Best drugs for Social Anxiety: 5+ Over-the-Counter (OTC) Social Anxiety Medication

Social anxiety disorder also called social phobia is the fear or worry about being judged, ridiculed, rejected, or evaluated inappropriately in a social situation. It can also happen when one is performing. But can you take over-the-counter (OTC) social anxiety medication?

It is important to note that most anxiety medications including social anxiety medication can not be sold over the counter and thus over-the-counter solutions discussed in this article are the different solutions for social anxiety including antihistamines, supplements, muscle relaxants, and cough syrups. However, we will also discuss the other social anxiety medication that is not available over the counter for your choice.

Social anxiety shows by blushing, stammering, sweating, and fear when asked to present or talk in a group of people. People fear that they will be judged as stupid, boring, or inept.

People with an anxiety disorder will go to any length in avoiding presenting or talking in public. The fear accompanying the anxiety can be the reason for not appearing in public.

When it is a must that you have to present, you get intense fear which is accompanied by strong symptoms including an increase in heart rate, nausea, and sweating among other symptoms.


What are the over-the-counter medication for social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder can be treated using several treatment methods. These include fast-acting medications, other medications, psychotherapy, and home remedies.

The following are the over-the-counter medications for a social anxiety disorder:

  • Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Sleep medications Herbal drugs like Kava Kava, l-theanine, valerian, lavender, passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile, and 5 hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) among others
  • Cough syrups and decongestants
  • Pain Killers and muscle relaxants
  • Vitamins and minerals like the B complex and magnesium.

These over-the-counter (OTC) medications are quite effective in managing social anxiety and other anxieties. The different OTC medications work as discussed below:

Antihistamines like Benadryl

Antihistamines are drugs used to manage allergies. The antihistamines block the actions of histamine which is the body substance that is the causal agent for allergic symptoms.

These drugs most times leave the patient sedated. Sedation in most cases helps to calm and relax a person thus relieving anxiety.

Antihistamines in addition to blocking the effects of histamines (allergic reactions) can also help you to sleep thus helping to recover from anxiety. This is because it has been proven that sleeping well helps to relieve anxiety.

Benadryl will work in like 15 to 30 minutes although the peak calming effects are realized in 2 to 4 hours. This makes Benadryl a fast-acting OTC medication for social anxiety.

The dosage in adults of Benadryl to ensure it calms anxiety is between 25 to 50mg. The drug can be taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed for adults and children above 12 years.

Benadryl is normally used for allergies and hay fever. It is commonly indicated for runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, nose, and throat. It can also be used for motion sickness and as a sleeping aid.

Benadryl should not be taken if you are using other anxiety medications like benzodiazepines, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), diazepam, and painkillers.

Benadryl can cause drowsiness and thus it is important to ensure that you don’t operate machinery, drive, or take alcohol when you are taking the medication.

Muscle relaxers/ pain killers

Tylenol for social anxiety: Over the counter medication for anxiety

According to recent studies, some muscle relaxers/ painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to treat social anxiety disorder. The same mechanism of action used to alleviate pain can be used in numbing emotional pain. This pain is found in anxiety-like social anxiety.

According to the studies, taking Tylenol reduces the social anxiety triggers as compared to the placebo. From the hypothesis, the brain interprets anxiety as a form of pain in the brain. This is because anxiety uses the same nerves to be transmitted.

Acetaminophen also helps to reduce psychological stress/anxiety feelings when thinking about life and death. An anxiety attack can feel like you are dying, so reducing the effects can go a long way in preventing or treating anxiety attacks.

Even though studies have shown that acetaminophen can alleviate or prevent anxiety, no formulations have been made so far for the treatment of anxiety. However, since Tylenol is available over the counter, then wherever you are experiencing anxiety you can pop in one.

Tylenol is commonly used to relieve pains like headaches, and body pain among other pains. Therefore tylenol can be used as social anxiety medication available over the counter.

Sleep medications

Sleep affects the feeling of anxiety and anxiety also affects the way you sleep. A good, restful night can help to relieve stress, anxiety and go a long way in treating depression.

Some sleep medications are available over the counter and that also helps to relieve anxiety. Sleeping aids help to calm the nerves and give you anxiety-free time.

