How Do SNRIs Work For Anxiety?

Selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, are a type of antidepressant often prescribed for anxiety disorders. They are a recently introduced class of antidepressants but are among the most widely prescribed. SNRIs work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain and are often compared to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a similar class of antidepressants that increases brain levels of serotonin.

Because SNRIs are a newer class of drug than the other antidepressants, such as SSRIs, tricyclics, and MAOIs, there are not as many different SNRI medications available. The first FDA-approved SNRI was Effexor, which was introduced in the early 1990s and is currently approved by the FDA to treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, as well as major depression. Today it is the most commonly prescribed SNRI, usually in its extended-release form (Effexor XR). Other SNRIs approved by the FDA include Cymbalta and Pristiq.

SNRIs share many of the same side effects with SSRIs, with some of the most common being changes in appetite, insomnia, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, and reduced sexual desire or difficulty reaching orgasm. They appear to be as or more effective than SSRIs and offer some additional choices to anxiety sufferers looking for the best medication for their situation.

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