Neurontin for Anxiety and How Does it Work

neurontin for anxiety

Those who suffer from anxiety understand how tough it is to deal with. Although anxiety is an inevitable part of life, it is also helpful at times; in certain circumstances, when anxiety levels become uncontrollable and start interfering with your regular life and disturb your ability to function daily, then any sort of treatment is required. 

Medication is one of the recommended lines of action in such cases. Neurontin is one of the numerous medications that may aid with anxiety, both over-the-counter and prescribed.

This article will explain what Neurontin is and how it can assist with anxiety. Furthermore, we will explore whether or not this medicine has any harmful side effects and what precautions should be taken when using it. Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about Neurontin for anxiety. (1)

What Is Neurontin?

Neurontin is a brand name for the drug gabapentin, which was created to be a generic form of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). (2) Neurontin is an anticonvulsant medication. Its original objective was to regulate some types of seizures in persons with epilepsy, as well as to relieve the nerve pain caused by shingles or to relax restless leg syndrome. (3)

Neurontin has also been used to treat anxiety disorders off-label. Your psychiatric practitioner will likely administer it to assist relieve some of the symptoms of certain mental health conditions. This drug is widely used as an off-label treatment for several anxiety orders and is also known to be advantageous for post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, there is some evidence that Neurontin may be beneficial for those who have alcohol use problems or are addicted to alcohol. (4)

Despite being successful, it is not that effective for anxiety when consumed alone. However, when used in conjunction with other therapy, Neurontin can help to alleviate anxiety.

How Does Neurontin Work for Anxiety?

Although Neurontinis classified as an anticonvulsant medication commonly used to treat epileptic seizures and nerve pain caused by shingles, research has discovered that it may also be administered as an off-label treatment for anxiety.

Neurontin is a synthetic form of the neurotransmitter GABA, which implies it mirrors GABA’s activity in the body. GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that serves as a neurotransmitter in the neurological system. Neurotransmitters are substances that let nerve cells communicate with one another. The GABA neurotransmitter can aid in slowing down the activity of neurons in the brain. Neurontin functions similarly in that it can help calm the brain and reduce pain perception in the nerves. (5)

While studies often do not show efficacy for reducing depressive symptoms, there is an indication that Neurontin may have some help for anxiety disorders. In rat research, Neurontin caused behavioral alterations indicative of anxiolysis or sensations of relaxation. (6

GABA is a neurotransmitter that suppresses or blocks particular brain impulses while decreasing nervous system stimulation. When GABA attaches to GABA receptors, it produces a feeling of relaxation. Stress, anxiety, and even fear can be lessened as a result of this physiological reaction. (7)

Neurontin serves to treat seizures by reducing aberrant brain activity. It can also alter how the body processes pain, which can aid in the relief of shingles discomfort.

Effectiveness of Neurontin for Anxiety

Neurontin was approved for distribution by the FDA in 1993. (8) Several studies on Neurontin’s effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders have been conducted over the last several decades.

Even though it is only licensed to treat seizures, it has also been used to alleviate restless legs syndrome, tremors, excessive sweating, severe pain, and a variety of mental illnesses.

According to additional research, Neurontin may be beneficial in two different ways: as a supplementary medicine for people with anxiety disorders or as an independent therapy for specific anxiety disorders.

A case of one person revealed a definite inverse association between Neurontin dose and anxiety. The patient who did not respond well to standard antidepressant drugs such as SSRIs noted that her anxiety levels were relatively low when she used Neurontin. (9)

Another study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested that Neurontin might be an effective adjunct to anxiety therapy. Some elements imply that it might potentially be used as a stand-alone drug, but additional study is needed because there is not sufficient objective proof. (10)

According to research that compared Neurontin to a placebo, it appeared to be more effective. The drug is thought to be effective in treating anxiety when combined with other therapies. (11)

Neurontin has also been shown to be significantly beneficial in treating social anxiety disorder. This condition is characterized by recurrent anxiety about social or performance circumstances, which can considerably interfere with one’s regular life. (12)

neurontin for anxiety

Dosage Of Neurontin For Anxiety

If you are using Neurontin for anxiety, you must follow your doctor’s instructions completely. A person’s appropriate Neurontin dose for anxiety is influenced by various factors, including the intensity of anxiety, renal function, body weight, aging, and general health. The number of regular dosages and the timeframe between doses will vary across individuals.

