Gabapentin for Anxiety: Could This Be The Treatment For You?
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Tanya Harell
Anxiety is the body's response to stress. It is a term that is used to describe disorders that have symptoms of fear, worrying, nervousness, and apprehension among others. Anxiety affects how people feel, act, and can have physical symptoms, not just emotional ones.
Anxiety is a normal part of everyday life, but some people may find uncontrollable and persistent. If anxiety is excessive, it becomes disabling, and it may end up interfering with one's daily life. Anxiety disorders are serious and real just like any other medical condition such as asthma. Therefore, they require medical intervention. One can also describe anxiety as psychiatric disorders involving extreme fear and worry.
Examples of anxiety disorders include but are not limited to social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and some phobias.
Of late, there has been an increase in the use of gabapentin for the treatment of anxiety. This article will you learn more about gabapentin for anxiety. As with all other recommendations, using gabapentin to control anxiety is something you should discuss with your doctor and professional therapist.
What Is Gabapentin?
First and foremost, the FDA does not approve the drug for the treatment of anxiety. The FDA has approved it for the treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain. The use of gabapentin as a treatment for anxiety has not been approved for the treatment of anxiety.
Gabapentin is a prescription drug that is mainly used to treat conditions such as seizures and conditions involving nerve damage. One can refer to it as an antiepileptic or an anticonvulsant. Doctors also prescribe gabapentin for treating neuropathic pain and sometimes gabapentin for anxiety.
Most of the times it is prescribed for off-label purposes although it has been approved for the treatment of epilepsy and as an analgesic. This medication is used for various off-label health conditions such as bipolar disorder, chronic pain, migraines, alcohol withdrawal, and fibromyalgia among others. It is also used in the treatment of nerve pain from shingles. Some people use gabapentin for the treatment of abuse of substances such as marijuana and alcohol. It also helps people with conditions such as tremor, itch, insomnia, and preventing bipolar disorder.
How Does Gabapentin Help With Anxiety?
Gabapentin has analgesic effects, meaning that it works by reducing pain in the body. It is a neurotransmitter commonly referred to as a GABA. The molecules in the drug are structurally similar to GABA. Neurotransmitters are only released when there is high calcium in the cell membranes. Calcium plays a vital role in the maintenance of intracellular functions. The primary intracellular functions involve normal brain functioning.
Gabapentin works in a way that it reduces abnormal brain activities that can result in pain, tremor, seizures, and anxiety.
Gabapentin For Anxiety
Several drugs can be used in the treatment of anxiety, and one such drug is gabapentin. Studies show that gabapentin is useful in the treatment of anxiety. People with bipolar disorder occasionally get prescribed gabapentin as it works by relieving anxiety symptoms.
Gabapentin can be used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It is important to note that gabapentin is used off-label when people use it to treat anxiety disorders. It means that it is used for purposes that it was not initially intended to treat. For example, some people with anxiety can use gabapentin for sleep.
The results? After taking gabapentin, one is likely to feel calm, talkative, clearheaded, and euphoric. Most people have reported that gabapentin makes them clearheaded meaning that they stop feeling sluggish and unfocused after taking the drug.
Several studies have been conducted since 1990, and they all show that gabapentin has superior benefits in the treatment or reduction of tremors and seizure-related symptoms. However, there has not been extensive research on the efficacy of gabapentin in the treatment of anxiety. Therefore, is hard to suggest that gabapentin is highly effective in the reduction of anxiety disorders and this where a physician's opinion is important.
Benefits Of Taking Gabapentin For Anxiety
There are several advantages of taking gabapentin for anxiety instead of using other medications.
Even though it is yet to be approved by FDA, some studies show that it is effective in the treatment of anxiety and what's more is that it can treat some anxiety subtypes such as social anxiety disorder.
Gabapentin helps in boosting moods. After taking gabapentin, some report that they feel like every day is like Christmas. They feel less depressed, and they feel energetic. The sluggish feeling no longer exists, and they feel ready to run the day. It is not yet established how gabapentin helps in boosting moods, but those who have used it have reported to having a calm and euphoric feeling.
It is non-addictive. Unlike most of the drugs used for treating the same conditions, gabapentin is psychologically non-addictive according to some studies. Therefore, it could be the perfect choice of drug regarding safety especially for people who are easily addicted to substances.
It does not have much effect on weight. Taking gabapentin for anxiety does not have any substantial impact on weight. It does not make one to gain nor to lose weight. However, this effect does not apply to all as some individuals may experience slight weight gain. Although it is not rare to find individuals who have gained weight while on treatment with gabapentin, most of the users maintain their same weight throughout the treatment.
Gabapentin helps in reduction of pain. People suffering from the combination f anxiety and neuropathic pain may benefit from the consumption of gabapentin. Some people may experience anxiety while under a lot of pain, therefore, gabapentin being manufactured primarily as an analgesic will get relief for the pain and anxiety from gabapentin.
Consumption of gabapentin does not lead to many side effects. It has minimal side effects, and some people find it favorable in comparison to other anxiety medications. Some of the side effects of gabapentin are such as dizziness and tremors. Moreover, it does not have any noticeable impact on an individual's sexual abilities or performance.
The Cons Of Gabapentin
There is insufficient evidence on the use of gabapentin for anxiety. Some studies show that it may be useful for the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, those studies are not reliable as such because they are limited to small sample sizes. There is no conclusive research on the issue, and thorough clinical trials should be carried out to provide sufficient evidence.
Although gabapentin does not have many side effects unlike other anxiolytic drugs, it is not yet known about its long-term side effects. There are claims that the drug can be used long-term, but users should proceed with caution, as it is not yet known whether gabapentin can cause memory impairment because of the GABA effects.
There is insufficient research on the use of gabapentin for anxiety in children. Therefore, there may be unknown risks associated with gabapentin mechanisms that may affect brain development in children.
Gabapentin drug is the most prescribed off-label. Most of the users of this drug use it for the treatment of conditions that were not intended for the drug. Most doctors may not prescribe gabapentin if one has only anxiety problems.
Just like any other drug that alters the neurochemistry of the body, gabapentin may cause long-lasting withdrawal effects. If one has been taking with the idea that it is not addictive, then it is good to consider the possible discontinuation effects.
Not everyone can benefit from using gabapentin for anxiety. Some people may not recognize any significant change depending on their level of anxiety and the dosage of gabapentin. Some studies show that increasing the level of dosage does not have any impact. Meaning that the extra dose that one takes beyond the regular dose will go to waste.
Some people develop tolerance to the drug very quickly, meaning that the effectiveness of the drug reduces over time. Note, not everyone can develop tolerance. Some people can use it for long-term without building a tolerance to the drug.
Tips For Taking Gabapentin
If the doctor has prescribed gabapentin for anxiety, then the following tips can come in handy when taking the medication:
Always make sure that you follow the doctor's guidelines. It is advisable to take the dose at night, though it depends on the dosage prescribed by the doctor.
Some people may develop a tolerance for gabapentin. Therefore, make sure that you find the minimum effective dose. Use the drug wisely, so that you can be able to use for the longest time possible.
The use of gabapentin for the treatment of anxiety is very common. People suffering from anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder and panic attacks find gabapentin to be their drug of choice to help deal with their conditions.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Have you ever used gabapentin for anxiety?
Feel free to contact BetterHelp for assistance in the most suitable way of dealing with anxiety.