If you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, then you're probably looking for any way to get relief. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, can have a severe impact on our ability to function normally due to symptoms such as excessive worrying, racing thoughts, panic attacks, and the urge to isolate.
Standard anxiety treatments can be helpful, but may not always be effective for taming these symptoms and treating anxiety. As such, many people are beginning to explore alternative treatment options. Neurontin for anxiety is one such treatment. Neurontin is a medication that is sometimes prescribed off-label for symptoms of anxiety when other treatments have failed.
Other alternative treatments, ranging from supplements to new age healing, are touted by some as being effective for generalized anxiety disorder. So what is good for anxiety? Let's explore these different potential anxiety solutions to see if there's any evidence to back up their claims.
Signs of an Anxiety Disorder
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. It's a normal response when faced with a nerve-wracking situation, such as a first date or speaking in front of a large crowd. Occasional anxiety is not a sign of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is defined by a near-constant worry that doesn't go away. If you have an anxiety disorder, even if you know your worries are excessive or aren't helping, you can't stop having them. An anxiety disorder can significantly impact your quality of life and ability to function.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:
Anxiety can cause an increase in stress hormones throughout the body. High cortisol and anxiety, as well as increased norepinephrine and adrenaline, have all been linked.
There are many other types of anxiety disorders, categorized by the trigger for the symptoms. These include Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other subtypes. A doctor can diagnose you with a specific type of anxiety disorder.
What Causes an Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety can be caused by many things, from genetics to life circumstances to negative experiences to nutritional deficiencies. Multiple causes may be at play. Sometimes, no cause can be identified. As such, the treatments for anxiety are broad and may involve a process of elimination to find what works for you.
You should seek treatment for your anxiety when you recognize that the symptoms are interfering with your ability to live your life. Anxiety usually doesn't go away on its own, and the sooner you get help, the faster you can regain control of your life.
Standard Anxiety Treatment
Below are some of the most common ways to treat anxiety.
Best Antidepressants for Anxiety
Research has shown that the most effective antidepressants for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Lexapro and Zoloft. However, these medications only relieve depression in a little over half of patients and tend to have side effects. This has led to the search for other, more effective treatments with fewer side effects.
Some people respond to short-term therapy using benzodiazepines, including Xanax and Klonopin. Due to their addictive nature, however, it's recommended that these drugs are only used for a limited time.
Mood stabilizers for anxiety are usually only reserved for those who have bipolar disorder. These drugs, such as lithium, are effective for mania and some episodes of anxiety.
Therapy for Anxiety
Talk therapy is often recommended for anxiety and other mental health disorders.
Research has shown that therapy, particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is the most effective current treatment for anxiety. Most types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD, respond very well to this type of therapy. CBT has been extensively researched for many years and shown to be effective.
CBT teaches techniques to manage anxiety and guides the patient to identify their triggers and negative thought patterns and slowly replace them with healthier ones. Benefits of this type of therapy usually take a few weeks, but the skills that are taught can last a lifetime.
If you haven't found success with CBT in the past, other forms of therapy also exist to help you manage and reduce your anxiety. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches you methods of coping with uncomfortable and unpleasant thoughts while simultaneously changing your behavior. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) combines some methods from CBT with mindfulness skills and distress tolerance.
Neurontin for Anxiety
What is Neurontin?
Neurontin is an anticonvulsant medication currently only approved by the FDA to treat seizures and nerve pain. Neurontin is also sometimes prescribed off-label to treat mood and anxiety disorders, restless leg syndrome, and tardive dyskinesia. Neurontin is the brand name, but the medication is also available as a generic, called gabapentin.
Does Neurontin Work to Treat Anxiety?
There have not been many studies performed to assess the ability of Neurontin to effectively treat anxiety. Some research has shown it to work for certain patients to reduce their anxiety symptoms.
How is Neurontin Taken?
Generally, the starting dose for Neurontin is 300 mg by mouth before bed, once a day. The dose is gradually increased until the desired effect is reached.
Are There Side Effects or Possible Drug Interactions?
When starting Neurontin, monitor closely for side effects. Report any side effects promptly to your doctor, but do not stop taking the medication abruptly unless directed to do so. Possible side effects include:
Drug interactions with Neurontin include hydrocodone, valerian root, and clobazam. You should always discuss any medications you are currently taking with your doctor before starting Neurontin.
If Neurontin is not an option for you, there are many vitamins and supplements that can be used to manage an anxiety disorder.
Vitamins and Supplements for ADHD
Vitamin D and Anxiety
Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to anxiety and depression, among other conditions, particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Vitamin D is derived mainly from sun exposure and, to a lesser extent, your diet. It's thought that over one billion people around the world are Vitamin D deficient. People with darker skin tones are particularly at risk for Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that is needed throughout the body to function properly.