In trials, the dosage of Neurontin for anxiety varied from 300 mg daily to 3,600 mg daily. Higher amounts are typically divided into three regular doses. Initially, your doctor would most likely prescribe 300 mg once a day. Every 3 to 5 days, the dosage will be raised. Some may take 600 mg daily, while others take the FDA’s maximum daily dose of 3,600 mg. (13)

Neurontin is available as a capsule, tablet, or oral solution; however, pills will most likely be given to you to relieve anxiety. It is generally consumed with a glass of warm water, either with or without meals.

Neurontin should only be used at the prescribed dosage and for no longer than a doctor prescribes. If a person forgets to take a dose, they should refer to the prescription for instructions or seek help from a doctor.

If you forget, take it as soon as it is possible. However, when it comes time to take the next dose, this does not apply. In this case, you should simply omit the missed dose and return to your usual routine.

Taking two doses of Neurontin at the same time might result in an overdose, which can have a variety of harmful repercussions.

How Much Time Does Neurontin Take to Work for Anxiety?

Everyone’s timing for Neurontin effectiveness is unique. Based on the scale of their anxiety, some people may feel better sooner than others. The typical timescale is thought to be approximately three weeks; however, it might be longer or shorter, varying from person to person. If you want to use Neurontin, consult your doctor first to find the best solution for treating your anxiety.

It is important to remember that Neurontin, like other psychotropic medicines, should be cautiously discontinued. You may experience withdrawal symptoms, and you should only stop suddenly if you experience any significant adverse effects. Even in such a case, you must only do it with your doctor’s permission.

Overall Advantages Of Neurontin 

Neurontin is primarily used to prevent or treat seizures. It works by slowing neurotransmission, which reduces seizure intensity and frequency. Both children and adults can use this drug. While it helps with various health issues, including anxiety, there are several health advantages that it provides.

Neurontin relaxes consumers. Those who have been treated for anxiety are less irritable after taking it. The prescription lessens the craving for alcohol and the discomfort associated with alcohol withdrawal. It creates a sense of serenity, which reduces the impulse to scream at others. Other than helping with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, Neurontin increases the likelihood of quitting alcohol. (14)

Benzodiazepine medicines are frequently used to treat or avoid these alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, Neurontin is surfacing as a feasible option, particularly considering the danger of dependency associated with benzodiazepines. (16)

The ability of Neurontin to relax the brain and help individuals feel less worried is perhaps the essential aspect of using anxiety medication. It also reduces the urge to avoid public places, lowering the danger of panic episodes induced by constant stress and performance anxiety.

Anxiety and sleep problems have a long-term association. People with anxiety often have trouble sleeping, which worsens their symptoms. Neurontin works as an anti-insomnia medication that allows people to get a decent night’s sleep while reducing the adverse effects on brain function. (17)

neurontin for anxiety

What Should be Employed in Conjunction with Neurontin for Anxiety

As previously stated, Neurontin is not recommended as a standalone therapy option for severe anxiety. However, it can be helpful in these circumstances when combined with other anxiety medications. The following are some options for treating anxiety in combination with using Neurontin.

Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy is extensively used to treat anxiety and depression in Neurontin patients and is pretty successful. Although many types of psychotherapies are available to treat anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most successful.

CBT is a target-oriented and organized therapy that aims to change undesirable habits by addressing the cause of illogical thought. CBT is based on the premise that your ideas, sentiments, physical sensations, and behaviors are all intertwined and that negative thoughts may keep you in a destructive cycle. CBT aims to help you cope with problems more constructively by breaking down terrible circumstances into separate segments. (18)

The most successful strategy to manage your mental health is to use a combination of medications and psychotherapy, which has a higher recovery rate than either treatment alone.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)

 SSRI drugs are frequently administered with Neurontin to treat anxiety. SSRIs function by prohibiting serotonin from being reabsorbed into your brain’s neurons, increasing the number of neurotransmitters in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls mood and anxiety, and higher levels keep you away from depression and anxiety. (19)

There are many different forms of SSRIs like Zoloft for anxiety. One of the reasons for their popularity is that SSRIs have less detrimental consequences than many other antidepressant medications.

neurontin for anxiety

Possible Side Effects Of Neurontin

It is essential to know that this drug is being administered to you because the benefit to you outweighs the risk of adverse effects; if that is not the case, you should consult your doctor and quit taking it.  Most people who use this medicine do not have any substantial adverse effects.

