The key difference between anxiolytic and antidepressant is that anxiolytic is a medication used to treat anxiety symptoms or disorders while antidepressant is a medication used to treat major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders’ chronic pain conditions, and some addictions.
Anxiety and depression are neurobehavioral disorders. They are categorized by their diagnostic measures into obsessive-compulsive, panic, social phobia, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Anxiolytic and antidepressants are two medications that are used to treat neurobehavioral disorders.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is an Anxiolytic
3. What is an Antidepressant
4. Similarities – Anxiolytic and Antidepressant
5. Anxiolytic vs Antidepressant in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Anxiolytic vs Antidepressant
What is an Anxiolytic?
Anxiolytic is a medication that is used to treat anxiety symptoms or disorders. Anxiolytic medications carry out their action usually by acting upon GABA receptors. Sometimes they are known as anti-anxiety medications or minor tranquilizers. These medications are habit-forming medications. Therefore, they can lead to dependency or a substance use disorder. Because of this particular reason, they are often prescribed by doctors for a short period of time. There are different types of anxiolytic drugs that work in different ways. For example, benzodiazepines raise the levels of an amino acid called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which is useful in blocking other activities in the brain. This helps people feel calm and can make them sleepy. Moreover, barbiturates also work like benzodiazepines, but they are much stronger. Non benzodiazepine drugs have a different structure than benzodiazepines. However, they too target GABA in the brain.
While beta-blockers (propranolol) are used to treat heart conditions, they may also be prescribed as an off-label anxiolytic. These beta-blockers help in relieving anxiety symptoms like an elevated heart rate, sweating, and shaking. Doctors might prescribe beta-blockers if a patient has a phobia or overwhelming fear during situations. Furthermore, some short-term side effects of anxiolytics can include slurred speech, low heart rate, low blood pressure, irregular breathing, memory loss, confusion, depression, dizziness, faulty judgment, nausea, and nightmares. In addition to the above, long term side effects of using anxiolytics can include mood swings, aggressive behavior, vision problems, sleep problems, breathing problems, liver damage, sexual problems, and chronic fatigue.
What is an Antidepressant?
Antidepressant is a medication used to treat the major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders chronic pain conditions, and some addictions. Antidepressant medications carry out their action usually by acting upon monoamine systems like 5HT, dopamine, and norepinephrine. They aim to correct chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to be responsible for mood and behavioral changes.
There are different types of antidepressants. Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) raise the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. These are two neurotransmitters in the brain that play a key role in stabilizing mood. SNRIs are used to treat major depression, mood disorders, less commonly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, menopausal symptoms, fibromyalgia, and chronic neuropathic pain.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) block the reuptake or absorption of serotonin in the brain. This makes it easier for the cells of the brain to receive and send messages, which results in better and more stable moods. They are more commonly used to treat depression. Moreover, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are used to treat depression, fibromyalgia, some type of anxiety, and chronic pain. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) inhibit the action of monoamine oxidase, which is a brain enzyme that helps to break down the neurotransmitters such as oxidase. MAOIs stabilize moods and anxiety. In addition, noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants are used to treat anxiety disorders, some personality disorders, and depression.
Furthermore, the side effects of using antidepressants include feeling agitated and being sick, indigestion, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dizziness, not sleeping well, headaches, loss of libido, difficulty achieving orgasm, erectile dysfunction, dry mouth, slight blurring vision, constipation, problems passing urine, drowsiness, weight gain, excessive sweating, heart rhythm problems, serotonin syndrome (seizures, unconsciousness), type II diabetes risk, and suicidal thoughts.
What are the Similarities Between Anxiolytic and Antidepressant?
- Anxiolytic and antidepressant are two medications used to treat neurobehavioral disorders.
- Both medications act upon specific receptors in the brain.
- Both medications can be used to treat anxiety.
- These medications have side effects.
What is the Difference Between Anxiolytic and Antidepressant?
Anxiolytic is a medication that treats anxiety symptoms or disorders while antidepressant is a medication that treats major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders, chronic pain conditions, and some addictions. Thus, this is the key difference between anxiolytic and antidepressant. Furthermore, anxiolytic carries out its action usually by acting upon GABA receptors. On the other hand, antidepressant carries out its action usually by acting upon monoamine systems like 5HT (serotonin receptor), dopamine, and norepinephrine.
The below infographic presents the differences between anxiolytic and antidepressant in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Anxiolytic vs Antidepressant
Anxiolytic and antidepressant are two medications used to treat neurobehavioral disorders. Anxiolytic is a medication used to treat anxiety symptoms or disorders, while antidepressant is a medication used to treat major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders, chronic pain conditions, and some addictions. So, this summarizes the difference between anxiolytic and antidepressant
1. “Anxiolytic Medications: Types and Side Effects.” WebMD.
2. Cherney, Kristeen. “Antidepressants: Types, Side Effects, Effectiveness, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media.