Can Benzodiazepines Cause Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders among adults in the United States. Studies show that almost
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Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders among adults in the United States. Studies show that almost 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder every year.1 These disorders range from mild to severe, causing minimal daily disruption to an almost complete inability to function.

Thankfully, anxiety treatment is also widely available. Benzodiazepines are an essential part of many treatment plans for anxiety disorders. But can benzodiazepines cause anxiety? Sometimes prescription medication isn’t useful for every person and can lead to more negative than positive effects.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a medication used primarily to treat anxiety disorders. They function by blocking excessive nerve activity throughout the central nervous system and the brain. Some popular benzodiazepines include:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Librium

Benzodiazepines are a powerful medication because of their direct interaction with the central nervous system. This also makes them useful as sleep aids, muscle relaxers, and seizure prevention. However, this also means they have strong effects when misused and have a high potential for abuse.2 Extensive research indicates that benzodiazepines are best for short-term use to avoid developing any problems with abuse or dependence.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are a class of mental health disorders characterized by intense, chronic anxiety. It differs from normal feelings of worry and nervousness because it affects a person’s ability to function in daily life. Some examples of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Phobia-related disorders

Specialized mental health treatment often provides relief from more pervasive and severe symptoms. Psychotherapy and medication are the two primary approaches for treating anxiety disorders. With effective treatment, people can learn to manage their anxiety disorder and maintain an enjoyable, productive life.

Can Benzodiazepines Cause Anxiety?

So, can benzodiazepines cause anxiety? Active benzodiazepine use is unlikely to cause anxiety because of its powerful sedating effects on the central nervous system. However, quitting benzodiazepines can cause discontinuation symptoms, also called “withdrawal symptoms.” Severe anxiety is one of the most common effects.3

This is another reason that benzodiazepines are recommended for short-term use. Some studies suggest that most improvement with these medications occurs within the first four weeks. Once this improvement period passes, switching to another type of medication comes with less risk over time.4

Benzodiazepines and Mental Health Treatment

Mental health treatment programs are an important part of the mental health recovery process, and benzodiazepines can be helpful when used as prescribed as part of a comprehensive mental health treatment plan.

Programs like Clearview Treatment Programs recognize the need for an individualized approach to care for each person seeking help, which may involve medications like benzodiazepines. We consider the needs of every client we work with and determine the course of action that will best help them achieve their recovery goals.

If you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder or another mental health disorder, Clearview Treatment Programs can help. Call us today at 866-339-3544 to speak with an admissions specialist and find out which treatment path is right for you!



  1. National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Any Anxiety Disorder.
  2. (2022). Benzodiazepines: Overview and Use.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Mental Health Medications.
  4. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry. (2019). Benzodiazepines in anxiety disorders: Reassessment of usefulness and safety.


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