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Buspirone Side Effects: Physical and Psychological Adverse Effects

Last Updated: February 15, 2022

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Buspirone, under the brand name Buspar, is one of the prescription medications that is used to treat and manage mild symptoms of anxiety. In 2019, it was reported that around 2.9 million individuals in the United States used the drug. Because of these statistics, it is essential to know the side effects of Buspirone. More than 10% of patients who use this drug experience common adverse reactions. But, the question is, can one overdose from it? In this article, information about the common physical and psychological Buspar side effects, the association of this drug with depression and overdose, rare Buspirone side effects, contraindications for this medicine, and how to minimize the risk of experiencing adverse reactions when taking this medication will be provided.

A man looks at buspar pills on the table.

Common Buspar Side Effects

Buspirone side effects are usually common and may disappear as the body gets used to the medication. According to the FDA, when a patient taking this medication combines it with other drugs and substances such as psychotropic agents and alcohol, the tendency is that the common Buspirone side effects might be prolonged is quite high. Upon the prescription of Buspar for anxiety, the clinician generally provides instructions on Buspirone side effects. Although these side effects of Buspar are common, one who is taking this medication must be familiar with them to avoid panic or tension when they occur.

Some of the Common Physical Buspirone Side Effects First Week Include:

  • Nausea (less than 8%)
  • Dry mouth (less than 3%)
  • Chest pain (less than 2%)
  • Palpitations (less than 1%)
  • Rash Chest pain (less than 2%)
  • Upset stomach (less than 2%)
  • Blurred vision (less than 2%)

One should remember that if some of the Buspirone side effects above continue to persist, it is recommended to seek medical attention or help from a doctor. To assure the safe use of this drug, always follow the instructions of the medical doctor. According to a study of medical doctors, the most common psychological adverse reactions patients may experience while taking this drug are dizziness and drowsiness, both with a prevalence rate of above 10%.

Other Common Psychological Buspirone Side Effects First Week in Decreasing Prevalence Include:

  • Headache (less than 7%)
  • Nervousness (less than 4%)
  • Lightheadedness (less than 4%)
  • Insomnia (less than 3%)
  • Unusual excitement (less than 2%)
  • Confusion (less than 2%)
  • Decreased concentration (less than 2%)
  • Sweating (less than 1%)

Again, the side effects of Buspar listed above are common and may occur short term because Buspar’s half-life is relatively short. Any unusual Buspar side effects from the drug must be reported to the physician for further investigation. One should perform changes in treatment regimen without the permission of a doctor.

Depression From Buspar

So, can Buspar cause depression? Buspar does not usually cause depression when used according to the recommended dosage by the physician. Buspirone is known to improve depressive symptoms in patients that have a generalized anxiety disorder. Evidence also proves that Buspar is effective as an augmentation when used alongside SSRIs to treat unipolar depression. However, if the drug is abused, then depression can be among other adverse reactions. Buspar crying spells is one of the symptoms of depression from this drug. Moreover, these Buspar crying spells are manifested by non-stop crying over nothing. Aside from Buspar crying spells, there is also another danger that arises from the acquired depression as patients may start abusing Buspirone and alcohol combination to achieve desired sedation. Mental health is a vital component of well-being. Do not wait for problems to resolve on their own.

Mood Swings From Buspar

Buspirone is one of the effective first-line anxiolytic medications and second-line antidepressant drugs. However, according to a study published in the Western Journal of Medicine, it is also possible for those taking this drug to experience mood swings when patients abruptly stop the use of the drug or miss a dose. This phenomenon is related to withdrawal or stopping Buspar. In the same study, based on medical policy, in case a patient experiences frequent mood swings, he or she must be referred to a psychiatrist or consider a relapse prevention plan.

Buspar and Weight Loss

One of the Buspar side effects also includes weight gain because of Buspar use. With regards to weight loss, it is safe to say that Buspar is indirectly associated with it. But, what does this mean? According to a study, patients taking Buspar may experience gastric disturbances leaving these patients nauseated. Eventually, this could make the patients lose their appetite, causing them to experience reduced muscle mass leading to weight loss.

Buspar and Sexual Effects

For patients taking this medication, it is a must to know that Buspar sexual adverse reactions are also possible. According to research, taking Buspirone may increase the libido of a patient. In this study, it was reported that 40% of patients taking SSRI medications experienced negative sexual changes. But, when these patients started to take Buspar, their sexual health improved significantly.

