Medicines for Anger

Updated May 17, 2022
Unhappy and angry young couple

While anger is a normal human emotion, it can become overwhelming for some people and even impact your relationships. In addition, for years researchers have linked chronic anger to an increased risk for certain health problems, including an increased risk for heart disease. So managing your anger may help you to improve both your social and physical health.

If you are struggling, there are several treatment options available. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy is often recommended to help manage anger in both children and adults. Your healthcare provider may also suggest a medication for anger. Both prescription and over-the-counter products are available, although evidence to support their effectiveness varies. Use this anger medication list to explore various options to discuss with your healthcare provider.

What Is Anger?

We all know what it is like to feel angry, but what does it actually mean to be angry? According to the American Psychological Association, anger is "an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong." In an article on the organization's website, psychologist Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., refers to anger as "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage."

Anger can overwhelm people because there are a number of physiological reactions that occur when anger surfaces that create the need for a physical release. Hormones flood the body, blood pressure and heart rate increase, and the body prepares itself to fight or to flee. There are many situations that do not allow people to respond in the way the body is programmed to, so those physical responses have no way to be released, which can prolong the anger state.

If you find that you are experiencing anger often, and want help to manage it, then talking with your healthcare provider about medications may be a good first step.

Prescription Medications for Anger

There are several medications that are used to help with managing anger. Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a common type of medication used to treat and manage the emotion.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), SSRIs work by blocking the absorption of serotonin into brain cells, allowing more serotonin to be present in the brain. Greater levels of serotonin have been shown to alleviate depression, anxiety, and other mood symptoms, including anger.

There are a number of time-tested SSRIs available today. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of each of these anger medications with your doctor prior to beginning treatment. Although SSRIs are in general quite effective for most people, it is possible to see little or no results with one and get great results with another for unknown reasons.

Also, these medications may not be right for everyone. For instance, many SSRIs carry a black box warning from the FDA because short-term studies have suggested that they may increase the risk of suicidal thinking or suicidal behavior in young adults. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who are on an MAO inhibitor, and those under 18 years of age should get personalized guidance from their healthcare provider before taking these or any medications for anger.

Citalopram

Citalopram (brand name Celexa) is used in some adults to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, as well as some eating disorders. It works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. This helps create mental balance.

Dosage

Citalopram is usually taken just once a day, either in the morning or evening. It is available in tablet form (10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg) or an oral solution. In many cases, the starting dose is 20 mg per day but the dose can go up to 40 mg per day. The medication can take 1-4 weeks to become fully effective.

Side-Effects

You may experience certain side effects while on citalopram. These may include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunction

Cost

Celexa in tablet form can cost about $965 for a three-month supply, or about $321 a month. The generic form, citalopram is quite a bit less expensive and costs about $227 for a three-month supply, or about $75 monthly.

Escitalopram

Escitalopram (brand name Cipralex or Lexapro) is a medication used for anger management in adults and children over the age of 12. It is often prescribed to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder. As with other SSRIs, it works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Escitalopram Teva

Dosage

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a typical escitalopram dose ranges from 10 mg to 20 mg. It is usually taken once daily and can take between 1-4 weeks to become fully effective.

Side-Effects

You may experience certain side effects while on escitalopram. These may include:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite

Cost

Although Lexapro and Celexa are similar chemically, Lexapro costs significantly more, both in the brand name and the generic form. Lexapro costs about $105 a month, or $315 for a three-month day supply. Escitalopram averages around $19 a month, or about $60 for a 90-day supply.

Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine (brand names Prozac, Sarafem, and Pexeva) can be used to treat depression, eating disorders, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other conditions. Just like with other SSRIs, it works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Bottle of anti-depressant pills named Fluoxetine

Prozac is a brand name for this antidepressant medication that is effective for a wider array of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and bulimia nervosa, so it may be a more appropriate choice for those who are managing these conditions.

Dosage

NAMI suggests that your dose should be determined by your health care provider. Doses can range from 20 mg to 80 mg (taken daily) or 90 mg taken once weekly, It can take 4-5 weeks for the drug to show its full effects.

Side-Effects

Adverse effects from this medication may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Vivid dreams

Cost

Name brand Prozac is quite expensive and costs about $556 a month. The generic fluoxetine is much more economical, averaging about $12 for a one-month supply.

Fluvoxamine

Fluvoxamine (brand name Luvox) is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. It may also be used to treat depression. Fluvoxamine works by helping the brain increase its natural serotonin levels, and is safe for both adults and adolescents.

Dosage

NAMI reports that doses can vary significantly (from ranges from 50 mg to 300 mg) so it is important to work with your healthcare provider to determine the correct dose for you. According to the National Library of Medicine, it is usually taken once a day at nighttime or twice a day in the morning and evening. Note that it can take several weeks before patients will feel its full benefits.