Some of the sleep aids available over the counter that can be used for social anxiety include:

  • Antihistamines like Benadryl
  • Doxylamine succinate like Unisom sleep tablets
  • Melatonin
  • Valerian

Both Benadryl and Unisom are sedating antihistamines that can be used to treat insomnia and anxiety. Both social anxiety medications are available over the counter.

Melatonin is a hormone that naturally helps to control the sleep-wake cycle in the body. It has calming effects that help the body to transition through the sleep stages. Sleeping well helps you to be alert and prevent anxiety from developing.

Herbal drugs

Herbal remedies like Kava Kava, l-theanine, valerian, lavender, passion flower, lemon balm, chamomile, and 5 hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) among others can be used to treat anxiety.

The herbal medications give the user some calming, sedating effects ensuring that you can reduce anxiety and sleep. The calming effects are mild and thus help in the long-term treatment of social anxiety.

The herbal remedies are available in different forms and are sold over the counter even on Amazon.

Lavender has proven relaxing effects on the body. Lavender can either be smelled or taken with tea. Aromatherapy using lavender has been shown to relieve social anxiety immediately. According to several studies, lavender has been proven to reduce anxiety in pregnant women or even before surgery.

Lemon balm is another popular calming herbal remedy. It has been used in several anxiety situations with excellent results.

Chamomile has for several decades been used for its calming effects. It can help as a social anxiety medication that is available over the counter.  It is available as chamomile tea, essential oils or take supplements.

Valerian is another naturally occurring medication for social anxiety that is available over the counter.  It has been used for years to relieve anxious feelings. It is also very effective in inducing sleep for people with insomnia.

L-theanine, an amino acid, is a natural remedy for anxiety and sleep problems. It is found in green and black tea. The supplement should be used by starting with the lowest dose and increasing the dosage with advice from a doctor.

All these social anxiety medications (supplements) are available over the counter as sleeping aids.

Cough and cold medications

Decongestants and antihistamines are some of the commonly used drugs for the treatment of coughs and colds. The drugs for cough and flu that contain diphenhydramine and doxylamine can help you sleep and have calming effects.

The drugs are sold either in combination with painkillers or separately. Most decongestants contain antihistamines.

Examples of decongestants include Benadryl, Sudafed, Actifed, and Afrin among others. These drugs are available as tablets, capsules, or even as sprays.

Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin D, B complex, and magnesium.

The three food components that can also be taken as supplements are good for anxiety and sleep. The foods are naturally found in various food components and when taken can have a calming effect on the body.

Vitamin D helps in mood regulation. Vitamin D deficiency has from several studies been shown to have a link with the appearance of anxiety disorders. Vitamin D can be obtained by taking supplements, foods rich in vitamin D, and also exposing the body to the sun. Salmon and Mackerel are foods rich in vitamin D.

Vitamin B complex help in managing stress and thus anxiety in the body.  Several studies have tried to explore the relationship between anxiety and vitamin B complex. Vitamin B complex is available in supplements, foods like vegetables, and animal-based foods.

Magnesium helps in the proper functioning of almost all body organs. Studies have shown that anxiety improves the markers of anxiety in several people. The evidence may not be very clear but initial suggestions show there is a relationship between magnesium and anxiety. Magnesium is available in foods and supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important food component for the health of your brain. It is available in foods like flaxseed and fish. It is also available in supplements. According to several studies, omega-3 fatty acids can help in anxiety disorders like social anxiety and are available over the counter.

Other medications for social anxiety disorder

Other medications are available on prescription that are very effective in treating social anxiety. The drug used will depend on the following considerations:

  • Do you want fast relief from anxiety disorders or a long-term disorder medication
  • Side effects of the medication
  • Counteractions of the drug with other medication
  • Withdrawal symptoms from taking the medication
  • Type of disorder
  • Symptoms of the disorder
  • Age

The medications that are used for social anxiety disorder include:

