Xanax for anxiety

Xanax for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Xanax for anxiety
Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.

Xanax is a popular medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is a member of the benzodiazepine drug family, which improves the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) — the inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.

Because of its well-known quick-acting nature, Xanax is frequently prescribed to those going through severe anxiety or panic attacks. However, it’s essential to use Xanax only under a doctor’s supervision because of its abuse and addiction risk.

This article goes over how Xanax helps to treat anxiety. We will also discuss its advantages, drawbacks, and possible hazards.

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What Are Xanax’s Uses?

Benzodiazepine alprazolam, known by the brand name Xanax in the US and Farmapram in Mexico, is FDA-approved to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is also used for some off-label indications. Here is a more detailed overview:

  • Anxiety disorders. Xanax is prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD [1*] ), social anxiety disorder (social phobia [2*] ), and other anxiety disorders. It works by slowing down the activity in the brain areas responsible for anxiety symptoms, resulting in a reduction of those symptoms.
  • Panic disorder. Xanax is also used to treat panic disorder [3*] with or without agoraphobia, characterized by sudden and unexpected attacks of extreme fear and apprehension. Xanax can help reduce the severity and frequency of panic attacks.
  • Insomnia. Xanax may be used for insomnia [4*] treatment in some cases. However, it is generally not recommended for long-term use as it can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Depression. Xanax may be used as a supplementary treatment for depression [5*] in cases when other antidepressant medications have proven to be ineffective.
  • Muscle spasms. Xanax may treat muscle spasms [6*] and cramps caused by neurological disorders or injury.
  • Essential tremor. Xanax may be used as an additional medication to help reduce the severity of essential tremor [7*] , which is a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking.
  • Alcohol withdrawal. Xanax may be used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms [8*] , such as agitation and anxiety.

How Xanax Works for Anxiety: Is it Effective?

Xanax has proven effective for anxiety [9*] . As a benzodiazepine medication, it works by enhancing the activity of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

GABA is a chemical messenger that helps to reduce the activity of certain parts of the brain associated with anxiety. When taken, Xanax binds to particular sites of GABA receptors and increases their activity. As a result, the limbic system, which is in charge of controlling emotions and anxiety, experiences an increase in the inhibitory effects of GABA.

Xanax can help reduce tension, nervousness, and worry caused by anxiety disorders. It can also help to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as sweating, tremors, and rapid heartbeat.

How to Take Xanax for Anxiety?

The usual starting dose of Xanax for anxiety is 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg taken orally, 3 times daily. Your doctor can gradually increase the dosage to a maximum of 4 mg per day if needed.

However, it is essential to note that Xanax is a potent medication and can have side effects. It can also be habit-forming and lead to dependence if used for extended periods. Therefore, you should get a Xanax prescription to buy it and take it only under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Xanax for panic attacks

How Effective is Xanax for Panic Disorder?

By slowing down the central nervous system (CNS) through its effect on GABA, Xanax provides calming or relaxing effects. Depressing the CNS also lessens anxiety and the severity of panic attacks.

The main benefit of Xanax in this case is its fast-acting mechanism. This medication is rapidly absorbed in the bloodstream and therefore is known for almost immediate relief: the results are seen in 15 to 30 minutes. It brings in feelings of calm and reduces symptoms of panic disorder.

Studies have shown that alprazolam is efficient and well-tolerated for improving symptoms of panic disorder within a week, such as:

  1. Sudden and sporadic panic attacks
  2. Anxiety
  3. Avoidance behavior
  4. Secondary disability
  5. Phobic fears

How to Take Xanax for Panic Attacks?

Depending on the patient and the intensity of their symptoms, a doctor prescribes different amounts of Xanax to treat panic attacks. The typical starting dose, in this case, is 0.5 mg, given orally thrice daily. If a higher dose of Xanax is needed, your doctor may gradually raise the dosage up to 5 mg or 6 mg per day, with a maximum daily dose of 10 mg daily.

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Side Effects of Xanax

Xanax can cause side effects, some of which are serious, just like any other medication. Common side effects of Xanax are usually observed at the beginning of treatment, but they typically go away with continued use of the medication. However, if side effects persist or worsen, or if you experience any severe side effects, it’s important to seek medical attention.

Common side effectsSerious side effects
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Addiction or dependence
  • Respiratory depression (slow breathing)
  • Liver problems

What Are the Dangers of Taking Xanax?

