Some of these over the counter medications will have an anti-anxiety effect, but just because they are freely available it doesn’t mean that it is safe or advisable to use them regularly.
Some people find that pain relievers like co-codamol, which contains the opiate codeine, relieves anxiety. You should be cautious about taking co-codamol regularly as it could be habit forming (although the opiate dose is quite low).
Also, with anti-anxiety drugs it can be tempting to take more and more as the effect becomes weaker the longer you take it. Overdosing on co-codamol can be fatal or cause serious and permanent organ damage.
The same can be said of over-the-counter sleep aids which often contain antihistamines which may have a small anti-anxiety effect. The fact is that they tend to stop working if you use them too often and any effect you get from them is likely to be quite small. They are probably safer than an opiate-containing analgesic.
There is one drug that is, occasionally, prescribed for anxiety but is also available in a slightly different form over the counter in many countries. Prochlorperazine is normally prescribed for vertigo and nausea and vomiting however at a higher dose it can be used for anxiety (although rarely is!).
Prochlorperazine is available over the counter under the name Buccastem. It is sold in a low dose, just 3mg, in a quickly absorbed under-the-tongue pill.
The problem is that if a doctor were to prescribe Prochlorperazine for anxiety the dose would be much higher. That means that you would have to take more than twice as much as the label recommends, something which I do not recommend and have certainly never tried myself.
All in all, you might get some anti-anxiety effect from an over the counter pill but it’s probably best to speak to your doctor about something more suitable or try a natural approach or read Anxiety Disorders Herbal Remedies.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to buy anything from an online pharmacy – the prices are ridiculous and the quality is dubious.