  • Selective Serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRIs): This is the first-line medication for anxiety disorders. Examples of these antidepressants include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), and vilazodone (Viibryd).
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): The antidepressant inhibits both serotonin and norepinephrine transporters. Examples are venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and duloxetine.
  • Benzodiazepines: These are some of the fastest-acting medications for anxiety disorders. They are also known as tranquilizers and they offer relief within 30 minutes to 1 hour. They include medications like Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam).
  • Beta-blockers: They are also fast-acting drugs for anxiety. They are antidepressants that help the body in the regulation of the fight-or-flight mechanism by blocking the adrenaline effects on beta-blockers. They include propranolol (Inderal), acebutolol (Sectral), bisoprolol (Zebeta), carvedilol (Coreg), atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor)
  • Alpha-blockers: The alpha-blockers block the effects of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in the muscles. They are majorly prescribed for BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and high blood pressure but they also work for anxiety. They include Doxazosin (Cardura), Prazosin (Minipress), and Terazosin.
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): This is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body whose primary function is being a neurotransmitter. It works in calming the body. It works within an hour.
  • Anxiolytics like buspirone: It is one of the most effective medications for anxiety disorders. It is less sedating as compared to benzodiazepines. And it can manage most of the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Anticonvulsants: These drugs for seizures are used in the management of anxiety disorders due to the side effects of benzodiazepines. They are mood stabilizers hence taking care of anxiety. They include gabapentin (Neurontin), Pregabalin (Lyrica), topiramate (Topamax), Lamotrigine (Lamictal), and valproate (Depacon).

Medication for Social Anxiety in Adolescence

If your child is struggling with social anxiety and you want to know what OTC medication they might take for it, you may be surprised. There are a variety of different types of medication that can help reduce social anxiety naturally.

If your child is experiencing symptoms like being afraid of being judged, having an extreme fear of public speaking, or worrying excessively about what others think of them, there are a variety of medications that could help.

For example, Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline) are all drugs often prescribed to treat social anxiety in adolescents.

Medication for Social Anxiety in Adults:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first type of drug tried for persistent symptoms of social anxiety, paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and escitalopram (Lexapro) are the most common SSRIs, evidence suggests that the best treatment for social anxiety disorder in adults is a combination of medication and psychotherapy, some people with social anxiety find it difficult to afford or access psychotherapy

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are often the first type of drug tried for persistent symptoms of social anxiety, as they can be effective in reducing symptoms. The most common SSRIs used for social anxiety disorder are paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro).

However, there is no specific medication that will work better than others. If you’re taking one SSRI and it stops working after a while, you can try another one without worrying about any major side effects.

Evidence suggests that the best treatment for social anxiety disorder in adults is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Some people with social anxiety may find it difficult to afford or access psychotherapy; however, there are other options available. Individual therapy sessions may be scheduled through psychiatrists or therapists who practice at community mental health centers.

If your concern is more general than just your fear of speaking up in front of people, then group therapy might also work well for you because you’ll be able to interact with others who face similar problems but aren’t clinically diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.

Medication for Social Anxiety Disorder in Children

In this case, the most commonly prescribed medications are serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as venlafaxine, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine or paroxetine.

SNRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which affects mood and helps to reduce anxiety levels. SSRIs are also effective at reducing symptoms of social anxiety because they increase serotonin levels in the brain.

If you’re looking for an over-the-counter medication to help ease your symptoms of social anxiety, talk to your doctor about which type would be best suited for you. If you have a prescription for an SSRI or SNRI, there are a few brands that make these types of medications.

Other social anxiety treatment options

Social anxiety can be difficult to understand, especially for those who aren’t initially affected by the condition. For some people, social anxiety is overwhelming, and for others, it’s a part of their everyday life. The exact cause of social anxiety is unknown, but it’s most likely a combination of factors.

While most people with social anxiety learn how to cope with it gradually and gradually, others may find it difficult at first. The good news is that there are a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can help reduce social anxiety naturally.

Social anxiety is a common and unpredictable affliction that can make everyday social encounters difficult. For some people, social anxiety is overwhelming and suffocating, while for others, it’s a normal aspect of life. If you’re struggling with social anxiety, you’re not alone.

Millions of people around the world experience social anxiety regularly, and many of these people also take medication to help manage the condition. Social anxiety can be difficult to understand and predict, which is why many people with social anxiety turn to OTC medication.

Social anxiety can also be treated by psychotherapy and home remedies. There are non-medicinal methods that have proven to be very effective in the treatment of social anxiety and other anxiety disorders.


Transdiagnostic treatment: Unified protocol, cognitive therapy, MATCH and CETA for anxiety disorders

Psychotherapy is the talk therapy for anxiety disorders. There are several psychotherapy techniques applicable to social anxiety disorders.

Psychotherapy may be a transdiagnostic treatment or a single-diagnosis treatment technique. Single-diagnosis protocols are effective in treating social anxiety. However, they may not address other underlying emotional disorders that may be contributing to social anxiety.

