribed, medications can take time to work, so it’s important to talk through any changes or questions with your doctor.