Yohimbine induced anxiety and increased noradrenergic function in humans: effects of diazepam and clonidine

Life Sci. 1983 Jul 4;33(1):19-29. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(83)90707-5.


Yohimbine (30 mg) produced significant increases in subjective anxiety, autonomic symptoms, blood pressure, and plasma 3-methoxy-4-hydroxy-phenylethyleneglycol (MHPG) in ten healthy subjects. The effects of pretreatment with diazepam (10 mg) or clonidine (5 micrograms/kg) on these yohimbine induced changes was examined. Both diazepam and clonidine significantly antagonized yohimbine-induced anxiety, but only clonidine significantly attenuated the yohimbine induced increases in plasma MHPG, blood pressure, and autonomic symptoms. When given alone, clonidine significantly decreased plasma MHPG and blood pressure, whereas diazepam did not. These findings indicate that: (1) noradrenergic hyperactivity may be a factor in the production of some anxiety states; (2) the anti-anxiety effects of clonidine appear to result from its actions on receptors which decrease noradrenergic activity; (3) diazepam reverses yohimbine-induced anxiety without effects on several physiological or biochemical indicators of noradrenergic activity in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / chemically induced
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Clonidine / pharmacology*
  • Diazepam / pharmacology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Yohimbine*


  • Yohimbine
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol
  • Clonidine
  • Diazepam
  • Norepinephrine