Best Meds for Anxiety & ADHD: Find Your Balance

Discover effective medication options for managing anxiety and ADHD together. This article explores tailored treatments, the importance of monitoring side effects, and incorporating cognitive-behavioural therapy for comprehensive care.

Written by

Jacqui Walker

Published On:

Apr 18, 2024

Best Meds for Anxiety & ADHD: Find Your Balance
Best Meds for Anxiety & ADHD: Find Your Balance
Best Meds for Anxiety & ADHD: Find Your Balance

Exploring the world of medication for anxiety and ADHD can feel like walking through a maze, can't it? You're looking for that magic solution that eases the whirlwind in your mind, but with so much information out there, it's hard to know where to start. Well, you're in the right place. Imagine sitting down with a friend over a cuppa, diving into the heart of what really works for managing both anxiety and ADHD. Sounds comforting, doesn't it?

In the next few minutes, we'll explore the medications that have been shining beacons of hope for many. Whether you're battling the racing thoughts of anxiety, the relentless energy of ADHD, or the unique cocktail of both, there's a pathway to relief. Let's demystify the options together, shall we? Stick around, as we're about to unwrap some of the most effective treatments that could be your stepping stones to a calmer, more focused life.

Understanding Anxiety and ADHD

Exploring the world of anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) unveils a complex interplay between brain functions and behavioural outcomes. Anxiety often manifests through pervasive worry and tension, while ADHD is characterised by difficulties in maintaining attention, impulsivity, and, for some, hyperactivity. Recognising the coexistence of anxiety and ADHD is pivotal, as one can exacerbate the other, creating a loop of distress and concentration challenges.

Medications, specifically tailored for either condition, can offer relief and pave the way for improved daily functioning. For anxiety, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline or escitalopram are frequently prescribed due to their efficacy in balancing serotonin levels, so reducing anxiety symptoms. In contrast, ADHD commonly sees the use of stimulants such as methylphenidate or amphetamines, which enhance focus and control impulsiveness by altering neurotransmitter activity in the brain.

But, the presence of both conditions necessitates a nuanced medication strategy. Non-stimulant medications, like atomoxetine or guanfacine, often become relevant choices, offering a dual impact on both anxiety and ADHD symptoms without the stimulating effects that can heighten anxiety in some individuals.

Eventually, combining these medications with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) amplifies treatment effectiveness, fostering coping skills that address both sets of symptoms. A collaborative approach, involving healthcare providers, ensures medication and therapeutic interventions are finely tuned, affording a steadier path towards managing anxiety and ADHD.

Medication Options for Anxiety

Medication Options for Anxiety

Exploring the world of medication options for anxiety, especially when managing ADHD concurrently, requires a well-informed approach. Understanding the most prominent medications can empower you in discussions with healthcare professionals, ensuring you're on the path to optimal management of your symptoms.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), are the cornerstone treatment for anxiety disorders. By increasing serotonin levels in your brain—a chemical that improves mood and calmness—SSRIs can effectively reduce anxiety symptoms. Starting with a low dose, which is gradually increased, helps minimize side effects, making SSRIs a favourable option for many.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

Similar to SSRIs, SNRIs target another brain chemical, norepinephrine, plus to serotonin. Medications like venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta) fall into this category. SNRIs can be useful for those whose anxiety is not adequately addressed by SSRIs, offering a slightly different mechanism of action.


For short-term relief of severe anxiety symptoms, benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan) may be prescribed. They work quickly to calm the nervous system but aren't suited for long-term use due to the risk of dependency. It's crucial to use them exactly as prescribed to avoid complications.


Although primarily used for managing physical conditions such as hypertension, beta-blockers like propranolol can also help with the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as trembling and a rapid heartbeat. They're particularly useful in situations where performance anxiety arises, like public speaking.

Pregabalin and Gabapentin

These medications are used off-label for anxiety, meaning they're not specifically licensed for anxiety but have been found effective. They can be alternatives when SSRIs or SNRIs are unsuitable or ineffective.

Exploring anxiety with ADHD complicates medication choices, as interactions between different prescriptions must be considered. It's vital to have open, ongoing dialogues with your healthcare team to tailor a treatment plan that suits your unique needs. Monitoring for side effects and adjusting the regimen accordingly is key to managing anxiety effectively.

Medication Options for ADHD

Following the discussion on anxiety medication, exploring ADHD medication options is crucial for comprehensive care. ADHD medications can significantly alleviate symptoms, but selecting the right one involves close collaboration with healthcare professionals. There are two primary types of medication used to treat ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants.

Stimulant Medications

Stimulant medications are the most commonly prescribed for ADHD. They work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which help improve attention and reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity. Common stimulants include:

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)

  • Amphetamines (Adderall, Vyvanse)

Non-stimulant Medications

Non-stimulant medications may be considered when stimulants are not effective or cause intolerable side effects. They can take longer to show effects but can be a viable alternative. Notable non-stimulants include:

  • Atomoxetine (Strattera)

  • Guanfacine (Intuniv)

  • Clonidine (Kapvay)

It's paramount to monitor for side effects and interactions with other medications, including those for anxiety. The effectiveness and tolerance of these medications vary from person to person, so requiring a tailor-made approach. Regular follow-ups and adjustments with your healthcare provider will ensure the best treatment outcome for managing ADHD alongside anxiety.

