Antianxiety Agents (Anxiolytics)

Antianxiety Agents (Anxiolytics)

  • Also referred to as minor tranquilizers

Clinical indications

  • Anxiety disorders, anxiety symptoms, acute alcohol withdrawal, skeletal muscle spasms, convulsive disorders, status epilepticus, and preoperative sedation

Medication action

  • Depression of the central nervous system (C N S; exception: buspirone)


  • Increased effects when taken with alcohol, barbiturates, narcotics, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, neuromuscular blocking agents, cimetidine, disulfiram, or herbal depressants
  • Decreased effects with cigarette smoking and caffeine consumption

Nursing diagnosis

  • Risk for injury
  • Anxiety
  • Risk for activity intolerance
  • Disturbed sleep pattern

Drug Classification

Drug trade/ Generic names


Side effects

Nursing implication


-Most widely prescribed in the world.

-Concerns of physiological dependence.

-Treatment with BZs generally should be brief, during time of specific stress or for specific indication.

Valium (Diazepam)

Klonopin (Clonazepam)

Xanax (Alprazolam)

Ativan (Lorazepam)

Dalmane (Flurazepam)

Restoril (Temazepam)

Halcion (Triazolam)

Prosom (Estazolam)

Doral (Quazepam)

Bind to specific GABA receptor sites resulting in a calming effect

Ataxia, drowsiness, confusion and orthostatic hypotension

Teach patient – do not combine with other anti-anxiety meds, and do not take with alcohol! 

Alcohol and BZ’s together can cause extreme sedation.


Ambien (Zolpidem)

Sonata (Zaleplon)

Lunesta (Eszoplicone)

Bind selectively to GABA receptor sites

Amnesia, ataxia, rapid onset

Take just before going to bed.


BuSpar (Buspirone)

Not clearly understood; appears to be a serotonin agonist.

Takes 2-4 weeks for full therapeutic effect so cannot be taken prn (when necessary).

Headache, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea and insomnia.

(Not associated with sedation or withdrawal symptoms)

Take as directed; stand slowly.