Gabapentin for anxiety: dosage & side effects

To many medications are available to alleviate anxiety. Recent research indicates that gabapentin has proven to be an effective treatment for anxiety sufferers. Nevertheless, there are few case reports and no randomized controlled trials regarding this medication’s efficacy in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Gabapentin users with GAD have been demonstrated to have fewer irritable episodes, cut back on alcohol use as a self-medication, also experience fewer symptoms of depression, feel less anxious when thinking about the future, and improve their phobic avoidance (going out in public more often). They have also shown a significant reduction in panic disorder and fewer panic attacks.

What is anxiety disorder?

It’s normal to occasionally feel anxious in life. On the other hand, strong, overwhelming, and persistent worry and panic regarding commonplace events are often experienced by those with anxiety disorders. Panic attacks, which are abrupt, strong feelings of fear or terror that peak in a matter of minutes, are a common feature of anxiety disorders.

These uncontrollably intense, out-of-proportion-to-the-real-danger emotions cause disruptions to everyday activities and can last for extended periods. To stop these emotions, you could steer clear of certain areas or circumstances. The onset of symptoms can occur in childhood or adolescence and persist throughout maturity.

Generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, particular phobias, and social anxiety disorder (sometimes known as social phobia) are a few types of anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of anxiety

Typical indications and symptoms of anxiety include:

   feeling tense, uneasy, or restless

  • feeling as though there’s imminent danger, terror, or disaster
  • Experiencing an elevated heart rate
  • fast breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Perspiration
  • shaky
  • feeling worn down or feeble
  • difficulty focusing or thinking about anything other from the current concern
  • Having difficulty falling asleep
  • Having digestive issues (GI issues)
  • also Having trouble putting concern in check
  • the desire to stay away from situations that make you anxious

Types of anxiety

There are various kinds of anxiety disorders:


Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety disorder characterized by a fear of places or situations that could make you feel imprisoned, helpless, or embarrassed. The term “agoraphobia” (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is used to describe this condition.

Anxiety disorder due to medication

Severe anxiety or panic attacks that are directly brought on by a physical health issue are included in the category of medically produced anxiety disorders.

 Generalized anxiety disorder

Anxiety that is excessive and persistent, along with worry about events or activities, even everyday problems, are symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. It’s hard to control, the concern is out of proportion to the situation, and it physically affects you. It frequently coexists with depression or other anxiety disorders.

Panic disorder

Panic attacks, which are abrupt, severe experiences of fear or terror that peak in a matter of minutes, are a common feature of panic disorder. Breathlessness, chest pain, or a fast, fluttering, or hammering heart are possible signs of imminent doom (heart palpitations). These panic episodes can cause anxiety about reoccurring episodes or make you avoid settings where they’ve happened.

Selective mutism

When children consistently avoid speaking in social circumstances, like school, even though they are able to converse when they are with close family members at home, this is known as selective mutism. This may cause issues for social, professional, and academic functioning.

Separation anxiety disorder

A childhood condition known as separation anxiety disorder is typified by anxiety that is excessive for the child’s developmental stage and associated with being separated from parents and others.

What is Gabapentin?           

Gabapentin belongs to the group of medications known as gabapentinoids. These medications resemble the structure of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a substance found in the brain.1. It has a similar structure, however it has no effect on GABA function. The body’s particular calcium channels may be impacted by gabapentin. Nonetheless, nothing is known about gabapentin’s precise purpose. Brand names for gabapentin, such as Neurontin, Horizant, and Gralise, are widely used.

The FDA has authorized gabapentin for the following conditions: 2, 3.

  • Postherpetic nerve pain, often known as shingles-related burning pain
  • Handling specific seizure disorders
  • Leg tremors

Gabapentin has off-label uses in addition to FDA-approved ones. When a drug is prescribed off-label, it indicates that the doctor is using it for a condition that the FDA has not approved. Off-label use is when a medical expert uses their professional judgment to determine whether a patient will still benefit from a medicine.

Using gabapentin off-label entails

  • neuropathic discomfort
  • The fibromyalgia
  • Manic episodes
  • Hot flashes after menopause
  • Important tremors
  • Uncertainty
  • Sensitive intestinal syndrome
  • diabetic neuropathy
  • Lack of sleep

How is gabapentin administered?