Side-Effects

You may experience some adverse effects while taking this medication, including:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sexual dysfunction

Cost

Fluvoxamine only costs about $80 for 100 tablets, which is about $25 a month. Luvox, the name brand, costs about $400 for 30 tablets.

Paroxetine

Paroxetine (brand names Paxil and Paxil CR) is prescribed to treat a broad array of mental health conditions, including panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The Library of National Medicine reports that it can also be effective for treating hot flashes brought about by menopause. Like other SSRIs, paroxetine works by increasing the brain's serotonin levels.

Woman reading paroxetine instruction sheet

Dosage

NAMI reports that doses may range from 10 mg-40 mg. Speak to your healthcare provider to find the right dose for you. Paroxetine is usually taken once daily in the evening, and it may take several weeks before patients can feel its full effects.

Side-Effects

The side effects you experience while on paroxetine may include:

  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Joint Pain
  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nausea

Cost

Although the name-brand drug can cost you over $260 for a month's supply, the generic version is far less costly, averaging around $20.00 a month.

Sertraline

Sertraline (brand names Zoloft and Paxil) has been used to treat a wide array of mental health conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorders. A large research review published in 2019 also showed that sertraline is often effective at reducing anger.

Dosage

A typical dose can range from 50 mg to 200 mg, according to NAMI. The National Library of Medicine reports that sertraline is typically taken once a day and that it may take up to several weeks before a patient feels the full effects of the medicine.

Side-Effects

Adverse effects from taking sertraline may include:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sexual dysfunction

Cost

Costs are on par with other SSRIs, with the generic being significantly less costly. Paying out-of-pocket, Zoloft costs between $130 per month, and the generic averages about $11.00 for 30 tablets.

Vortioxetine

Vortioxetine (brand name Trintellix) is used to treat depression in adults. Unlike the SSRIs mentioned above, the National Library of Medicine lists it as a serotonin modulator. It still works in a similar way to SSRIs by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Dosage

Vortioxetine is usually taken just once a day. Doses may range from ranges from 5 mg to 20 mg, according to NAMI. Patients usually start off with a lower dose and increase if needed. It can take between 2-4 weeks for the full effects of the drug to be experienced.

Side-Effects

While taking vortioxetine, you may experience:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Unusual dreams
  • Vomiting

Cost

The brand name of the serotonin modulator costs about $470 for a 30-day supply. Currently, there are no generic versions of the medicine.

Over-The-Counter Medicines for Anger

In addition to prescription meds, some types of non-prescription products may be just as beneficial and may come with fewer side effects. Over-the-counter supplements and medicines for anger are often easier to find and less expensive than prescription alternatives.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, herbal supplements have been used throughout history to improve people's health, and still remain popular today. Studies suggest that they may relieve feelings of anger. However, these treatments have the potential to significantly affect your health. Be sure to first discuss these options with your medical provider, as herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA and may interact with other prescriptions.

Valerian

Valerian root is an herbal supplement that is often used to promote quality sleep and reduce anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it has also been used to treat fatigue, stomach cramps, and menopause symptoms. The NIH notes that valerian root is safe for adults to use for short periods of time, such as about a month but long-term effects of the medicine are unknown.

Dried Valerian roots in wooden spoon

Side-Effects

Possible adverse effects include:

  • Emotional changes
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Stomachaches

Passionflower

Passionflower is often used to help both anxiety and trouble sleeping. According to the NIH, it is also used for symptoms of menopause, pain, and heart rhythm problems. According to Mount Sinai, it can increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which results in a more relaxed state. Passionflower has only been studied in the short term for periods of up to eight weeks and high amounts (such as 3.5 grams over a period of two days) may be unsafe. The long-term effects of passionflower are unknown.

Side-Effects

You may experience these adverse effects while taking passionflower:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncoordinated movements

Chamomile

Chamomile is an herbal supplement that is often used as a sleep aid. The NIH notes that it has also been used to treat anxiety and a variety of stomach issues, such as gas and diarrhea. The organization also reports that chamomile is likely safe to use in the short term and in the quantity that is used in most teas. But its long-term effects are unknown.

Side-Effects

Chamomile may induce the following side effects:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are most often used for managing allergies and allergic reactions. According to the NIH, medications like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can also be used to treat insomnia, vertigo, and motion sickness. Some people also use Benadryl to manage anger. But clinical studies supporting this benefit are lacking.

There is some clinical evidence supporting the use of another antihistamine called hydroxyzine for generalized anxiety disorder. But researchers also report that the quality of evidence supporting the use of antihistamines for anger is low.

Should You Take Anger Meds?

Learning to manage your anger effectively is a worthwhile process that will help you regain control of your life. Since stress and anger can have a negative effect on the body, learning to manage these emotions can improve your wellbeing. Most anger medications can be taken while practicing more permanent coping strategies and can put you on the path to a healthier and happier life.

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Medicines for Anger