BuSpar (Buspirone) for Anxiety: Is it Right for Me?

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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, like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). 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 determine whether or not it’s right for you. We cover—

  • How Does BuSpar (Buspirone) Treat Anxiety?
  • BuSpar vs. Benzodiazepines and Other Anti-Anxiety Medications
  • How Long Does BuSpar Take To Work?
  • Why is BuSpar Used With Other Medications To Treat Anxiety?
  • How Much Does BuSpar Cost?
  • What Are The Side Effects Of BuSpar?
  • What Are Drug Warnings For BuSpar?

If you need relief from your anxiety symptoms fast and don’t want to wait weeks to speak with an in-person healthcare provider to figure out which medication is right for you, then consider Klarity. 

Finding the right medication, like buspirone, to manage your anxiety symptoms doesn’t have to be hard. We’ve already helped 30,000 people find online mental health treatment and are ready to help you, too.

Schedule an appointment, and we’ll connect you with a board-certified, anxiety-trained mental health professional in as little as 48 hours. 

What is BuSpar (Buspirone)?

BuSpar is the brand name for the medication buspirone, which is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders like:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Panic disorder (PD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Buspirone hydrochloride works by affecting certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety. It is not a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Valium, which are also used to treat anxiety, but rather belongs to a class of medications known as azapirones.

Buspirone is usually taken orally, either with or without food and is typically prescribed in tablet form. The dosage and frequency of the medication will vary depending on the individual and their specific needs, as determined by a healthcare provider.

It’s important to note that buspirone may take several weeks to begin working, so it’s important to continue taking the medication as prescribed, even if you don’t notice an immediate improvement in your symptoms. 

Additionally, buspirone may cause side effects, such as dizziness, headaches, and nausea, so it’s important to discuss any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider and seek medical attention when adverse reactions or serious side effects occur.

Is BuSpar (Buspirone) Effective At Treating Anxiety?

Buspirone hydrochloride has been shown to relieve anxiety in people with both generalized anxiety disorders and mild depression. Buspirone may be used as a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders, especially for those who cannot or do not want to take benzodiazepines. 

However, in more severe cases of anxiety, a provider may prescribe buspirone in combination with other anti-anxiety medications, such as antidepressants like (SSRIs) and (SNRIs) to help manage symptoms more effectively.

BuSpar vs. Benzodiazepines

BuSpar belongs to a class of medications known as azapirones. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone is not habit-forming and does not cause the same level of sedation or cognitive impairment. This makes it a safer option for long-term use and less likely to be abused or misused.

However, buspirone hydrochloride may take several weeks to start working and may not be as effective as benzodiazepines for some individuals. Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, are known for their rapid onset of action and strong anxiolytic effects, making them a popular choice for treating acute anxiety symptoms.

Despite their efficacy, benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse and dependence, and prolonged use can lead to tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and other adverse effects. As such, they are typically prescribed for short-term use or in low doses.

Buspirone and benzodiazepines are both effective medications for treating anxiety, but they have different benefits and risks. Buspirone is a safer option for long-term use, while benzodiazepines are more effective at rapidly reducing acute symptoms of anxiety.

How Does BuSpar (Buspirone) Treat Anxiety?

Buspirone hydrochloride impacts neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Specifically, this medication affects neural pathways in the brain. It 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 taking 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 can also be used as an “augmenter medication,” meaning it helps other psychotropic medications, like antidepressants, work more effectively. This helps by increasing serotonin in the brain, which helps treat generalized anxiety disorder and depression.

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 neurotransmitter called norepinephrine (noradrenaline) to normalize brain functionality.

Licensed providers on Klarity provide personalized treatment. Find a provider that matches your needs and preferences.

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 taking buspirone. 

Common side effects of taking buspirone (BuSpar):

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Excitement
  • Insomnia
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Upset stomach

It’s important to remember that your provider determined that the benefits of the anxiety medication outweighed the risk of the negative side effects. Most of these side effects are mild and tend to improve over time as the body adjusts to the medication. However, if any of these side effects persist or become severe, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider.

In rare cases, buspirone may also cause more serious side effects, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

It’s important to note that buspirone may interact with other medications, so it’s important to inform your healthcare provider of all medications you are taking before starting buspirone.

What Are Drug Warnings For BuSpar?

BuSpar belongs to the class of drugs called azapirones, which is not associated with the same risks of dependence of addiction as  benzodiazepine-based anxiety medications. Instead, it has a unique effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin.

Its extremely low risk for addiction means BuSpar is not a controlled substance, and is a suitable anxiety medication for those with a history of substance use disorder.

Though BuSpar isn’t inherently habit-forming, it still carries some risk of adverse effects, such as serotonin syndrome. This rare side effect occurs when the brain is flooded with too much serotonin, leading to the following symptoms: 

  • Agitation 
  • Confusion 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Seizures or loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking BuSpar, seek medical attention immediately, as this condition can be fatal if left unaddressed. 

To minimize the risk of serotonin syndrome, it is important to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking before starting BuSpar. Your healthcare provider can evaluate the potential risks and benefits and monitor you for any signs of serotonin syndrome.

BuSpar Drug Interactions

Buspirone (BuSpar) can interact with other medications, which can affect its effectiveness or increase the risk of side effects. Before starting buspirone, please ensure all medications are documented with your healthcare provider. 

Here are some examples of drugs that may interact with buspirone—

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Buspirone should not be taken with MAOIs, which are a type of antidepressant medication. The combination can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure and other serious side effects.

MAOIs include:

  • Isocarboxazid
  • Linezolid
  • Methylene blue
  • Phendimetrazine
  • Phenelzine
  • Safinamide
  • Selegiline transdermal
  • Tranylcypromine

Medications that affect the liver: Buspirone is metabolized in the liver, so medications that affect liver function can increase the risk of side effects or reduce the effectiveness of the drug. Examples include erythromycin, ketoconazole, and nefazodone.

Drugs that affect serotonin levels: Buspirone can elevate the level of serotonin in the brain. As a result, it should be used with caution in combination with other drugs that affect serotonin levels, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and triptans.

Benzodiazepines: Although buspirone is not a benzodiazepine, it can interact with these medications and increase the risk of side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness.

Interactions with Natural Substances Like Grapefruit Juice: Grapefruit juice contains compounds that can inhibit an enzyme in the liver called CYP3A4, which is responsible for metabolizing buspirone. When this enzyme is inhibited, the concentration of buspirone in the blood can increase, which can lead to a higher risk of side effects.

Interactions with Alcohol: Patients treated with buspirone hydrochloride should not drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol while on buspirone can increase the severity of side effects.

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 dose, only take one. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose. To avoid serious side effects, simply skip the missed dose.

Klarity Helps You Get Better Faster.

Looking for buspirone to help you manage your anxiety symptoms? Don’t wait weeks to see an in-person medical provider. Trust Klarity to get you better faster.

Klarity takes the wait and commute out of anxiety treatment by connecting you with board-certified medical providers who can diagnose and prescribe anxiety treatment online, if necessary.

If you need non-benzodiazepine relief from your anxiety symptoms fast, speak to a licensed and certified healthcare provider in your state within 48 hours or less. All you have to do is schedule an appointment to connect with your provider.

Sources: 

How Effective in BuSpar for Anxiety? – Single Care 

https://www.singlecare.com, https://www.singlecare.com/blog/buspar-for-anxiety/#side-effects

Accessed Aug. 25. 2022.

Buspirone “BuSpar” – National Alliance on Mental Illness 

https://www.nami.org,https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Buspirone-(BuSpar) 

Accessed Aug. 25. 2022.

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