Stopping Buspirone? What to Expect During BuSpar Withdrawal

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Although BuSpar is no longer on the market, its active ingredient, buspirone, is still frequently prescribed. In 2021, more than 12 million buspirone prescriptions were issued in the U.S., which reflects its relevance for psychiatric and neurological treatment.

Despite its favorable profile for treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and easing symptoms of depression, patients and healthcare providers need to understand that while Buspirone generally doesn’t lead to drug dependence, with lower risks of BuSpar withdrawal compared to other anxiety medications, this doesn’t completely rule out the chance of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Continue reading to learn about withdrawal from Buspirone, including its symptoms and how to manage care. This will ensure patients can transition off Buspirone with as little discomfort as possible.

Buspirone Overview

While we still talk about “BusPar,” it’s important to know that this brand is no longer on the market. However, this wasn’t due to safety concerns. The discontinuation happened because buspirone, its generic equivalent, became available.

Buspirone is a non-habit-forming anxiolytic medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and certain short-term symptoms of anxiety are accessible by prescription only. It comes as a tablet and typically is prescribed in doses between 15mg and 60mg daily.

While Buspirone is mainly prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder, there is evidence suggesting its potential usefulness in a range of other neurological and psychiatric conditions. These include:

  • Reducing side effects associated with Parkinson’s disease treatment
  • Managing ataxia
  • Easing social phobia
  • Mitigating behavioral issues post-brain injury
  • Addressing symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and attention deficit disorders

Risks of BuSpar Withdrawal

Research agrees that, unlike other types of anxiety medications, Buspirone has a low potential for abuse and dependence.

Many medications used for anxiety, like benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium and Klonopin), target a specific brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA acts like a brake on the nervous system, calming the associated symptoms. While benzodiazepines effectively reduce anxiety quickly, they can also be habit-forming due to their interaction with GABA receptors.

Buspirone operates uniquely by not targeting GABA receptors directly. Instead, it influences serotonin, a crucial neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation. This unique approach is believed to contribute to Buspirone’s reduced potential for abuse and withdrawal compared to benzodiazepines and other medications for anxiety.

Can BuSpar Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Based on the information above, does it mean Buspirone won’t cause withdrawal symptoms?

While BuSpar is not linked to physical dependence or BuSpar withdrawal symptoms, it may still lead to side effects. Most of these side effects are mild and short-lived, yet if they turn severe, seek professional help.

Common BuSpar withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Ataxia (reduced coordination and/or balance)
  • Blurred vision
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Elevated liver enzyme levels
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain and/or joint pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Paresthesia (burning or tingling sensation)
  • Physical weakness
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
  • Sweating
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Tremor

Studies have shown that even after long-term use, stopping Buspirone abruptly doesn’t typically cause BuSpar withdrawal side effects. This makes Buspirone a valuable option for individuals seeking effective anxiety management with a lower potential for abuse.

Be aware that buspirone can interact with numerous medications, supplements and certain foods, potentially leading to side effects that might be mistaken for withdrawal symptoms. Using BuSpar alongside drugs that increase serotonin can risk serotonin syndrome, a serious condition causing delirium seizures in the most severe cases.

Substances that could interact with BuSpar include:

  • Benzodiazepines and other anti-anxiety medications
  • Anticonvulsants like carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and phenytoin
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Other types of antidepressants
  • Antibiotics, including erythromycin
  • Painkillers and narcotic drugs
  • Medications prescribed for insomnia
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Grapefruit juice

How Long Does BuSpar Withdrawal Last?

BuSpar is generally well-tolerated and does not typically cause significant withdrawal symptoms.

In the presence of side effects, the BuSpar withdrawal timeline can vary depending on factors such as the dosage taken, the duration of use and individual differences in metabolism and sensitivity. Yet, most side effects should diminish as the body adjusts to the medication, usually within 2-4 weeks.

BuSpar Withdrawal Treatment

Due to the low risk of withdrawal symptoms associated with BuSpar, there isn’t a specific treatment for Buspirone withdrawal itself. However, if you do experience some discomfort when stopping Buspirone, here are some approaches that may help you manage those symptoms:

Gradual Buspirone Tapering

One of the most effective ways to minimize withdrawal symptoms is to taper the medication slowly rather than stopping abruptly. A gradual reduction in dosage allows your body to adjust to the decreasing levels of the medication.

If you don’t know how to taper off Buspirone safely, your healthcare provider can help you develop a tapering schedule tailored to your needs.

Supportive Care

  • Proper hydration and a balanced diet can help your body cope with the changes.
  • Proper sleep can significantly affect how well your body manages withdrawal symptoms.
  • Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.

Symptomatic Treatment

  • Over-the-counter medications for symptoms like headaches or mild nausea.
  • If severe nausea is severe, your doctor may recommend specific medications.
  • Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

Psychological Support

  • Engaging in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help manage any resurgence of anxiety symptoms.
  • Join a support group for anxiety help, encouragement and a sense of community.

BuSpar Withdrawal − Bottom Line

Buspirone is a unique anxiety medication with a low risk of withdrawal symptoms compared to other options. While it is regarded as a relatively safe option for use, discontinuing or altering your dose without professional guidance can lead to some discomfort.

If you are considering stopping BuSpar or have concerns about its use, consult with your healthcare provider for a safe and personalized approach to minimize any potential severe symptoms and ensure a safe and effective transition off the medication.

If you struggle with addiction to any medication, including anxiety medications, reach out to your doctor for addiction treatment and support options.

People Also Ask

What happens when you stop taking BuSpar?

Unlike some anxiety medications, stopping BuSpar typically doesn’t lead to withdrawal. However, for safety, it’s best to gradually reduce your dose under a doctor’s guidance to prevent any discomfort.

How long does it take for buspirone side effects to stop?

Buspirone side effects typically subside within a few days to a few weeks. Depending on their individual body chemistry, some people might experience them for a shorter or longer period.

Can BuSpar withdrawal cause brain zaps?

BuSpar withdrawal isn’t known to cause brain zaps. These electric-like sensations are more frequently reported when stopping antidepressants, not anti-anxiety medications like Buspirone.

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Page Sources

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Published on: July 10th, 2020

Updated on: May 24th, 2024

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