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Xanax: drug uses, side Effects, and information

Woman clutching head due to side effects from xanax

Optum Perks Author

By Optum Perks Author

Xanax is a medication used in the treatment of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). Xanax is used because its active ingredient, alprazolam, belongs to the short-acting benzodiazepine class of drugs. This means that Xanax binds to a nervous system receptor known as GABA A. Xanax has anxiolytic, sedative, and hypnotic effects. Xanax is associated with side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. It is also used to treat patients who have a fear of flying because the drug typically dampens the anxiety-inducing experience they have while flying.

Who uses Xanax?

Xanax is used by patients to suppress anxious impulses, which may arise for many different reasons. For example, Xanax is used to treat both generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). It is also used in the treatment of panic disorder and panic attacks. Xanax is effective for issues because of its mechanism of action, which involves binding to the GABA A receptor.

Inhibition of the GABA receptors leads to its anxiolytic, sedative, and hypnotic effects. At specific doses, Xanax also has skeletal muscle relaxant effects. Xanax can also be used for specific anxiety cases such as with patients who suffer from a fear of flying.

How does Xanax work?

As mentioned, Xanax achieves its anxiolytic, sedative, and hypnotic effects by binding to the GABA A receptor. GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) is the principal inhibitory receptor in the brain. Anxiety is a highly excited and damaging state for the brain to remain in. This is because the brain is overworking to compensate for the increase in anxiety.

Xanax is administered to reduce this effect, improving wellness and mental health, particularly in patients who suffer from long-term generalized or social anxiety disorder. Xanax can be administered via oral or sublingual means and is primarily metabolized in the liver. Xanax is mostly eliminated from the body via the kidney.

Does Xanax have any side effects?

Xanax is associated with numerous side effects. For example, patients may experience drowsiness, dizziness, being lightheaded, fatigued, have unsteady coordination, or suffer from vertigo. Patients taking Xanax may also find it difficult to concentrate and may become easily distracted. Some patients experience more severe side effects such as hallucinations, suicidal ideation, respiratory depression, and jaundice. However, the incidence of these latter effects is very rare.

Xanax is also associated with dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Patients may become irritable when discontinuing Xanax treatment. If stopping Xanax use, a slow dose reduction is preferred to rapidly stopping drug treatment. Some patients taking Xanax also experience what are known as paradoxical reactions such as aggression, tremor, rage, and mania, although the latter effects are also quite rare.

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When should Xanax be avoided?

There are some circumstances in which Xanax treatment should be avoided by clinicians. For example, patients suffering from respiratory depression should not be prescribed Xanax, as the drug can exacerbate this condition. In addition, Xanax should be avoided when taking alcohol, as this too can lead to dangerously high respiratory depression.

Use of Xanax should be monitored or avoided in patients suffering from myasthenia gravis, acute narrow-angle glaucoma, hypersensitivity to benzodiazepine drugs, and patients suffering from borderline personality disorder. Given that benzodiazepines such as Xanax can cross into the placenta, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should avoid Xanax wherever possible.

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