Hyperventilation Syndrome Medication

Updated: Feb 22, 2021
  • Author: Brian Kern, MD; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Benzodiazepines are effective in reducing stress that may provoke hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) and are thought to reset the central nervous system (CNS) response to a variety of “panicogens.” Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been reported to reduce the frequency and the severity of episodes of hyperventilation.


Anxiolytics, Benzodiazepines

Class Summary

Benzodiazepines are useful in the treatment of hyperventilation resulting from anxiety and panic attacks. By binding to specific receptor sites, these agents appear to potentiate the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and to facilitate inhibitory GABA neurotransmission and the actions of other inhibitory transmitters.

Alprazolam (Xanax, Niravam)

Alprazolam is indicated for treatment of anxiety and management of panic attacks.

Lorazepam (Ativan, Lorazepam Intensol)

Lorazepam is a sedative-hypnotic of the benzodiazepine class that has a short time to onset of effect and a relatively long half-life. By enhancing the action of GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, it may depress all levels of the CNS, including the limbic area and reticular formation.

Diazepam (Valium, Diastat)

Diazepam depresses all levels of the CNS (eg, limbic and reticular formation), possibly by increasing the activity of GABA. It is considered second-line therapy for seizures.


Antidepressants, SSRIs

Class Summary

SSRIs are useful in treating hyperventilation associated with anxiety.

Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)

Paroxetine is the alternative drug of choice for HVS. It is a potent selective inhibitor of neuronal reuptake of serotonin and has a weak effect on neuronal reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine.