Which antipsychotic is best for anxiety?

Anxiety is a common mental condition affecting millions of people around the world. For some, anxiety can be debilitating and require medication to manage symptoms effectively. One class of medication that has been prescribed for anxiety is antipsychotics.

But which antipsychotic is best to treat anxiety? Let’s find out!

Antipsychotics 101

Before we dive into which antipsychotics are suitable for treating anxiety, let’s brush up on what exactly they are.

Antipsychotics are drugs used primarily to treat psychosis or conditions with psychotic symptoms such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They work by blocking the action of dopamine in the brain, a chemical responsible for regulating mood, motivation, and pleasure.

While not specifically designed to treat anxiety disorders, some antipsychotics have shown efficacy in reducing symptoms related to Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Panic Disorder (PD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Read on if you want the lowdown on which specific medications should be considered first-line treatments when it comes to managing your anxious tendencies!

First-Line Treatments: Atypical Antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychotics are typically considered first-line treatments when it comes to managing anxiety symptoms. These drugs act more selectively than traditional anti-psychotic medications by targeting serotonin receptors as well as dopamine receptors. This makes them less liable than their counterparts at producing troublesome side effects like dyskinesias, tardive dyskinesia, dystonia, or potentially fatal neuroleptic malignant syndrome.


Also known by its trade name Abilify an excellent choice among the atypical class because it exhibits partial agonism at D2/D3 dopaminergetic receptors while still promoting high affinity inhibition of 5-HTA serotonin receptors. Aripiprazole’s properties make it a more stimulating and awakening drug compared to other options in the same class.


Commonly known as Seroquel, quetiapine is another atypical antipsychotic that has demonstrated efficacy in treating anxiety disorders. With an affinity for both D1/D2/S dopamine and 5-HTA/2C serotonin receptor activity, this medication provides an overall calming effect on the mind while still being energizing enough to get users out of bed and into their morning routine.

Second-Line Treatments: Typical Antipsychotics

Typical or first-generation antipsychotic medications were developed earlier than atypical options. But because they tend to have significantly higher risks of producing serious adverse effects than newer varieties, they are typically not considered one of your top picks when it comes to treating anxiety unless all other approaches have been exhausted.

One exception is risperidone (Risperdal), which can sometimes be useful additions when initial treatment with aforementioned meds doesn’t seem to cut it by itself.


While classified as a typical anti-psychotic capable of inhibiting the action of too much dopamine secretion in synapses throughout the brain reflexes; it’s more regularly used nowadays as something was aptly referred-to-as rescue therapy- meaning if you don’t see positive results from everyday medications, giving someone under duress chlorpromazine might calm them down long enough from harmfully acting on suicidal tendencies or severe delusions.

Other Options

Though we’ve named some possibilities near guaranteed jobholders toward suppressing anxious thoughts, there are other alternatives worth looking at like benzodiazepines (such Xanax) which act faster but produce addiction potential over longer uses than most any anti-psychotic medication could ever dream up concerns over developing conventional psychotic effects or leading towards overdose with excessive use.


When it comes to treating anxiety symptoms, atypical antipsychotics like aripiprazole and quetiapine are considered first-line treatments due to their demonstrated efficacy and fewer side effects than typical alternatives. However, much credit should also be given for using the right tool for your specific situation, so always consult with your healthcare provider before making any decisions regarding medication changes!

Regardless of which route you end up taking through; just try not to stress out about finding the perfect solution because over time anything can adjust towards gaining optimized control on this unfortunate condition we call anxiety!

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