Many people swear by calming tea blends that are purported to deliver relaxing results. Teas such as peppermint, chamomile, and passionflower for anxiety have been shown to have a calming effect and ease nervousness. Green tea, in particular, may aid you in clearing your mind and lowering mental anxiety.
Magnesium Oxide for Anxiety
Does magnesium help with anxiety? It appears so. Magnesium deficiency may be responsible for anxiety symptoms, particularly if you're experiencing heart palpitations and difficulty sleeping. Magnesium is also involved in many bodily processes and research has shown that supplementation may reduce anxiety symptoms. How much magnesium for anxiety? Typically, it's recommended that women take about 300 mg a day and men take about 400 mg. Consult your doctor or dietician for specific recommendations.
Nicotine and Anxiety
A lot of smokers claim that nicotine lowers their anxiety, but research has found that this is only a temporary effect. Nicotine has been shown many times to increase anxiety symptoms.
Does Melatonin Help With Anxiety?
Melatonin is a hormone your body produces to make you feel relaxed and sleepy, which is why melatonin is often recommended for insomnia. Melatonin can be helpful for reducing anxiety symptoms, but due to its drowsy effect, it should only be taken around bedtime.
Rhodiola Rosea for Anxiety
Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that is known as an adaptogen, meaning it works with your body's natural stress response to lower your symptoms of anxiety. Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to improve anxiety symptoms and fatigue without significant side effects.
Many other supplements, such as niacin and turmeric for anxiety, may manage symptoms for some people. Treatment depends on each individual's unique biochemistry. Never begin a supplement without first speaking to your physician.
Other Alternative Treatments
Aromatherapy for Anxiety
Aromatherapy involves inhaling the fumes of different types of essential oils, which is thought to have an effect on your central nervous system. Commonly used essential oils are basil, lemon balm, jasmine, and lavender for anxiety. Studies on essential oils for anxiety have shown the most effective use involves therapeutic massage.
Biofeedback for Anxiety
Biofeedback is a somewhat controversial treatment that is used for ADHD, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Biofeedback involves attaching electrodes to a person and monitoring their brain waves while performing a series of electronic tasks. The person is guided to change their brain wave patterns consciously, which could theoretically allow you to better manage anxiety. Research is limited, but some improvement has been demonstrated for symptoms of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and PTSD.
Other alternative treatments, such as healing stones for anxiety or using a fidget spinner for anxiety, have less evidence to support their ability to reduce symptoms. Some people have found binaural beats for anxiety played while they're working to help them maintain focus. Games for anxiety can help you reduce your stress level while doing something you enjoy.
Dietary changes can also assist you in managing your symptoms with steps such as reducing caffeine and refined sugar intake. Sugar and anxiety may have a link, since sugar can increase your body's overall response to stress, elevating your mood before causing a crash. Speak to your doctor about steps you can take to improve your diet if you believe this could be contributing to your anxiety.
There are many treatments for anxiety, but the end goal is always the same: reducing your symptoms and helping you cope so that you can regain control of your life. It's not always easy to find a therapist you connect with or to make time in your schedule to attend appointments.
Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:
Is Neurontin good for anxiety?
Neurontin (generic name gabapentin) is an anticonvulsant drug that is also used for nerve pain. Although it is being prescribed off-label for anxiety treatment more and more frequently, there are no randomized controlled trials regarding this type of usage. Anecdotal evidence reveals that it can improve severe anxiety and symptoms of panic disorder, but that it can also have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Further research is needed, including a placebo-controlled study and randomized controlled trials.
Does gabapentin work immediately for anxiety?
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug that also helps in relieving nerve pain, as in peripheral neuropathy. However, it is used off-label for a variety of other ailments and disorders, including psychiatric disorders like anxiety.
You may be prescribed gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal (for those with alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder), hot flashes, or pain after surgery. Doctors also prescribe gabapentin to treat patients with mental illness such as anxiety and social phobia, as an alternative to psychotropic medications. Therefore, if you’re living with anxiety, gabapentin may be an option for you.
Gabapentin therapy has been used for epilepsy in the past, but the American Academy of Neurology no longer recommends gabapentin monotherapy for epilepsy. According to the AAN, taking gabapentin in conjunction with other medications may be appropriate treatment for epilepsy, but gabapentin should not be the only medication prescribed.
When using gabapentin for anxiety, it generally takes four weeks or longer to see the effects. Gabapentin treatment for anxiety does not work immediately. For relief of anxiety, gabapentin should be taken as directed and should not be stopped abruptly.
