Anti Anxiety

Alprazolam - Uses and Side Effects

25 Jan 2023

Alprazolam treats anxiety and panic disorders. It belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines, which act on the brain and nerves to produce a calming effect. In addition, it enhances the impact of a specific natural chemical in the body (GABA).

Indications of Alprazolam

Alprazolam is a prescription drug. The drug is approved for three clinical uses:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder with or without agoraphobia
  • Anxiety associated with depression.

 

Off-Label Uses of Alprazolam

The doctors may prescribe Alprazolam for other symptoms and conditions besides generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder (PD). This is called off-label use, and the FDA did not approve it. The doctors sometimes prescribe Alprazolam with other antidepressants to treat:

  • Seizure treatment or prevention
  • Sedation and inducing sleep
  • Depression
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Nausea due to chemotherapy 

How to Use it safely

It is always best to use Alprazolam only when the doctor recommends it. He can better outweigh the benefits and risks associated with the drug. Carefully follow the directions on your prescription or read all medication instructions or guides on the leaflet. The Alprazolam dosage depends on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Type and severity of the symptoms
  • The Xanax tablet strength
  • Response to the treatment
  • Other pre-existing medical conditions

The doctor will start with a low dosage and gradually adjust it over time to reach the required dosage. You may take Alprazolam with meals or empty stomach. However, taking the drug with your meal is best to avoid stomach issues.

Take Alprazolam for as long as the doctor has prescribed. Do not stop taking the drug despite feeling better. Sudden and abrupt discontinuation of the drug may result in severe withdrawal symptoms.

Consult your doctor if you find no improvement in a few days or if any new or worsening physical or psychological symptoms appear. Alprazolam is for the short-term relief of anxiety or panic attacks; long-term use may lead to addiction and severe withdrawal effects. It may not work well if you take longer; consult your physician if the drug stops working.

 

Start Alprazolam on a low dose, the minimum strength, if taking it for the first time without professional guidance. Use caution, increase your dosage carefully and self-monitor any side effects or allergic reactions. 

How Alprazolam works| Mechanism of Action

Alprazolam is a high-potency triazolobenzodiazepine. It is a Benzodiazepine (1, 4) with a triazole ring attached to its structure. Alprazolam produces various therapeutic effects by binding to the benzodiazepine site of the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors and modulating their functions. GABA receptors are the inhibitory receptors within the brain. The mechanism of action of Alprazolam is to increase the receptor activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitters. The GABA hinders neuron activity and slows the nervous system, resulting in a sedated mind. Alprazolam enhances the action of GABA and leaves a calming effect on parts of the brain that are too excitable. This way manages anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and seizures.

 

Alprazolam enhances GABA-mediated synaptic inhibition. Alprazolam has a depressant impact on synaptic transmission to reduce anxiety within the brain. The therapeutic properties of Alprazolam are:

  • Anticonvulsant
  • Anxiolytic
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Amnesic 

Therapeutic Benefits of Alprazolam

Short-term Alprazolam therapy at prescribed therapeutic parameters, along with counselling or other psychotherapies, is effective for anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It enhances the quality of life of people having anxiety or panic disorder by inducing a feeling of calm. The drug has tremendous therapeutic benefits such as it:

  • Curbs anxiety
  • Free you from fear, worry, or unwanted thoughts
  • Boosts your mood
  • Helps you cope with things or situations that bother you
  • Improve your feelings of well-being
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Decreases the frequency of panic attacks 

 

Side Effects

Alprazolam is an effective but potentially dangerous drug. It is safe if consumed at the prescribed therapeutic doses. The severity or intensity of the side effects depends on the amount of the substance intake. Recreational use of Alprazolam at larger dosages results in severe and adverse drug effects. It is best to consider all the possible side effects and safety warnings before taking it.

Common Side Effects

Like every medicine, Alprazolam has some side effects. However, these are rare, temporary, and may last soon:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Dyspepsia
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased/decreased appetite
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Taste alterations
  • Headache
  • Sedation
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling anxious early in the morning
  • Hypotension
  • Numbness
  • Low energy and weakness
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory impairment
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Increased/decreased libido 

Severe Side Effects

Immediately get medical help if you have any severe side effects. The possible severe side effects are:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Tachycardia
  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dysarthria
  • Muscle tremors or twitching
  • Vasomotor disturbances
  • Dyskinesia (abnormal movement disorder)
  • Vertigo
  • Risk-taking behaviour
  • Agitation
  • Increased energy
  • Confusion
  • Sudden and severe mood swings
  • Depressed mood
  • Hallucination
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Mania/hypomania
  • Talkativeness
  • Change in sex drive/ ability
  • Addiction to a drug

Misuse of Benzodiazepines and other central nervous system depressants has become a cause of delirium, paranoia, suicide, seizures, coma, and death. The risk of death doubles with using Benzodiazepines with opioids and alcohol. Be cautious to avoid falling or accidental injury in older adults, as drowsiness may last longer in them.

Allergic Reactions

Alprazolam may cause some allergic reactions if you are allergic to it. The inactive ingredients may also cause allergic reactions, like:

  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Severe dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Blistered or peeling of the skin (Stevens-Johnson syndrome)
  • Swelling on the face, lips, tongue, and throat

 

Withdrawal Effects

Do not stop taking Alprazolam despite feeling better. Sudden and abrupt discontinuation of the drug may result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Memory impairment
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Panic attacks
  • Tachycardia 

Conclusion

Alprazolam treats anxiety and panic disorders, sudden and unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worries about the attacks. Alprazolam is from a family of benzodiazepines. It decreases abnormal excitement in the brain.