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Do Sleeping Pills Help With Anxiety And Depression?

Sleeping pills are sedative medications that slow down the functions of your brain and body, such as your breathing, thinking, and heartbeat. As the name suggests, sleeping pills help you sleep peacefully at night without any waking-up episodes. Sleeping pills are mild tranquilizers doctors prescribe to treat severe anxiety and insomnia. 

Before discussing the effectiveness of sleeping pills in treating anxiety and depression, it is important to first understand the two conditions.

Anxiety vs. Depression

Both anxiety and depression are mood disorders. Let’s briefly take a look at both of them:

  • Anxiety creates feelings of dread, worry, or nervousness. 
  • Depression leads to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy, generally. 

Despite being different from each other, people can suffer from both at the same time. If a person feels restlessness and agitation, both indicate anxiety and depression.

The Symptoms

Anxiety and depression are common mental health issues, and they often happen together. 60% of anxiety patients have depression symptoms, and the same is the case with many depression patients. Each condition worsens the symptoms of the other and even makes it last longer. 

It is natural to feel anxious or depressed. These are normal human emotions. However, if such bouts become frequent and start affecting your life, you should get yourself checked and get suitable treatment. In anxiety, a person feels overwhelmed by the onslaught of a plethora of mixed feelings like fear, nervousness, and worry. On the other hand, when a person suffers from depression, they feel sad, moody, and hopeless. These feelings persist.

Both conditions seem different. But they share numerous signs. People get more irritable when they are anxious, and those who are depressed feel more irritated than sad. These conditions vary from one person to another. So, you cannot always know what your symptoms mean.

Sleeping Pills Treatment: Prescription or OTC

Your doctor will go through your symptoms and figure out whether you have anxiety or depression. Or you have both. There are a few medications that are ideal for both depression and anxiety. Those who experience trauma or stress in early life suffer from anxiety and depression. And those with anxiety are more susceptible to suffering from depression.

The most common and effective form of treatment for sleep problems is sleeping pills. Sleeping pills have many names, such as sedatives, sleep aids, hypnotics, and tranquilizers. There are two different kinds of sleeping pills: 

  • Over-the-counter  OTC sleeping pills
  • Prescription sleeping pills

Compared to OTC pills, prescription sleeping medicines are more effective and powerful. You need to show your doctor’s prescription at the pharmacy to get these pills:

Do Sleeping Pills Help Anxiety and Depression?

These drugs bring a significant drop in anxiety symptoms like feeling shaky or agitation. Also, one can use them to overcome insomnia. You should know that sleeping pills do not deal with the primary cause of these disorders. However, sleeping pills make you feel calmer and relaxed so you can deal better with anxiety and depression symptoms.

There are three main types of prescription sleeping aids, also called anxiolytics and hypnotics, which can provide some relief to anxiety and depression patients:

  • Anti-depressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Z-drugs


As the name suggests, antidepressants are significant in treating depression. They help in reducing stress levels and anxiety. Antidepressants effect the neurotransmitters in the central nervous system to induce sleep, boost relaxation, and lessen anxiety. Antidepressants are available in liquids as well as tablet for. Patients are required to take a dosage of 10, 25, or 50 milligrams. 

Side Effects 

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Weight Gain
  • Reduced sexual drive

Benzodiazepines – BZD

BZD falls under the powerful class of sleeping pills that are effective in ensuring good sleep, improving memory and learning, and relieving anxiety. BZD boosts GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, which results in drowsiness so you can sleep better. Moreover, BZD leads to relaxed muscles, reduces anxiety and treats epilepsy. BZD is available in both short and long-acting forms. Doctors consider the severity of your symptoms, health issues, and age before prescribing any sleep medications. 

Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Using sleep medications for extended period can lead to depression especially in those patients suffering from kidney and liver disease. 


Non-benzodiazepines, or Z-drugs, are fast-acting sleep aids that quickly take effect. The effect of these drugs kicks in 30 minutes after intake and lasts for 8 hours. Z-drugs stimulate sleepiness and boost a peaceful sleep. Z-drugs also help in making you calm and relaxed. As a result, those suffering from anxiety feel a lot better. Patients feel refreshed, and there is no grogginess or light-headedness in the morning. Doctors prescribe Z-drugs the most as they have minimal side effects. They have low potential for addiction and drug tolerance.

Sleeping Pills – Side Effects

When users become dependent on sleeping pills to catch good sleep, the adverse side effects of sleeping aids start to appear. Going cold turkey or sudden discontinuation could trigger withdrawal symptoms and escalate insomnia.

The short-term side effects of sleeping medications are:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrehea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or other stomach issues 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slow brain processing and decision making
  • Squeamish 
  • Tiredness

Using sleeping pills for an extended duration can lead to serious health problems. Long-term usage of sleep medication can affect sleep structure, brain function, drug tolerance, and dependency on pills to sleep. Dependency and long-term use can bring forth changes in the body’s functions and even lead to organ damage.

These side effects will appear if you have been using sleep aids for a long time:

  • Accidental falls
  • Elderly face risk of dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Possibility of depression
  • Respiratory depression during sleep that can be fatal
  • Sexual dysfunction

Those who are on prescription sleeping pills may not realize their addiction until they try to quit. Abruptly discontinuation of sleeping pills can lead to side effects and even withdrawal symptoms in some cases. Always consult your physician when you decide to quit so they can formulate a systematic treatment plan for you with natural methods to fall asleep and healthy sleep habits.