Gabapentin modifies your perception of pain to assist manage shingles-related pain. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication that works by reducing abnormal brain activity that can trigger seizures.

A 2015 systematic review states although the exact mechanism of action of gabapentin in treating psychiatric problems is unknown, research suggests that the drug functions similarly to other anti-anxiety drugs (Trusted Source). Research also indicates that gabapentin works better than disorders like bipolar illness, panic disorder, or panic attacks to lessen the effects of alcohol withdrawal and some forms of anxiety.

The precise mechanism of gabapentin’s action is not entirely understood. The structure of gabapentin is comparable to that of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a substance found in the brain. Nevertheless, gabapentin does not affect GABA function or behave in the brain similarly to GABA. Rather, gabapentin is known to affect particular nerve cell calcium channels. This aids in reducing hyperactive nerve activity. Gabapentin can reduce seizures and numb nerve discomfort in this way.

What Is the Duration of Gabapentin’s Anxiety Reduction?

Neurontin’s (gabapentin) label states that a number of things affect how quickly it works. The maximal concentration of immediate-release gabapentin is attained in 1–5 hours, whereas it takes 3–12 hours for extended-release medicine. This is primarily dependent on the formulation. Furthermore, the absorption of extended-release pills may be impacted by fatty meals.

Taking Gabapentin for Anxiety

If gabapentin is prescribed by your doctor to manage anxiety, you should follow their instructions to the letter. Usually, you’ll start with a low dose and work your way up to a higher one based on how you react to it. This also gives your body time to get used to the medicine.

Gabapentin comes in pill, capsule, and oral solution form; nevertheless, your doctor will likely suggest tablets for anxiety. It is usually eaten with a full glass of water, whether or not food is present. Furthermore, using antacids is not advised [5*]. Shut off two hours prior to or following gabapentin use. Antacids may reduce the effectiveness of gabapentin by impeding your body’s capacity to absorb it

Gabapentin’s Beneficial for Anxiety

Among the ways that gabapentin reduces anxiety are as follows:

  • It reduces the symptoms of anxiousness.
  • For people who experience co-occurring neuropathic pain, it offers dual alleviation.
  • The medication carries a low risk of addiction.
  • minimal adverse effects.

Sides Effects of Gabapentin

Like any medication, there could be adverse reactions. Certain side effects are more common during the initial phases of pharmaceutical use. Although the nature and intensity of side effects can differ from person to person, gabapentin can have negative effects. The drug’s actions on the body result in side effects, which frequently interfere with different systems and functions. The majority of adverse effects are moderate, and they normally go away when the body gets used to the drug. On the other hand, certain adverse effects can be serious and call for emergency medical intervention.

The following are typical adverse effects of gabapentin for anxiety

  • Feeling sleepy
  • Deficiency
  • lightheadedness
  • Incompetence
  • Headache
  • The diarrhea
  • mouth dryness
  • Constipation
  • emesis
  • throwing up
  • swelling in the lower limbs, hands, feet, or ankles
  • Gaining weight

All drugs, including gabapentin, have the potential to have minor or major side effects. This is not an exhaustive list of every potential adverse effect. Any queries you may have and information about the possible advantages and disadvantages of any drug should be discussed with your doctor.

The following are serious adverse effects of gabapentin for anxiety that need to be addressed right away

  • lip, tongue, throat, or face swelling
  • Inability to swallow Breathe easily
  • Convulsions
  • suicidal ideas and actions

Over dosage and Toxicity of Gabapentin

It’s feasible to take too much gabapentin and die. Following reports of both opioid and gabapentin addiction, the FDA issued a warning statement in December 2019 regarding the potentially fatal risk of respiratory depression. Overdose warning signs include:

  • Reduced muscular coordination, or ataxia
  • The diarrhea
  • Eyelid drooping
  • sluggishness and fatigue
  • dual vision
  • elation
  • Insufficient activity
  • breathing difficulties
  • significant sedation
  • slurred words

In case you think you’ve overdosed, you should get medical attention right away. Kidney dialysis at the emergency department is the sole method to get rid of the medication.

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