There are some side effects of gabapentin to be aware of. The most common side effects include weakness, dizziness, tremors, mood changes, sleepiness, headache, dry mouth, fluid buildup, and constipation. You may experience poor concentration and changes in bodily movements due to tremors and dizziness.
Rarer and more serious side effects of gabapentin include a severe rash, anaphylaxis (allergic reaction), depression, suicidal thoughts, and seizures (when you stop taking gabapentin abruptly). In some cases, gabapentin can cause difficulty breathing.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to your doctor and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you are interested in using gabapentin for anxiety, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor first. Self-medication with gabapentin can be dangerous and lead to side effects, gabapentin abuse, or even substance use disorders in some cases. It’s also vital to work with a doctor to figure out the correct dosage and maximum dose of gabapentin tablets you should take, and to ensure there won’t be any interactions with other medications you’re taking. Do not take this medication unless your doctor has prescribed gabapentin to you.
How much Neurontin should I take for anxiety?
When taking Neurontin or gabapentin for anxiety or other mental health disorders, always follow your doctor’s instructions for dosage. Taking gabapentin or Neurontin incorrectly can result in increased risk of potentially harmful side effects.
Is gabapentin used for anxiety or depression?
Doctors sometimes prescribe gabapentin for anxiety; gabapentin is not usually prescribed for depression, although depression can be a side effect of gabapentin. Talk therapy and psychotropic medications are more common recommendations for those living with anxiety.
Why does gabapentin make me happy?
What is the drug of choice for anxiety?
Is Xanax or gabapentin better for anxiety?
When should I take gabapentin for anxiety?
Will 100 mg of gabapentin help with anxiety?
Is gabapentin like Xanax?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is gabapentin effective for anxiety?
In some studies, gabapentin has been shown to be effective for treating anxiety. However, only a few studies have been conducted, so it is difficult to ascertain the comprehensive effectiveness of gabapentin for anxiety. Your therapist can help you determine if gabapentin is right for you.
How does gabapentin make you feel?
Research shows that gabapentin can make you feel calm and euphoric. This means that many people who are taking gabapentin for anxiety may experience significant symptom relief as a result of taking gabapentin.
How long does Neurontin take to work?
Studies show that gabapentin typically reaches its peak effectiveness within 2-3 hours after it is first taken.
Does gabapentin make you last longer in bed?
Studies have shown that when gabapentin has been used to treat nerve pain, it can lead to small improvements in arousal and sexual satisfaction. However, this effect does not appear to be universal for every person who takes gabapentin. Studies indicating these improvements have only been conducted on gabapentin prescribed for pain; there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that gabapentin improves arousal when prescribed for anxiety.
Does gabapentin calm you down?
Yes. Some people who have taken gabapentin report feelings of extreme calm. However, this can be something to watch out for. If you struggle with anxiety, it may feel impossible to imagine such a feeling as “too calm.” But research shows that some people who take gabapentin may experience a sense of calm so excessive that it leads to a “false sense of well-being.” This can potentially be problematic if it prevents you from sensing danger or being unable to make safe decisions for yourself.
Why is gabapentin bad?
This question is a bit of a misrepresentation; gabapentin is not objectively bad for you. However, this anti-anxiety drug can be problematic for people who struggle with substance abuse. A 2014 study found that gabapentin abuse is common among some people who are patients in substance abuse facilities. This is where gabapentin can become dangerous because, if you overdose on gabapentin and then attempt to detox in a treatment program, the withdrawal symptoms can be painful and severe. However, it seems that the risk of addiction only occurs when gabapentin is taken in higher quantities than the recommended dosage.
Can you drink coffee with gabapentin?
As a general rule, yes. Few, if any, side effects have been reported as a result of drinking coffee while taking gabapentin. However, if you’re taking gabapentin for its original intended purpose– as an anticonvulsant for seizure disorders– it’s possible that caffeine may limit the drug’s effectiveness for treating seizures.
Does gabapentin cause weight gain?
Studies have shown that, in some rare cases, people who take gabapentin may experience a small amount of weight gain over a long period of time.
How long can you take gabapentin for nerve pain?
The answer to this question will depend on your unique circumstances. A 2010 study found that long-term use of gabapentin can create health problems for people who have pre-existing kidney conditions. Other studies have also found that long-term use of gabapentin can also create some issues with memory loss, weakened muscles, and respiratory failure.
Can I take 2 100mg gabapentin?
The exact dosage of gabapentin you take for anxiety will vary according to the treatment plan developed by you and your therapist. However, as a general rule, the starting dosage is typically 0.25 mg 3-4 times per day. Gabapentin tablets do come in doses of 100, 300, and 400 mg, so it’s possible that you might take 2 100mg tablets of gabapentin if this is in line with the treatment plan your therapist has recommended.