Treating Co-occurring Anxiety and ADHD

When facing the dual challenges of anxiety and ADHD, understanding how to manage both conditions simultaneously is key. Tailoring medication to address both issues involves a nuanced approach, often requiring the expertise of healthcare professionals.

Selecting the Right Medication:
For those exploring both anxiety and ADHD, the journey begins with choosing the appropriate medication. Combining stimulants commonly used for ADHD, such as Methylphenidate or Amphetamines, with medications for anxiety, including SSRIs or SNRIs, can be effective. But, this combination requires careful oversight to avoid potential side effects and interactions.

Balancing Act:
The goal is to strike a balance where the medication alleviates the ADHD symptoms without exacerbating anxiety. For some, stimulants may increase anxiety levels, whereas, for others, these medications improve focus, later reducing anxiety. Non-stimulants like Atomoxetine, Guanfacine, or Clonidine, offer alternatives that might be more conducive to those with sensitive anxiety profiles.

Monitoring and Adjustment:
Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers are essential to adjust dosages and medications as needed. These sessions are pivotal in ensuring the treatment plan remains effective and side effects are minimized.

Integrated Approach:
Beyond medication, integrating cognitive-behavioural therapy into your routine can significantly improve outcomes. This dual approach addresses both the symptoms and the underlying behavioural patterns, offering a comprehensive strategy for managing co-occurring anxiety and ADHD.

In exploring these complex conditions, remember, a personalised approach, guided by a healthcare professional, is instrumental in finding the balance that works for you.

Navigating Side Effects and Medication Interactions

When you're tackling both anxiety and ADHD, it's like walking a tightrope with medication management. Balancing the benefits and potential side effects requires attention and care. Medications for ADHD, such as stimulants, can sometimes increase anxiety levels, which is precisely what you don't want if you're already dealing with anxiety. On the flip side, medications prescribed for anxiety, including SSRIs or benzodiazepines, might not always sit well with your ADHD symptoms.

Understanding the side effects of these medications is crucial. Stimulants, for instance, can lead to increased heart rate or insomnia, while SSRIs might cause fatigue or weight changes. The key is to monitor these side effects closely with your healthcare provider, who can adjust the doses or suggest alternatives.

Interactions between medications for ADHD and anxiety are another aspect you need to stay aware of. Some anxiety medications can diminish the effectiveness of ADHD treatments and vice versa. It's not just about finding the right medication but also the right balance that doesn't tip your mental health scale in an unwanted direction.

Regular follow-ups with your healthcare professional are non-negotiable. These sessions are your opportunity to report any adverse effects or discuss concerns about your treatment plan. Remember, it's a team effort between you and your provider to manage your symptoms effectively.

Incorporating cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can also mitigate some of the reliance on medication by providing tools to handle anxiety and ADHD symptoms. Techniques learned in CBT, such as mindfulness or organisation strategies, can help lessen the load, making the medication more effective.

Exploring medication management for anxiety and ADHD isn't straightforward, but with a vigilant approach and open communication with your healthcare provider, you can find a regimen that brings balance back to your life.


Exploring the complexities of treating anxiety and ADHD together requires a careful and personalised approach. With the right combination of medications, possibly including stimulants alongside anxiety meds under strict supervision, you can find a balance that suits your unique needs. Remember, it's not just about the drugs. Incorporating cognitive-behavioural therapy into your treatment plan plays a crucial role in managing both conditions effectively. Always stay in close contact with your healthcare provider for regular follow-ups and medication adjustments. With patience and the right support, you'll be able to manage your symptoms and lead a more balanced life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you manage anxiety and ADHD simultaneously?

Yes, managing anxiety and ADHD simultaneously is possible with a tailored approach, including a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy. It’s important to work closely with healthcare providers to monitor for side effects and find the right balance.

What types of medications are used to treat both ADHD and anxiety?

Medications for ADHD often include stimulants, while anxiety is typically treated with SSRIs or SNRIs. However, a careful combination of these, or alternatives like non-stimulant medications for ADHD (e.g., Atomoxetine, Guanfacine, Clonidine), might be recommended to manage both conditions effectively.

Can stimulants for ADHD worsen anxiety?

Yes, stimulants used for ADHD can sometimes exacerbate anxiety symptoms. It's crucial to report any increased anxiety to healthcare providers to adjust the treatment plan accordingly.

Is cognitive-behavioural therapy effective for managing ADHD and anxiety?

Yes, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is effective for both managing ADHD and anxiety. CBT helps in developing coping mechanisms and strategies to address the symptoms and challenges of both conditions.

How important is monitoring side effects when treating ADHD and anxiety?

Monitoring for side effects and medication interactions is critically important when balancing treatments for ADHD and anxiety. Regular follow-ups with a healthcare provider are essential to ensure the chosen medications alleviate symptoms without causing adverse effects.