The purpose of this article is to review the risks of pharmacological treatments of anxiety, mainly those due to benzodiazepines. Many mildly anxious patients do not need pharmacotherapy and psychological support is always an important component of treatment. The risks of benzodiazepine treatment increase with the doses used and the length of treatment, especially the risk of dependence. However, people who abuse benzodiazepines are a minority. Usually they also abuse alcohol and other drugs, probably reflecting underlying personality disorders. There are several alternative pharmacological treatments for anxiety. Tricyclics and MAO inhibitors are effective in panic disorders. Buspirone is useful in generalized anxiety disorder and in patients who are prone to substance abuse. All these alternative treatments may have disadvantages that need to be considered.