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An anxiolytic (also antipanic or antianxiety agent) is a drug 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/agents. Some recreational drugs like alcoholic beverages (which contain ethanol) induce anxiolysis. Anxiolytic medications have been used for the treatment of anxiety and its related psychological and physical symptoms. Anxiolytics have been shown to be useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Bright light therapy and other interventions have also been found to have an anxiolytic effect.
Beta-receptor blockers such as propranolol and oxprenolol, although not anxiolytics, can be used to combat the somatic symptoms of anxiety.
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.