If you are taking Xanax, be aware of the following warnings and precautions:

  • Addiction and dependence. Xanax has the potential to develop emotional and physical dependence after prolonged use. Never exceed the suggested dosage and do not use it for a longer period than your doctor has advised. Individuals who are at risk of developing addiction should be closely monitored while taking Xanax.
  • Withdrawal. You can develop withdrawal symptoms, such as increased sensitivity, anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion, tingling sensation, tremors, and seizures if you stop using Xanax abruptly or too rapidly.
  • Respiratory depression. Particularly when coupled with other medicines that depress the central nervous system, Xanax can lead to respiratory depression. Particularly if used in excessive amounts or combined with other drugs or alcohol, this can be fatal.
  • Cognitive impairment. You may be unable to drive a car or operate machinery while under the influence of Xanax. Before understanding how Xanax affects you, stay away from such actions.
  • Drug interactions. Other drugs, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal supplements, can interact with Xanax. Examples of interactions include CYP3A inhibitors (ketoconazole, itraconazole, clarithromycin), alcohol, medications that make you drowsy/sleepy, birth control pills, cyclosporine, cimetidine, dexamethasone, imatinib, and St. John’s wort.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Data on the usage of benzodiazepines during pregnancy, such as Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium, are somewhat debatable. Studies [10*] indicate that taking certain drugs during pregnancy may raise a baby’s risk of developing neonatal flaccidity, sedation, low-birth weight, and respiratory problems.
  • Mental health conditions. Xanax may worsen symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, and psychosis in people with pre-existing mental health conditions.

If you experience any adverse effects or symptoms while taking Xanax, consult your doctor immediately. Do not stop or change the Xanax dosage without consulting with your doctor.

Alternatives to Xanax for Anxiety

It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before using any medication to manage anxiety or other mental health conditions. A doctor can help to choose the most suitable drug from a variety of options. For example, there are several alternative anxiety medications apart from Xanax that may be used as a treatment for anxiety or to stop panic attacks:

  • Other benzodiazepines, including diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin).
  • Anxiolytics such as Buspirone (Buspar).
    SSRI antidepressants, including sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Lexapro).
  • SNRI antidepressants, including duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor).
  • Beta-blockers [11*] such as propranolol (Inderal) can be used off-label.
Treatment for anxiety

Several non-medication alternatives can also help relieve anxiety or panic attacks. These include:

  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a type of therapy that can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their anxiety symptoms.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise helps ease anxiety and improve general health. Even simple exercises like yoga or brisk walking might be helpful.
  • Herbal remedies. Some herbal remedies such as chamomile, lavender, and passionflower have been shown to have a calming effect and may help reduce anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes. Anxiety can be managed by healthy lifestyle adjustments, including getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine.

It’s essential to remember that while these non-drug options can be successful at managing anxiety, they might not be enough for everyone. Working with a healthcare practitioner to choose the best course of action for your particular requirements and symptoms is crucial.

In Conclusion

Xanax effectively reduces anxiety symptoms in the short term, but it is also associated with several potential risks and side effects, such as addiction, withdrawal, and cognitive impairment. Therefore, Xanax should only be used under the guidance and supervision of a healthcare professional, who can prescribe anxiety medication online or offline, help determine the appropriate dosage, and monitor any potential adverse effects.

Ultimately, the decision to use Xanax should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and risks. It should also involve a collaborative decision-making process between the patient and their healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Due to tolerance, insufficient dosage, false diagnosis, drug interactions, or lifestyle factors, Xanax may not alleviate your panic attack. Consult your healthcare provider to identify the underlying reason and determine another effective treatment strategy.

Xanax is an approved and good treatment for anxiety, but it is not the only option. Because of the patient’s individual specifics, a medical professional may decide that another medication will help a patient better in reducing the symptoms. Also, Xanax has a high possibility of dependence and adverse effects. So, many times, other medicines like SSRIs or SNRIs medications, or cognitive-behavioral therapy are tried first. If they are ineffective, Xanax may be attempted, but it should normally only be used temporarily and under supervision.

For anxiety, it is not advised to use Xanax every day for a prolonged period because it can result in dependence and drug tolerance. Furthermore, abruptly discontinuing Xanax after prolonged use may lead to withdrawal symptoms. Other anxiety treatments with lower dependence risks, such as SSRIs, SNRIs, or cognitive behavioral therapy, may be suggested first by doctors.

Yes, Xanax can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety by increasing the activity of GABA in the brain. However, Xanax is not a long-term treatment for stress or anxiety and should only be taken short-time as prescribed by a doctor.


+11 sources
  1. Alprazolam in the treatment of generalized anxiety and panic disorders: a double-blind placebo-controlled study
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  2. A pilot study of treatment of social phobia with alprazolam. (1988)
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  3. Alprazolam in the treatment of panic disorders. (1986)
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  4. Alprazolam: effects on sleep and withdrawal phenomena. (1987)
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  5. A comparison of the safety and efficacy of alprazolam versus other agents in the treatment of anxiety, panic, and depression: a review of the literature. (1993)
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  6. Muscle relaxants for pain management in rheumatoid arthritis. (2012)
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  7. Efficacy of alprazolam for essential tremor. (1988)
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  8. Double-blind study of alprazolam, diazepam, clonidine, and placebo in the alcohol withdrawal syndrome: preliminary findings. (1994)
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  9. A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal. (2018)
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  10. Benzodiazepines in Pregnancy. (2019)
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  11. Beta-blockers in anxiety disorders. (1987)
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This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.