Transdiagnostic treatment protocols are effective in treating all emotional disorders including social anxiety disorder. The protocols target the underlying vulnerabilities that are present in most emotional disorders.

Examples of transdiagnostic treatment methods for emotional disorders include the unified protocol, MATCH, CETA, and Cognitive therapy among others.

Home remedies for social anxiety

Several home remedy techniques can be employed in the management of social anxiety. The techniques help in coping with the symptoms or in the prevention of the appearance of anxiety attacks or panic attacks.

Some of the techniques include:

  • Exercise including aerobic exercise
  • Having enough quality sleep every day
  • Meditation mindfulness
  • Reducing the uptake of caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine
  • Practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, massage, and music among others
  • Talking about the anxiety
  • Humor
  • Practicing stress management techniques

Should you take OTC medication for social anxiety?

There is no such thing as over-the-counter anxiety medication thus we can only take other forms of drugs to take care of anxiety symptoms. It is also important to note that there are side effects of all types of drugs, and no treatment is going to have a 100% success rate either.

If you have anxiety and want to take medication for it, consult with your doctor first. This will help you find the right medication for you, as well as the right dosage so you don’t experience any negative side effects.

Many factors go into determining the efficacy of any drug or treatment method. Some people may see immediate results while others may not see results at all. The key is finding the right OTC medication for social anxiety disorder that works best for your individual needs.

The effectiveness of a drug or treatment method depends on many factors, including dosage, age, sex, and other medical conditions. Therefore, it’s important to consult your physician about these treatments before making a final decision about which one is best for you.

Is there medication for social anxiety performance?

Yes, there are medications prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are a type of medication used to treat anxiety and depression. Some SSRIs include Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft.

These medications are well-known for their effectiveness in treating anxiety because they work on a chemical level to regulate your serotonin levels. This can be helpful for those with a social anxiety disorder who may experience panic attacks or intense fear caused by their condition.

SSRIs can also increase your self-esteem levels. If you’re interested in trying an SSRI but don’t want to take prescription medication, you can always consult a doctor about other non-prescription options like herbal supplements that have similar effects as an SSRI.

Can social anxiety be cured in kids?

Yes, social anxiety disorder is very treatable and kids can easily learn to cope with their symptoms and implement strategies that work for them.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition that affects up to 12% of the population and can make everyday social interactions difficult. Oftentimes, children experience SAD before they’re diagnosed, which can make it hard for their parents to understand the severity of their symptoms. For some, symptoms may be mild and manageable enough to not require medication or other treatment, while for others, social anxiety can be debilitating and difficult to cope with.

The good news is that there is a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can help reduce social anxiety naturally. If you’re looking for an alternative way to manage your social anxiety, there are many options available to you whether it’s in a prescription form or as an OTC medication.

Social anxiety disorder is very treatable and kids can learn how to cope with their symptoms and implement strategies that work for them. Your child should always discuss their diagnosis with a licensed therapist before considering any form of self-treatment or over-the-counter medication (pills). With the right support system in place, your child should do well when coping with their symptoms.

What is the most effective treatment for social anxiety?

Social anxiety is a common and unpredictable affliction that can make everyday social encounters difficult. For some people, social anxiety is overwhelming and suffocating, while others may find it difficult at first but gradually learn to cope with the condition.

One of the most effective treatments for social anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is an effective treatment for social anxiety because it helps patients to identify and change maladaptive thoughts, which can have a positive impact on their emotional states. In addition to CBT, doctors may prescribe antidepressants or benzodiazepines as well. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective and has lasting effects.

CBT will help in treating the underlying issue that causes anxiety. It can help resolve past issues or fears that have developed over time. Moreover, it gives you the ability to fight your anxiety no matter the situation.

How is social anxiety treated in adults?

A common misconception is that social anxiety treatment only consists of medications. That can not be further from the truth. Most treatment options combine self-care and other treatment methods for the management of anxiety.

In fact, most people who suffer from social anxiety will use a combination of CBT, exposure therapy, group therapy, avoiding caffeine, and getting plenty of sleep to help treat the condition. One type of medication sometimes used to treat social anxiety is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs work by preventing the body from breaking down serotonin in the brain. Essentially, SSRIs are antidepressants that can also help with symptoms of social anxiety.

