|Synonyms||sedative, minor tranquilizer|
An anxiolytic (also antipanic or antianxiety agent) is a medication, or other intervention, that inhibits anxiety. This effect is in contrast to anxiogenic agents, which increase anxiety. Together these categories of psychoactive compounds or interventions may be referred to as anxiotropic compounds or agents. Some recreational drugs such as alcohol induce anxiolysis initially; however, studies show that many of these drugs are anxiogenic. Anxiolytic medications have been used for the treatment of anxiety disorder and its related psychological and physical symptoms. Light therapy and other interventions have also been found to have an anxiolytic effect.
Anxiolytics are also known as minor tranquilizers. The term is less common in modern texts and was originally derived from a dichotomy with major tranquilizers, also known as neuroleptics or antipsychotics.