Gabapentin for anxiety
Those living with anxiety know how difficult it is to deal with. In some cases, when the anxiety levels go out of control, the best course of action is to undertake medication. There are several drugs that may help with anxiety, both over the counter and prescription types, among which is Gabapentin. By reading this article, you’ll find out how this drug can help you with anxiety.
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug that has been sold under a variety of names, such as Neurontin, Gralise, Fanatrex, or Gabarone. Originally, it was approved for controlling seizures, relieving nerve pain, and keeping restless leg syndrome under control. However, once it was made available, people also used Gabapentin off-label in order to treat various anxiety disorders. It also became useful for post-traumatic stress and addictions.
At first, Gabapentin was used to treat anxiety occurring in schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, but it was not used to actually address the cause of these disorders. However, throughout time, it was believed to also have anxiety-reducing properties, being used as an additional treatment for anxiety. Still, even though it is thought to be useful, it has not been approved as a standalone treatment for anxiety disorders.
There have been various research studies that touched upon the effectiveness of Gabapentin. A review published in 1998’s edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that Gabapentin might be a useful additive to anxiety treatments. Some aspects suggest that it might also work as a standalone medication, but since there is not yet enough empirical evidence, more research is encouraged.
Gabapentin has also proved to treat panic disorder and social phobia often associated with anxiety. The drug seemed to be more effective as compared to a placebo, but it was not as effective as a standalone drug against anxiety. Together with other methods of treatment, it is believed that Gabapentin is indeed useful in anxiety treatments.
Timeline for Gabapentin
The timeline for Gabapentine effectiveness is different for anyone. Some may feel better faster, whereas others may take a lot of time, depending on the severity of their anxiety. The average timeline is believed to be somewhere around 3 weeks, but for others, it could be longer or shorter.
Your doctor will be the one to determine the length of your treatment. Bear in mind that like with other psychotropic medications, Gabapentin should be eased off gradually. There are some withdrawal symptoms that might affect you, and you should only discontinue abruptly if you see any serious side effects. Even in that scenario, you should only do it under the supervision of your doctor.
Anxiety can show itself in a variety of ways – and in many cases, people with anxiety do not even know that they actually have anxiety. That being said, once you identify the signs, you will become aware of the problem and you’ll be able to manage it. Here are some common signs that you are dealing with an anxiety disorder.
#1. Excessive Worrying
Now, everyone worries – but at some point, your worrying should stop, allowing you to get on with your life. A person dealing with anxiety will worry excessively to the point where they have a sense of dread – and this often lasts for months. They’re worrying, and then worrying about worrying. Even if they realize that the fears they have are irrational, they cannot help worry about them.
#2. Difficulty Sleeping
A person dealing with anxiety will often have difficulty falling asleep. This is because the anxiety is keeping them awake, keeping their brain active, and causing them to toss and turn throughout the night. Even if that person falls asleep throughout the night, they wake up several times, woken up by their worries – and therefore, they fail to go through a full sleep cycle.
Even if they manage to get a decent amount of sleep, a person with anxiety may experience fatigue throughout the day. This is because anxiety can be emotionally draining, making it more difficult for you to go through every-day tasks. Plus, when you feel this mentally exhausted by your own thoughts, your mood can also suffer from it – which is why this is a slippery slope to depression.
#4. Tension & Irritability
Anxiety can often cause people to feel on edge. Because of this, they might be very quick to lose their temper. They cannot let go of the tension, and this way, they become easily angered – often lashing out at others when they are stressed out.
#5. Poor Concentration
Among other symptoms, anxiety may also cause concentration issues. This is often considered a side effect of insomnia or worrying too much about various problems. If you find that you have difficulties focusing on your tasks or blank out often, then anxiety may be one cause for it. People with anxiety are often easily distracted, particularly by the thoughts that are rummaging across their minds.
#6. Rapid Heart rate
People with anxiety often experience physical symptoms as well – the most common one being heart palpitations. Due to your heart pumping more than normal, you may experience sweating and hot flashes (yes, you may give yourself an almost-fever by just worrying). Rapid breathing and nervousness may also cause your chest to feel tight.
#7. Shaking & Trembling
While shaking and trembling is often associated with conditions such as Parkinson’s, it may also be the cause of anxiety. Anxiety has the tendency of triggering your fight or flight response, giving you an extra edge of adrenaline. Your limbs may begin to uncontrollably shake – more particularly, your hands. These symptoms are often temporary, but they can be very uncomfortable and lead to even more anxiety. A person that is showing anxiety tremors may be trying to avoid certain triggers.
The Benefits of Gabapentin
Gabapentin has shown to be quite helpful when it comes to anxiety, bringing forward the following benefits:
#1. Reduces Irritability
People that have been using Gabapentin for anxiety have proven to be less irritable after treatment. The drug reduces the need to use alcohol as a type of self-medication – therefore, it even diminishes the alcohol withdrawal irritability. It offers a sensation of calmness, controlling the desire to lash out at people.
#2. Helps with Sleep
Those with anxiety often have problems sleeping – with insomnia only making their symptoms worse. However, gabapentin aids people to deal with insomnia – helping them get a good night’s sleep and reducing the negative effects on the brain.
#3. Reduces Stress Levels
Perhaps the most important part of using Gabapentin for anxiety is that it calms the brain and helps people feel less anxious when it comes to anticipating the future. It improves the need for public avoidance as well, reducing the risk of panic attacks due to continuous worrying.
If you determine that your anxiety has crossed the casual worry levels and is beginning to affect your everyday life, then you might want to consider getting professional help. See your primary care doctor and try to find out the underlying cause for your anxiety.
If they determine that your anxiety levels aren’t the result of an underlying health problem, they will refer you to a mental health specialist. Among other treatments, these people will find the appropriate course of treatment – and if necessary, may also prescribe medical treatment. You may want to talk to them first before treating your anxiety with Gabapentin.