While Gabapentin is most well-known as anticonvulsant medication, its off-label uses may include anxiety disorder or its symptoms. The brand names for Gabapentin are Neurontin and Horizant, and they are marketed primarily to treat epilepsy. Learn how it may benefit your anxiety attacks.
How Does Gabapentin Affect Anxiety?
Gabapentin is the second-line medication for anxiety treatment typically prescribed when no other medications were effective or caused many severe side effects. It is not used to treat anxiety disorder itself but just moderate symptoms of anxiety. In particular, a doctor may prescribe it to treat other mental health conditions where anxiety comes as an accompanying symptom including bipolar mania or schizoaffective psychosis. In one study, Gabapentin has been reviewed for efficacy in social anxiety treatment but the results were mixed. A doctor should assess all the benefits when prescribing this anticonvulsant medication for anxiety which comes as a primary concern.
Gabapentin anxiety is not clearly understood in terms of its mechanism of action, however, it is believed to imitate the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) action, and affect certain chemicals in the brain resulting in sedation of nervous system activity.
If you believe that treatment with this medication may be right for you, you must speak with the doctor.
Gabapentin for Anxiety Side Effects
Gabapentin may cause side effects when increasing the dosage in the first days of treatment, as well as when taking it as not directed by the doctor.
The most common Gabapentin side effects include:
- memory loss.
When discontinuing the treatment with this medication, a gradual decrease in dosage is required. A patient may experience withdrawal side effects when abruptly stopping the intake of Gabapentin including:
- sleep problems;
- excessive sweating.
It may impair motor skills as well as thinking. Do not take Gabapentin if you drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how it affects your system.
Overdose incidents have been reported when taking Gabapentin in large doses or interacting it with alcohol. If you believe you overdosed, seek emergency help immediately (call 911).
Contraindications of Gabapentin for Anxiety
Gabapentin is most likely to increase the probability of suicidal ideation or behavior. It should not be prescribed to young adults under 24.
Do not take this medication and inform the doctor if you have an allergy to gabapentin enacarbil or other inactive ingredients.
Abstain from alcohol while taking this medication, as it may lead to overdose or cause severe side effects.
Gabapentin is rarely prescribed to children aged 3 to 12 to treat anxiety. Young patients are most likely to experience behavioral changes. Other modalities are available to treat this mental health condition in this age group.
Elderly people aged 75 and older should not take Gabapentin for anxiety, or take it with caution if they have kidney problems.
To start Gabapentin and anxiety treatment safely, inform the doctor if you take opiates, have kidney/liver diseases as well as the medical history of substance use disorder.
Take Gabapentin for anxiety as needed only. Do not change the dosage without speaking to the doctor.