Nausea, vomiting, trouble speaking, aggressiveness, sleepiness, dizziness, poor coordination, weariness, blurred vision, strange eye movements, and shaking are typical Neurontin side effects. Tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately if these side effects continue or intensify.

In some cases, people with pulmonary risk factors may experience significant breathing problems when taking Neurontin. Those with respiratory diseases should see their doctor before using Neurontin. (20)

Neurontin can make you sleepy, so if you take it, do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that demands a lot of attentiveness. While using Neurontin, people should avoid or restrict their alcohol use since it can develop serious complications.

Some people who use Neurontin or other anticonvulsants may have suicidal ideation or act frighteningly. If an individual or a loved one notices any changes in mood or conduct, suggest medical assistance as soon as possible.

It is not always clear if Neurontin-related suicides are induced by the drug or result from a mental health problem. (21) However, it is evident that if a person also has a mental health condition such as depression, the risk of abusing the medicine is increased.

Additionally, when taking Neurontin, one should keep a tight check on themselves to assure that they are not following the wrong dosage. People must keep an eye on loved ones and children taking this medication.

Interaction of Neurontin with Other Drugs

Neurontin can interfere with a variety of other medications. Different interactions may result in further consequences. Some may reduce a drug’s efficacy, while others may amplify severe side effects. Before considering Neurontin, inform your doctor and pharmacist about all prescriptions and other drugs you are consuming. By talking this out, you can avoid any potential confrontations.

The following are some of the most common Neurontin drug interactions; however, this is not a comprehensive list.

  • When taken in combination with Neurontin, certain drugs designed to treat stomach acid problems may reduce the amount of Neurontin in your body, lowering its effectiveness.  Therefore, Neurontin should be consumed after some time of taking antacids. (22)
  • When Neurontin is used with an opioid, it can induce significant tiredness, respiratory distress, unconsciousness, and even be fatal. (23)
  • When Neurontin is used with caffeine, its anticonvulsant properties are reduced. (24)
  • When cyclobenzaprine is used with Neurontin, adverse symptoms such as dizziness, sleepiness, disorientation, and difficulties concentrating may become more severe. (25)
  • Certain drugs for depression and anxiety, including amitriptyline, fluoxetine, and sertraline, interact negatively with Neurontin and should be avoided.

neurontin for anxiety

Precautions 

Before using Neurontin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it or have any other allergies. Neurontin contains inactive substances that might trigger an allergic response or other consequences.

It is unclear if Neurontin will impact your unborn fetus. As a result, exercise caution and notify your healthcare practitioner as soon as you become aware that you are pregnant. You and your healthcare professional will decide if you should continue taking Neurontin or switch to a different drug throughout your pregnancy. 

Moreover, Neurontin can infiltrate breast milk and cause serious side effects in a nursing child. Inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding to discover other alternatives.

If you take Neurontin for epilepsy, do not stop taking it all at once. This can increase the risk of having status epilepticus, a seizure disorder.  In youngsters with epilepsy, Neurontin raises their chances of developing mental and behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity and behaving irrationally. 

People with epilepsy should be warned and monitored in both of these circumstances to see how Neurontin affects them and if it is the best option or if another option should be considered.

Neurontin withdrawal symptoms have been observed when the medicine was taken for a purpose it was not intended for and when the dosage was higher than the approved dosage. As a result, it should only be used after seeing a physician, and only the prescribed dosages should be followed. If your symptoms improve, do not stop taking it suddenly; instead, talk to your doctor about gradually reducing the dose.

Conclusion

If you see that your anxiety has advanced beyond moderate worry and is interfering with your everyday life, you should seek treatment. Medication is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety.

Neurontin is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat seizures and nerve pain caused by shingles. Neurontin is known to have anti-anxiety properties, which is why it is commonly used to treat anxiety.

The effectiveness of Neurontin in the treatment of anxiety is still being studied. Neurontin is not as helpful as typical anxiety disorder therapies. It may be more useful as an adjuvant medicine to supplement standard therapies or treat lower-level anxiety that occurs in other disorders. However, it is not recommended as a stand-alone treatment for treating high-functioning anxiety.

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