The six medications for social anxiety disorder are benzo’s, beta-blockers, TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants), SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), benzodiazepines, and buspirone.

What is the root cause of social anxiety?

The root cause of social anxiety is fear. Fear of being judged, judging ourselves, not fitting, out of place, feeling inadequate, etc. Thus, one of the most common root causes of social anxiety is fear of being judged.

There are many situations where we’re judged daily, and this is something that we’re never fully prepared for. Having your faults and flaws pointed out can be humiliating and result in stress.

The root cause of social anxiety varies from person to person, but it doesn’t matter what the root cause is – OTC medication can help you find relief.

How can I reduce anxiety immediately?

You can use breathing therapy to reduce anxiety immediately especially if you have social anxiety. The therapy will enable you to gain confidence and reduce anxiety symptoms markedly for you to deliver your activity.

Breathing therapy by breathing deeply, and using the 3-3-3 rule where you name three things you see, name three sounds you hear, and move three parts of your body such as your ankle, fingers, or arm— for 3 seconds each. In some cases, people may need fast-acting medication to help reduce the symptoms of social anxiety.

Medications can be taken as directed by your doctor to help reduce the severity of social anxiety. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend that you take a combination of medications and talk therapy.

The best way to determine whether or not you should take medication is to work closely with your doctor and explore all possible options. You can limit the severity of social anxiety by taking certain steps, such as breathing deeply, using sound-based therapy (i.e., sound baths), or tapping into creative outlets that allow you to express yourself in a new way.

Medications are not one-size-fits-all and different people may experience different results from different medications. It’s important to work closely with your medical professional when determining if and how you want to use medications to help manage your social anxiety problems.

The final word

Social anxiety and social phobia can make your life quite hard. It is hard when you have to talk to people and you freeze. If you have to present to a panel at the university or to the board or during an interview it would be very hard to perform in case you have social anxiety.

Social anxiety medications available over the counter can be used to treat the disorder. Those medications might not be as effective as prescription medication or psychotherapy. However, the medications can help you to manage the anxiety situation before you see a doctor.

There are also home remedies that can be applied to take care of anxiety. The techniques apply to several anxiety disorders. These methods when practiced can enable you to go through an anxiety attack with minimal effects or prevent the occurrence of an anxiety attack.


What Are the Over-the-Counter Medications for Social Anxiety Disorder?

There are a variety of OTC medications on the market that can help reduce social anxiety. But which is best for you? Some common medicines include antihistamines, cough syrups, sleep supplements, painkillers and muscle relaxants, vitamins and minerals, and other drugs. There’s no one “best” medication – the treatment will vary from person to person depending on their needs. Keep in mind that not all medications are created equal. Be sure to ask your doctor about the risks and side effects before deciding on medication for yourself.

At what age does social anxiety begin?

Social anxiety begins between the ages of 11 and 19. It affects 5.3 million Americans according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. This means that about one in every 13 teenagers in America is grappling with social anxiety at any given time.

What are the levels of social anxiety?

You can have the following levels of social anxiety; mild anxiety, moderate anxiety, severe anxiety, and panic level anxiety. When it comes to social anxiety, the severity of the condition can range from mild to severe. Mild anxiety generally impacts one’s ability to function in social situations and may cause excessive blushing, sweating, and trembling.
Moderate anxiety is typically more intense and may lead to fear of public places, avoidance of social situations, and a fear of embarrassment. For those with severe anxiety, it can be debilitating and may require long-term treatment or hospitalization. Panic level anxiety is when mental health issues are so bad that people experience panic attacks.

What are the 3 symptoms of social anxiety?

Social anxiety emanates from the intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers leading to blushing, sweating, trembling, or having a shaky voice. Strong fear of being scrutinized by others or judged leads to extreme discomfort and heightened awareness of one’s body. People with social anxiety may also have an intense fear of public speaking, eating in front of others, or using public restrooms.
For some people, social anxiety is a mild but occasional condition that can be managed without medication. For others, it can be debilitating and lead to severe consequences. If you struggle with social anxiety, it’s important to know the signs so you can take the necessary precautions.

Dr. David Barlow

David is a well-known researcher and author in the anxiety disorders area with extensive research on their etiology, nature, and treatment. He started the site to share his real-life experiences on the management of anxiety disorders with successful diagnosis and treatment being his motivation to write or review the content on this site.