Buspar and Neurological Effects

Take note that Buspar addiction is nearly impossible as this medication is not a habit-forming drug. However, it is also common for patients taking this medication to experience neurological reactions. According to a study of medical doctors from Indiana, some of the neurological reactions Buspar may cause include numbness, paresthesia, incoordination, and tremor. This is also confirmed from the FDA label for Buspar.

Rare Buspirone Side Effects

Aside from the common side effects of Buspar, there are also rare ones. Based on the documents provided to the FDA, these rare events may occur in 1 of every 1000 patients.

Some of These Include:

  • Cardiovascular problems- cerebrovascular accident, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, bradycardia
  • Central Nervous System- claustrophobia, cold intolerance, stupor, slurred speech, psychosis
  • EENT- inner ear abnormality, eye pain, photophobia, pressure on eyes
  • Endocrine- galactorrhea, thyroid abnormality
  • Gastrointestinal- burning of the tongue
  • Genitourinary- amenorrhea, pelvic inflammatory disease, enuresis, nocturia
  • Musculoskeletal- muscle weakness, respiratory, epistaxis
  • Sexual Function- delayed ejaculation, impotence
  • Skin- acne, thinning of nails

Also from the FDA, there are possible rare occurrences of allergic reactions, dystonias, dyskinesias, memory problems, and restless leg syndrome. In case a patient is experiencing any of the rare adverse reactions, seek immediate medical service or help from a doctor to avoid other health dangers.

A doctor holds buspar pills and writes something.

Buspirone Warnings And Contraindications

The probability of experiencing Buspar side effects and the severity of those reactions can be influenced by Buspirone’s interactions with other drugs and alcohol. In case a patient takes other types of medicine, the dose of both drugs must be adjusted accordingly to avoid the aforementioned adverse reactions. For instance, anyone that is using Buspar at the same time with an SSRI or MAOI antidepressant such as Phenelzine without proper dose adjustment may experience adverse reactions including:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Serotonin syndrome

This event further stresses the importance of getting a proper diagnosis and prescription from a qualified healthcare professional before using Buspirone. In Buspirone vs. Xanax comparison, there are much fewer adverse reactions from Buspirone than from Xanax. Furthermore, in terms of contraindications, pregnant patients on Buspar and patients who are hypersensitive to the active ingredient Buspirone HCl must avoid taking this medication.

Buspirone Overdose: Can One Die From It?

Buspirone overdose is possible but patients may completely recover from it with the intervention of a doctor. It is reported that the most common sign of Buspirone overdose is seizures, tonic-clonic to be more specific.

Other Signs and Symptoms of Buspirone Overdose Include:

  • Nausea
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Upset stomach

Can one overdose on Buspirone and die? Since this drug was approved in the 1980s, there has been no report of deaths from Buspirone overdose. Although the overdose is possible, the lethal outcome is hardly possible due to the low toxicity of the drug.

Minimizing The Risks From Side Effects

A person taking Buspirone to treat anxiety should be well acquainted with information regarding its benefits and adverse reactions. The therapy course should not be altered or stopped without notification from the physician. By doing so, the patient evades the possible side effects of Buspirone that may arise from breaking the intake schedule. Substance abuse should not be taken lightly, even when it comes to a regular medicine like Buspirone. If one suspects a close person abusing this medicine, then it is important to seek specialized medical help from a doctor. This kind of service one can find at rehabilitation centers for drug addicts where a strict drug policy is observed to assure patients successful recovery. There, a person will be able to choose between different treatment programs for substance abusers that will perfectly suit one’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Buspar Cause Heart Attack?

It is possible for patients who are taking Buspirone to experience a heart attack. Although this is a rare case. Some forms of a heart attack include myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.

Does Buspar Make You Sleepy?

One of the most common side effects of Buspar is drowsiness, with a prevalence rate of above 10%. Therefore, patients using this medication, or any other medications that can cause drowsiness are advised to not operate any machinery.

When Do ​​Buspar Side Effects Go Away?

The side effects of Buspirone go away when the body has reached homeostasis or has already adjusted to the presence of the medication. Usually, patients consuming this medication may only experience the side effects of Buspirone during the first use of the medication.

Is There Any Relation Between Buspirone Side Effects and Anger?

This drug can be associated with anger. Anger or hostility is a rare side effect of the drug and those who are at risk of experiencing this adverse reaction are those patients who abruptly stop the use of the medication.

Can Buspar Make Anxiety Worse?

This is an anxiolytic drug. Generally, it is used to treat anxiety and not make the condition worse. However, patients who miss their doses or patients who abruptly stop the use of this drug may experience anxiety worsening.

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Page Sources

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Published on: July 10th, 2020

Updated on: February 15th, 2022

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.