Anxiety disorder is the third most common psychiatric disorder after alcohol abuse and depression. There are many ways to treat this disorder, such as therapy, support groups, and other methods, with the most common being social anxiety disorder medication. It is important to know the side effects with social anxiety medications, how they work and how they can affect their users.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors 

The mildest and gentlest type of social anxiety disorder medication contains what is called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, making the user feel happier and calmer. Some well-known name brands that use SSRIs are Prozac and Zoloft. The side effects of SSRIs can include headaches, dry mouth, nausea, irritability, and loss of appetite, problems sleeping, drowsiness, weight gain, shaking hands, diarrhea, and sleepiness. These are all annoying side effects, but none of them should be life threatening.


Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers or psychoactive drugs that are social anxiety disorder medications that slow down the body’s nervous system, giving it an all-over calm. These drugs are usually only used as a quick acting, short term solutions to symptoms. One major side effect of these drugs are that they can be addictive, so they should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor. Other side effects can include drowsiness, fatigue, slurred speech, weakness, memory loss, blurred vision and lightheadedness.


Antidepressants are social anxiety disorder medications that affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. The side effects can vary depending on what antidepressant is used. One major side effect of all antidepressants is the susceptibility to suicide. The FDA has put out a warning on all antidepressants. Anyone taking them may be more susceptible to suicide, especially when they start to take them or when their dosage is changed.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are very powerful antidepressant social anxiety disorder medications that have very dangerous side effects. These drugs can be toxic when combined with certain other drugs and foods. These should be avoided unless all other forms of treatment have failed.


Beta-blockers, which are used to control high blood pressure, are sometimes used as social anxiety disorder medications. These can be taken in low doses before a time when the patient believes they will have an attack. The common side effects are fatigue, nightmares, diarrhea, hypotension, nausea, cold extremities, abnormal vision, heart failure, insomnia, heart block, bronchospasm, decreased concentration, dizziness, bradycardia, hallucinations, depression, and dyspnea.

Long Term 

Hopefully this will clear up some of your questions regarding the side effects with social anxiety medications. Treatment with social anxiety disorder medications is long-term. A patient should expect to take the medication for at least a year. The treatment could be longer depending on the severity of the patient’s condition and if the patient is also receiving any non-medication social anxiety disorder treatment.