Buspar (Buspirone): Uses, Side Effects, Dosage, & Interactions
Buspar is the brand name of the drug buspirone, which treats anxiety. Although Buspar has been discontinued, you can still take the generic version of the drug, buspirone, which is chemically identical.
If your doctor prescribes you buspirone, here are some important pieces of information that you should know.
What Is Buspar (Buspirone)?
Buspar (buspirone) belongs to a class of medications known as anxiolytics. These are medications that work on the central nervous system to relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Buspar does not have any link to other anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates and instead possesses different properties. While it’s not entirely known how and why Buspar works, it is believed to decrease the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Buspar (Buspirone) for Anxiety
Since Buspar (buspirone) is an anxiolytic drug, it is mainly focused on alleviating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Buspar for short and long-term treatment of GAD.
Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common type of anxiety disorder. It’s marked by persistent, excessive worry and fear that has no obvious source.
Symptoms of GAD include:
- Feeling restless
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Being irritable
- Feeling fatigued or lethargic
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
Buspar is typically used as a second line of treatment after SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This is usually because SSRIs are associated with fewer side effects.
However, Buspar has been found to be just as effective as benzodiazepines, another common anxiolytic, for treating GAD.
Buspar (Buspirone) for Depression
Buspar (buspirone) is not an antidepressant, and the FDA has not approved it for treating symptoms of depressive disorders. With that said, there is some evidence that suggests Buspar can be used as augmentation for unipolar depression.
Augmentation therapy for depression involves the addition of a second drug to an existing antidepressant. Typically, Buspar will be used alongside SSRIs in the treatment of depression. It is usually not prescribed on its own.
Since the FDA has not approved this medication for treating depression, this use is considered to be “off-label.” Some other off-label uses for Buspar have included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and bruxism. However, its efficacy for these disorders is not well established.
How To Take Buspar (Buspirone)
Buspar (buspirone) is usually taken twice a day. It comes as a tablet and is taken by mouth. While you can take the medication with or without food, it is recommended that it be taken the same way each day.
It’s likely that your doctor will start you on a lower dose of Buspar to allow your body to gradually adjust before slowly increasing the dosage. Be sure to follow your doctor’s exact instructions when taking this medication.
If you happen to forget a dose, don’t panic. Just take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, you should skip it and continue on your regular schedule. Never double up on your dose to make up for a missed one.
Buspar won’t start working right away. It may take three to four weeks of taking Buspar every day before you start to notice benefits.
Side Effects of Buspar (Buspirone)
It’s likely to encounter some side effects when taking Buspar (buspirone) for your anxiety. Most are minor and should subside after the first few days or weeks. If symptoms persist, be sure to contact your doctor.
Common side effects of Buspar include:
- Changes in dreams
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
There are also some rare, yet serious, side effects associated with this medication that include:
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Changes in blood pressure
- Irritated or itchy eyes
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Blurred vision
- Uncontrollable movements of arms or legs
- Irregular heartbeat
If you experience any of these, you’ll want to contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
Allergic reaction to Buspar is also possible. If you have difficulty breathing, hives, swelling lips or tongue, it may be an adverse reaction. Stop taking the medication immediately and contact a doctor.
Buspar (Buspirone) Dependence
Many medications may cause physical dependence in individuals who take them for an extended period of time. However, several studies have assessed that the addictive potential of Buspar is low.
While abuse of Buspar is very rare, it’s still possible to take it incorrectly. Make sure to read the label and contact your doctor with any questions before taking it.
Buspar (Buspirone) Drug Interactions
When taking any medication, it’s possible for it to interact negatively with other medications you’re already taking.
If you have taken monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) within the past two weeks, you should not take Buspar (buspirone). Additionally, you should not take MAOIs while using Buspar.
Taking alcohol while using Buspar may also heighten some of its side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion. Additionally, it may amplify symptoms of anxiety or depression, which can reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
Some medications may increase the levels and effects of Buspar. These include:
Also, grapefruit juice can substantially increase plasma concentrations of Buspar in your blood, meaning that grapefruit can increase the amount of this medication in your bloodstream. Large amounts of grapefruit consumption should be avoided when taking Buspar.
Buspar is the discontinued brand name of the anxiolytic drug buspirone. The generic version is chemically identical and still available today for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Additionally, it can be used off-label as an augmentation treatment for depression.
Buspar should be taken twice a day with or without food. While there are common side effects like headaches and nausea, most tend to go away after the initial weeks of treatment.
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