Traditional anxiety medications come with a whole host of undesirable side effects that can make it hard to get things done during the day. If you can’t take benzodiazepines because of your job, family responsibilities, or medical history, then you’ll have to explore alternative anxiety medications to find relief for your anxiety symptoms.
One of the most popular non-muscle relaxant anxiety medications is BuSpar (buspirone), which treats both short-term and chronic anxiety disorders. This medication is non-drowsy, non-habit-forming, and can help you think more clearly.
In this post, Klarity will do a deep dive into the pros and cons of BuSpar so you can make a fully-informed decision. Klarity has helped over 30,000 Americans access affordable and convenient online anxiety, depression, insomnia, and ADHD treatments.
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What is BuSpar (Buspirone)?
BuSpar is a brand name for buspirone, a prescription anxiolytic medication used to treat anxiety symptoms by balancing chemicals to help people find relief.
Is BuSpar (Buspirone) Effective At Treating Anxiety?
Buspirone has been shown to relieve anxiety in people with both generalized anxiety disorders and mild depression. Buspirone is rarely given alone to treat anxiety and is often most effective combined with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
BuSpar vs. Benzodiazepines
BuSpar is from the azapirone class of medications, having both anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects. Buspirone is commonly prescribed as an additional medication alongside an SSRI for depression and is not habit-forming.
Benzodiazepines are part of the psychoactive class of medications often used to treat panic attacks and generalized anxiety. These medications work right away but are always recommended for long-term use due to a high potential for dependency and misuse.
How Does BuSpar (Buspirone) Treat Anxiety?
Buspirone impacts neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Specifically, this medication is a serotonin receptor partial agonist, alleviating anxiety by increasing the activity of serotonin in the brain.
How Long Does BuSpar Take To Work?
Unlike benzodiazepines, which work right away, Buspirone is slow-acting and releases over time. Upon starting buspirone, allow an average of 2-3 weeks to pass before checking for any changes in symptoms. This wait can be frustrating, but the brain takes time to adapt, and you might need to adjust your dose during the first month to find what works best for you.
Why is BuSpar Used With Other Medications To Treat Anxiety?
BuSpar is known to be an “augmenter medication,” meaning it helps other psychotropic medications, like antidepressants, work effectively. This helps by increasing serotonin in the brain, which reduces anxiety and depression altogether.
SSRIs and SNRIs
SSRIs and SNRIs are both a chemical and a hormone. These medications work specifically on the neurotransmitters in the brain and regulate brain chemistry. This helps by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression together.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly used as antidepressants.
SSRIs increase serotonin, a chemical that sends messages between the nerve cells in the brain to the body. This helps by increasing mood, better sleep, resolving sexual disturbances, and more. SNRIs use serotonin plus another chemical called norepinephrine, which is a noradrenaline, to normalize brain functionality.
How Much Does BuSpar Cost?
The cost of a BuSpar oral tablet depends on your dosage, pharmacy, and insurance.
The average price of a buspirone 5 mg oral tablet would be around $13, and a 30 mg oral tablet costs $175 for a 30-day supply.
What Are The Side Effects Of BuSpar?
A range of adverse effects can be felt more during the first few weeks of starting the medication.
It’s important to be aware of the common side effects of buspirone, including:
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain
Other, more rare side effects include but are not limited to:
- Suicidal ideation
- Eye pain or pressure
- Cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or chest pain
- Thyroid abnormalities
What Are Drug Warnings For BuSpar?
Use caution if driving and operating machinery while taking buspirone. Buspar is less addictive and sedating than other anxiety medications but must be used with caution.
BuSpar Drug Interactions
Before starting BuSpar, please ensure all medications are documented with your healthcare provider. Due to the potential for serious drug interactions, BuSpar should not be taken within 14 days from the last dose of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs):
- Methylene blue
- Selegiline transdermal
Patients are advised to limit alcohol and grapefruit juice intake.
Forms and Doses For BuSpar
Buspirone hydrochloride tablets are available in:
- 5 mg
- 7.5 mg
- 10 mg
- 15 mg
- 30 mg
The recommended starting dose for generalized anxiety disorder is 10-15 mg daily by mouth. The maximum dosage is 60 mg daily. Find a consistent time for when to take your medication, with or without food.
If you ever miss a dose and it’s time to take your next one, only take one. Do not double the amount to make up for the missed dose; this can cause serious side effects.
Get a Prescription for Anxiety from a Healthcare Provider on Klarity
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How Effective in BuSpar for Anxiety? – Single Care
Accessed Aug. 25. 2022.
Buspirone “BuSpar” – National Alliance on Mental Illness
Accessed Aug. 25. 2022.