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Anxiolytics: Past, Present, and Future Agents

Charles B. Nemeroff, MD, PhD

Published: March 1, 2003

Article Abstract

Although anxiety disorders were classified as neurotic disorders and not systematically studied before DSM-III, researchers and clinicians have been searching for effective, safe agents to treat anxiety symptoms and disorders for over a century. In that time, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and many classes of antidepressants have been used as anxiolytics, all with side effect profiles that made them less than optimal treatments for anxiety. The recognition of the role of GABA in anxiety disorders has led researchers to develop anxiolytics that target GABA. The long-sought-after class of anxiolytics that are both effective and safe may be found in the new research being conducted with agents that selectively target GABA receptors and their subtypes.

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